Read "5 Myths About Libertarians" in the Washington Post

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I've got a piece about "5 Myths About Libertarians" in today's Washington Post Outlook section. We posted a link here on Friday (read that Reason discussion here) but if you missed it—or want to add to 1,000+ comment thread at the Post, go here.

Here's the start of the Post piece.

Five myths about libertarians By Nick Gillespie, Published: August 2

Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com and a columnist for the Daily Beast, is a co-author of "The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America."

The specter of libertarianism is haunting America. Advocates of sharply reducing the government's size, scope and spending are raising big bucks from GOP donors, trying to steal the mantle of populism, being blamed for the demise of Detroit and even getting caught in the middle of a battle for the Republican Party. Yet libertarians are among the most misunderstood forces in today's politics. Let's clear up some of the biggest misconceptions.

1. Libertarians are a fringe band of "hippies of the right."

In 1971, the controversial and influential author Ayn Rand denounced right-wing anarchists as "hippies of the right," a charge still leveled against libertarians, who push for a minimal state and maximal individual freedom.

Libertarians are often dismissed as a mutant subspecies of conservatives: pot smokers who are soft on defense and support marriage equality. But depending on their views, libertarians often match up equally well with right- and left-wingers.

The earliest example of libertarian principles in partisan politics might have come in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,when Anti-Imperialist League Democrats rejected empire and war — and believed in free trade and racial equality at a time when none of that was popular. More recently, civil libertarians such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) supported Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in his filibuster on domestic drones and government surveillance.

Libertarians are found across the political spectrum and in both major parties. In September 2012, the Reason-Rupe Poll found that about one-quarter of Americans fall into the roughly libertarian category of wanting to reduce the government's roles in economic and social affairs. That's in the same ballpark as what other surveys have found and more than enough to swing an election.

Other debunked myths include the idea that libertarians don't care about the poor or minorities; that libertarians are an all-male fraternity; that we're all pro-drugs, pro-choice, and anti-religion; and that we're destroying the GOP.

More here.

NEXT: John Palmer, Former NBC News Correspondent, Dies

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  1. In September 2012, the Reason-Rupe Poll found that about one-quarter of Americans fall into the roughly libertarian category of wanting to reduce the government’s roles in economic and social affairs.

    Sadly, only until it comes to goring their particular ox, at which point most of them turn into fans of TEAM STATE.

    1. my friend’s mother-in-law makes $82 hourly on the laptop. She has been out of a job for five months but last month her payment was $20185 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more WEP6.COM

  2. One can only imagine the vortex of smug stupid that will engulf the comments.

    1. The comments are frightening. A lot of ROADZ and freedom is slavery!! There are no real libertarians because everyone drives on roads or once went to school. We may hit peak deep before noon.

      1. Derp before noon.

        1. I believe you’re right, but we’ll just hit another Peak Derp after noon.

          Cause Peak Derp is an ever-increasing level of stooped with no limit.

          1. We just keep hitting our heads against it over and over. It is like a stone ceiling of stupid.

            1. my co-worker’s sister makes $79 every hour on the internet. She has been out of a job for ten months but last month her paycheck was $19606 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site ………… WEP6.COM

              1. This is more intelligent than most of the WaPo comments.

        2. Rand Paul is just a neo-Confederate riding his father’s coat tails.

          From two days ago, Peak Derp is unattainable.

      2. Frighteningly, I don’t think there’s such a thing as peak derp. We have an infinite supply.

        1. What’s that Einstein line? Only two things are infinite: the universe, and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the universe.

      3. Perhaps Mr. Gillespie could have addressed this routine attack in one of his myths? After all, some noted libertarians have endorsed a role for government in public infrastructure (Hayek) and even in providing public schooling (Friedman).

        1. Yes. “Libertarians are anarchists” is a myth that needs to be addresses. The false dichotomy of anarchy or total fascist state is a staple of liberal argument these days. They actually equate an attack on the size of the curre t government with a rejection of all government.

          1. I find it easily the most common route of attack on libertarianism, Mr. Gillespie should have addressed it first.

            1. Maybe you should write an article then.

          2. Heck, I deny that anarchists are even a subset of libertarians.

            Fellow travelers who I respect*, sure, but they arent libertarians.

            *except for their idiotic views on anarchy being possible.

            1. those who believe in the NAP are libertarians, therefore anarchists / agorists / voluntarists are libertarians

              1. Yeah, you could argue that anarchism is the logically reached belief system for someone who believes in NAP.

                As for the possibility of anarchy, I’d say it’s about as possible as having a nearly free state. If you include prehistoric peoples there has probably been a lot more anarchy than the one almost libertarian state (the US for about 30 years).

