By Rachel Alexander
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 17, 1998

Libertarianism: An alternative political option


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Rachel Alexander

Liberty is a concept that has been neglected by Americans to the point that individual rights have been replaced by government entitlements and group rights. The once cherished notion of liberty, embraced in the Declaration of Independence and represented by the Statue of Liberty, is now only paid lip service during the occasional patriotic holiday. The truth is that we Americans have allowed our natural rights and responsibilities to be replaced by government bureaucratic permission and policy.

The entrenched Republican and Democrat parties have made it more and more difficult for alternative political parties to gain power, passing new laws to make it difficult for third parties to get on the ballot. Unfortunately, this monopolization of political power has not helped to improve society's problems, but has perpetuated and contributed to them. The Republicans used to stand for smaller government; now, they allow the Democrats to expand the role of government. Republicans have permitted the Democrats to increase spending and taxes to an exorbitant level in exchange for being allowed to use this gargantuan new state bureaucracy to regulate morality. Whether economic or moral, government control over our lives has reached an oppressive point - precisely what the early Americans came to this country to escape from in Europe.

Consequently, the Libertarian Party was founded in 1971. The party is built on the view that individuals have the right to make decisions for themselves, so long as those decisions do not interfere with others' rights, and that government should be kept to a minimal level. History has shown that whenever government attempts to regulate or control an industry, unfair results happen.

Let's look at a government service which most people like, the Post Office. The Post Office delivers our mail almost all the time. But couldn't a private company do better? Look at the Post Office's two-day express mail. Its success rate is only about two-thirds. Fed Ex and UPS's success rate is around 90 percent. Plus, we're paying extra for the Post Office through our taxes. Is the Post Office really the better alternative? The Libertarians think not.

Another reason too much government control is unfair is because it allows those in power, who may have perpetuated their stay in power unfairly, to make decisions for everyone else, even controversial moral decisions which could just as easily be made by the public. For example, why is there a National Endowment for the Arts? Our tax money goes to subsidize this organization which gives huge scholarships to its favored artists. Many of these artists draw sick and perverted "art," which would make most of us nauseous to look at. Yet we are currently spending $98 million a year on this. Republicans reduced the funding to this level recently, but they have not eliminated the organization. Art is a hobby, it is not an essential function of government. If we are going to pay for art, why stop there? Why not pay for golf, start a national golf association and subsidize our favorite pro golfers? Our local legislatures are already forcing us to pay for baseball stadiums (arrogantly disregarding our votes against this in local referendums), so why not just fund everything? Why is one person's hobby funded, but another's isn't?

Approximately 50 percent of your income goes to some type of tax. Income tax, sales tax, gas tax, plus "invisible" taxes which are added onto the product before a final price is placed on it. Most of this money will never benefit you; it goes to pay for some government program which some politician likes. Wouldn't it make more sense to eliminate the government programs, and allow private companies to provide those services instead, companies which can provide the same services more efficiently and cheaply? Instead of 50 percent of your income going arbitrarily to 99 places which do not benefit you, and may even offend you, you could actually keep your 50 percent and choose which services you need.

Republicans and Democrats talk about "reforming" the tax system, but most of them would just rearrange where our taxes go and how they are taken from us. Democrats will always try to give our money to their "politically correct" organizations and Republicans will always give tax breaks to their "favored" people, compromising their promises to lower the tax rates.

The Libertarian Party, on the other hand, would eliminate government excesses and programs which don't work and allow people to choose how to spend their money.

To join the Libertarian Students at the University of Arizona e-mail discussion list, send e-mail to listserv@listserv.arizona.edu, and in the body of the e-mail put "subscribe libertarians your name."

Rachel Alexander is a second-year law student. Her column, "Common Sense," usually runs every other Monday.


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