Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Libertarian’

Who Deserves Student Loan Forgiveness?

Posted by M. C. on March 29, 2023

First, what about those students who have already repaid their loans? By all means, government coffers should be reduced even further in favor of these people, too. Rights violations will thereby be reduced, when the statists have less money (However, those who repaid are not entirely innocent; they rendered money to Caesar, when with the benefit of hindsight, they may not have had to do).

Second, why did so many students have such a hard time repaying their debt to the government? Simple, all too many of them majored in grievance studies. This renders them unusually chatty baristas, but they don’t earn enough money to support their misspent college days.

Luis Rivera

By Walter E. Block

What is the libertarian analysis of the student loan forgiveness policy now being implemented (subject to Supreme Court approval) by the Biden Administration?

Before we can offer any such examination, let us consider the following. The government first boosted tuition into the stratosphere by requiring all sorts of silly reports of universities, which necessitated the hiring of all types and varieties of academic bureaucrats. At one time, in the history of higher education, professors greatly outnumbered administrators; not any more. Then, in its largesse, this self-same institution lent money to students so as to be able to pay for the resulting enhanced tuition. Talk about creating the very problem you think you must solve.

Now, the proposal is to forgive these resulting student debts. Libertarianism, of course, is the viewpoint that it should be illegal to threaten, or engage in, initiatory violence. With that introduction, we are ready to try to apply this perspective to this issue of the day, student loan forgiveness.

One response to this challenge is to ask who is more worthy, on libertarian grounds, of being subsidized? That is, here is a booty seeking (or rent seeking, as the Public Choice theorists mischaracterize the matter) exercise, on behalf of supporters of this viewpoint. The two groups in contention for these benefits are these students who have not repaid their loans, and the general taxpayer, from whom additional taxes will be mulcted, if the program is executed.

How shall we determine an answer to that question? It must be on the basis of which group adheres more closely to libertarian principles, of course. Someone has to pay for the forgiveness program; either the lucky students if this goes through, or the average taxpayer, who previously paid these monies, and, if these debts are repaid, will presumably benefit, other things equal, via lower taxes than would otherwise have prevailed.

So, which group is more libertarian, and thus deserving of greater wealth? In my view, it is pretty much a tie. It is as if each assembly is worse than the other. On the one hand, the general electorate (apart from ballot box stuffing) is responsible for that senile old coot now occupying the White House. I need not say any more than that. This deviates markedly from libertarianism.

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A Genuine Check and Balance: Privatize Law and Order | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 6, 2023

by Michael Huemer

Here, I explain the anarcho-capitalist solution to the basic social problem (from fakenous): Recap from two previous posts: 

– The basic problem of human social life: People are selfish. How do we stop them causing enormous amounts of harm to others, to benefit themselves? 

– A traditional solution: Have a government to police the people. 

– The basic problem of government: Government officials are selfish. How do we stop them from causing enormous amounts of harm to others, to benefit themselves? 

Traditional solutions to the problem of government are pretty lame. They really aren’t thought through at all well, and they don’t work very well empirically. 

Here, I explain how the libertarian solution is better. I’m only going to talk about police and courts here, though; I’m not going to discuss national defense or anything else. 


  1. The Private Solution 


The anarcho-capitalist solution to the basic social problem is similar to the government solution, except that there are multiple, competing agencies for enforcing rights, instead of just one. In other words, anarcho-capitalists want to privatize the essential functions of governments (i.e., the functions that we actually need; other functions can be eliminated). 

So your neighborhood could have an homeowner’s association that would hire a private security company instead of government police. Many competing security companies would operate in the same area (like security guard companies in the status quo; today, there are more private security guards in America than there are government police). In case of a dispute (including disputes about whether someone committed a crime), you would go to a private arbitration company instead of government courts. Many competing arbitrators would operate in the same area. 


  1. Two Differences 


You might wonder whether this arrangement counts as an instance of the “government” solution — if your HOA is hiring security guards and enforcing rules, maybe it is just a small government?

That is a semantic question that doesn’t matter. But here is a substantive question that matters: Is the anarcho-capitalist solution subject to the same problems as government? Why don’t we just have the problem that, since the people running security companies and arbitration companies are selfish, they will do things that benefit themselves and harm the rest of society? 

