Government Collapse: A Libertarian Perspective

GOVERNMENT COLLAPSE THE WORLD HAS ENDED!!! At least that is what several members of congress and the media would like you to think.  In reality the world, as we know it, has not ended.  According the USA Today, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all automatically funded and will not be affected by the government shutdown.  The U.S. Postal Service will also continue to operate normally.  Basically everything the majority of us need is still operating.  But how did it come to this?

Republicans in the House have voted 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), citing a recent Gallup poll showing that 44% of U.S. adults think that the ACA will worsen the healthcare situation in the U.S.; while 35% say it will make it better.  Various Senators, including Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and a band of House conservatives are leading the charge to block implementation of a law that they view as undermining the free market and the will of the people.  Republican frustrations are also directed at, what they see as a failure, Democrats willingness to negotiate.

Why did this happen?

The government shutdown is the result of two very different political ideologies revolving around the role of the federal government.  This division goes all the way back to the founding of the United States between the federalists (big central government) and anti-federalists (small central government).  As the debt keeps growing and scandals grip government agencies..cough cough NSA, IRS…cough, public opinion has started to shift from the economy and jobs towards the role of government.  The election of several Libertarian or “Tea Party” members to congress has emboldened the newly elected congressmen to stand up against big government.


During Ted Cruz 21 hour filibuster, the Senator highlighted a list of companies that were going to be dropping health insurance for their employees.  UPS is one of several companies he listed that decided to drop health insurance for employee’s spouses because of health care costs that rose $49 million in the first half of fiscal 2013 alone.  “Companies have to pay fees to fund research on medical intervention effectiveness, employee’s children under the age of 26, and cover those employees who currently opt out of insurance,” according Business Insider.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) discussed what he saw as “an intervention into our lives,” and that the problems we face are from not following the Constitution.  The government shutdown has provided the American people with a unique opportunity to discuss the role of the government in regards to the Constitution.  From a Libertarian point of view the argument is simple. The states preceded the union, and the U.S. Constitution gave people the power over the government.

Following the “shot heard around the world” at the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts, the American Colonies took a one way train to revolution.  The next step for the states was authoring the Declaration of Independence.  In that declaration the colonists included specific grievances that the colonies had suffered under British rule.  These included: forbidding governors to pass laws without his assent, refusing to pass laws for accommodation of large districts of people unless they gave up their rights for representation and suspending the legislatures set up by the colonies.  The common theme behind all 28 grievances, against the British Monarchy, was the right to liberty and self-government.

Superior Court Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, in a speech at the Mises Institute of Economics, argues that the founders included “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States,” as proof that each state was seeking independence.  He further contends that the idea of plural and independent states can be seen in the last passage “as Free and Independent States, they have the full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do”

Stemming from the Declaration of Independence, the idea of independent states, that were representative of their people and protective of individual liberties, gave rise to state written constitutions.  Following the Declaration of Independence, Pennsylvania wrote and ratified their own state constitution in 1776.  It should be noted that every state, after the ratification of the Constitution, has drafted their own constitutions before being admitted into the Union.

A few relatively important men.

While drafting the Constitution, fears of a central government power grab started growing.  To combat this, the Founding Fathers decided that a Bill of Rights was required to protect both the rights of the individual and states from the central government.  This Bill of Rights, would be 10 amendments clearly expressing protections for the individual and state from the central government.  The First through Ninth Amendments protect the rights of the individual while the tenth amendment creates a power relationship between the State and central government by declaring “All powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people, from whom they originated.” All the rights granted to the central government can be found in the articles before the amendments in the constitution; they are clear and they are defined.

It is the 10th Amendment that many Senators, like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, use to argue for the repeal of the ACA.  They argue that because the Constitution does not grant the government the power to control healthcare and thus we should not be funding or passing it.  Furthermore, they point to several exemptions given out by President Obama as proof that the law is not helping the people and is, in reality, just another form of government intervention into state’s rights and the free market economy.