        2. before I looked at the receipt 4 $4372, I have faith …that…my brother woz trully erning money parttime from there pretty old laptop.. there aunt has done this for only about 14 months and at present paid the morgage on there apartment and bought themselves a Mercedes. we looked here… cnn13.com

  3. Myth: Libertarians wear top hats with monocles all the time.

    Everyone knows a top hat with swim trunks is the way to go.

    1. Haha, I read the post and hoped for that pic; you did not disappoint Zakalwe.

  4. I always imagine a lot of the WaPo/NYT/Progtard commenters are a lot like this lady that lives down the street from us. She’s an aging hippy that drives a prius with probably 10 bumper stickers (at least 2 of which are conflicting), she used to be a public school teacher, owns at least 6 animals and freaks out on other people at the gym who disagree with her.

    1. VISUALIZE WORLD PEACE

      COEXIST (word made out of religious symbols)

      KERRY/EDWARDS

      IT WILL BE A GREAT DAY WHEN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAVE ALL THE MONEY THEY NEED AND THE AIR FORCE HAS TO HAVE A BAKE SALE TO BUILD A BOMBER

      RE-DEFEAT BUSH 2004

      MY KARMA RAN OVER YOUR DOGMA

      WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER

      DON’T TEACH RELIGION IN MY SCHOOL AND I WON’T THINK IN YOUR CHURCH

      1. PRO-CHILD, PRO-CHOICE

        GOOD GIRLS GO TO HEAVEN; BAD GIRLS GO EVERYWHERE

        SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS A VILLAGE IS MISSING AN IDIOT

        FEMINISM-THE REVOLUTIONARY IDEA THAT WOMEN ARE PEOPLE

        INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE

        OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

        1. LOVE YOUR MOTHER (with picture of Earth)

          THINK GLOBALLY, EAT LOCALLY

          GOD BLESS ALL COUNTRIES

          GOD BLESS AMERICA (with the “B” crossed out)

          1. On my way home from work there’s a truck with:

            99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name

            If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em

            Hitting your target is good gun control.

            There’s another one but it’s obscured by the way the guy parks. I’m assuming he’s just trolling the Prius that parks a few spaces away with ?OBAMA!

        2. I was at a party a few days ago where this was overheard, “its terrible for teachers to take a cut in pay to help the comunity, then have their pensions threatened after they retire”

          I think it was in reference to Detroit.

          1. That reminds me

            IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER

            1. GOD IS TOO BIG TO FIT INTO ANY ONE RELIGION

              NOT A HATER

              HATE IS NOT A FAMILY VALUE

              (“=” sign accompanied by a slogan about marriage or love)

              1. GAS GRASS OR ASS, NO ONE RIDES FOR FREE

                IF THE VAN IS A ROCKIN DON’T COME A KNOCKIN

                1. NEVER MIND WORLD PEACE – VISUALIZE USING YOUR TURN SIGNAL

                  GOD, GUNS AND GUTS – THEY MADE AMERICA GREAT; LET’S KEEP ALL THREE

                  1. THESE COLORS DON’T RUN

                    ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE BIN LADEN – OUR JOB IS TO ARRANGE THE MEETING

                    1. WHEN I DIE I WANT TO BE BURIED UPSIDE DOWN SO THE WHOLE WORLD CAN KISS MY ASS

                      MY CHILD IS A MODEL PRISONER AT THE YOUTH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY

                    2. For God’s sake, somebody stop me!

                    3. My dog is smarter than your honor student.

                    4. MY CHILD IMPREGNATED YOUR HONOR STUDENT

                    5. That is awesome edwuard. I might put that one on my car. And I hate bumper stickers.

                    6. AMERIKA — LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT

                      more applicable today then ever.

              2. How can you forget COEXIST?

                1. I didn’t:

                  https://reason.com/blog/2013/08…..nt_3915774

                2. Ah, you didn’t, I see it above!

                  It’s easily the most popular one I see on the car of liberals. Ironically I imagine it is aimed not at Muslim extremists who kill (judicially or extra judicially) apostates or unbelievers, but at people who hate such Muslims.

                  1. Just for EvH:

                    I WEAR THE PANTS IN THIS FAMILY. MY WIFE SAID I COULD.