In reply, there are two important differences that explain why an-cap is better than traditional government: 


2.1. Voluntariness vs. Coercion 


In the anarcho-capitalist society, individuals (or private organizations) voluntarily choose to hire a security company; in our society, everyone is forced to “hire” the government, whether they want to or not. 

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Freedom of Conscience – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on February 3, 2023

The libertarian position on discrimination has nothing to do with racism, sexism, prejudice, bigotry, or hate; it has everything to do with property rights, freedom of contract, freedom of association, and, most importantly, freedom of conscience.

by Laurence M. Vance

Libertarian philosopher and historian George H. Smith (1949–2022), in his collection of essays titled Freethought and Freedom, incisively remarked that “without freedom of conscience no other freedoms are possible.” It is my contention that freedom of conscience is under attack right now — in the third decade of the twenty-first century — more so than at any other time in history.

Freedom of conscience is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The closest thing to it is found in the First Amendment, which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The “establishment” and “free exercise” clauses of the First Amendment are generally thought of as protecting the freedom of religion, which is sometimes identified with the freedom of conscience. Related to this is the prohibition of religious tests for federal office found in the third clause of the Constitution’s article VI.

But freedom of conscience cannot be limited to just religion. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, “sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.” Articles 18 and 19 relate to freedom of conscience:

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
  2. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, and effective in 1976, expanded these two articles and added a caveat to each one:

18.1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

18.2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

18.3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

19.1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

19.2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

19.3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

We may thus define freedom of conscience as the freedom of an individual to hold a viewpoint, belief, or thought — religious or otherwise — without state interference, coercion, or molestation.


Freedom of religion is certainly a major part of freedom of conscience. Americans generally take religious freedom for granted because it is so ingrained in American culture. Such was not always the case, however, especially in colonial New England. The story of the banishment of Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams from the Massachusetts Bay Colony is well known. Even for several years after the adoption of the Constitution, the new states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire had established churches.

But in many countries of the world, even in the twenty-first century, freedom of religion is precarious. 

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The Libertarian Take on Discrimination

Posted by M. C. on November 29, 2022

Harvard and UNC should be free to discriminate to their hearts’ content on the basis of race or sex or whatever other criteria they choose.  But they should not see a red penny of any tax money or other statist privileges, since, under the libertarian legal code, there should be a full and complete separation of government and education.  If they want to discriminate, let them do so on their own dime.  Private people and fully private institutions should be free to discriminate all they wish.  That is what free association is all about.  But government is constitutionally forbidden to do any such thing.

Luis Rivera

By Walter E. Block

What with the Supreme Court’s hearing of the Students for Fair Admission case against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, racial discrimination is now in the news.  Like two contending (intellectual) armies, liberals and conservatives have staked out different positions.

In the view of those on the right side of the political economic spectrum, matters are simple and straightforward: discrimination is wrong.  Period.  Stated Supreme Court justice John Roberts: “The way to end racial discrimination is to end racial discrimination.”

The perspective of the left side of the aisle is a bit more complex: discrimination is justified, but only if it helps the downtrodden: women, blacks, the “differently abled,” gays, etc.  One gets the impression, reading between the lines (although none of them, yet, has come out and exactly said this) that if the freshman intake of Harvard and UNC entirely consisted of these groups, and thus entirely excluded white males and Asians of both sexes (unless they were handicapped, of course), that would be just fine and dandy.

What, in sharp contrast to both of these viewpoints, is the libertarian position on all of this?  It too is simple: discrimination, of whatever type or variety, should be legal.

Libertarianism is a theory of just law.  There are three foundational principles of this philosophy, which must be mentioned in the present context.  One, the non-aggression principle: No one has the right to threaten or use violence against anyone else; thus, murder, rape, theft, kidnapping should be illegal.  Two, property rights are based on initial homesteading of virgin territory, à la John Locke, and any subsequent voluntary interaction — “legitimate title transfer,” in the words of Robert Nozick, such as buying, selling, lending, gift-giving.  Three, free association: No one should be compelled to associate with anyone else.  This latter explains libertarian opposition to the 1964 so-called Civil Rights Act: Woolworth’s was obligated to serve customers it wished to exclude.

