Posted by Charity on February 28th, 2008

My regular readers know that I tend to lean pretty heavily libertarian and that my views on government typically reside in the philosophical realm, rather than reflect the reality of our current political system.

I am not sure if I have always been that way on this blog, but I am not about to go dig through my archives to find out.

I realized that I have been going about it all wrong.

I thought that if I could just get people to understand the small government philosophy, the desire to apply that to our current government would follow.

What on earth was I thinking?

Sure that type of philosophical thinking has its place, but it is not going to change much at a practical level.

In fact, I did not lean toward small government because I read some impressive dissertation on the subject.

I was quite happy to support big government policies that I agreed with, until I started homeschooling. That’s when I learned just how burdensome government regulations can be and how much government can really bump up against your freedom, especially when you are doing something that is out of the mainstream.

It was though a practical example of government behaving in a way that negatively impacted my life that I began to realize the value of libertarian thought.

That is when I decided that, regardless of what I think about something, we should not always use the power of law to stop other people from doing it.

Reflecting on my own conversion, I realized that I should focus more on current political discussions and how they relate to my ideological principles in a practical way.

By that I mean, no more posts in which I envisage a world without regulations and try to explain why that would not lead to people dying in the streets.

The reality is that we do have regulations, but they are imperfect – as regulations will always be. I should be discussing how we can make them work better, rather than philosophizing about getting rid of them all.

That said, I still believe in a smaller, freer society. I am just trying to be more realistic about the fact that that is not the world we live in.

5 Responses to “Philosophy vs. Reality”

  1. That is when I decided that, regardless of what I think about something, we should not always use the power of law to stop other people from doing it.

    When should we?

  2. Ah, the $25,000 question.

    Philosophically, only when it infringes on the rights of others (without their consent).

    Realistically, I am not sure. But that is a good place to start.

    Here’s an interesting bit of trivia (according to measuringworth.com):

    In 2006, $25,000.00 from 1979 is worth:
    $69,450.19 using the Consumer Price Index
    $58,815.63 using the GDP deflator
    $78,757.40 using the value of consumer bundle
    $66,117.65 using the unskilled wage
    $96,615.71 using the nominal GDP per capita
    $128,688.60 using the relative share of GDP

    (1979 is the last year that the original $25,000 Pyramid aired.)

    I wonder if that’s accurate.

  3. Philosophically, only when it infringes on the rights of others (without their consent).

    See, that’s too vague, because there are things people do that harm the environment that can’t easily be pigeonholed into “infringing on on’e rights’ unless you’re prepared to allow ‘the right to a clean environment’ recognized.

  4. Well, I think that, to some extent, it is infringing on the rights of others to harm the environment we all share. I am not opposed to using government to protect the environment. I think in a lot of ways that it is the government’s rightful role.

    At the same time, I think that our laws need to be written in such a way that they are not assuming someone will harm the environment. I believe in innocent until proven guilty. I think our laws need to reflect that. Serious punishments, not just fines, for people who cause harm, not burdensome regulation on the front end that restrict the freedom of the innocent.

  5. OK, where do Hummers fit into your scheme there?