Since When Do Libertarians Support Gun Control and Taxpayer-Funded Abortions?


Office of Dana Rohrabacher

New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman correctly perceives "common ground" between "liberals and libertarians" in the House on several issues, including drug policy, sentencing reform, and limits on government surveillance. But some of the "left-libertarian legislation" Weisman cites as evidence of this alliance has little or nothing to do with it:

The House on Thursday voted 221 to 200 to approve an amendment by one of its most vocal liberal members, Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, to ban federal contracts for companies that set up sham headquarters in offshore tax havens like Bermuda. Thirty-four Republicans bucked their party to push it to passage….

[In May] 76 Republicans joined Democrats to add $19.5 million to the federal instant background check system for gun purchases. The House Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment to allow Peace Corps volunteers who become pregnant by rape to have a federally funded abortion… 

It is hard to see in what sense these are libertarian positions. Weisman seems to be assuming that whenever Republicans support progressive causes, they do it for libertarian reasons, which would be nice but plainly is not true.

Weisman's gloss on left-libertarian opposition to federal interference with state medical marijuana laws is also rather misleading:

On May 30, 49 Republicans crossed the aisle to approve language barring the federal government from raiding medical marijuana dispensaries.

"Some people are suffering, and if a doctor feels that he needs to prescribe something to alleviate that suffering, it is immoral for this government to get in the way," said Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, once one of the chamber's most ardent conservatives, now a co-sponsor of the marijuana measure.

It is true that support for this measure was much stronger among Democrats than among Republicans. But Rohrabacher, who introduced the amendment and has sponsored such legislation seven times since 2003, is hardly a Johnny-come-lately on the issue of marijuana federalism. The Times was similiarly grudging in describing the common ground between libertarian-leaning Republicans and Attorney General Eric Holder on sentencing reform, suggesting that Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are mainly interested in saving money, while Holder is interested in justice. 

To the extent that progressives and libertarians are allied against statists of both parties on issues involving individual freedom and limited government, that is surely a welcome development. But it is important to understand the basis of such collaboration, which is the classical liberal values that both groups partly share, and not to confuse mere bipartisanship, which is more often the enemy of liberty than its friend, with the advancement of those values.

NEXT: Berkeley's Council Says Cell Phones Cause Cancer—Now Shasta County Supervisors Vote to Investigate 'Chemtrails'

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Since When Do Libertarians Support Gun Control and Taxpayer-Funded Abortions?

    Since they stopped being brutalist, I fancy?

  2. You folks support vast expansion of the welfare state by supporting open borders. You also support vast expansion of the leftist Democratic Party by supporting open borders.

    The consequences of your desired policies would definitely include taxpayer-funded abortions and gun control.

    What part of reality don’t you understand? Willful fantasizing is no way to go through life.

    1. Wtf are you talking about?

      1. I give you a troll grade of 6/10 only because you started with “you folks” which I found endearing.

      2. TT believes that the welfare state is a given, and that immigration will expand the welfare rolls (presumably beyond the benefits of having a massively increased labor pool). Thus the only way of combating an even more broken welfare state is to oppose the principle of freedom of association.

        She’s fundamentally a progressive, as gutting Liberty A necessarily means that she needs to gut Liberty B to make it work. It would never cross her mind that allowing the welfare state to break itself while retaining the handful of protected liberties that remain might be the superior option.

        1. I get the thrust of what she saying, I’m just feeding the troll because she looks hungry and lost.

          1. I wish she’d come back and defend herself. Last year’s crop of trolls have long since petered out.

            A good neocon troll is just what this place needs.

            1. We already have Cytotoxic.

              1. $100 says she can bench press more than Cyto.

            2. Doesn’t tulpa still make a new sockpuppet every once in a while?

              1. If it’s Tulpa, then Tulpa is the sockpuppet. Here’s one of her papers.

                Narco-State California: A Model for George Soros’ America


              2. If it’s Tulpa, then Tulpa is the sockpuppet. Here’s one of her papers.

                Narco-State California: A Model for George Soros’ America


              3. Tulpa doesn’t have beliefs outside of contrarianism, though he can provide entertainment after a morning of drinking.

    2. Re: Tina Trent,

      You folks support vast expansion of the welfare state by supporting open borders.