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Clausewitz, the UN Charter, and a Libertarian View on War

Posted by M. C. on November 4, 2022

UN Security Council (UNSC) authorizations that since 1945 have allowed some member States to use force against other members often have had underlying interests other than the stated one of “restoring international peace.” Predictably, the results of many of these UN sanctioned military interventions have generally been disastrous; often exacerbating conflicts and leading to the dramatic suffering of the civilian populations.

Libertarianism is perfectly placed for this task, since it identifies the state as the cause of most of society’s artificially created ills. As a political philosophy based on natural right, libertarianism cannot morally accept a war waged by the state, even if an entirely defensive one (if there is such a thing). The state, by its very definition, violates the nonaggression principle by its monopoly of violence on a given territory.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has forced many Westerners to consider the realism of Carl von Clausewitz’s classic On War. The Prussian military theorist famously wrote that: “War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.” Though this observation may seem strange or even shocking to modern Western ears, it is the role war has mostly had throughout history.

Clausewitz served in the Russian army in 1812 and his influence in Russia is felt to this day. Indeed, Russia’s approach to the war in Ukraine has the imprint of Clausewitz in the sense that it sees military action as a political instrument, along with other such instruments, such as diplomatic and economic ones.

This helps to explain why Russia has been somewhat misunderstood in Western political and intellectual circles as the current crisis has escalated. Since the end of the Cold War, Western elites have come to equate war with the particular military doctrine of the United States, for which war only starts where politics ends, or even worse: when war of aggression is the preferred means to reach political and commercial ends, often at the exclusion of any good faith diplomacy.

Washington’s wars in the Middle East are typical examples of this. The official objectives of these wars, such as “spreading democracy,” have never really been achieved. Instead, the Military-industrial complex has profited massively from these wars, which strongly suggests that the real military goals of the US government are not the official ones.

For Clausewitz, writing in a time when crony capitalism hardly existed, there is a fundamental interest in avoiding war, because war harms all parties directly involved. Thus, in this light, war should always be the last resort employed by states when trying to reach political goals, not only because of the loss of life and the destruction of property that war entails, but also because of the uncertainty of war for all involved. As the old saying goes, it is easy to start a war, but difficult to end it.

When war does erupt, it is thus often the result of one side’s error of judgment with regard to its own and its opponent’s capabilities and intentions. As the historian Carroll Quigley wrote in his magnum opus, Tragedy and Hope: “This is the chief function of war: to demonstrate as conclusively as possible to mistaken minds that they are mistaken in regard to power relationships.

The Lack of Relevance of the UN

Typically for a nineteenth-century thinker, Clausewitz accepted the possibility for war to solve political problems, in a way modern international law does not. However, his view of war seems more respectful of the United Nations Charter than the aggressive military doctrine practiced by some of its Western signatories. Indeed, the United Nation’s Security Council’s past decisions to allow military intervention have often not met even the Clausewitz rationale for war; namely, the exhaustion of all other means of issue resolution.

UN Security Council (UNSC) authorizations that since 1945 have allowed some member States to use force against other members often have had underlying interests other than the stated one of “restoring international peace.” Predictably, the results of many of these UN sanctioned military interventions have generally been disastrous; often exacerbating conflicts and leading to the dramatic suffering of the civilian populations. In North Korea 1950, in South Vietnam in 1966, in Kuwait in 1990, and in Libya in 2011, the US interventions made a mockery of the UN’s ideal of peace.

Even worse, the UN Charter and the legal legitimacy of the UNSC have simply been disregarded by the US government in Serbia in 1999 and Iraq in 2003, setting a dangerous precedent. Today, of the permanent five veto-wielding members of the UNSC, three of them are now adversaries of the other two, and this is preventing the UNSC from making any significant contribution toward restoring peace.

What kept the peace, at least in Europe, between the two geostrategic and ideological Cold War rivals was arguably more the nuclear deterrence than the existence of the UN Charter, even though the USA and the USSR did several times come close to using nuclear weapons.

