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You Don’t Know What “Libertarian” Means

Libertarian at the Tea Party tax day protest calling for smaller government and the repeal of the health care law. St. Paul, Minnesota, April 15, 2010. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue)

If you want to know what libertarianism is all about, don’t ask a libertarian, because most of them don’t know.

A new poll from Pew Research found that only 11 percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as libertarian were correctly able to identify the very basic meaning of libertarianism as “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government.”

Even though that’s often an oxymoron, that’s what libertarians say, and their followers apparently don’t know it.

Weirdly, that same poll found that 41 percent of libertarians believe that the government should regulate business, 46 percent of libertarians believe that corporations make too much profit, and 38 percent of libertarians believe that government aid to the poor is a good thing.

Similarly, of the so-called libertarians polled, 42 percent believe that police should be able to stop and search people who “look like criminals,” and 26 percent think “homosexuality should be discouraged.”

What happened to limited government and more individual freedoms?

Basically, people in America who call themselves libertarians have absolutely no idea what libertarianism is really about.

So, let’s go over it for a second.

Back in 1980, David Koch, one half of the Kochtopus, ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate.

And the platform that he ran on back in 1980 provides a great summary of what libertarianism is really about.

First, libertarians want to “urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”

In other words, they want to make it as easy as possible for corporations and wealthy billionaires to flood our democracy with corruptive cash and buy even more politicians.

They want Citizen’s United on steroids – and then some.

Next up, libertarians “favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

Instead, they want to privatize healthcare in America, so that their billionaire friends in the healthcare industry can get even richer, while working-class Americans are getting sicker and sicker.

In fact, a 2012 analysis by Citigroup found that insurance company stocks would skyrocket if Medicare alone were to be privatized.

And Big Pharma would experience a revenue and profit boom, too.

Just look at America’s experiences with Medicare Part D.

A report released by the House of Representatives back in July of 2008 found that, two years into the Medicare Part D experiment, American taxpayers were paying up to 30 percent more for prescriptions under the privatized part of the program.

And thanks to Medicare Part D, between 2006 and 2008 alone, drug manufacturers took in an additional $3.7 billion that they wouldn’t have gotten through drug prices under the public Medicaid program.

Meanwhile, the 1980 libertarian platform also says that libertarians “favor the repeal” of an “increasingly oppressive” Social Security system.

They want to abolish Social Security, screw over working-class Americans, and take all the money that would go towards Social Security and invest it in Wall Street, so that their wallets can get even bigger.

There’s over $2.5 trillion sitting in the Social Security Trust Fund right now.

Imagine how much money the libertarian banksters could make skimming even a fraction of a percent off the top of that every year.

Similarly, because libertarians want to hold on to their money and get even richer, they also “oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”

They don’t want to have any responsibility for society. Screw society!

Naturally, libertarians also think that “all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”

According to Demos, in 2010, tax evasion cost the federal government $305 billion.

Imagine what America could have done with that $305 billion.

But, if you’re rich, you shouldn’t have to pay any taxes under libertarianism.

Next up, libertarians want to repeal laws that affect “the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”

In other words, “Screw the workers! We’re the billionaires and we don’t give a damn about workers!”

According to the 1980 platform, libertarians are also for the “complete separation of education and the state” and think that “government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

Who cares about Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, or Abraham Lincoln’s land-grant colleges?

Screw public education! Poor people don’t need to know how to read! Only rich people should be going to college, and billionaires can pay for their own kids’ education!

And when they’re done attacking public education in America, libertarians want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.

After all, pollution can be so profitable. And who cares if a few million people get asthma or die of cancer? They’re not rich people! Screw them.

A 2010 study found that between 2005 and 2007, around 30,000 hospital trips and emergency-room visits could have been avoided in California alone if federal clean-air standards had been met. Instead, those visits led to approximately $193 million worth of health care expenses for the American people.

Guess who benefited from that $193 million?

Similarly, the 1980 platform makes it clear that libertarians also want to get rid of the Department of Energy, and close down any government agency that’s involved in transportation.

No more standards for our roads, no more standards for our railways, no more standards for our airlines. Turn it all over to the billionaires. They can run it all and make a buck while they’re at it!

And libertarians want to privatize our public highways and turn them all into toll roads too.

So, if you want to drive to work you have to pay the Koch brothers!

Libertarians also want to do away with the Food and Drug Administration and the safety standards that agency imposes, so that Big Pharma and Big Ag can make even more money, while you and I are forced to deal with the consequences.

Billionaires don’t have to worry if their food is safe. They can own their own farmland, and hire their own cheap labor to work it!

Along those same lines, the 1980 platform says that libertarians want to get rid of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

After all, if a kid is choking to death on some badly made cheapo toy, it’s almost certain that it’s a poor or working-class kid. One less moocher!

The 1980 libertarian platform also called for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.


Workers don’t need protections. Employers can just be trusted to keep their employees who are working for minimum wage safe.

Finally, libertarians “oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs,” claiming that these programs are, “privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient.”

Or, in other words, turn poverty over to the rich people. After all, they’ve always done such a great job taking care of poor people…

And, while it wasn’t explicitly in the 1980 platform, who can forget that libertarians are also opposed to the Title II of the Civil Rights Act which, “prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and places of entertainment.”

To add insult to injury, they’re also opposed to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex and nationality.

Who needs civil rights anyway?

Clearly, libertarianism is not what most Americans think it is.

From wanting to privatize healthcare, to doing away with federal agencies and eliminating minimum wage laws, libertarianism put the interests of billionaires and the wealthy elite first, and the interests of everyone else dead last. And I do mean dead.

Now, ask yourself, is that the America you want to live in?

I sure don’t…

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