Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Forced sharing isn’t sharing

Forced sharing isn’t sharing

(My Clovis News Journal column for August 23, 2013)

Recently, in this column, I have been trying to illustrate concrete ways libertarianism works in real life, each and every day, sometimes for people who don't even realize they are behaving as libertarians.

The common thread should be obvious: it's not difficult to act in a libertarian manner. It's how almost all of us were taught to behave from our very earliest experiences with other people.

"Don't start fights." "Don't take what isn't yours." Those are good lessons and are the foundation of being a decent person- of being libertarian.

One lesson almost universally imposed on small children, though, is less helpful. That is "You have to share."

If you are given no choice in how your property is used by another person, it isn't "sharing".

It can be a considerate thing to decide to let someone else use your property. Usually. It can't be done under coercion or it isn't "sharing", no matter what the parents may call it. It needs to be a choice freely made, or it is worthless.

I suspect that parents often make this demand to keep the "have-not" kid quiet, not thinking of the long-term consequences.

If you know the other person will refuse to give your property back, or will damage it while using it, then refusing to share is the wiser choice. To teach children that they have no say in how their property is used is not a good lesson. Your teachings will cause more trouble later on, particularly if the child takes the idea to its logical conclusion. If they do, and decide that what applies to them also applies to everyone else, then you have a likely vandal or thief on your hands who will believe if they want it, someone owes it to them.

There is a lesson in the value of things, and it doesn't come by undermining ownership. Teaching kids to respect other people's property begins with respecting theirs. The forced "sharing" does teach a lesson, however, but that lesson is perverted.

We see the danger of this lesson all around us today. People grow up to believe they can be "generous" with other people's money. In their attempt to "share" they implement taxes and distribute welfare. If you really want to share, do it. If you must take other people's money to put toward your goal, you are not sharing.

It's not complicated; it's life. Just like every other aspect of libertarianism.

And please don't forget.


Choosing libertarianism

I didn't choose libertarianism; it chose me.

For someone who came to libertarianism along some other path, this might seem a strange statement.  It's true, though.  I didn't set out to "become libertarian".  I am what I am, and what I am turns out to be libertarian.

Sure, after I discovered that libertarianism exists (as more than just the "drugs, guns, and sex" that I had heard mentioned as "what libertarianism is") I was able to refine my views- it's funny how reading what those who came before you wrote will help that happen.  But even before I read "Lever Action" by L. Neil Smith, I was already more libertarian than most of the nationally famous "libertarians" you'll encounter.  I just didn't have a name for it, yet.

As I mentioned above, I had heard the term "libertarian" a few times over the years, but it was always in a dismissive way.  "Those crazy 'sex, drugs, and rock & roll' libertarians".  It was a caricature that bore no resemblance to the reality, and one that didn't interest me, but I never thought about it long enough to take a look for myself.  Before the internet I'm not sure how I ever would have found out the truth, without making more of an effort than my level of interest would have fueled.

But, however it happened, I'm glad it did.