Libertarians Aren’t What You Think

sam fieldsBY SAM FIELDS




It seems that we have gotten past the old joke that “libertarians are Republicans who like to smoke pot.”

Particularly with the rise of and Ron and Rand Paul, Libertarianism has become the “philosophy de jour.”

Of late it seems that it has now become the “Heinz 57” of philosophies…one that provides answers for the full spectrum “cafeteria libertarians” on the left or right and everywhere else. There are even “Christian Libertarians” which, as you will see, makes about as much sense as “Big Mac Vegetarians”.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines the core belief of Libertarianism as: “full self-ownership…[with the] moral powers to acquire property rights in external things.”

Put another way: “It’s me, me, me. I have the right to acquire anything and everything without the use of illegal force. I may conduct my life without regard of how it might hurt or help others and accomplish this without government interference.”



Basic Core Beliefs and Policies of Libertarianism (Not necessarily the Libertarian Party or Objectivism)


  • Religion and God — No and no.  Libertarianism rejects the notion of a god–supernatural or otherwise. Worshiping any God is completely incompatible with the idea “full self-ownership”. Belief in a god requires one to subordinate a deity. A libertarian who claims to follow a god would be the equivalent of a self-proclaimed Christian Fundamentalist who does not believe in God. If you doubt this, consider who are the founders of modern libertarianism. Beginning with Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig Von Mises, Friedrich Von Hayek, Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, etc., they are all atheists. You can’t believe in the absolute supremacy of the individual and also believe in an all-powerful god.  At least, you can’t do it and remain intellectually honest.
  • Labor and Work Conditions — Abolish minimum wages, child labor laws and laws regulating work conditions including everything from hours to fire exits.
  • Property Rights — They trump everything including human rights.  Abolish Civil Rights laws that prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations like restaurants and hotels.  Say hello to “colored” water fountains.
  • Animal Rights —No such a thing. In “Libertarianland,” Michael Vick should and would be allowed to organize dog fighting to gamble.  Get your kicks torturing your animals?  Vote Paul in 2016.
  • Drug and Medical Laws — Abolish and abolish.  It was not until about 1900 that laws restricted who could hang out a shingle to practice medicine or manufacture and sell medicines. We need to go back to those days.
  • Environmental Laws — Repeal them all and sell off all the national parks. You never get a straight answer.  It’s always a rant that the Federal government is the biggest polluter.  Their solution is exclusive to property owners suing polluting neighbors.  You should be able to buy a car that does not have anti-pollution devices or remove the ones you have on the car you bought.  The problem is that the free-market drives down the environment since, in the short run, it is usually cheaper to pollute.
  • Anti-Trust Laws — Abolish them.  The free market will prevent monopolies. Really? Up until 1911 Standard Oil controlled over 90% of the petroleum in America. Virtually every other industry was at the mercy of John D. Rockefeller. Is it any wonder that he used to joke: “The best business to own is a well run oil company.  The second best business to own is a poorly run oil company.”  It took over a decade to break up Standard Oil for violating the Sherman Anti Trust Act.  Ask a libertarian how the “free market” should have or would have broken up Standard Oil, and you get a fairytale lecture in philosophy.
  • Abortion and Drug Laws — Gone. They are a direct interference in personal liberty/freedom to control one’s body.
  • Immigration Laws — Open borders. No work permits needed for millions of aliens who are willing to do your job for a buck an hour.
  • Trade — Abolish all trade barriers.  Third World countries want to sell us stuff made from slave labor?  That’s fine.  Somehow or another, as our jobs start out flowing, the “free hand of the market” will make us rich.
  • Monetary Policy  — In 1832, Andrew Jackson killed the Central Bank. Between then and 1913 over 10,000 private currencies were printed.  Not one survived in the next eighty years of bipolar economics.  In 1913 we established the Federal Reserve to act as monetary Prozac.  It is powerful and imperfect.  It is the ultimate enemy of libertarians. Their solution is to abolish the Federal Reserve and allow anyone to print their own money like Bitcoins.
  • Military and Foreign Policy —  Cut the Defense budget.  Terminate all alliances.  We only fight those who attack us…and maybe not all of them.  Many libertarians will explain how our oil boycott (interfering with the free market) of Japan left them with no choice but to attack.  Abolish the Cuban boycott and foreign aid for all beginning with Israel.
These are some of the basic libertarian beliefs.  I like some of them although I am not a libertarian.  The next time you meet someone who proclaims that philosophy, ask them what they think of some of the above.