                    1. DISCO SUCKS!

                    2. I RIDE WITH FORREST

                      (My ex-business partner saw this one)

                      Im guessing 99% of the people seeing it dont get it.

                    3. I’m guessing you’re right – and I’m one of them. I presume it is some redneck/racist thing having to do with Nathan B. So what exactly does it mean?

                    4. So what exactly does it mean?

                      You got it right, basically. Its pretty much code for “Im in the Klan”.

                    5. I would have guessed it meant they were riding with Forrest Gump.

                      Much like those “I’m With Stupid” T-shirts.

                    6. Technically, Cdr Lytton, shouldn’t that be for Hugo Schwyzer?

                      My dad was an electrician, and for years drove what had been an old post office van converted and repainted, although it had clearly seen better days. The bumper sticker he put on it read, “This car climbed Mt. Washington”.

                    7. That’s interesting. The absolute best personalized license plate I’ve ever seen was on one of those converted old Post Office little jeep things. It read “FACTO”.

                3. I am struck by the absence of the swastika and hammer and sickle on that sticker. Can’t the […redacted…] coexist with the […redacted…]?

                  Is it a command, or what?

          2. Well in some sense the pension thing is a problem. If I go into the restaurant and after eating my meal go “upon further review of my finances, I’ve discovered we can’t keep our original agreement to pay for your food and services” I’ve commited a crime.

            The contracts public employees in Detroit received were often overly generous, but they were contracts and the former employees have a legitimate gripe that the city isn’t keeping up it’s end of the deal.

            Now this doesn’t mean future Detroit taxpayers should be saddle with making good on the debt, but I do think the politicians who originally underfunded the pensions out to be legally liable for failing to comply with the contracts they had negotiated.

            The other thing is a basic problem with pensions: they ought to acting in the best interest of the beneficiaries but are normally in a control of the business. Not surprisingly this leads to be them underfunded because the agents tend to be more concerned about reducing the payments required than about assuring future financial stability. Public pensions really ought to be controlled by a party independent from the employer.

            1. A deal between you and a restaurant is a voluntary transaction, therefore nothing like what happens with a pubsec union.

              A closer analogy would be me forcing you at gun point to eat a meal then bitching when you don’t have the $300 price I and someone not you agreed upon at an earlier date.

            2. Public pensions really ought to be controlled by a party independent from the employer.

              Like the employee, perhaps???

        3. I will say that in my experience ardent pro-life activists often have an incredible number of bumper stickers on their vehicles. It’s understandable I guess since if their view is accepted there is a honest to goodness holocaust going on, but I’ve seen some ‘doozies.’

          Some of my favorites:

          ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART

          I SUPPORT A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO BE BORN

          PRO-CHOICE? YOU ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL

          GOD IS PRO-LIFE (not big readers of the Old Testament I guess)

          1. I always see the first one as

            ABORTION STOPS A BLEADING HEART

          2. There is a car I saw a while back with a mix of those and the big and common liberal ones above.

            And a few others making their Catholicism clear.

            Im not sure I get being pro-Obama and anti-abortion, but there ya go.

            1. “Im not sure I get being pro-Obama and anti-abortion”

              Union people are often socially conservative and pro-democrat. Hell even the racists will vote for Obama to protect their inflated wages.

      2. Endless war with the less struck out and replaced with this.

        The gay rights equality sign

        Whatever local environmental issue like save the bay or something.

        1. Around here it’s DON”T BOX THE NECK. Basically, a bunch of middle/upper class white people don’t want big box stores where poor people shop.

      3. She will also have a sticker for the local NPR station.

    2. Does she have a Darwin fish? And Sugar Free has a great description of these sorts. She is the old hippie in the aging Volvo covered in bumper stickers slowly backing into her parking space in the morning. I think most librarians fit the description you give. God they must hate Sugar Free.

      1. My dad always backed into parking spaces, although I think his reasoning was that it was easier to back in than back out, since when you’re going into the parking space you’ve already stopped the traffic.

        And then he got to Europe, where he found that you had to park with the front facing the building becuse they didn’t want the exhaust hitting the buildings directly.

