An understandable concern that non-libertarians have is feeling like libertarians are all really rich, and that must be why “they want to keep all their money to themselves and not ‘share’ it with society” or “give back”, and that “Big Business is in cahoots with the libertarians” etc. This is not accurate. Most libertarians take this position for two main reasons:
- Because they believe it is the philosophically consistent and just position to take – i.e. that political authority does not exist, and you don’t get a free pass to do things that would otherwise be considered wrong if done by an individual, just because you happen to work for the state. Examples here include: locking up people just because they are doing a drug that you don’t like or agree with, drone bombings, taxation under threat of imprisonment to fund programs that the person does not agree with.
- Because they believe that free markets lead to better outcomes, like economic growth which raises the poor out of poverty.
Here are a few more points to consider:
- Libertarians are not necessarily as rich as you think they are. Many of them have foregone more lucrative jobs and positions advocating for the state or tacitly supporting the state e.g. being an economist at a central bank, or an economist/writer who shills for the state.
- “Big Business” doesn’t necessarily want a libertarian society, if they have the option of being able to use the state to entrench themselves against competition, or to rent-seek etc. If libertarianism was really so conducive to “Big Business”, then Big Business would be funding libertarians a great deal more than they are being funded now.
I think there’s a fundamental misconception going on, where I’ll quote Julian Simon to explain:
“Not understanding the process of a spontaneously-ordered economy goes hand-in-hand with not understanding the creation of resources and wealth. And when a person does not understand the creation of resources and wealth, the only intellectual alternative is to believe that increasing wealth must be at the cost of someone else. This belief that our good fortune must be an exploitation of others may be the taproot of false prophecy about doom that our evil ways must bring upon us.” – Julian Simon
Fundamentally, most people have the wrong idea about how wealth is created, and how we acquire and use resources in society. People who think wealth is a zero sum game will tend to think capitalism is bad – people who understand that wealth creation is a positive sum interaction will tend to think capitalism is good. People who hold the incorrect technical-engineering estimate style view of resources will tend to think that the earth’s resources are a thing that need to be conserved lest we run out. People who understand that ‘natural resources’ are actually infinite (in a sense), realise that our most important resource is not oil or coal or anything like that. Our most important resource is human ingenuity, which is best enabled by free markets. To understand why, I recommend you see Julian Simon’s book, The Ultimate Resource.