The UN’s role in enforcing international law is therefore today almost nonexistent. The absence of the UN in helping solve the current conflict between Russia and NATO is glaring. The UN Charter is thus simply a legal framework that works—de facto, not de jure—only as long as all of its most powerful members adhere to it in both spirit and letter. In reality, international relations between nation-states are still to a large extent power relationship, as in the days of Clausewitz.

Realism in War Complemented by Libertarianism

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Watch “What was Milton Friedman’s impact on the libertarian movement?” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2022

Milton Frieman: Money creation is the cause of inflation, government intervention in the marketplace amplifies booms and busts.

Rose Friedman: Milton’s advocating the withholding tax during WW II is unforgivable.

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Libertarian Lessons from the Super Bowl

Posted by M. C. on June 16, 2022

Sports teams are businesses. They are in the entertainment business. An entertainment business, like any other business, should not be promoted, subsidized, supported, protected, or financed by government any more than any other type of business. And especially when the owners of sports teams are some of the richest Americans. Government has no money of its own. It either prints it, borrows it, or confiscates it from taxpayers. 

by Laurence M. Vance

Even most non-sports fans like me know that the Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). It is one of the world’s most watched sporting events, and it has the most expensive commercials (lately $7 million for 30 seconds). Some people watch the game just to see the commercials and the halftime show. Super Bowl Sunday in February is also one of the most gluttonous days of the year. In the most recent Super Bowl — number LVI, played in Inglewood, California — the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 23 to 20. The important lessons to be learned from this game, however, have nothing to do with linebackers, wide receivers, quarterbacks, penalties, touchdowns, sacks, field goals, blitzes, punts, or interceptions, but instead have to do with libertarianism.Libertarianism alone is the philosophy of freedom.
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Behind the scenes 

While the Super Bowl festivities were taking place, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), joined by more than 80 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and task forces, arrested 214 sex workers and 201 sex seekers during the seventh annual “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild.” The ostensible mission of the operation was “combating human trafficking.” Yet, according to the LASD, the vast majority of those arrested were attempting to engage in consensual sexual activities. Over 400 of the arrests involved misdemeanor prostitution, loitering for prostitution, escorting without a license suspicions, or supervising prostitution. Only seven of the 49 felony arrests involved unspecified sexual felonies related to a minor.

Up until May of 2018, before the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, betting on most sporting events was illegal across the country, except in a few states. Since that time, a number of states have legalized online sports betting. But not Texas. This is why wealthy businessman Jim McIngvale had to drive two hours from Houston to Louisiana to place a $4.5 million bet on the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl. He later placed a similar bet for $5 million. In Louisiana, one can legally bet on sports using a mobile device, which is what McIngvale did. It has been estimated that over 31 million people placed a bet on the Super Bowl. PlayUSA (a sports betting news website) estimated that people would wager $1 billion on the Super Bowl. And that doesn’t count “illegal” wagers.

Even though California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996, the NFL and the network that televised the Super Bowl, NBC, refused an attempt by a company located an hour from the stadium, Weedmaps — founded in 2008 to help California medical marijuana users locate dispensaries — to run a commercial that Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals said would have tried to “push the dialogue forward around cannabis.” Although the NFL and NBC prohibit marijuana-related commercials, hard liquor has been advertised during the Super Bowl since 2017. Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl beer commercials are well-known and celebrated. The NFL last year announced that it would no longer test players for marijuana during the off-season and is even funding research on marijuana’s health benefits.

I did not see the Super Bowl halftime show, but I am told that it featured famous hip hop singers, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem. The New York Times called it “a halftime spectacular heavy on nostalgia and California pride.” Some prominent conservatives, who seem to have forgotten the existence of the First Amendment, had a rather different opinion. Charlie Kirk, co-founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, remarked: “The NFL is now the league of sexual anarchy. This halftime show should not be allowed on television.” Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! for America, commented: “The Super Bowl halftime show was basically pornography on television. Absolutely disgusting. It shouldn’t have been permitted for cable television.”

