Libertarianism is good because it helps conservatives pass off a patently probusiness political agenda as a noble bid for human freedom. Whatever we may think of libertarianism as a set of ideas, practically speaking, it is a doctrine that owes its visibility to the obvious charms it holds for the wealthy and the powerful. The reason we have so many well-funded libertarians in American these days is not because libertarianism suddenly acquired an enormous grassroots following, but because it appeals to those who are able to fund ideas. Like social Darwinism and Christian Science before it, libertarianism flatters the successful and rationalizes their core beliefs about the world. They warm to the libertarian idea that taxation is theft because they themselves don't like to pay taxes. They fancy the libertarian notion that regulation is communist because they themselves find regulation intrusive and annoying. Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized. In the "free market of ideas", it is a sure winner ~ quote from The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank.
The Libertarians who are scared out Of their minds regarding statism but worship the wealthy elites couldn't be bigger fools, in my opinion. You've seen their comments across the blogosphere; they are constantly warning us about the dangers of "big government" and "statism". They demonize both by claiming that there are those among us who "worship" big government as if it were a religion (see cartoon below). I authored a commentary on one such Libertarian a while back. In the mind of this Ayn Rand worshiping rational self interest as the highest ideal believing individual, what those who value freedom need to fear the most is tyrannical Progressivism.
The problems is that what they decry as "statism" is actually the citizens of the United States instructing our elected governmental representatives that they should pass legislation to provide services and assistance that benefits We The People. "Statism" is (in large part) when the citizens of a country decide we should have a strong social safety net, and, beyond that, there are some things (known as the Commons) that should be administered by the government on behalf of us all.
Healthcare (or health care insurance, the method by which the vast majority of us access health care) is one of those things that many of us on the Left believe should be a part of the Commons. Republicans and Libertarians believe that the health of the citizens is something corporations have the right to profit off of. In my mind the best method by which health care could be delivered to the people would be to open up Medicare to everyone. Medicare operates on a very low overhead (in the neighborhood of 2 percent) on a not-for-profit basis (which is in line with the Progressive belief that health care should be a part of the commons, or a RIGHT).
A compromise solution, passed into law via a piece of legislation known as the Affordable Care Act kept the profit motive intact. Originally proposed by "the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, and championed, for a time, by Republicans in the Senate" a mandate to buy HC insurance from FOR PROFIT providers (with some government assistance based on income), the ACA is now being vociferously opposed by Conservatives and Congressional Republicans who don't want the Democrats (and Barack Obama) to get credit (and receive the appreciation of the electorate).
The Republicans could have joined with Democrats and help shape the legislation and later share in the credit. Instead they decided to oppose (legislation and ideas they previously endorsed) and obstruct everything (even going as far as to oppose legislation that would benefit the country economically). According the Representative from the 32nd district of Texas, Pete Sessions, the plan was to wage a Taliban-like insurgency. They would, in other words, sabotage the Dems and Obama at every turn, regardless of the harm they might inflict on the country (a worsening economy would, in fact, be beneficial to them).
Not that any of this represents the Libertarian point of view. Repubs, Conservatives who distance themselves from the Republican Party, and Libertarians all demonize the ACA as a threat to "liberty" and all believe health care should be for profit (and it is not a part of the commons). Libertarians explicitly reject the very notion that any resource (or service) can be held in common (or administered for the common good). Ayn Rand, the source of many of the ideas that make up the ideology of Libertarians believed that anyone who accepts government assistance can be described as "parasites, looters and moochers [who used] the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor".
A "hero" to a Rand devotee would be a rugged individualist who made his own way in the world relying only upon him or herself. He (or she) was the type personified by the "I built this" meme of the 2012 GOP presidential convention. These are the people otherwise known as the Makers, while most of the rest of us are the Takers. In the Objectivist's eyes (a religion created to worship Rand) most of us fall into the category of the unwashed masses who deserve nothing more than a life of poverty and to die in the gutter.
Although the Libertarians did not support Mittens Romney, he and his running mate (Paul Ryan) did tear a page out of the Rand Bible in their adoption of the "makers and takers" meme of demonizing the vast majority of us who are not wealthy, or at least well off (this was the thinking behind Mittens' 47 percent comment). Mittens later walked back, and then even denied insulting Americans who have the gall to believe the reason government exists is to provide services and see to it that nobody (or as few people as possible) fall though the cracks.
The fact is, however, that this is the mentality of people who describe themselves as "fiscally conservative". What they actually mean is that the government should keep it's hands off the money of the people who have it. Even though capitalism is a flawed system that allows some to manipulate things to their advantage and wind up with a huge pile of money that was earned mainly via the labor of others (workers they force into "contracts" that tend to favor themselves).
Redistribution is the key in balancing the equation in the minds of the Left. Seeing as capitalism tends to favor a small minority and wealth concentrated in a small number of hands is not healthy for the economy or society, it is the RIGHT and JUST role of the government controlled by We The People to step in and attempt to do SOME equalizing. Who wants to live in a country where a small number of wealthy elites control everything and the vast majority of the populace lives in miserable squalor?