      As absurd an accusation as saying that we libertarians support stoned babies because we support the end of the war on drugs.

      1. Stoned babies are so *cute!* And much happier – no crying fits for *them!*


        2. Stoned babies? What are we, the Middle East?

      2. Stoned babies, or stoning babies? Are either of these better than flash-bang babies?

      3. He is referring to Reason magazine specifically. Or several writer thereof.

    3. Some, not all. There’s a lot of issues dividing libertarians, and that’s a pretty big one.
      But then again, it’s no surprise a team RED troll would come along and shit all over a straw man.

      1. Stupid iphone. That was meant for Tina

    4. We also support children being mowed down by gunfire by supporting lax gun laws. And we support Al Qaeda by opposing the War On Terror. And so on and so forth.

      Shorter Tina: Derpity do

      1. Exactly. Nobody supports Al Qaeda more than us Reason commenters.

        /That is obviously sarcasm, NSA.

        1. /That is obviously sarcasm, NSA.

          They have an app for that; and you only have to worry if you’re guilty anyway!

    5. This libertarian sides with Milton Friedman who said you can have open borders or a welfare state, but not both.

      1. This.

      2. You can have both, just not for very long.

      3. Similar quote from Daniel Moynihan: You can either keep drugs illegal and have a massive law enforcement problem, or legalize them and have a massive public health problem.

        Do you buy that one too?

        1. Both rely on the assumption that when you make something legal, you will automatically get more of it. The problem with the comparison, is that one is free (actually it provides compensation with no work in return) and has few drawbacks, the other costs money and the health effects are known.

          1. One feels really terrific though.

            1. I do REALLY like Xanax…

            2. Milton Friedman probably does feel a little leathery at this point.

        2. No, but there are interesting case studies.

          1. From a liberty perspective I’m all for it that doesn’t mean I don’t expect drug use to increase.

            1. We have a case study in Colorado. Weed became legal, and people who smoked it kept smoking it. People who didn’t kept not smoking it.

        3. Not really, no. Mainly because I don’t buy the implicit assumption that there would be a massive increase in drug use if drugs were legal.

        4. In a Swiftian vein, I’ve long thought that the “public health problem” that would probably result from legalization of drugs would be short-lived. After all, once the true junkies have OD’d–and they always will do so–they’re out of the pool.

          I don;t know about you, but if it became legal to do so, I personally am not about to take up crack, meth, heroin, or other drugs. I suspect the vast majority of people who would use legalized drugs are the same people currently using the same drugs illegally.

      4. “ can have open borders or a welfare state, but not both.”

        I am not so sure that a welfare state can last for long, but I certainly agree that the two together are certain disaster.

      5. Agreed. I never understood the “bankrupt the system” argument. As horrible as I may think our tax structure is presently, it has a hell of a lot of room to get worse when compared to European social welfare nations. When did we suspend our belief that handing out more free shit was a bad idea? If the ledgers aren’t working out in the black now, how does adding millions more – even in varying degrees of “consumption” – to the vast number of social welfare programs end up a positive?

        1. I never understood the “bankrupt the system” argument.

          Me neither. Because government is organized violence, it’s not going to go bankrupt without first using organized violence to rob society blind. Only after it has stolen and squandered every bit of wealth in society, and there is nothing left to steal, will it go bankrupt. That doesn’t sound to me like a great idea.

          1. A social democracy powered by artificially low interest rates must go bankrupt. When the latest asset bubble bursts, all anyone can do is go along for the ride, as any system with an unlimited state is bound to destroy its economy every generation or two. The fact that the US has an expensive military whereas Europe doesn’t just makes that process faster and more inevitable.

            Bankruptcy will happen, and fiscal reforms will follow because reality isn’t optional. The question is whether we go into it with more or fewer of our rights respected by the state.

            1. This seems germane to the discussion:


              1. While I agree with Don on most things, this isn’t one of them.

              2. Interesting. I’d like to take a deeper dive into it. I’m not an economist but I’d like to know about overall net effects. The one thing that immediately comes to mind is does the sample that was studied take into account next-generation voting trends, ie will the offspring, despite their own direct positive economic contribution, vote for policies that will have a net increase in welfare program expenditures? That’s to say nothing of how such a populace will vote on other issues surrounding individual political freedom either. But thanks for sending the link. Definitely interested in reading more.

