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Libertarianism: Is It Right For Us?

A Critique of John Schultz's "Libertarians"

Differences of opinion in the function of government both founded the United States and caused unrest during the subsequent Civil War. Modern society still faces similar disagreements on the role of government in matters ranging from the Internet to Headwaters National Forest. John Schultz feels that "Libertarianism is the best choice for our future" (15). Schultz outlines the Libertarian position and subsequently implies his support of the Libertarian positions on pollution, health care, and censorship. The essay then tempers the Libertarian propaganda with objections raised on the issues of taxation, drug policy, and the right to bear arms. The essay at times contradicts itself and as a whole refuses to clearly state the benefits of Libertarianism for the United States.

Foremost, the sources used all inherently have a bias toward the position of Libertarians. All of them, in some manner, have the word "Libertarian" or an adequate abbreviation in their titles. Schultz clearly presents a platform on Libertarian opinions and programs; however, no source even feigns objective examination of opposing opinions. Along with the one-sided sources, he uses card stacking in the paper. Referring to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the paper does not even offer a reference that would corroborate the claims made in the paragraph. Furthermore, the passage lacks any analysis of the phrases, "many people have died" or "there is no evidence that the FDA offers any real protection..." (Schultz 6). With similar neglect, the section on the FDA overlooks the first letter of the acronym, food. Schultz insists, without additional support, that the FDA inflates drug costs; he refuses to acknowledge that the FDA may have some role in protecting the US food supply. The essay stacks both sources and examples which inherently creates an incomplete picture of the benefits or pitfalls of Libertarianism.

Within the paper, Schultz makes a contradictory statement regarding choice without clarification. In his argument where he debunks the Libertarian position on drugs, Schultz mentions that, "most poor people cannot," choose their schools (12). Then, a mere three pages later, Schultz, citing Boaz, claims that, "the people live under [socialist or other policies] by choice" (15). By merely extending the argument, one ask that all libertarians move out of the United States because they too live here by choice. The contradiction of the idea of choice presents a problem with the key principle of Libertarianism, the liberty to choose.

"Libertarians" similarly does not sufficiently explore race relations. Schultz claims, "Whites feel they are losing college educations and jobs to under qualified blacks and feel anger toward them for it" (7). Without any citation, the reader must ask if Schultz feels anger because of the racial preference or if the statement is merely a brash generalization. Similarly, Schultz refers to a supposed claim in Boaz that the U.S. will become a "racially harmonious society..." (8). Upon investigation of the citation, it appears that the pages do not directly refer to the creation of a racially harmonious society. Making no concrete references, the argument, despite its logic, will most likely overlook some subtle factors.

Developments in the college admissions front outside of California, show a trend toward the Libertarian position on racial equality. In the historic Bakke case, the supreme court decided twenty years ago to allow colleges to use race as a preference in admissions but made quotas and separate programs illegal (Cohen 52). Yet, with the new Hopwood v. Texas case, race could no longer be a factor in admissions (ibid.). Whether the Libertarian trend toward abandoning affirmative action will be beneficial or counterproductive is uncertain. Carl Cohen prefers to see American universities achieve diversity through outreach programs (Cohen 54). Only further examination of the admissions and hiring trends will tell if the Libertarian policies toward racial equality will create the "racially harmonious society" and benefit the country as a whole (Schultz 8).

In some ways, race relations even with diverse schools still have not created the racial equality of which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamt. Teaneck High School, with a student body of Latinos, blacks, and whites, still suffers from the self-segregation of the students with "the black door," "the Latino door," and "the white door" (qtd. in Farley 90). In the another case at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, "blacks and whites live mostly separate lives," despite the school's 60%-black student body (Sorry). With some teenage opinions disdaining the constant welfare aid given to blacks and voicing derogatory remarks such as "Look how loud and rude they [blacks] are," the question how can America achieve the Libertarian color blind society remains (qtd. in Farley 91). It is not clear if the boundaries to opportunity were removed, an ethnically aware society would consequently result. Given that only 23% of black teens, compared to over 70% of black adults, feel discriminated against because of their skin color, one wonders why more of them have not transcended their stereotypical socio-economic class (Farley 90). Obviously, they do not feel impinged by racial discrimination as their adult counterparts. Despite the egalitarianism prevalent in schools, the comments and opinions of students exemplifies the persisting racial tensions. So far, within the microcosm of color blind schools, Libertarian policies have failed to produce the claimed color-blind society. Therefore, Libertarianism presents no significant benefit toward a racially blind America.

Libertarianism urges free and open speech. In his attempt to support and show benefits of Libertarian thought, Schultz makes generalizations and does not to support his claims. Schultz states that the FCC "monitors the content of [television and radio] broadcasts" (8). The word "monitors" almost implies censorship; however, "the Telecommunications Act of 1996 gives the broadcasters carte blanche to offer any programs or services they please..." (Ratnesar). Similarly, Schultz glances over the topic of adult Internet content and does not evaluate the benefits of current Libertarian policies regarding the Internet. With the overturn of the Communication Decency Act (CDA) in June of last year, the government cannot censor or infringe upon the right to publish on the Internet (Krantz 48). With world-wide Internet sites and the explosion of 4,000 new sites per day, the Internet has become the medium that allows the common citizen to address a world-wide audience (Handy 76). Despite these Libertarian successes in the name of free speech, most commercial interests want to "convince the public that [the Internet] is a clean and well-lighted place" (Handy 75). Thus the lack of adequate protection and safety on the Internet hampers the expansion of Internet business. The argument's shallow depth prevents in-depth analysis of the benefits and losses that come with completely freedom of speech advocated by Libertarianism.

The dearth of evidence riddles Schultz's claim that the United States should ideally undertake Libertarian policies. Schultz makes the claim that with the growth of populations, the government cannot grow to adequately support its citizens (1). The claim lacks support, and the paper does not address the benefits of Libertarian ideas while noting the increasing complexity of life in the United States. Research can show that private investment, rather than government spending drives the current, extraordinary growth of the economy (Private). "Libertarians" presents some interesting arguments but lacks the concrete examples which would aid the American debate of the ideal government.

The claims made in "Libertarians" are reasonable and deserve further study. There is a clear, although somewhat simplified logic to the problems and outlined solutions to race relations, government censorship, health care, gun control, drugs and taxation. However, the paper suffers because of the lack of sufficient case studies and other evidence. Furthermore, the exclusive use of Libertarian materials casts doubt on the already sparse citations. Finally, considering the presence of a blatant, unresolved contradiction in the body of the paper, the argument fails to convince or even adequately summarize, the benefits of Libertarian policies to America.

Works Cited

Cohen, Adam. "The Next Great Battle Over Affirmative Action." Time. Nov. 10, 1997. p52-54.

Farley, Christopher John. "Kids and Race." Time. Nov. 24, 1997. p88-91.

Handy, Bruce. "Why Johnny Can't Surf." Time. Dec. 15, 1997. p75-76.

Krantz, Michael. "Censor's Sensibility." Time. Aug. 11, 1997. p48-49.

"Private propulsion." Economist. Feb. 14 1998. p27.

Ratnesar, Romesh. "A Bandwidth Bonanza." Time. Sept. 1, 1997. p60.

Schultz, John. "Libertarians." Menlo School. Research Paper for College Writing. Spring Semester 1998.

"Sorry: Desegregation 40 years on." Economist. Sept. 27, 1997. p28-29.