I know I sure as hell do not, but for the Libertarians the dystopian nightmare they envision would be a world gone completely Socialist. In their minds what we should all fear the most is that the government does too much us and that the taxes on rich folks are too high. There does come a point where I think the government could (hypothetically) go to far. I don't want the government to control the means of production (which it would have to in order to be fully Socialist), but we are leagues away from ever crossing that Rubicon.
That there are dupes and stooges who genuinely believe that the United States has swung dangerously toward far Left Socialism would be laughable, if not for the fact that it is these fools (extremist Republicans, Tea baggers, Libertarians and even some Conservative/Corporatist Dems) who are to blame for the obstruction that is retarding an economic recovery. The fact is we have much more to fear from the fascist Right that believes the plutocrats should rule. Them and their deluded dupes and stooges who think government should get out of the way and the right won't step in to fill the power vacuum.
The choice here is, I believe, is between two rulers... should We The People rule (via our elected representatives) or should the wealthy rule? As far as Libertarians are concerned, there is a distinction that should be noted (one that the Libertarians believe is quite significant)... that is while the Repubs think government should assist the wealthy in their quest to rule over us (and help the wealthy siphon off the fruits of our labors to enrich themselves), while the Libertarians believe government should get out of the way and allow the wealthy to rape workers and the common man without their assistance.
I say the result is much the same, so I place a lesser significance on this distinction. The utopian gates of the Progressive Kingdom (or greater equality and a healthier economy) will only open (or become possible) when the populace wakes the hell up and realizes that wealth must be kept in check. Wealth begets greed and corruption, whether it is in the private or the public sector. BOTH the Conservative Republicanism and Libertarianism that says redistribution/socialism is an evil must be guarded against.
Although, as the recent abuses of governmental power highlighted by the unconstitutional spying and data mining of the NSA shows, a big government that seeks to ever increase it's power can be a danger akin to that of the unchecked corporations. That answer is not, however, to strip down government, defund it, or keep it "out of the way". Doing that would  allow the wealthy and corporations to step in and fill the power vacuum and lead to a greater concentration of money and power in the hands of the wealthy. "Big government" is the only tool We The People have to keep the power of the wealthy in check. THAT is why some seek to destroy (or diminish) the power of government (by fooling some with slanders like "Big Guv").
The answer is not "small government" but more democracy and more transparency. The Citizens United SCOTUS decision was an effort by the Right to corrupt our elections. Elections under the influence of big money will tend to favor those paying for the elections. Unfortunately commercial propaganda campaigns CAN influence the gullible and cause them to vote against their own interest.
The answer it to stop worshiping the wealthy as Conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians and Conservative/Corporate Democrats do. The answer to improving society and our economy is Progressivism. Socialism (Democratic Socialism) is not an evil. Fascism (rule by the wealthy and corporations) is the real evil... and when they corrupt our government via bribery THIS is what you could conceivably call "Big Guv". But when the "big government" (big enough to stand up to the corporations and the wealthy and keep them in check) is transparent and acting on our behalf? That could be a greater force for good.
Image Description: Ridiculous Libertarian cartoon that will cause gullible Righties to laugh and say, "that's so true" when the assertions it makes are actually false.
Responding to the assertions made in the "Shrine of the Statists: Big Guv" cartoon...
Responding to the assertions made in the "Shrine of the Statists: Big Guv" cartoon...
1. Speech Balloon: Big Guv is hungry. Will feed him more taxes!
My Response: Taxes are for needed government programs. Waste exists and we should work to eliminate as much of that as possible, but taxes aren't a "tribute" to "appease" this "Big Guv" god. Nobody is arguing that tax money should be intentionally wasted.
2. Speech Balloon: Big Guv will keep us safe!
My Response: Keeping us safe is the JOB of our police and military (supposed to be, at least). Nobody is arguing that people should give up the right to defend themselves.
3. Speech Balloon: Only Big Guv should have guns!
My Response: The courts have interpreted the 2nd amendment to mean citizens have a right to own guns. After the Sandy Hook tragedy the crazies in Congress (Repubs and some Conservative Dems) shot down modest restrictions and safeguards, yet this cartoonist suggest gun confiscation is a possibility? This is a total straw man.
4. Speech Balloon: Curse those who disbelieve!
My Response: Another straw man. Randal Paul, a Libertarian, is currently serving in the Senate. He ran for office and was elected, not "cursed".
5. Sign: Worship Obey.
My Response: Straw man. Nobody "worships" government. People are only expected to "obey" so far as laws are concerned. Disagreement is protected under the first amendment.
6. Gun in the right hand of "Big Guv": Government force.
My Response: Force is used to enforce laws passed by our elected representatives. What is this, a call for anarchy? (Actually it's the old canard that the collection of taxes is backed up by force and is theft. Sorry, Libertarians, but the collection of taxes is authorized by the Constitution).
7. Door in side of "Big Gov": Implication that dissenters will be jailed.
My Response: Free speech is protected by the first amendment. People aren't thrown in jail for being Libertarians.
8. The Fed in the left hand of "Big Guv": Implication that the Fed is under the control of "Big Guv".
My Response: Incorrect. Wikipedia says "the Federal Reserve System has both private and public components, and was designed to serve the interests of both the general public and private bankers". Why should the Fed serve the interest of private bankers instead of only acting in the OUR interest? Answer; it shouldn't. The Fed needs to be brought fully under the control of "Big Guv".