Brian Lehman

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Was it all worth it?

As every last soul has surely heard by now, Osama bin Laden is dead.  Finally located and taken out by American special forces, the death of bin Laden marks a significant moment for America.  The occasion was marked by numerous celebrations and expressions of profound relief and satisfaction, coupled with a harsh brushing of the wounds left by 9/11.  Whether it helps Obama’s political fortunes is yet to be seen, but it surely has raised Americans’ spirits.

But one question still remains in the minds of many - were the sacrifices we have made up to this point worth it?  Over the past nine years Americans have had their privacy invaded, their values called into question, and their coffers tapped to fund two wars expensive in both treasure and blood.  We’ve certainly engaged in some ugly practices in our anger over what bin Laden did to us on that fall day in 2001.  Your average citizen may never know the true extent of the things done in the name of fighting terrorism.

It’s clear to me then that we have paid an immense price for this victory, one that is hard to justify in retrospect.  It’s hard to look at the way our lives have profoundly changed and not say that, despite the fact that his life ended at the point of an American rifle, Osama bin Laden will go down as a victor.  His actions have altered the American landscape permanently and have led us to do things that we ought be ashamed of.

Would any libertarian still support Obama?

That’s the question that entered my head this morning.  Conservatives often accuse libertarians of “supporting” Obama by being critical of Republicans and conservatives.  Obviously, this is nonsense, as no one is obligated to withhold criticism simply because of a person’s party.  Libertarians are by no means required to even support Republicans, much less ignore their glaring deficiencies and attempts to abridge liberty.

What I’m asking is, is there any situation that could arise to cause a libertarian to actually vote for Obama in 2012?  The current crop of GOP hopefuls, with the possible exception of Gary Johnson and perhaps a couple others, looks less than thrilling for libertarians (or really anyone).  It is entirely possible that we will end up with a Huckabee, Romney, or other nominee that one could find impossible, or at least difficult, to support.  Is anyone’s vote then going to Obama?

Personally, I’d argue that any libertarian who would consider this is, well, nuts.  I realize there are some who supported Obama in 2008, most likely because of his supposed anti-war stance.  But as the his actions have shown, especially his amplification of the Afghanistan war and his actions in Libya, Obama is most certainly not anti-war.  Further, his behavior on the domestic front has been, in a word, horrendous.  From ObamaCare to spending levels that would make George Bush blush, he has been anathema to libertarians in nearly every way.

So my question is, are any libertarians even considering voting for him in 2012?  If so, what conditions would need to exist?  And more importantly, why?  I’m honestly curious to see if he retains any support in this segment.  I highly doubt if it is significant after the above-mentioned.  I just want to know if it still exists at all.

Who the heck are the “ruling class”?

Those on the left love to talk about the “rich,” a mysterious, ill-defined group that is nonetheless responsible for all the hardship and evil in the world.  Often the word drips off the lips of a liberal as if it were a swear word.  Left out of any of these statements is who exactly the rich are, as if the group is a homogenous category populated entirely with Scrooge McDucks swimming in pools of filthy lucre.  Without fail, and with rare exception, the rich are portrayed as undeserving of their wealth and therefore obligated by guilt to share it with others.

E.J. Dionne’s latest in the Washington Post serves as a veritable stereotype for this mindset.  Dionne spends the entire piece lambasting the so-called “ruling class,” an absurd moniker that is used without the smallest hint of irony.  This “ruling class,” according to Dionne, is morally obligated to pay more taxes and overall sacrifice themselves for the greater good.  This, natch, is the only way to show they are “serious” about the deficit:

If the ruling class were as worried about the deficit as it claims to be, it would accept that the wealthiest people in society have a duty to pony up more for the very government whose police power and military protect them, their property and their wealth.

Let’s take a step back on the government shutdown

As a libertarian, I’m certainly someone who believes that there are far too many government employees.  We can all agree that there are too many departments, and too many bureaucrats manning them.  It’s easy, then, to begin to look with disdain upon the average government worker, when one views their job as unnecessary and wasteful.  We can begin to see them as expendable.

What is lost in this view, which is in full display now in Washington, is a lack of empathy for the fact that while their position may be of debatable value, the average federal employee is just someone doing their job.  We can argue until we’re blue that they get benefits too lavish, or positions too cushy.  But in the end, they are just like the rest of us, largely living on the week’s paycheck to cover the rent, mortgage and other bills.

We also cannot forget that, in fact, the largest segment of “public sector employees” is our troops whom we ask to fight our wars abroad and support our missions around the world. A large portion of these troops are under age 25 and most likely do not have any significant savings.  They are living by the check as much as your average bureaucrat.  And they would be affected come any government shutdown.

It’s because of this that I’m now coming out AGAINST any shutdown of the federal government.  I appreciate the point Republicans are trying to make, but they must choose their battles wisely.  Going to the mat and hurting thousands of people is simply too great a cost to pay just to make a point.  In the big picture the amount of money at stake is tiny compared to the overall budget.  It is simply not worth the human cost.

Like chasing your own tail

The health care bill, like any massive, comprehensive “reform” effort, has always been marked by the contradictions inherent in any such attempt. Anyone with common sense realizes you can’t demand both more coverage, while keeping costs down as well. The fact that there are unintended consequences is not only predictable, but inevitable.

Reason reports on the attempts to “fix” what has been one of many casualties of the PPACA, child-only insurance policies.  These policies are designed to fill a relatively small gap in the insurance market - children who cannot obtain coverage from parents but are also above the qualifications for Medicaid.  As a consequence of the legislation requiring coverage for all “pre-existing conditions” these policies are now not being written.

Of course, instead of realizing that bad law creates entirely new problems, legislators in several states are now rushing to address this new hole.  Not by fixing the poorly-designed law, of course; but by introducing entirely new law that will carry with it its own side effects.  In Texas, one legislator has filed a bill that would require insurers to issue policies to anyone under 19.  While he’s at it, why not throw in a free puppy as well?

The myth of the “anti-war” left (and right)

As President Obama laid out his case for intervention in Libya (and really, almost anywhere) some remarked, on Twitter and on blogs, that his speech was the best one George W. Bush ever gave.  The implication was that Obama’s justification for aggressive action paralleled Bush’s almost to the word - wherever people are “yearning to be free”, the United States must be on the side of the yearners.  It is a frighteningly broad criteria for making war, because, let’s face it - most of the world is not free, in fact massively so.  Can we possibly take sides everywhere some are oppressed?

Given the actions of the left during the Bush presidency and the Iraq War, it would then not be irrational to expect widespread demonstrations and protests.  Surely Code Pink, MoveOn, et al would hold rallies and vigils against a truly unjustified military action that put our troops at risk for no good purpose.  After all, we can’t just go about shooting missiles everywhere, right?

Yet the so-called “anti-war” left is mostly silent, with few exceptions.  Surely this is a double standard, but it should not surprise anyone in the least.  The left has fashioned itself as being entirely in favor of intervention in every other aspect of life, from our choice of light bulbs to whether or not we choose to buy health insurance.  So for what logical reason would they have any deep opposition to intervening abroad?  The fact is, the left has never been and never will be truly anti-war.

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Brian Lehman

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