Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A simple explanation of Classical Liberalism

There are many, many people out there who simply do not understand what Classical Liberalism(or Libertarianism) is. They see Libertarians (partly due to the failure of the Libertarian Party ) as those long haired kooks wearing a bunch of buttons on their denim jackets supporting drug use; not as well educated (in economics, anyway) well meaning individuals who only want what is best for everyone. We just don't think you can use force or coersion to get the best for everyone. If it's the best for everyone, you don't need force or coersion.

Let's take a look at a very popular issue: Health Care Reform

Many people think the solution to getting the most people the best healthcare is to have the Federal Government institute and manage a centrally planned system, socialized healthcare. Under this system, every citizen in the US would be guaranteed the same level of healthcare, and every citizen (who pays taxes) would pay for the system via the Federal Income Tax. Skipping over the inherant issues with the income tax and with the economic issues with socialized medicine, consider the Classical Liberal approach.

A Classical Liberal doesn't see how the government can do it better than we can. However, that's not the main issue - the main issue is the use of force. A Classical Liberal is against this solution because everyone is forced to participate in funding the program. There may be the ability to get care outside the program for those who can afford it (and they would, due to the economic ramifications of eliminating competition), but they still have to pay for the care of others.

The confusion comes here: people assume that the above paragraph means Classical Liberals don't want to help the poor pay for healthcare. Not so. A Classical Liberal is fine with the idea of voluntarily providing healthcare for those who can't a afford it. They are also fine with whatever solution comes without force. There is no objection to the central plan solution, provided there is no force used to implement the system, which means participation in and payment into the system must be voluntary. If the centralized system is the best solution, would not the vast majority of people volunteer?

So, the Classical Liberal position: If you want socialized or centrally planned heathcare, fine. If you think it will work better than another system, fine. When you pay your income taxes, you can voluntairly contribute your fair share to the system (or more, if you wish), and partake of the benefits, and you can have a central government run the program. If you don't want to participate, that's cool, too. But you don't get to partake of the system. Those who cannot afford to not participate are given a free pass, and those who choose to participate who can afford to pay get to pick up the tab. The participants can agree on what 'fair share' is - it can be a flat tax, a progressive tax, whatever. They can even all agree that those people so 'stupid' as to not pay when they can afford to participate still get emergency medical care. Some people might choose to voluntarily contribute less than their fair share just to help fund the program for the poor, yet not use they system when they need healthcare. Whatever the people participating in the program want, they can have, as long as they don't force anything on those not participating.

This is the exact same solution as the one that requires force, but without the force.

How far do you think it would get? Maybe that's because it isn't the best solution.

1 comment:

Just Ken said...

I haven't addressed the issue of health care per se. Thanks for your post on the subject.