            2. I don’t disagree that ultimately some change would have to occur. Maybe we’re temporally at odds. France is pretty effed right now in terms of immigration, the social welfare state and taxation and it doesn’t look like the political pendulum is going to dramatically swing to a point where the population rises up and screams, “free markets and flat taxes!” My point really is “things suck here right now – things suck a lot worse in France stemming from similar issues – there’s a long way for us to go on the spectrum of suckdom before we even get to France and there’s been no revolution there yet – how can I expect a revolution in my lifetime here?” Or maybe I just hate the French.

          2. I haven’t thought this through much, but it’s occurred to me that I don’t really know what the point of taxes are anymore. When the gov. can just have the Fed print whatever they “need”, there’s no budget ceiling, and the incoming tax revenues come no where close to covering the budget anyway, why even bother collecting taxes?

            Unless it’s just to remind us that they can.

            1. I’m 99.9% sure I’ve read serious inflation-dove proposals–probably Krugman–that entertain the idea of ditching federal taxes for inflated currency.

              That way you get your Keynesian stimulus and ditch the archaic idea of having representatives of the people vote for taxes (how primitive!) at one fell swoop.

              1. I guess the upside, from a libertarian perspective, would be that everyone would be taxed more equally.

                So inflation would decrease the value of every dollar equally, with the exception of how close you may be to the federal pool of money. People would be “taxed” in proportion to how much money they owned.

                The downside, from a central bank perspective, would be that all you have to do to avoid taxes is convert your holdings to something besides the US dollar.

                So I guess the IRS still collects taxes only to prop up the ruse that tax revenue matters. Once that illusion is broken, the US dollar will be destroyed shortly after.

              2. Do you think Krugman et al would be satisfied with this if it were put into place? I’m just putting my futuristic douchegoggles on and seeing those same people say, “inflation hurts the poor the most…INCOME INEQUALITY…DO SOMETHING!”

    6. You folks! What do you mean YOU folks???

    7. C-


    9. Meh. Tina’s the law and order type from what I can gather of her blog.

      We folks also don’t care for abusive police. We don’t support the Drug War either.

      And note, you don’t need to believe Alex Jones to think that the cops are out of control in this country.

  3. Didn’t RTA, but I imagine the media is trying to push the narrative of a Divided Republican Party with the Extreme Right-Wingers on one side and the Responsible Moderates on the other side. Then when the elections come near, they will concern-troll about how the Extreme Right-Wingers have displaced the Responsible Moderates.

    In this narrative, libertarians fit best into the Responsible Moderate slot. And what do Responsible Moderates do? The fund abortions and restrict guns.

    1. But I thought libertarians were supposed to be the evil puppeteers pulling the strings of all those dimwitted GOP rednecks.

      1. You’re not supposed to notice the contrast between the two narratives.

    2. The funding abortions is for women who were serving in the Peace Corps and were raped, right?

      1. All 0 of them!

        1. Then you’ve got nothing to worry about. right? No tiny people harmed.

          1. I really couldn’t care less about this amendment. Honestly, if we can stop all abortions besides those 2 a year that occur because of rape or incest, I think it would be a pretty big victory. I mean, suck for those two dead kids, but the million live ones would probably thank us…

            1. I heard today that one out of seven pregnancies terminate naturally via miscarriage, with 90% or more of them being in the first ten or so weeks.

              You’re fighting the wrong fight if you are worried about tiny person Holocausts.

              1. Not trying to have an abortion discussion, just pointing out how absurd it is to pass a carve out that doesn’t even carve out anything, because it applies to no one.

                1. Fair enough.

  4. Libertarians only support gun control and taxpayer funded abortions at cocktail parties and the ballot box in 2008.

  5. to ban federal contracts for companies that set up sham headquarters in offshore tax havens like Bermuda.

    Oh, good. Because what the government needs is more sham suppliers that resell goods from actual companies that don’t meet the government’s inane criteria.

    1. Just more red meat for the Democratic base. The politicos know such proposals will accomplish nothing but potential voter turnout.

    2. I can see their point, though: The taxpayer might get a better deal if his representatives contract with suppliers with a reduced tax burden & overhead, which would reduce the opportunity for legislative graft and corruption by handing out contracts to state-side cronies.

