(My Clovis News Journal column for September 19, 2014.)
It is said "No man is an island". This seems undeniable, yet libertarians are frequently accused of believing individuals are islands. As if we see humans as isolated and alone, unable to join with others to fix problems which are beyond one person's ability, unless they form that most persistent of Utopian ideas: a government.
People coming together in a completely voluntary and consensual manner, to accomplish something they are in unanimous agreement on, is a wonderful thing to be a part of.
What we do oppose is anyone being forced to join projects they would rather not, and being forced to pay for things they either don't want, or believe they are getting a bad deal on.
Government is currently the main barrier preventing individuals from working together and finding voluntary solutions which don't violate any individuals. Its employees say they must approve, license, regulate, or coordinate every big project, and most small ones as well. Which means, in essence, "no private solutions allowed". Everything must be shoved through the meat grinder of bureaucracy and coercion before being implemented- which destroys any chance of a rational solution being put into action.
Let's say a group of individuals- perhaps ranchers, dairy owners, farmers, and any other concerned people- came together to take on some hypothetical area's ongoing water problems.
The only limitations are that no one may violate the private property of another- which means, in part, no one can be forced to pay for it against their will through taxation- and no force can be used against those who opt out of the plan. It doesn't mean those who opt out can still get the full benefits of any solution without chipping in, though.
Would I trust those individuals to find the best chance at a real, lasting solution for this crisis? If government were not allowed to interfere in any way whatsoever- yes, I would.
Could a solution actually be found? I don't know for certain.
What I do know with certainty is that government solutions to this problem have never worked. They can't. Most are analogous to having the water shut off to your house, so you decide to use the water in your water heater and toilet tanks while pretending it's a permanent solution. And buying, with your neighbor's bank account, a solid gold dipper to serve it with.
Some problems have no real solution, no matter how you treat others. But, if you commit to respecting the rights and property of all concerned, at least you haven't added to the pain. or done the wrong thing for supposedly noble reasons.
It's the mature and ethical way to approach problems.