Reform versus Abolition

Whenever I read an analysis that calls for reforming or fixing something the federal government is doing, I yawn. I find that sort of thing incredibly boring. In fact, when I first discovered libertarianism in the 1970s, if all that I had heard or read was libertarians calling for some reform program — school vouchers, Social Security “privatization,” health-savings accounts, or whatever — I never would have become a libertarian.

I became a libertarian for two reasons: One, the libertarian philosophy is a morally correct philosophy. Two, I want to be free and libertarianism is the only philosophy of liberty.

Regardless of which one of them is elected president — Donald Trump of Joe Biden — nothing is going to change in any fundamental sense. The massive welfare state will continue, led by its two crown jewels, Social Security and Medicare. The massive warfare state will also continue, as reflected by the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA. Foreign interventionism will continue. The drug war will continue. The Federal Reserve will continue. The out-of-control federal spending will continue. The ever-growing debt will continue. The managed economy will continue. The debasement of the currency will continue.

That’s because both Trump and Biden and the political parties they represent believe in this dysfunctional way of life. Their fight is simply over who is going to be able manage the welfare-warfare state and benefit from its power and largess.

It is, of course, possible to point out endlessly the faults and failures of welfare-warfare state programs. Both conservatives and liberals are great at this. Whichever group is out of power will write countless op-eds and give innumerable speeches on how the ruling party screwed up this program or that program.

We’ve seen this most recently with Covid-19. Trump has mismanaged the crisis, liberals incessantly point out. He should have done this and he should have done that.

Yawn. If Democrats had been in charge during the crisis, the situation would have been the same, only with Republicans doing the carping. Yawn again.

Unfortunately, many libertarians play this game too. Welfare-warfare state programs provide great fodder for anyone who is interested in pointing out the failures and fallacies of the programs. But make no mistake about it: If libertarians were in charge, their management of this dysfunctional system would be no different, only it would be Republicans and Democrats pointing out the faults and foibles of libertarian mismanagement of the welfare-warfare state.

The only thing that works is freedom — genuine freedom — not the reform-oriented programs that many libertarians call “freedom-oriented” or “free-market-oriented.” Genuine freedom entails the absence of welfare-warfare state programs, not their reform. Reform leaves them intact, albeit in reformed fashion. Abolition gets rid of them entirely.

Consider the Covid-19 crisis. There are many libertarians pointing out that Trump, the CDC, the FDA, the president’s coronavirus task force, and Republican and Democrat governors and mayors should have started addressing the crisis earlier, that they should have had more testing kits, that they shouldn’t have mandated masks, that they shouldn’t have had a lockdown, and that they should have done this or not done that.

Yawn. Unfortunately, many of these libertarians have the same mindset as liberals — that if only they were in charge, everything would be fine. But everything wouldn’t be fine because the problem is not having the wrong people in charge of the programs. The problem is a systemic  one: Government shouldn’t be involved in healthcare at all.

In other words, the libertarian solution to the Covid-19 crisis and all other healthcare crises is the total separation of healthcare and the state — the end of all governmental involvement in healthcare, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Unfortunately, this is not a message that many libertarians want to deliver to our fellow Americans. They are too scared that they won’t be taken seriously or credibly. They just want to continue carping and advocating reforms, just like conservatives and liberals.

But the separation of healthcare and the state is the message we libertarians should be delivering to the American people. We need to be raising people’s vision to a higher level — to the level of genuine liberty, which necessarily entails making the case for abolishing, not reforming, welfare-warfare state programs. That’s the only thing that will restore liberty and health to America’s healthcare system.

Is that a difficult task? Of course it is. Making the case for liberty is much more difficult than making the case for reform. But it is the only way to ultimately find enough people who understand the principles of liberty and who are fiercely committed to achieving the free society. And that’s what we need if we are go win our freedom and bring health, prosperity, and harmony to our land.

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* This article was originally published here

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