Libertarian-Infused Government won’t be heaven . .. it will be hell
When you hear Koch Industries ads and listen to fawning pundits, you’d think that David and Charles are single-handedly building a new kind of America – full of freedom and progressive policies. And, by their testimony, this new utopia is being created through their business. They call this effort their higher purpose.
David and Charles claim that they have no desire to add to their own person $80 billion nest egg. No, indeed. David and Charles are spending gigantic sums of money selling their version of libertarian-infused conservatism because it will be so excellent for Americans, especially poor Americans.
According to the $90 billion dollar brothers: the key to their vision is simple. Good businesses making huge profits, while paying only the teeny, tiniest of taxes, will translate into astounding economic growth for everyone. This result is guaranteed because of liberty and a really small government. This is the libertarian reinvention of trickle-down economics.
The language may be different but the reality is the same. Trickle-down never trickled-down with anything but pain for most Americans.
Radially Changing America
The push for this “new” kind of government has been years in the making. The core concepts came from the Koch-founded and Koch-funded think tanks including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity. With their huge mostly-tax free contributions, David and Charles have funded most of the right-wing organizations determined to change America in ways most of us would not like.
Here are a few goals of “libertarian-infused conservatism:”
- Dismantle the social safety net
- Roll back regulations on industry
- Smash what’s left of unions
- Eliminate the minimum wage
- End healthcare reform
- Repeal corporate and income taxes and eventually eliminate all taxation
- Sell public lands to private interests and privatize the inland waterways
- End the FDA, the FAA, the Department of Energy, the EPA, the Department of Education
- End federal contributions to any infrastructure development
- Abolish the post office
If that wish list ever became reality, image what the United States would look like.
But Libertarian Sounds So Free
Many Americans love the sound of “libertarian.” How great to be free to do whatever you want without any interference from the government. Smoke that joint, yeah! Pay no taxes, yeah!, Carry your gun anywhere, yeah! Liberty, yeah! Who can possibly argue with that?
To understand libertarianism, we have to look past the bumper sticker slogans. Let’s take a few minutes to dig into its history.
The libertarian movement in the US was invented just after World War II when a group of industrial and financial giants founded the Foundation for Economic Education. The FEE is viewed as the first think tank promotion a pro-business ideology called libertarianism.
Take a look at those facts again:
- Libertarianism is a pro-business ideology made up by rich men.
- The FEE’s board included the future founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch among other prominent right-wingers.
- Milton Friedman, another god of the libertarians, was a real estate lobbyist in Chicago
- The Austrian School of Economics became the totally unregulated free market economic model.
- These became the key players in what the Kochs call “libertarian-infused conservatism.”
But that’s not nearly the end of the sordid tale. Charles Koch realized that the baby movement needed a strong base of support. He and his good friend, Murray Rothbard, organized the Cato Institute. Koch has been funding the Cato Institute ever since.
Meet Murray Rothbard
When you read the history of the Libertarian movement and dig into the writings of its founders, it’s hard to ignore the hard-edged, cruel ideas they promote. One example is the Libertarian economist, Murray Rothbard, who sold the idea that a parent “should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights.” Just to be clear, Rothbard goes on to explain that a parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, but the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.”
In his book, Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard went on to explain his idea for a “flourishing free market in children.” He thought that parents should have the right to put a child out for adoption or sell the rights to the child in a voluntary contract. He wrote that selling children as consumer goods in accord with market forces, while “superficially monstrous”, will benefit “everyone” involved in the market: “the natural parents, the children, and the foster parents purchasing”.
Please remember this: Rothbard is not just some wack-a-doodle who gave himself the L label. He was a tenured professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He’s considered the founder of the Austrian School of Economics and a major influence on all libertarian principles. Rothbard is the thinker behind the anarcho-libertarian movement. That label gives away what the movement really is: anarchy in a totally unregulated market.