    3. HONOR TEACHERS

      FREE TIBET

      FEMINISM IS THE RADICAL NOTION THAT WOMEN ARE PEOPLE

      1. QUESTION AUTHORITY

      2. OBAMA/BIDEN

        PEACE

        STOP THE WARS

        all on the same prius

        1. KEEP JOBS IN AMERICA

          STOP NAFTA

          both on the same bmw

          1. FUCK THE ONE PERCENT

            OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

            both on the same GMC denali

          2. OSAMA DEAD/DETROIT ALIVE

            FUCK BUSH

            KONI ^2012

            PEACE

          3. HILLARY/MICHELLE 2016

          4. OCCUPY YO’ MAMA

            HANG THE PRODUCTIVE

            GLOBAL PEACE THRU PREDATOR DRONES

            ABORTION ON DEMAND FOR THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO

      3. FREE TIBET w/ every purchase

        1. cute

    4. My all-time favorite bumper stickers, seen on a car shortly after the 1989 earthquake:

      DID YOU FEEL THAT?

      WAS THAT CRACK THERE BEFORE?

  5. Sometimes dude you jsut have to rol lwith it man.

    http://www.Privacy-Rox.tk

  6. Bandwidth problems for human teleportation via Star Trek transporters. Features Yglesias regurgitation of a paper.

    1. Arthur C Clarke said as much in Profiles of the Future many, many years ago.

    2. and no one needs a harddrive bigger than 2MB, besides it would take forever to write all that data.

      1. ^This.

        Look at how storage has changed over the past couple of decades. The cost per MB of storage capacity for a conventional hard drive has plummeted as the capacity has increased. Cheap solid-state drives have somewhat solved the problem of read/write speeds, buses are getting faster every year, and distributed (or “cloud”) storage has the potential to offer nearly limitless storage capacity irrespective of the client’s physical capabilities. There’s always a push/pull between capacity, r/w speed, and bandwidth. As one is improved the bottleneck shifts and that becomes the new problem to fix. But the point is that it does get fixed, and usually because people stop trying to find ways to make single-person trains and make automobiles instead.

        1. You can see it in really old programs too.

          Developers used to go out of their way to save space, because storage was expensive. Sometime along the way, it flipped and now they dont think about storage at all, just assume their will be enough room.

          Time is more important than space.

          And even that is questionable, because too much assumption that processors are “fast enough”.

          1. How Scary Can An Old-School Programmer Be?

            Recently Eugene Kaspersky wrote in his blog a post about the so called Big Comeback of old-school virus writers. I am old enough to remember those guys and their brilliant work ? I don’t necessarily mean malware creators, I’m talking about programmers, coders and assembler masters. They are like Jedi and the Sith of Old Empire whom all Skywalker-related saga heroes considered much more powerful and skilled with the light sabers (no kiddin’, ask Yoda). . .

            Seriously ? it is quite hard to understand what an old school hacker is capable of ? I decided to show you what Eugene was talking about, so you could decide for yourself whether this was scary news.
            Extreme workout for stupid calculators

            Back in 1992 computers were basically smart calculators with big screens (this is not a joke, kids). But there were several groups of enthusiasts who were happy to face software challenges: some programmers managed to create codes that used every byte of memory, every processor function and register, every OS command and, what is most important, 100% of hardware power ? squeezed it all to the last drop and checked out the result. I have to point out that in order to truly nail those tasks, one has to be damn creative, drink a lot of coffee (or smoke a lot of weed, let’s be honest) ? and have an insane IQ level.

          2. Developers used to go out of their way to save space, because storage was expensive.

            Now, everything is terribly bloated. Trying to load all those fucking so-called “social” networking apps doesn’t save any time.

  7. Cosmotarians vs. progressives?

    CATFIGHT!!

    *meow!*

  8. Libertarians are NIHILISTS!

    Why do libertarians hate America?

    1. Bunch of wannabe Somalian warlords, that’s why. When normal Americans were shedding tears over the soldiers who died in Black Hawk Down, libertarians were fantasizing about being the man who ordered the massacre of our fallen heroes.

      That was meant to be over the top sarcasm, but hell, I can see our enemies on both the right and the left believing making that shit.

  9. Equal Rights for Unborn Women is my favorite.

    1. “If we’re not supposed to eat animals,
      why are they made out of meat?”

      1. OUCH!

  10. The FBI: Asserting Our Monopoly On Violence Since 1908

    The FBI gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times in a single year, according to newly disclosed documents that show just how often the nation’s top law enforcement agency enlists criminals to help it battle crime.

    The U.S. Justice Department ordered the FBI to begin tracking crimes by its informants more than a decade ago, after the agency admitted that its agents had allowed Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger to operate a brutal crime ring in exchange for information about the Mafia. The FBI submits that tally to top Justice Department officials each year, but has never before made it public.

    Agents authorized 15 crimes a day, on average, including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies.

