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Letter to the editor: Response to last week’s letter

Here is a great lesson that I learned from Sean Hannity—when attacking someone who disagrees with you, always paint them as an extremist and leave no middle ground. Case in point, accusing libertarians of being impractical and disconnected with reality means you’re a socialist that loves to gobble away at freedoms and liberties.

As you may have guessed, I am responding to last week’s rebuttal to the piece I wrote several weeks back about my dislike for libertarianism. It seems that the gentleman failed to get my central argument, which was that life is full of compromises and balances. You know, those skills we first learned about back in preschool.

At no point in my original piece did I deny that markets work. In fact, they have done wonders for mankind, but like anything in life, limits and restrictions are often necessary.

Now we can talk theory and reveal in the abstract all day but I would rather not for the sake of time. I find case studies to be the most obvious illustration of the disconnect between libertarian ideology and reality.

NPR in late October broke the story that for-profit prisons helped to drive the Arizona immigration law. Yup, you did just read that right. These private entities lobbied for a law that has the potential to increase the number of people being arrested which is perfectly inline with their business model, i.e. more people arrested means more money. Now, they are doing nothing illegal here, but I hope you find this to be morally wrong on so many levels as I do. To me this is a perfect example of going too far, regardless of the efficiencies that for-profit firms might bring to this market. Do we really want them meddling in our nation’s policies? Let’s not forget that it is in the interest of these firms not to decrease the amount of people going to jail nor rehab those in jail because that is simply bad for business. Just think about that.

I just want to add one more case study to further prove the disconnect that this ideology has with reality. One of the dreams of the libertarian guru Milton Friedman was to privatize our county’s National Parks. Yes, privatize parks like Yellowstone. Imagine paying Six Flags prices to visit the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful and other national treasures. Do I need to say more with the disconnect with reality?

In essence, just because I find libertarianism ideology to be based in a realm separate from reality does not mean I embrace the mantra that government is the cure-all for everything as a person commented on my original piece. That is a juvenile response. Complex issues require complex solutions. Libertarians need to stop viewing everything as black and white and for once factor in the gray scale to their decision making.

I have to say, though, that I do have some admiration for libertarians. They stick to their guns even when reality says otherwise. Now there is some dedication.

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  • C

    CatoNov 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    The instances cited here border on the nonsensical. While it is certainly reprehensible if it is true that private prisons influenced the passing of the odious Arizona immigration law, we ought not decry the rational calculations of a private entity. Rather, it is revolting that the government of Arizona has sufficient power that it is worth the effort of the private sector to lobby it. If we accept that the state is even legitimate, and I do not, its functions should be so limited and narrowly defined (to activities like stopping the sort of behavior the Arizona government engages in) that lobbying becomes pointless.

    Regarding the privatization of public parks, the matter is a simple one. Should the maintenance for the parks be provided by those who use them, or extorted from everyone? Of course they should be privatized, unless we would prefer to live in a state of barbarism!