Find yourself arguing in favor of liberty, economics and any other political issues popular in current discourse? Well, bad news. You’re doing it wrong. Let’s dig into these “Bad Arguments” and learn how to address common rhetoric and positions effectively. In this series, we will be deconstructing why each of the listed arguments is poor to use, and why they need to leave the sphere of the conversation. These articles will be punching in all directions and hopefully serve to improve the quality of debates and discussions you, the reader, may have in the future.
I touched on this concept before in episode 17 of my weekly podcast (Currently on hiatus until January 10th) Coffee Shop Philosophy titled “Superlibertarians” wherein I talked about libertarian puritanism. There is an entire slew of arguments used by these
I’ll use foreign aid as the first example here. When the topic of foreign aid arises the superlibertarian response is “government shouldn’t spend money period” and most other solutions or directions of conversation are considered almost blasphemous. What we need to understand in regular political discourse is that simply declaring the government shouldn’t spend money anymore regardless of the reason isn’t going to get us anywhere. When we say that, our argument immediately gets drowned out with the support people have for all of the other government spending programs that currently exist. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, and one that jumps too far to the extreme for the average political pallet. We could instead say “if we’re going to spend money like that shouldn’t fix the problems at home with it first?” or perhaps even “If we want funding for foreign aid we should reduce what we spend on the military first.” Jumping directly to killing off all government spending isn’t going to get us anywhere.
Another prime example is public schools. The Superlibertarian immediately calls to abolish all forms of public schooling. The issue here is twofold. First off if we pulled the switch, or pressed the proverbial Rothbard Button, there’s nothing currently in existence that would replace it adequately. When a monopoly dissolves there needs to be an adjustment period for the rest of the market to catch up and at
The second issue is the cost. Through taxation at last count, the USA spent approximately $13,119 per student whereas private options only cost approximately $10,413. This might seem like a win for the libertarian argument, but remember who we’re trying to convince. While the private option is cheaper it is also supplemented by taxes from businesses, individuals without children, and those
When we are discussing our political stances with the general public too often are we inclined to jump immediately to contrarianism and the end results of our beliefs. We need to avoid being superlibertarians and make our message more palatable to the general public if our goal is winning them over rather than some political puritan virtue signaling. The lesson of boiling the frog is important here.
You can read more from Killian Hobbs on Think Liberty here.