  6. “You folks”. Yep, ‘us folks’ are all of one mind on every issue. You are hilarious Tina.

    Again, the left misrepresents it’s positions because they know they will be rejected if people really know what they stand for. They must misrepresent libertarianism because they know if people really understand it they will embrace it.

    I am still reeling from the blow to my brain that Ron Bailey’s article dealt me.

  7. But it is important to understand the basis of such collaboration, which is the classical liberal values that both groups partly share,

    Not to nitpick, but the modern left doesn’t share our classical liberal values at all. Sometimes they arrive at the same destination, but that’s convergent political evolution at best.

    When you believe that rights exist by dint of political power rather than self-ownership & the psyche itself, you get into ACLU territory where consumers have a “right” to coerce service from others because the politically powerful say they do.

    1. This.

      I would add that, like any political alliance, a relationship between the left and libertarians is ephemeral; it lasts only as long as is practically necessary for one or both sides, due to the fundamental difference in their views of self-ownership.

  8. The ‘taxpayer funded abortion’ line seems a bit odd in this case. If you are working for the government, and while doing so you are attacked and raped, I think the government paying for whatever services you choose to deal with that attack is just an employer properly compensating their employee.

    1. I think you are opening the flood gates.

      1. It could be limited by saying that the benefits would only be available when the performance of job duties were a substantial factor in putting the person in danger of rape.

        So, for example, if you send a woman soldier into Taliban country and she gets assaulted, beaten and raped, the Army should or could cover medical treatment and maybe psychological treatment, and the former could include abortion services if the woman desired. Same for the Peace Corps worker who is sent to some lawless third world environment and is attacked. But the IRS worker who is attacked after closing up in the parking lot here in the states, that might not apply.

        1. “the Army should or could cover medical treatment and maybe psychological treatment, and the former could include abortion services if the woman desired.”

          I don’t wholly disagree, I just think most people would agree (in regard to the bolded part) that some would take offense to that being a tax funded activity. Which is why, I surmise, CPA is referring to you as an asshole.

    2. And you wonder why most of us think you are a gaping asshole.

      1. I don’t wonder, with you I tend to ascribe it to a propensity to make substance-less insults.

        1. I mean, do you have anything to actually say about what I said? Do you think, for example, that a Peace Corps person sent into harms way that is assaulted and beaten should get, say, medical or psychological treatment covered by her employer (the government)? Or is it just this magical issue you don’t want dealt with, that rape victims must bear their assailants child because TINY PERSONS! If you find people who disagree with you on that particular issue to be ‘gaping *ssholes’ then get ready for a lot of outrage in your time in public, because that’s a pretty strong majority view even among many who call themselves ‘pro-life.’

          1. But name calling is so much more fun than actually thinking!

        2. You know exactly what “taxpayer funded abortion” refers to, yet you demand that Sullum qualify it by adding “unless it is a raped government employee.”

          This makes you a gaping asshole.

          1. I’m saying it is an odd use of it, different than a program that pays people in the public abortions. The government as employer pays for a lot of things that we would not want to for generally. Do you call the medical services the government pays for employees that get hurt to be ‘government funded health care’ or the psychological services it pays for, say, a fireman who goes through some on the job trauma as ‘government funded (and mandated!) mental health services’? Technically its true, but that line is evoking something else to most, right?

            1. Plus, young white Peace Corps volunteers will get raped by brown foreigners!

              Sorry, I forgot I wasn’t a Democrat and can’t race-bait everything under the sun.

  9. “When libertarians are liberals, they’re OK!”

    Ted Forest Hills 16 hours ago
    I don’t think the libertarians are completely there yet, but I think a potential intersection for left and for libertarians are in areas where social science tells us a bit of spending and investment now can save us money in the long run.

    In the past, libertarians and everyone else on the right have attacked such positions reflexively. My sense is budgetary pressures will force those on the right to rethink their attacks. The reality is Democrats and Republicans need to find ways to save money. The last thing deficit hawks can afford is to avoid ideas that save money in the long run.

    Already, we have seen Newt Gingrinch endorse free prisoner education, because of how much money a little money spent up front saves in the long run. So I think as the social science results roll in, I think we are going to find the left and libertarians may disagree on how they arrive at ideas but both may end up endorsing ideas like this. As long as the science shows savings, both sides will have an incentive to vote for cost savings in an era of budgetary pressures.