23 Responses to “Libertarians Aren’t What You Think”

  1. Watchman says:

    Sam, you should stop writing about things you haven’t got a full picture on. One book (or more likely one Cliff notes) on the subject of Libertarianism doesn’t give you any comprehensive grasp on it. While you got close on a couple of your points, let’s see if we can disabuse you of your incorrect conclusion.

    Libertarianism begins and ends with the premise individuals (as much as is possible) are capable of making the decisions for what is best and right for themselves. That the individual is capable of determining what beliefs they will or will not hold, and that Government should be as small as possible, having very little intrusion or interference in an individual’s life.

    As for the religion thing – whatever God, gods or lack of a God people choose to believe in (or not believe in) is up to them. This, contrary to your statement, is not atheism… it is a respect for the beliefs of the individual.

    As for business – self-regulation is more effective than Government regulation. Why? because government regulation means government intrusion, and government picking winners and losers. People are smarter than the Democrats and Republicans give them credit for. If a business, organization, not for profit, or media outlet is acting in bad faith, or giving out a bad product, then INDIVIDUALS will decide for themselves whether or not to “buy” the product.

    As for how a Libertarian would have broken up Standard Oil? Admittedly, not easily, but a libertarian would look for a way to build something better. Just think, if it hadn’t been broken up, we might have had cars that run on water or solar power YEARS ago, or more likely, we would have already gotten the more mileage effective cars that the government now tries to mandate.

    “colored fountains”? Sam… that is just dishonest. Libertarianism is not racist. You can believe that all you want, but don’t try to foist that bull on the readers.

    I agree with your encouragement for readers to go and talk to Libertarians, because the half truths, and twisted statements you have above are not Libertarianism. I’m betting that there will be a lot more nodding, and a lot less “tsk, tsk, tsk”ing than you would like. Certainly much more than current Broward County elected officials would like.

  2. Sam The Sham says:

    As with most things he writes, Sam gets a little bit right and a whole lot wrong.

    For anybody interested in the Libertarian Party (of which I am not a member), you can go to:

  3. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    You are forgetting concerning Sen. Rand Paul he is also an advocate for convicted felons getting their voting rights back. Oh yes, Senator Paul went before the Kentucky legislature delegating that felons have every right to vote , once they have completed their sentence etc. This is a Tea Party favorite to boot. Can’t get any more conservative than Rand here. My felons hang in there we will prevail. Also to boot US Att.General Eric hOlder speaking last week about the same thing. Also to note the Miami Herald editorial again endorsing the same ideology that felons should have their clemency rights restored.(where are you Brittany). Contacted the ACLU to represent 16,oo thou Broward residents(including myself-best forty bucks I ever spent -I even got money refunded back to me -oh yes, I petioned for the list-thanks Dolly) that had their voting rights taken away. Yup, ACLU stated to me go to website scroll down etc, click on this/that-we will be in touch. Next step demonstration @ Gov Scott residence-we will shit on your lawn Scott. Hang in there, sit tight, relax, we will prevail. Remember my motto-‘refuse to lose”. Whatever it takes, it takes…….

  4. Ciar to have my vote says:

    Chitty Action-less Robbing Welsher, you don’t have the spine to go shit on the Governor’s lawn. Are you making a terrorist threat towards the Governor? Ask your doctor for stronger medication.

  5. I Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:


    Your motto should have been, “Don’t break in and steal shit.”

  6. Ha Ha Ha says:

    “As for business – self-regulation is more effective than Government regulation. Why? because government regulation means government intrusion, and government picking winners and losers.” — wrong!

    [The question is, what should be the interventions in the market? And we know we want some regulation — how far do we go? And over the years, there’s been a well-developed theory about when markets fail. We have a long historical experience and lots of economic theory.

    Interestingly, some of the economic theory that was developed in the last quarter century — my own work talking about what happens when there is imperfect information, which is, of course, at the centerpiece of financial markets — explains that the reason that the invisible hand seems invisible so often is that it’s not there. Markets are often not efficient. We can identify the nature of those failures — not perfectly, but we can — and say, “These are the instances in which we need government intervention.”

    And I think that many of these protagonists didn’t really understand those basic economic ideas. They were wedded to, you might say, the outmoded ideas of free-market economics, which assume perfect information, perfect competition, perfect markets, perfectly informed market participants, no exploitation — all assumptions that are totally irrelevant to a complex modern economy.]

