Time for Everything
7/1/13 at 09:31 PM 1 Comments

Libertarian Political Theory on the Topic of Justice

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Photo: Flickr/Clyde Robinson - Creative Commons

If you follow the Libertarian Party closely, it will not take long to hear complaints about our legal system. Libertarians tend to oppose legislation that creates victimless crimes. Here is a classic example:

Suppose I need a new source of income and open a barber shop. I start cutting hair even though I have not obtained a license to cut hair. All of the customers are pleased with their haircuts and each customer pays $10 for their haircut. Meanwhile I pay taxes on this income.

Unfortunately, a government bureaucrat visits my shop for a haircut and discovers that I am not licensed. Then I am given a citation for violating a law requiring mandatory licenses for barbers.

The court determines I violated the law, my barber shop is shut down and I am fined. But before my sentence is read, I ask the judge one question, "Who are the victims of this alleged crime?" The judge tells me that victims are not required to hold me in violation of the law.

Does that sound fair and just? Should legislation create a class of victimless crimes?

Many Christians support this form of government licensing because the Bible offers a defense of government in Romans 13. However, the Bible doesn't not define all of the limits of government.

A small percentage of Christians have embraced anarchism. Philosopher Jacques Ellul presented this position in his book Anarchy and Christianity. However, libertarian Christians are more likely to embrace minarchism.

Wikipedia describes minarchism as the belief "that states ought to exist (as opposed to anarchy), that their only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and that the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes fire departments, prisons, the executive, and legislatures as legitimate government functions."

Following the American Revolutionary War statesmen debated the role of the federal government. The federalists supported a strong central government and the anti-federalists wanted a weak federal government. The American Constitution resulted from this debate.

The political system adopted by the founding fathers of America was closer to minarchism than the super powerful political state we now have.

The Bill of Rights were passed to protect Americans from political abuses by a strong federal government. The 10th Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The federal government has seized powers never granted to it by the Constitution. These actions threaten the personal liberties of Americans.

Related Reading

Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country? - Mises Institute

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