Rothbard was a close associate of the queen of the libertarians, Ayn Rand, who became a sensation when she wrote the long – 500,000 word long – novel Atlas Shrugged. Rand’s novel has become the best-selling novel of all time. The Tea Party and many prominent Republicans including have claimed inspiration from Rand. Here are a few of her big fans:
- Ronald Reagan said he admired Rand
- Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve) was a member of Rand’s inside circle
- Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Atlas Shrugged inspired him to go into politics
- Ron Johnson (R-WI) called Atlas Shrugged his foundation book
- Ron Paul (former congressman from Texas) and his son Rand (R-KY) call rand a major influence
- Clarence Thomas (SCOTUS) applauded Rand
Rand preached that selfishness is the greatest virtue. She labeled self-sacrifice or altruism as evil. According to Rand, “a person who is weak is beyond love.” She abhorred any government programs to help those weak people. If someone wanted to give them a handout – well, that was okay. But nobody could be forced to contribute to those in need. Rand succeeded in making selfishness heroic.
Ironically, Ayn Rand, who is an Atheist, is applauded by politicians who run on their Christian values. In a nationally televised interview with Mike Wallace she said this, “I am against God. I don’t approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness. I regard it as an evil.”
Atlas Shrugged is the story of producers (including the long sought John Galt) being set upon by moochers and looters who turn the country in a wasteland of giveaways and handouts. In response, the producers go on strike.
After all kinds of subplots taking up most of the endless prose, the producers come out of hiding to reclaim the ruined world. The last two sentences sum up the whole story, “The road is cleared,” said Galt. “We are going back to the world.” He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar.”
If we want to understand the unbridled free market – and it’s real purpose, there’s the key – MONEY. Money for the producers.
Who Wants Libertarianism?
Before you hitch your wagon to the Libertarian horse, ask yourself a few serious questions:
- Do you really want to live in the country imagined by the Kochs, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and the libertarian-infused conservatives?
- Or, more to the point, can you afford to live in such a country?
- If you think that you’ll suddenly wake up rich when the federal government collects no taxes – please look carefully at your tax return. Will the money now going to Washington pay for all the new costs you’ll face?
- A few of those new costs: all retirement expenses, all healthcare expenses, all costs if you are suddenly unemployed, all expenses for maintaining the roads and bridges in your town.
- You’ll have to chip in for all law enforcement
- That’s just a start on the costs that will go directly to you and your neighbors.
I figured out a long time ago that only rich people can afford to be libertarians. In fact, many rich folks embrace libertarians’ idea for one simple reason – they don’t want to pay any taxes.
The agenda of the Koch Brothers and their anarcho-libertarian allies, the John Birch Society and a large part of the GOP is to repeal every major piece of legislation that’s been signed into law over the past 80 years. That includes every piece of legislation that has assisted the middle class, the elderly, children, sick folks, poor folks and working Americans. They can hardly wait to get rid of federal programs that deal with water, air, climate, etc. Of course, those regulations of Wall Street and banking are first to go.
I heard all of this growing up in the John Birch Society. I heard it from my father and Robert Welch and the parade of radicals who came to our house to meet with my father. These folks took a giddy delight in the destruction of anything progressive – and they have never stopped in their desire to take America back to 1900.
Robert Welch loved 1900 and he wrote extensively about those golden years. In 1976, he wrote about the early 20th century as the golden years in America – with huge economic growth and increases in productivity. Welch admitted that there were “pockets of poverty,” despite the phenomenal growth. But, according to Welch, it was a “healthy kind of poverty” free from government interference. “Every man knew that freedom from dire want was entirely his own responsibility and even that want was diminished by the blessings of liberty.”
When you strip away all the flags and the tri-corner hats, and the patriotic trappings, the Koch Brothers and their allies propose the identical ideas I heard from my father and his Birch allies: a dismantled safety net, a federal government 40% of its current size and a free-for-all, laissez faire economy where the rich pay no taxes, business has no regulation and the workers have no unions. The government will be tiny, but what is left will control your personal life, your sexual preference, your fertility and your civil rights and your right to vote.
Welcome to your radical right-wing future.