The Libertarian Paradox and Bad Policy

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Jacob Lyles describes the Libertarian Paradox and how it leads to bad policy recommendations:

I don’t want to live in an area that indiscriminately lets in millions of poor immigrants from the third world. I believe such a place would be unpleasant to live in. At least I want my government to keep out the crazies with bombs.

Libertarian moral philosophy clearly allows me to pursue this goal privately. I am allowed to band together with other people, buy up some land, and prevent immigrants we don’t want from moving to our gated community.
But because we do not live in a libertarian world and much of the property in the United States is owned by the government, many libertarians (example) hold that we have no moral choice but to pursue an open borders policy and let in any immigrant who wishes to come.

This is an example of what I am christening the “libertarian paradox”. Because of the governing systems currently in place, libertarian moral philosophy compels us to advocate for bad policies that nobody really wants. Because the roads and borders are not private property, it would be immoral for us to use government force to prevent some immigrants from using them to move here.

And then libertarians wonder why their message is so unpopular, all the while they are advocating policies that nobody, not even most libertarians, would voluntarily choose to live under if they had the personal free choice.

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