Who do you think will win New Hampshire?

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Monday, November 1, 2010

"Why I'm a Libertarian" - A Powerful Essay by a High School Senior

By Joel Bock

As a senior in high school, it is finally time for me to apply to colleges. Many people see this with loathing of all the work they must do on top of homework. While I do not enjoy filling out applications, I saw the application essays as a chance to express my personality and ideas. Two of the colleges where I am applying require the Common Application. One requirement of the Common Application is to write an essay on a topic of one's choice, but several suggested topics are given. The topic I chose states as follows: Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. I thought this choice gave me an excellent opportunity to state my views in political science. The objective of the essay is to explain to the intellectual non-libertarian what the basic moral premise of libertarianism is, and what it implies. I discuss how I became a libertarian and how that has shaped my outlook on life. I am aware that discussing such "extreme" views could scare away colleges, but I feel that if they will not accept unique ideas, then it is not the college I should be attending. My application essay is below.

I have been interested in politics since a young age. My father is a pro-free market Republican, while my mother is a pro-human rights Democrat. Both have strong political views. This has given me education in two opposing political views. I was first introduced to libertarianism by a friend during middle school. He was a college economics major who supported free markets, and he felt that Libertarians were the only political party that supported both economic and individual freedom. This was my first link to libertarianism. Last summer, my father mentioned the website LewRockwell.com to me. This website has daily articles about libertarianism and its application to our government today. The writers for this website turned my emotional appeal for libertarianism into a philosophical and moral conviction. They revolutionized my political views from a neo-conservative Republican, into a radical, freedom-loving libertarian. Libertarian philosophy is very basic, defined, and absolute, which is not contained within the philosophy of Republicans or Democrats.
The basic moral premise of libertarianism is as follows: Every human has a right to life and property, and the initiation of force in violation of these rights is wrong. This is very simple. It tells us that theft, murder, and rape are evils that violate another’s natural right to life and property. However, taking a closer look at this moral premise shows that the government commits some of these acts. Any action the government takes has a moral purpose because whoever is behind that action believes it is the right thing to do. Taxation, since it involves the government, is the initiation of force against human beings to take their money. Thus the essence of taxation is theft. The morality of taxation states it is right to steal a man’s money, which he has worked to earn, then use it as the thief sees fit.

There are two main arguments against libertarianism. One argument states that property is theft, and since the rich own most property, the poor must receive compensation. The problem with this argument, however, is that to steal, there must be property in the first place. Property must precede theft, not the opposite. For example, if an explorer were to find uninhabited land, claim it for his own, and grow a farm on this land, he did not steal anything from anyone. He merely took advantage of unclaimed resources. If he later sold his land, it would be a mutual exchange in which the buyer would then become owner of the property.
Another argument against libertarianism is that the people, by majority vote, have agreed to a social contract (the Constitution), and thus we must carry out this contract without complaint. In the case of America’s social contract, the Constitution, the people and the states agreed to give power to the federal government in exchange for defending their natural rights (religion, expression, property, etc.). However, if one side breaks the binding of the contract, the contract is no longer valid. It is quite clear to both conservatives and liberals that the government does not always adhere to the Constitution. The conservative sees the unconstitutionality of the welfare state and business regulations, while the liberal sees the unconstitutionality of wars, breaches on civil liberties, and special benefits to corporations. It is the duty of the people to speak out for their sovereign rights in order to live in freedom and prosperity.

Many will still believe that the poor must receive care or that we must defend our nation through the government. Though I believe a free market with no government interference would help the poor in more ways than welfare can, some circumstances are beyond the control of anyone. Thus, charities can provide adequate care, and people should voluntarily contribute to help those who are underprivileged. National defense is also very important because a nation needs to defend its freedom. This should be the sole duty of the federal government, while the state governments should provide the people with services such as roads and police. The question will arise as to how these roles are to be funded if there is no taxation. Every individual has an incentive to support these basic operations of government, since they are beneficial to all. Thus individuals would voluntarily contribute to help support this government. I believe that the path of taxation leads toward government oppression. It is a gradual process, but eventually everyone’s freedom will be at risk, unless the people rally to support the libertarian ideals of individual and economic liberty.

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