    Also note the two amusing headlines at the NYT link.

    Robert A. Roe Dies at 90; N.J. Congressman Called ‘Mr. Jobs’

    Kenneth J. Gray, Illinois Congressman Known as ‘Prince of Pork,’ Dies at 89

  10. Gaze upon the face of evil and be bored.

    JS Cambridge 18 hours ago
    I too applaud getting at least SOMETHING done in Congress, even if it means consorting with Libertarians. But let’s not delude ourselves about Libertarians.
    They are very dangerous people. If you don’t believe me, read their platform.

    Notice that they favor the repeal of the income tax, would prefer no public education system, wish to abolish social security and all other forms of government assistance, and believe that “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

    Libertarians seem to believe that, if left alone, people would all get along nicely, the poor would be helped by charity, the free market would naturally support a clean environment, businesses and their customers would co-exist in happy harmony, parents would know how to raise and educate their children well, and the young would take care of the old.

    They also have a bridge to sell ya!

    1. “even if it means consorting with Libertarians”

      Best quote today!

      1. I liked the ‘Notice’ in ‘Notice that they favor’.

        Like he’s ‘noticing’ some minor tongue-flick of a reptile he’s never seen before and explaining these ‘dramatic’ divergences to some school kids at the zoo.

      2. Can we become a protected class? Then maybe liberals will be forced to consort with us…or bake our wedding cakes.

    2. would prefer no public education system

      My God, they also favor no public bread baking or public wheat farming–they want us all to starve!

      They also have a bridge to sell ya!

      In a better world.

      1. You got it. If you oppose doing something through coercion, then you oppose it being done at all.

        1. “I’m not opposed to universal education, I just think it should happen by magic.”

          1. “Either coercion or magic.”

            /The King of False Dichotomies

            1. So what’s the alternative?

              1. “What’s your centrally planned alternative to central planning? Huh? What is it?”

                1. Well, if I could have my centrally-planned alternative, it would be a harem in every household and a child chimney sweep in every chimney.

                2. Reading and math scores haven’t changed much since the Department of Education was founded in 1979. Maybe abolish it and just let the states take care of it, like they did before.

            2. It’s a case lesson in what happens when people don’t read or understand Bastiat.

          2. I’m not opposed to universal education, I just don’t think it’s moral to pay for it by robbing people at gunpoint.

            As you’re a liberal, I can empathize with your confusion as to how these two concepts are different.

    3. “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

      Interesting that he would choose that as an example of nutty libertarianism. I bet he is a world class boot licker.

      1. Quoting from the Declaration makes me believe she’s trolling. I hope I hope I hope she is, at least.

        1. The platform paraphrases the Declaration, and the commenter may not have recognized the source.

          1. Besides, the Declaration of Independence is, like, a hundred years old or something.

    4. How dare we assume that the Founders knew that of which they spoke…

      “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…

      “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  11. “Libertarians seem to believe that, if left alone, people would all get along nicely, the poor would be helped by charity, the free market would naturally support a clean environment, businesses and their customers would co-exist in happy harmony, parents would know how to raise and educate their children well, and the young would take care of the old.”

    Lol what dreamers.

    1. Progressivism is all about having faith in a handful of ‘experts’ and none in everyone else.

      1. Progressivism is just another flavor of tyranny. Just with a different set of tyrants.

    2. That is one of the most terrifying paragraphs I have ever read. This part is particularly terrifying.

      parents would know how to raise and educate their children well

      Never forget, there isn’t a single aspect of your life no matter how personal and important they do not want the government to control. These people are downright terrifying.

      1. Tony has said that the only reason why parents care for their children is because it’s the law. Seriously. As if no parents ever took care of their children until government told them to.

        1. So long as some parents are better at educating their children than others, the governmentalization of education is necessary.

          And we determine what constitutes a “better education.”

    3. Because “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”

      This notion, embraced by Progressives and right-wing statists alike, sums up the justifications for their petty and grand statist tyrannies.

      *They* know what everyone should do, and so *they* believe they must force their enlightenment on the masses.

  12. What this means is that Dana succeeded so well in painting himself as a “conservative” that he can bust out the libertarian & people think he’s changing. Come on, guys, it’s Dana Rohrabacher!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.