Friday, 6 May 2016

Small Government

I find it very fitting when right wing politicians advocate having small governments. With people like them in the government, it is only fair that it has as small an influence as possible. But they do not actually mean a *small* government in every aspect - social and economic. They are hypocrites who want a *big* government when it comes to social issues like religion, culture, freedom of expression, women's health, and even fueling religious prejudices. The people who actually want a small government in the social as well as the economic sense are Libertarians. Therefore, to do justice to the title of my blog post, I will talk about Libertarians for the rest of the post. 

I have never mentioned Libertarians in this blog site before as I did not meet any of them personally before I came to the US. Libertarianism is a significantly big moment in the US compared to India. I personally know two Libertarians now. I may have a smallish sample size, but I think I have got a decent assessment of them based on interacting with them, and the links they share on their Facebook feed.

For a liberal centrist like me, who is disturbed by the hate-mongering of Right Wingers and by the petty whining of Marxists, Libertarians disturb me in a very unique way. While interacting with them, I feel like a single parent having to take care of an adolescent kid. At that age, kids are able to make coherent arguments, but have not yet attained the maturity to realize that they may not always get what they want in life if it comes at the expense of others. For example, if they play really loud music and the neighbor complains, then they think that the neighbor is the bad guy impinging on their freedom to play loud music. This is because when they are hitting puberty, it is hard for them to think about anyone else except themselves. The concept of living in a society where other people's comfort and well-being also matters is alien to them. Eventually most kids outgrow that phase when they hit their early twenties and create an empathetic view of the world around them. Somehow Libertarians never outgrow puberty and that is what disturbs me.

Considering that Libertarians have liberal social values and conservative business values, they have two choices in a country like USA where none of the main two parties are Libertarian. They can join with the 'liberal' Democrats or with the conservative Republicans (I have put quotes for liberal while describing Democrats because I have realized that they are not that *liberal*, but more on that later). However, they always somehow root for the Republicans. Libertarians like Rand Paul and Ron Paul run for President through a Republican ticket. The fact that they rate the liberty of business over social liberties makes me like Libertarians much less. 

Speaking of liking Libertarians, liberal centrists like me ABHOR, DETEST, and HATE Ayn Rand. She extols selfishness as a virtue. That is why right wingers love her even though she opposes them on social issues. The way right wingers work is that they usually hide behind things like religion, tradition, and culture to do bad things because they are somehow morally justified. The reason they love Rand is because she gives them one more direct reason to be jerks! That reason is selfishness. If selfishness becomes your moral virtue, it is really easy to disregard the social well-being of those around you to do what you want! A minimal government idealized by the Libertarians will have no power to protect the underprivileged from the excesses of the selfish privileged. The counter-argument of a big government itself harming the underprivileged while choking the aspirations of the privileged is also valid. We do not have a perfect solution, so we need to balance between the two concepts until we find a perfect solution. Having absolutist views based on theory does not help!

Except Ayn Rand, I have found other Libertarians whom I personally know and have seen on TV/Internet to be really nice people even though I find their views amusing at best, and cruel at worst. I respect their notion of individualism. What they need to respect is the notion of living in a society and sharing limited resources. They also need to come out of their stubborn pubescent thinking that unregulated businesses and small governments will suddenly make the world a better place. The notion of a small government is very exciting at first just like looking at cleavage is heavily exciting for boys in their early teens. But there is more to life than mere excitement and cheap thrills. Libertarians may want to start looking at nuances to the argument favoring minimal government - because that is what you do as you grow older - start picking nuances.

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