    1. And let’s not forget the DEA giving tacit permission to a cartel informants to participate in murders.

      1. And selling weapons to the cartels and blaming it on lax US gun control laws.

        1. Yeah it’s looking more and more like Sons of Anarchy is the most accurate portrayal of federal law enforcement around.

    2. Sounds like a organization that should be charged and convicted under the RICO laws.

  11. The system is about acquisition of power/money. Any one seeking to limit that is a threat to the system and must be destroyed.

  12. If you define “libertarian” as anyone who says they agree with some vague statement like “reduce the government’s roles in economic and social affairs” than 1/4th of Americans are libertarian. Yet that’s not how libertarian is actually defined, by anyone, libertarian or non-libertarian. If you ask that fourth of Americans their positions on the specific issues, abortion, war, immigration, free trade, social security, ect, you’ll find that the large majority of those fourth would not be considered libertarian. What’s next, are you going to consider anyone who says they think liberty is good to be a libertarian? The fact is that true libertarianism is definitely a fringe view.

    1. Super Nintendo Chalmers is correct. Libertarianism-lite as defined by “reduce the government’s roles in economic and social affairs” sounds great to ? of the populace, but when it comes to both the actual libertarian world-view as expressed in the non-aggression principle and to the nuts-and-bolts of applying it to the reduction and/or elimination of government services, the vast majority of those ? backpedal quickly to the Team State position of “But only government can do it!”/”Roadzzz!!!1”

      1. Part of this has to do with the fact that most people develop their positions on an ad hoc basis.

        It’s rare to meet anyone who has a well thought out philosophy that guides them in determining their beliefs on a particular issue.

        1. Which is precisely why I’d prefer an electorate which is less, not more, engaged. Those advocating more participation take it as granted that familiarizing oneself with an issue or with issues makes one an educated voter. It’s more or less the fulfillment of Pope’s admonition that a little learning is a dangerous thing. We need apolitical thinkers, dispassionate and skeptical voters. What we get instead are people voting for pols espousing hazy bromides, most of which are never again mentioned. Most people haven’t got the time or the wherewithal to dig to the pit of an issue, just one side of a multifaceted issue, one single issue, and yet they’re expected to be informed voters when selecting from candidates pushing an assortment of prescriptions.

          Democracy is a sham. We need power diffused through myriad levels of governance, not the absurd expectation that voters somehow constrain or direct politicians. Even diffuse power needs to be constrained with bureaucratic and administrative fetters. Considering the preservation of our Bill of Rights or the delegation of powers, I don’t see it happening. But encouraging voters to educate themselves is not a viable solution. We should encourage voters to stay the fuck home and boycott this farce.

    2. When the world’s smallest political quiz has been given in a proper manner via surveys, its shown about 15% or so in the libertarian “quadrant” (there are really five sections).

      1. That quiz is an excellent example of the bait and switch with the definition of “libertarian.” It is obviously designed to wrongly convince conservatives they are libertarian. Just look at the “personal issues” questions.

        “Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft.”

        This is the only foreign policy question. How many conservatives today advocate the use of the draft? Few consider it necessary. There are probably lots of pro-war neo-cons who favor war but don’t want the draft. A better question would have mentioned non-interventionism directly.

        “There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults.”

        This question, but no question about abortion or gay marriage. Few conservatives realistically advocate for the return of sodomy laws. A better question would have been “Should the government legalize abortion on demand and recognize gay unions?”

        “There should be no National ID card.”

        This, I guess, is the immigration question. Few advocates of immigration restriction seriously advocate a national identity card, most think it can be done by enforcing existing laws. Even if someone might be inclined to support it for that reason, few everyday people have heard of it, so they might think it is some liberal program and not realize the purpose is for restricting immigration. A better question would be “Should America give amnesty to illegals and double legal immigration?”

        1. But your statements–

          There are probably lots of pro-war neo-cons who favor war

          No one sane favors war. The idea that there are people that do so is a leftist creation to hide their love of the quasi-socialism that accompanies war.

          A better question would have been “Should the government legalize abortion on demand and recognize gay unions?”

          And a libertarian would answer ‘no’ to this. A libertarian would know that the government should be involved in neither.

          And what does immigration have to do with libertarianism? If I must have a ‘body politic’, I am under no obligation to extend the status of membership to those tht would steal it whether I like it or not. The idea that we must extend an assumption that everyone is libertarian to those who are not–including those who wish to use our beliefs against us is another leftist/statist construct that renders the concept of libertarianism unworkable.

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