Euphemisms don’t change ethics
(My Clovis News Journal column for December 28, 2012.)
Following libertarian principles is inseparable from being a decent human being.
Even kindergartners are taught the libertarian principles: don't start a fight by throwing the first punch and don't take other people's stuff. It really is that simple.
It's only as kids get older that most adults start trying to make children accept exceptions to these rules. It is a glaring inconsistency that most children can see right through, while their parents try to wiggle around finding justifications that just aren't there.
Rules are often made up to try to short-circuit a child's understanding. They are told that they can't fight back to defend themselves when someone violates the rules and hits them first. Or, they are taught that they aren't really the one starting the fight if someone has offended them in some way. They are told that stealing is OK as long as it is done with majority approval, as part of your job, or if it is called "sharing" even though it isn't voluntary.
You can't raise ethical kids by condoning this kind of behavior and confusing the issues.
Yet you can even be non-libertarian in your personal beliefs and still behave in an outwardly decent manner by following libertarian principles.
Whether a person is conservative or liberal, as long as they don't steal or use coercion and attack the innocent, we can get along. For that matter, I even have no problem with people choosing to live in a communist enclave, as long as all participants are there by unanimous consent, no one is coerced into participating, and anyone can opt out any time they wish. The first time a person is coerced to give up their self-ownership without their consent, and without it being necessary to fulfill a voluntarily-acquired debt or to pay restitution, the consent is gone. Theft or coercion has then occurred.
The problem is that non-libertarians try to change the names of theft and coercion to hide the true nature of the acts. Theft becomes "taxation", "property codes", "asset forfeiture", or "eminent domain", while attacking the innocent becomes "sobriety checkpoints", "immigration control", "gun control", and "homeland security". The euphemisms change nothing about the ethics of the acts.
I hope that the new year brings you in contact with lots of people who relate to you as if they are libertarians. I hope, too, that you will try to return the favor. Happy New Year!