Personally I agree with them.  No one can say that capitalism does not work, or only serves a privileged few, because the theory has never been truly practiced.  Corporate subsidies and government regulations make it hard for new ideas and innovations to come to the market place by bolstering products that would fail if competition was allowed.  The same regulations that bar entrance into the insurance market prevent companies from being formed that could offer better service at lower prices and who would be willing to insure those that had preexisting conditions.  Empowering the consumer with the freedom to choose is what made this country great and helped thrust us onto the world scene as an economic powerhouse.

Take government regulations that force car manufacturers to put side mirrors on cars.  Had the free market been allowed to work, someone would have come up with this idea, sold it to an auto manufacturer, who would then have a product safer and superior to any other car on the market.  Consumers back then probably had some of the worst road rage, as people cut them off while driving, but now have a product that makes them safer if they wanted to purchase it.

Talking about politics as a libertarian in a few words is never easy.  The amount of historical background knowledge required even to make an argument can be very challenging.  So I’ll end on saying this, if a state wants to have its own health care system, fine that is the people of the state’s choice, but a one size fits all approach does not work; so do not push the agenda on those that might not have the same view as you.  The same can be said for abortions, gay marriage, education and any of the programs designed to help the needy.  If the states are free to decide for themselves what they want to do we would not have several of the monetary and idealistic issues and gridlock that we have in congress now.  Cliché as it may sound, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say.”


3 responses to “Government Collapse: A Libertarian Perspective

  1. The analogies used do not hold water in the real world. Private insurance companies have had the ability forever to insure pre-existing conditions, but they don’t! Why? Capitalism’s profit motive provides an incentive not to do so. The status quo ante in the insurance marketplace is full of such “free-market” disincentives that directly affect some people in need, but not those not in need. To then achieve equal access requires government regulation and intrusion into the health insurance marketplace.
    With respect to side mirrors on cars, those who would not pay the extra price for this safety feature would endanger the safety of everyone else on the road. So everyone else would pay higher costs in terms of dollars and life itself for the relative greed of those unwilling to buy the side mirrors. And that is precisely why side mirrors are standard on automobiles, and precisely why health insurance should be standard coverage for everyone. I personally would prefer a universal coverage for health, but am willing to accept mandatory universal access to health insurance that protects everyone for the sake of everyone else’s insurance costs and health costs.
    As for the history lesson, the Supreme Court determines the validity of statutes and interprets those laws in light of the Constitution and all its amendments as they have changed over time and as our world has changed over time. Few of us would agree with all of its rulings, but in a nation of laws we are bound to live by those rulings. And the court has reversed itself on a number of rulings over the history of the nation. One can never say the Constitution is static and locked into 1787 perceptions of the world. Technology changes, needs change, views change on cultural issues, the entire concept of equal protection for all change (indeed who is “all”). The Constitution and its amendments not only guarantee rights to the individual and the states, but it is to protect the rights of those with alternative views from the tyranny of the majority. It is a given that the Federal Constitution exercises superiority over state constitutions. If not so, then we live in a cacaphony of 50 different nations. We are then no longer Americans, and divided we fall.

    • ^ What this guy said. Shazam. The idea of healthcare being an unregulated, purely “free-market” affair, disgusts me. I wonder if the health insurance companies realize that if they become so hesitant to insure monetary liabilities, they won’t have many customers healthy enough to work, earn money, and BUY health insurance at all, not to mention they’re destroying their own customer base by letting them die. Oops.

    • ^ What this guy said. Shazam. The idea of healthcare being an unregulated, purely “free-market” affair, disgusts me. I wonder if the health insurance companies realize that if they become so hesitant to insure people with pre-existing conditions, aka monetary liabilities, they won’t have many customers healthy enough to work, earn money, and BUY health insurance at all, not to mention they’re destroying their own customer base by letting them die. Oops. Maybe they’re just trying to cut as many corners as possible without causing long-term damage to their customer base.

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