I now consider myself to be a Libertarian
By Scott Sumner
I’ve always been a small “L” libertarian, but have had an up and down relationship with the Libertarian Party. I was a member when younger, but then let the membership lapse. I continued to vote Libertarian, but mostly to try to build up the party to a level where it would become more pragmatic. They often failed to nominate serious candidates.
My preferred form of libertarianism is based on utilitarian reasoning, and hence is a bit more moderate than the extreme version adhered to by many recent Libertarian candidates. I see myself following in the footsteps of people like Friedman and Hayek. As a result, many commenters who are libertarian purists insist that I’m not a “real” libertarian. I have no problem with people defining libertarianism differently from the way I do.
A commenter recently sent me a very long interview of Gary Johnson, by the LA Times. I was really surprised by how much I liked the interview. Not because our views are identical (I’m less libertarian than Johnson on some issues, and more libertarian on others) but rather because I liked the pragmatic way he thought about public policy issues. Overall, I think I’m about as libertarian as Johnson. His VP choice (Bill Weld) is also a moderate libertarian. In addition, both men have the background, knowledge base, and temperament to be President. In my view, neither of the two major candidates comes close.
I’m not telling anyone how to vote. In this election, my vote would depend on whether I live in a swing state or not.
PS. Consider this story:
The second story was about the hullabaloo over a proposal by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to prohibit food stamp recipients from using their food aid to purchase junk foods, such as sugary soft drinks and candy bars. He says that the state has an obesity problem and that he will “implement reform unilaterally or cease Maine’s administration of the food stamp program altogether.” The Obama administration rejected his request, and leftist activists act as if saying that a welfare recipient can’t buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at taxpayers’ expense is a violation of civil liberties.
There’s a big outrage over a proposed rule that would prevent food stamps from being spent on high sugar sodas, and no outrage that food stamps cannot be spent on beer. I’d rather not get into a debate about this proposed new rule. Instead, I’d point out that the discrepancy between these two views helps explain why I’m a libertarian. Both major parties want the government to be like a parent, they merely disagree as to what type of parent. I believe that society works better when adults are treated like adults.