Brian Katzung On Becoming A Libertarian


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Why I Became A Libertarian

Libertarian Party LogoUntil I was in my late twenties, I had no interest in politics. Then, in a conversation with a friend, I had a revelation about the importance of politics. In the same conversation, I was introduced to the Libertarian Party. 

Among other things, I believe in freedom, personal responsibility, and the value of diversity. I think it is important not to impose ones values on others, and that people who are responsible and innovative should be rewarded, and those that aren't shouldn't. 

In my opinion, the agendas of the Democrats and Republicans simply aren't consistent with those values. They want to take what you earn, and decide for you how the money should be spent. They also want to choose how you can and cannot live your life, regardless of whether or not how you live your life interferes with the rights of others. 

A choice that is made for you is not, for you, a choice. I consider that unacceptable, and was in search of a political home. 

When the values of the Libertarian Party were described to me, I felt that they very closely matched my own, and that's when I realized I was a Libertarian. 

For me, it was a fairly simple and quick step to realize that I was a Libertarian. If the decision is not as easy for you, you may wish to consider the following questions: 

  • Do you frequently find yourself voting for someone solely because you dislike his or her opponent more? (Put more colloquially, are you cutting off your nose to spite your face?) 
  • What direction has government taken in your lifetime? Look at the ``big'' picture, not at individual events. Can you honestly say that life got consistently better when one party was in power, and consistently worse when another party was in power? Or did government generally get bigger and a lot more expensive while your taxes grew significantly and your life became more complicated, regardless of which party had the most control? 
  • Do you think the Democrats and the Republicans differ more in direction or in degree? 
  • Do you tend to focus on one issue to the exclusion of all else? Are you willing to sacrifice your values on almost all of your issues in order to support a candidate who matches one of your values exactly, even if another candidate better matches your values over all? 
  • Do you have different standards for Democrats and Republicans than you do for other parties? Do you expect third party candidates to be perfect, even though you are willing to overlook major imperfections in Democrats and Republicans? 
  • Are you so certain of Democratic and Republican ``problem solving'' approaches (e.g., more money and bigger government) that you are willing to gamble your freedom and your income on them? 
  • Do you expect to see any Social Security benefits when you retire? If not, do you care? Harry Browne proposed an equitable solution in his book Why Government Doesn't Work, but the Democrats and Republicans, it seems, don't even want to discuss the problem. 
  • Do you see the Democrats or Republicans ending the War on Drugs any time soon? Do you think drug producers grow more crops when drug agents destroy them? 
  • Do you think the prohibition of drugs keeps organized crime in business the way prohibition of alcohol did? Do you think most of the problems would go away if the profit disappeared from the drug trade if drugs became legal again? Do you think the War on Drugs money could be better spent on education and rehabilitation programs? 
  • If you pay for your local school district in real-estate taxes, do you have a neighbor who has more kids than you do? Do you think it's fair for you to have to subsidize their education, or for people with fewer kids than you do to subsidize yours? Did you have any say in how many kids your neighbor was allowed to have (or were you taxed without representation)? 
  • Which kind of entity do you think is more responsive to people's needs, a government agency, or a private one (business or club)? 
  • If a company such as Underwriters Laboratories or Consumer Reports tested products at the rate the Food & Drug Administration tests drugs, they would quickly go out of business. Do you see the Democrats or Republicans shutting down slow, inefficient government programs in favor or faster, leaner, private solutions? 
  • If a company such as Underwriters Laboratories or Consumer Reports was in the drug testing business and made a mistake, they would most likely go out of business. When the FDA makes mistakes, are they more likely to be shut down or to claim to need more money and resources in order to ``do the job right''? 
  • How many of our Constitutionally guaranteed rights must be whittled away or blatantly eliminated before we consider the government an unconstitutional police state? 
  • Isn't it more prudent to make a non-violent change in direction now than to try to recover from an unconstitutional police state later?
Here are some more questions. These are from Harry Browne's 1996 campaign.
  • Do you feel your taxes are (way) too low, just right, or (way) too high? 
  • Do you feel we have too little government, just the right amount, or too much government? 
  • Would you be willing to give up all your favorite federal programs in exchange for never having to pay income tax again?

There is also a Harry Browne Facebook page, and sells his ebooks.

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Updated 26 August 2013