The Super Bowl was played in the most expensive stadium ever constructed. But what is even more incredible is that SoFi Stadium was built entirely with private funds. The new $5 billion stadium — which is also rented out to another NFL team, the San Diego Chargers — is part of a complex with a concert hall, a shopping center, office buildings, condos, a luxury hotel, and a 25-acre park that altogether is three times larger than nearby Disneyland. The owner of the Los Angeles Rams, billionaire businessman Stan Kroenke, helped move the Rams from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995. In St. Louis, the Rams played in the Edward Jones Dome, a $280 million stadium built with government subsidies. Even though the St. Louis stadium had not yet been paid for, Kroenke moved the Rams back to Los Angeles to begin the 2016 football season, playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until the new SoFi Stadium was completed.

So, what do prostitution, gambling, marijuana, the First Amendment, and government subsidies have to do with libertarianism?


The libertarian case against prostitution laws is straightforward. It is not the responsibility of government to legislate morality. 

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Card Carrying Member Since 1988

Posted by M. C. on June 14, 2022

I was amazed how ridiculous the Dukakis/Bush was, then I saw an LP article in the American Rifleman magazine.

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The Right to Self-Defense

Posted by M. C. on May 13, 2022

If there can be no compulsion against jurors or witnesses, then a libertarian legal order will have to eliminate the entire concept of the subpoena power. Witnesses, of course, may be requested to appear. But this voluntarism must also apply to the defendants, since they have not yet been convicted of crime.

Murray N. Rothbard

If every man has the absolute right to his justly-held property it then follows that he has the right to keep that property—to defend it by violence against violent invasion.

Absolute pacifists who also assert their belief in property rights—such as Mr. Robert LeFevre—are caught in an inescapable inner contradiction: for if a man owns property and yet is denied the right to defend it against attack, then it is clear that a very important aspect of that ownership is being denied to him. To say that someone has the absolute right to a certain property but lacks the right to defend it against attack or invasion is also to say that he does not have total right to that property.

Furthermore, if every man has the right to defend his person and property against attack, then he must also have the right to hire or accept the aid of other people to do such defending: he may employ or accept defenders just as he may employ or accept the volunteer services of gardeners on his lawn.

How extensive is a man’s right of self-defense of person and property? The basic answer must be: up to the point at which he begins to infringe on the property rights of someone else. For, in that case, his “defense” would in itself constitute a criminal invasion of the just property of some other man, which the latter could properly defend himself against.

It follows that defensive violence may only be used against an actual or directly threatened invasion of a person’s property—and may not be used against any nonviolent “harm” that may befall a person’s income or property value. Thus, suppose that A, B, C, D … etc. decide, for whatever reason, to boycott the sales of goods from Smith’s factory or store. They picket, distribute leaflets, and make speeches—all in a non-invasive manner—calling on everyone to boycott Smith. Smith may lose considerable income, and they may well be doing this for trivial or even immoral reasons; but the fact remains that organizing such a boycott is perfectly within their rights, and if Smith tried to use violence to break up such boycott activities he would be a criminal invader of their property.

Defensive violence, therefore, must be confined to resisting invasive acts against person or property. But such invasion may include two corollaries to actual physical aggression: intimidation, or a direct threat of physical violence; and fraud, which involves the appropriation of someone else’s property without his consent, and is therefore “implicit theft.”

Thus, suppose someone approaches you on the street, whips out a gun, and demands your wallet. He might not have molested you physically during this encounter, but he has extracted money from you on the basis of a direct, overt threat that he would shoot you if you disobeyed his commands. He has used the threat of invasion to obtain your obedience to his commands, and this is equivalent to the invasion itself.

It is important to insist, however, that the threat of aggression be palpable, immediate, and direct; in short, that it be embodied in the initiation of an overt act. Any remote or indirect criterion—any “risk” or “threat”—is simply an excuse for invasive action by the supposed “defender” against the alleged “threat.” One of the major arguments, for example, for the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s was that the imbibing of alcohol increased the likelihood of (unspecified) people committing various crimes; therefore, prohibition was held to be a “defensive” act in defense of person and property. In fact, of course, it was brutally invasive of the rights of person and property, of the right to buy, sell, and use alcoholic beverages.

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Watch “Hayek’s Contribution to Liberty” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on March 6, 2022

What were Friedrich Hayek’s major contributions to the principles of the free market and the free society? Join FFF president Jacob G. Hornberger and Citadel professor Richard M. Ebeling as they address that question in this week’s episode of The Libertarian Angle.

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