Ask a Libertarian

Ask a Libertarian 2012 with Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch: Is it possible for a libertarian to support things like a safety net?

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Welcome to Ask a Libertarian 2012 with Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. They are the authors of the book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, coming out in paperback with a new foreword covering Occupy Wall Street and more, on June 26.

In this video, they answer the question:

"Is it possible for a libertarian to support things like a safety net?"—sent via Facebook by Dave

Produced by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, Josh Swain, and Tracy Oppenheimer with help from Katie Hooks.

To watch answers from 2011's Ask a Libertarian series, go here.

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  1. I love the Ron Swanson pic in the opening

    1. I like that Stan is in there too.

  2. If Hitler put up a youtube ranting about government overreach, would that discredit Hitler, libertarianism or both?

    1. I would think it would discredit you.

          1. xtube?

  3. So, in other words, you hate poor people. Why do you hate poor people? Oh, and children as well, why do you hate children?

    1. What’s the difference between poor people and children? And why is unzipped pants girl mocking me again? Like I can do anything about her unzipped pants while I’m at work.

      1. Roadkill tshirts have some pretty nice models, too.

    2. I don’t hate children whatsoever. In fact, their limber frames make them ideal workers for my third-world conflict diamond mines as they’re capable of reaching areas that full grown adults simply cannot. They’ve helped lower the cost of production at my diamond-encrusted monocle factory considerably.

      On top of that, after the disheveled little bastards have lost a limb or an eye from the working conditions, they make great props for my phony charity racket that preys upon the naivete of guilt-ridden Westerners who fancy themselves rich and therefore contribute to my Caymen Islands bank account.

      Children are a libertarian’s best friend.

  4. Would you support corporate welfare for my struggling social safety net factory?

    1. Are your nets recyclable?

  5. I was at a bar last week with my wife. It was kind of late and this guy who had obviously had a few starts talking to us and almost right off the bat without any idea where I was politically he ask me if I’m a Libertarian. I told him that in fact I was. So he ask me if I listened to Glenn Beck and I told him no I find Beck to be annoying. He’s like, how can you call yourself a libertarian and not listen to Glenn Beck. I knew where this was heading and what’s funny is that like Nick I brought up that we should cut military spending, and of course he though that was insane. I asked him if he had heard of Reason.com or Cato.org and he had not. he also said he wasn’t interested in checking them out because he got all his news from Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and O’Reilly. I told hom I didn’t care for Liberals but I still went to Huffingtonpost occasionally to see their side of the issues. He thought that was stupid. Sad thing is that he’s going around telling everyone he is a libertarian and that they should listen to Glenn Beck. Dumbass.

    1. But you told him that he’s not a libertarian, right?

      1. The proper way to engage people who watch Beck, Limbaugh, O’Reilly etc. is with a can of bear mace.

      2. I doubt that would have had any effect.

        1. My above comment applies both to Warty’s comment and Hugh’s comment.

      3. I stopped listening to Beck as of yesterday, when he was going off on what a nut Ron Paul is. How can he be so pro-gold, and pro Mittens, and anti-Paul? Makes no sense.

        1. I just don’t see how anyone could listen to that sanctimonious over-the-top dripping wet sarcasm along with the ass kissing co-hosts for more than five minutes. Not to mention his incomplete knowledge of the history of liberalism that he always goes on about as if he’s the ultimate authority.

      4. I told him that he was not a libertarian but seeing how he didn’t care what anyone other then the above mentioned had to say, I doubt it registered.

    2. When Red Eye was talking about the Van Jones attack against libertarians, they thought that it might have to do with his believe that libertarians are Beck followers.

      1. Maybe, but there’s a major strain of libertarian hate on the left, and it seems stronger these days. It seems more the “capitalists will rape everyone” view than anything about Beck. A Facebook friend (and semi-famous author) recently posted that “privatization has never worked.” WTF? But I didn’t want to get into it with him.

        1. Well there are examples of failed privatizations but many times those are just examples of cronyism not actual market failures.

          The example I give when anybody tells me that privatization was crap is the case of the privatization of the German telecommunication sector. Back then when I was a child we had a state-owned and state-controlled monopolist. Prices for phoning someone who lives just over 50km away were absolutely ridiculous. I remember a nominal price of over 1 DM per minute (1$ was about 1,50 DM back then – and if you adjust this for real prices you see how ridiculous this actually is). After opening the market prices plummeted for many years in a never before seen way. The people that got burned by this change were of course the state employees but everyone else was pretty much better off. There was some regulation (and still is) regarding the network lines, but compared to back then I live in a telecommunication utopia now.

          1. Of course many have worked well. Examples are legion. As I tried to explain to him earlier, some privatizations may not work, but in those cases you can usually just contract things out to someone else.

        2. So in other words Tony.

    3. That’s why you need the word paleoconservative in your arsenal.

  6. Sure, a safety net is a great idea. The problems start when you begin making the idea mandatory for everyone, and provide incentive for people to take advantage of the safety net without contributing to it. And of course the graft, corruption and outright theft from these programs that inevitably occur with government involvement preclude them being a viable option for the public sector to provide. But unemployment insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance…these are all wonderful ideas that most people should probably have, and that companies will provide at reasonable prices in a free market, and private charities can cover the extraordinary cases where, through twist of fate or bad luck, individuals are legitimately unable to provide for themselves.

  7. Is it possible for a libertarian to support things like a safety net?

    Libertarian: “The circus would cease to have any entertainment value. Gads, no.”

  8. State safety net or social safety net? Remember, we’re the ones that can distinguish between society and state.

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