  7. Night Watchman says:


    You did not address the race issue.

    Should the government have forced business owners to integrate their restaurants and accommodations ?

    And if no..

    What would have been the Libertarian solution?

    Lastly, should we have elevator inspectors?

  8. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Watchman,
    Thank you for making my point. Most particularly with the anti-trust response. You say:
    “Just think, if it [Standard Oil] hadn’t been broken up, we might have had cars that run on water or solar power YEARS ago…”

    That kind of answer is the philosophical bullshit that you hear from libertarians. You do not cite one single fact or reasonable premise to explain why your assertion is so.

    Logic suggests that the opposite is so. If a 99% of the cars run on gas and you had 90% of the petroleum market why would you not use your power to suppress all the competition including alternative fuels? To control the Oklahoma oil market, the Rockefellers were murdering Indians with impunity. You think they couldn’t kill electric cars and the Stanley Steamer?

    Libertarians live in a pre-Civil War America of small farmers and tradesman where power and wealth is not concentrated in a few hands.

    They lack all understanding of how “power” works. Instead all we hear is: “But, if the Queen really did have balls she could then be the King and if a frog did really have wings he would not bump his ass.”

    Here’s a reality check. Libertarianism is funded by the people who already have the money and power (Think Koch brothers) and convince fools like you that supporting a system that gets them richer and more powerful is in your best interest!

  9. Sam The Sham says:

    In today’s world, no company offering public accommodations (restaurants, hotels etc) would dream of limiting its clientele by restricting blacks, women or other minorities. Considering the restrictions of the 1950’s, would we have gotten from there to here without government mandated civil rights? I think yes and my opinion is just as valid as any other opinion since we will never really know.

    Should someone be allowed to do business with whomever they want? Yes, that is their right. Would some do it? Yes, on ALL sides of the discrimination issue. There are plenty of businessses that cater to women only such as hair dressers and spas and such. Should they be forced to cater to men as well? Society pretty much agrees the answer is “NO”. And there is no great hue and cry from the oppressed men about it.

    About monopolies; there has never been and there will probably never be a permanent monopoly without the aid (and force) of government. Standard Oil came close but never had more than 85% of the business. How did he do it? By running efficient business models he was able to LOWER the cost of fuel and out-compete everybody else. So Rockefeller was bad for his competition but very good for the consumer. Which leads me to the point that free monopolies (not governmentally enforced) are not inherently bad. A monopoly will last only as long as its competition does not undercut it or technology change and make it obsolete.

    Should we have elevator inspectors? Food inspectors? Building inspectors? Yes we should. But they need not be government employees. They could be private inspecting and underwriting businesses. In fact, a very cogent argument could be made that government has usurped an entire industry by not allowing these private industries.


    No business would consider discriminating against minorities?

    Didn’t the Arizona Legislature just pass a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays based on religious convictions?

    What difference is discrimination against gays for religious reasons and discrimination against other minorities based on religion? Didn’t some segregations object to mixing with blacks for religious reasons?

  10. Sam The Sham says:

    Sam Fields,

    I never heard that Rockefeller was murdering Indians. Perhaps you could substantiate this with some credible links.

    Or you could retract it.

  11. Duke says:

    Libertarians are kooky. I know one libertarian guy who is totally serious when he says that folks should be allowed to drive drunk as long as they don’t get in an accident. Once they get in the accident then they should be carted off to jail and lose their license. But until a drunk driver actually hurts someone or damages their property while driving drunk, it’s okay to do so.

  12. Night Watchman says:

    Around racial discrimination is one of the key places that Libertarianism breaks down.
    No it’s not just anybody’s opinion (nice try by the way).

    Racial apartheid existed, quite profitably mind you, for ONE HUNDRED YEARS before the government said stop it.

    So your answer is that Libertarians would do NOTHING. More than nothing. If this was happening today you would go on Fox News and explain how business owners can do whatever they want and the Magic Market will take care of everything. Right??

  13. SAM FIELDS says:

    I stand corrected. It was not Indians in Oklahoma. It was coal minors in Ludlow, Colorado.

  14. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Miners, not minors, Sam. Some libertarians can spell. And you’re confusing libertarianism with libertines.

  15. Sam The Sham says:


    No business would consider discriminating against minorities?

