/ By CJ Werleman
In the days running up to Thanksgiving, Walmart urged its workers to donate food to their most in-need colleagues. You know, instead of Walmart having to pay said workers a livable wage. When people ask me what libertarianism looks like, I tell them that. By people I mean atheists, because for some stupid reason, far too many of my non-believer brethren have hitched their wagon to the daftest of all socio-economic theories.
It doesn’t help when atheist luminaries publicly extol their libertarianism. Penn Jillette writes, “What makes me a libertarian is what makes me an atheist—I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe….I’ll wait for real evidence and then I’ll believe.”
Well, the only excuse Jillette has for his breathtaking ignorance is that he earns his living performing as a Las Vegas magician. Also, he graduated from a clown college.
Famed science author and editor of Skeptic magazine Michael Shermer says he became a libertarian after reading Ayn Rand’s tome Atlas Shrugged. Wait, what? That’s the book that continues to inspire college sophomores during the height of their masturbatory careers, typically young Republicans (nee fascists). But unless your name is Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), most people grow out of the, “Screw you, I have mine” economic principles bestowed by the Russian-born philosopher by the time they’re legally old enough to order their first beer.
Atheists like to joke that faith makes a virtue out of not thinking about things, but the belief in libertarianism is an act of faith given libertarianism has not only never been tried before anywhere, but most of the world’s leading economists denounce it as a folly that would exacerbate the central economic challenges we face today—most significantly, wealth disparity.
When I hear an atheist say he is a libertarian, I know he’s given absolutely no thought to it other than the fact that he likes the sound of no foreign wars and no drug laws. The aphorism that libertarians are Republicans with bongs is just about spot-on. Thinking Ron Paul is a genius because he’s anti-war and anti-drug laws is like thinking a Big Mac is good for you because it has lettuce and a pickle.
Atheists who embrace libertarianism often do so because they believe a governing body represents the same kind of constructed authority they’ve escaped from in regards to religion. This makes sense if one is talking about a totalitarian regime, but our Jeffersonian democracy, despite its quirky flaws, is government by the people for the people, and it was the federal government that essentially built the great American middle-class, the envy of the world. In an op-ed titled “Abject Failure of Reaganomics,” Robert Parry writes, “From the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.”
But then came the period of Reagan’s holy trinity: privatization, deregulation and free trade. Now here we are today, facing the largest economic crisis since the 1930s. Libertarianism will serve only to replace government with a feudal serf model, which is what corporations are pushing so hard to achieve. In short, libertarianism can be described as anti-communism or “capitalism with the gloves off.” With communism, property is theft; capitalists are thuggish villains; workers rule; the poor are oppressed. With libertarianism, property is sacred; all governments are bad; capitalists are noble heroes; unions are evil; and the poor are pampered good-for-nothings.
Libertarians love abstract, fact-free arguments because there are no facts to support their arguments. Atheists love facts, so I don’t understand why so many are libertarians. I guess they viewed a YouTube documentary on how the Federal Reserves is the source of all evil, and yelled, “Uh huh!”
Robert Reich says that one of the most deceptive ideas embraced by the Ayn Rand-inspired Right is that the free market is natural, and exists outside and beyond government. He writes:
“In reality, the ‘free market’ is a bunch of rules about 1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); 2) on what terms (equal access to the Internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections?); 3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?); 4) what’s private and what’s public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); 5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?). And so on. These rules don’t exist in nature; they are human creations. Governments don’t ‘intrude’ on free markets; governments organize and maintain them. Markets aren’t ‘free’ of rules; the rules define them.”
When it comes to wealth disparity and income inequality, America is facing its greatest moral crisis since the Civil Rights movement, and its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. We are here today because of the influence of Wall Street when it comes to economic policy; the destruction of labor; the serf-level minimum wage; and the deregulation, monopolization and privatization of industries. Libertarianism will not only push us deeper into becoming a winner-takes-all society, it will help religious organizations fill the vacuum created by the destruction of government.
Ultimately, atheist libertarians are not part of the solution; atheist libertarians are part of the problem.