It goes without saying that the many libertarians are at home with scrutinizing the nuances of political philosophy and economic theory. The only problem is that the average American is far from having any interest in these things. The average American ultimately seeks simple and pragmatic solutions to their daily lives. The question is, “does Libertarianism have an answer to the practical needs of Americans?”
Of course, as a libertarian I am biased in thinking that libertarianism truly does have solutions to the average American’s daily concerns. The fact of the matter is that the usual presentation of libertarianism is not the practical applications of libertarian principle in everyday life, but arguments over gun rights, drugs, warfare, NAP and taxes. While all of these topics are interesting and important, the average American has little interest in them.
According to Pew, the average American is first and foremost concerned about the economy. This is where libertarianism should truly shine. We should be on the forefront of explaining how excessive regulation and taxation has contributed to the continual malaise of economic progress. Many of the achievements exhibited in the market have been made in the tech sector, primarily in software or “bits”. The manufacturing, or “atoms”, part of the tech sector has not demonstrated the same sort of success because of regulation. Americans need to be shown how regulation contributes to delaying progress. In the 1970s, people were running to universities to study engineering, but fast forward to the present and everyone wants to be a computer scientist or data scientist. This is not a coincidence. In the 1970s America’s attitude towards innovation in the manufacturing sector was quite pronounced due to the Cold War. We have subsequently lost our impetus to succeed in manufacturing any longer. This is a fine example of how competition incentivizes excellence. Competing with Russia made Americans quite dedicated to improving nearly every aspect of society. We went to the Moon, created new airplanes, computers, new cars, franchises, products and changed the way the modern home functioned, forever. Today, if the Wright Brothers attempted to fly an airplane, they would be bogged down with so much licenses and regulations that they would have stuck to being bicycle makers. This is the story that Americans need to hear.
The next thing Americans need to hear is that less money in their pockets means less disposable income to make purchases, which drives our economy. Yes, our economy is driven by consumption, and having the government dry this up with taxation helps no one. Yes, I am well aware lessening taxation on the rich alone is a horrible idea. Indeed, trickle-down economics does have its problems. Instead, we should have tax cuts across the board. Everyone should have more money in their wallets to go out and make purchases to their hearts’ content. Not to mention that all these taxes contribute to a loadstone on the collective neck of our economy. Those taxes go to useless government jobs that create no value, wealth or utility for our society. In that respect, it acts as an additional tax on society due to the opportunity cost borne by us all. What about the poor? Charities, Churches, Temples, and non-profits should voluntarily step in to help those who need the help. They can get their money from donations. What if people do not give enough? I trust my neighbor to help me in my time of need. If I cannot trust my neighbor, why would some stranger in the government feel so compelled to care about me? We either fundamentally trust people, which makes the need for a huge welfare state unnecessary, or we do not trust people, which makes a huge welfare state ran by people (who are untrustworthy) completely suspect.
I believe with these simple topical points just discussed and direct engagement, people would really warm up to libertarianism. Fundamentally, we are about freedom and that really does appeal to everyone. I believe that this election cycle will do more for libertarianism than anything else. The offering of candidates along with their haphazard solutions has been on display for all of America to see. Whether it is the socialism of Bernie Sanders or not-even-sure-what-to-call it of Donald Trump, the country recognizes that both parties are without new or innovative ideas. This is our time to show that there is a legitimate alternative that can provide meaningful solutions to all the problems this nation is currently facing.
* Gary St. Fleur is the founder of Save Scranton, an organization that campaigns against the corruption and malfeasance in the North Eastern Pennsylvania area, by utilizing grassroots efforts to enact reform.
Gary St. Fleur
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