    Didn’t the Arizona Legislature just pass a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays based on religious convictions?

    What difference is discrimination against gays for religious reasons and discrimination against other minorities based on religion? Didn’t some segregations object to mixing with blacks for religious reasons?

    Yes, of course you are right. I should not have written “No businesses” and should have written “Few businesses”.

    Most business operators I know want the largest customer base they can get but there are always people looking to serve their niche markets.


    You are right.

  16. Watchman says:

    Sam- “philosophical B-S that you hear from Libertarians”? Really? No need to devolve the discourse. I was hardly making your point. I was merely pointing out that Libertarians would work for a solution WITHOUT Government intervention. They start from the premise that people ARE capable of inventing, innovating, and overcoming difficult and sometimes seemingly insurmountable conditions. It’s disappointing that you would miss that, but perhaps it’s something you don’t believe it. Doubtless you will call it philosophical twaddle. In your view, how DOES “power” work? Here in America, under the U.S. Constitution, the individual is sovereign. As for wealth being concentrated in a few hands, but ask Jay-Z how unattainable that type of wealth is. You just have to be willing to do the hard work to get it. I am not writing any of the above with any animosity, only with genuine curiosity on why you wouldn’t believe in the ability of a determined person to achieve success? I am not a Libertarian myself, but like you I like some of the things they believe…so much so that I continue to read on it.

    By the way, which “system” are the Koch brothers and their ilk convincing me to support?

  17. Retraction Bob says:

    Charlotte Greenbarg being a libertarian is something we all should have guessed. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Bob Norman is a big fat stinky liar?

  18. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Charlotte
    “minors” was a homonym. Eleven of the 26 murdered were children burned to death in their tents. Two were spouses and the rest were “miners”.

    Practically every proposal the Koch Brothers support involves lowering their tax burden and/or government regulation most particularly environmental.

    I am sure that you believe that it is only co-incidental that this puts more money in their pockets.

  19. Sam The Sham says:

    Here is a thought about monopolies. The Sun Sentinel is a newspaper monopoly in Broward County. In its heyday it has run other papers out of business, like the Hollywood Tattler, and kept other papers small, like the Pompano Pelican and Deerfield Observer. It has bought up many smaller publications and incorprated them into itself as the “Forum” insert. Sounds like predatory action to me.

    Should we break up the Sun Sentinel? No way, for 2 reasons.

    1. If someone can produce a viable newspaper to compete, they should do so. (not likely)

    2. The local newspaper is a struggling business model. The internet (technology) has overtaken it and we still don’t know what form this medium will ultimately take.

    Nothing lasts forever.


    “Struggling” is an understatement.

    “…we still don’t know what form this medium will ultimately take.” So true. But the newspaper industry won’t have the answers anymore than they did during the last two decades.

  20. ken says:

    Hi Sam,

    Florida is a state where the substantial Libertarian presence has kept away the income tax, given us direct democracy and county autonomy, and been the leader in spreading tolerance.

    Many of your statements on Libertarianism are quite wrong. For example, Libertarians have led the way for decades on civil rights.

    For more on the venerable center of the world movement, which was established in 1592 and was for a long time the Liberal-libertarian League: Please see the Libertarian International Organization, at

    Libertarians are in every country more or less proportionately. Enjoy!

  21. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Ken,
    Libertarians taking credit for all those things is like the crowing rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

    You don’t know what you are taking about when it comes to libertarians and civil rights laws as applied to property rights.

    The first important libertarian in Congress was Barry Goldwater, who, despite not being a racist, voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it included a Public Accommodations provision that put human rights above property rights.

    That is a core position of libertarianism.

  22. Buddy says:

    Sam is right on this one. Barry Goldwater was a extremely influential among librarians. Goldwater opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, stating that is unconstitutionally imposed conditions on private businesses.

    Rand Paul also is against such legislation. Here is a portion of a 2010 piece about libertarians from the New York Times:

    “Mr. Paul has tangled himself up in a similar contradiction. His championing of private businesses, ignoring the rights of just about everyone else, places him on the wrong side of history, just like the first opponents of the Civil Rights Act. One fierce opponent of civil rights legislation, William F. Buckley Jr., admitted as much. “I once believed we could evolve our way up from Jim Crow,” Mr. Buckley said in 2004. “I was wrong: federal intervention was necessary.”

  23. Floridan says:

    An example of government antitrust action promoting competition and innovation: