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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Q & A: Driver's Licenses, the Environment, and the LP

A reader asked:
Q: I watched footage of the libertarian convention. It reinforced that libertarianism is the ideology of adolescents. It was astounding to see "adults" earnestly argue that drivers' licenses are government overreach. It is hopelessly naïve to believe that government plays no role in regulating commerce and activities that take place in the public arena. Very few people have life experience that does not include people behaving badly who would have taken their bad behavior further without having constraints imposed on them. Furthermore, I give you the Cuyahoga River as an example of the need and societal benefit of government regulation - especially in terms of the environment…

A: Let me just start by saying that yes, I agree with you that professionalism is sorely lacking in the Libertarian Party. I have been calling myself a libertarian for 20 years, and during that time the LP has been an absolute joke.

But I would imagine that you could find crazy-looking extremes at any party convention (even the Democratic one, if the superdelegates ever let the people have a voice!), it's just that the LP's room is a little smaller. And it was in Florida this year.

Drivers Licenses are definitively not government overreach. Even from the most strict libertarian perspective, the government owns the roads, they get to set the rules. But given the very un-American government surveillance that Ed Snowden brought to the public, I don't think it's too unusual to have privacy concerns about National ID's and databasing U.S. citizens -- a process that began with drivers licenses after 9/11.

And no one, not Gary Johnson and not any remotely serious libertarian, suggests a wholly unregulated marketplace. Libertarians are not anarchists - fraud is fraud and protecting its citizens property is absolutely a legitimate function of government. It's the onerous, burdensome regulations that do nothing but create unfair advantages for large companies (it's called corporatism, they write themselves favors into the regulations) that need to be abolished. It's not the regulations or the government itself, but how the government it used by bad people.

As for the environment, Gary Johnson is very much to the left on this issue. Here's his words, directly from his website (Johnson/Weld Issues page):

"The environment is a precious gift and needs to be protected. Gov. Johnson believes strongly that the first responsibility of government is to protect citizens from those who would do them harm, whether it be a foreign aggressor, a criminal — or a bad actor who harms the environment upon which we all depend.

Consistent with that responsibility, Gary Johnson believes it is the proper role of government to enforce reasonable environmental protections. He did so as Governor, and would do so as President."

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