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What's a libertarian?
Thursday, April 06, 2006   By: Juan Paxety

Is giving every American $10.000 libertarian?

Fausta is channeling Jonah Goldberg in a post entitled "Radical libertarians and today's articles from Marian."  Goldberg discusses Charles Murray and his plans for America's future - which he brands as radical libertarian:

So where are the real radicals today? Who are the folks who want to rethink the status quo and truly liberate the masses? Pretty much where they've always been: on the libertarian right. Witness Charles Murray's exciting new book, "In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State." It's an elegant little tract that makes a sustained, sober and fact-driven case for scrapping the whole calcified edifice of the welfare state.

Under Murray's plan, all transfer payments would vanish, from Social Security and Medicare to corporate welfare and agricultural subsidies. In exchange, every low-income American over the age of 21 and not in jail would get $10,000 a year from the government. And everybody else would still get at least $5,000 a year from Uncle Sam. The only hitch is that people would be required to take out a minimal health insurance policy, and the tax code would stop favoring companies that offer health insurance.

In a flash, the working poor would be richer. Work even for a half a year at minimum wage, and the extra $10k would put you above the poverty line. The whole bloated, nannying welfare state would be a memory. Market forces would finally be introduced to the health insurance industry, driving down the absurdly high price of healthcare. Women who choose not to work so they can raise their kids would get the full $10,000 no matter how much their husbands earned, supporting families more than the current system and with less paperwork. Charities and local communities would be revitalized, enjoying a flexibility denied to traditional bureaucrats. Those who wanted to walk on the wild side would get pocket change to do so but would have to live with the consequences. The old problem of subsidizing out-of-wedlock birth would become an anachronism.

How is it that idiotic leftist policies are now labeled as libertarian? I've identified myself as a libertarian for more than 30-years - even worked for and held office in the Libertarian Party, and I can't imagine any libertarian being in favor of a government handout of $10,000 to each person.  Isn't that what 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern wanted to do?

The goal of libertarians is to get the government off our backs and out of our pocketbooks - whether putting money in or taking it out. It appears that the left, not happy with appropriating the terms "liberal" and "progressive" are now trying to take over the term libertarian - and the right, in the person of Mr. Goldberg, is willing to give it to them.

As for taking out a minimal health insurance policy - Murray sounds like a right-wing talk show host such as Sean Hannity. Hannity and his buddies praise the Medical IRA as a panacea - and it would be a big change for the better, but only if everyone could participate. But everyone can't - there is a requirement that everyone take out a major-medical type policy. Try getting an insurance company to write such a policy if you have a pre-existing condition. They won't write one - and without the policy, one is not allowed to set up a medical IRA.

A true libertarian, unlike Mr. Murray, would argue that the government should get out of the way and let people take care of themselves. Lower my taxes so that I can afford my own health insurance, force insurance companies to be open in disclosing their finances, allow doctors and pharmacies to advertise so that a health-care consumer can make an intelligent choice - and drive down healthcare costs the good old fashioned way - through free market competition.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren