For years, I was a libertarian. These were the two pivotal points that, when they changed for me, changed my political orientation completely. As I see it, these two issues are the ones that should receive more discussion between honest and open people on either side of the debate.

I understand these aren’t novel or particularly insightful thoughts, but I thought some people might be interested in seeing the exact two points that caused me to change from voting Republican to voting Democrat.

Previously I thought:

  1. Big government can’t do anything efficiently or with quality, and there are no checks on it to prevent that. In contrast, free-market economics, despite being occasionally brutish, at least tends toward efficiency since it features competition as a check for quality. Therefore, a small government that leaves all possible matters up to the free-market will lead to the best system for the benefit of the general population.

  2. Poor people need the discomfort of being poor to help be motivated toward working hard. Only a small number of people are truly incapable of bettering themselves, the rest of them just need to be educated in capitalism and then given that motivation.

Then I realized:

  1. Most giant companies are just as bad as big government in terms of their inefficiencies and how hard it is to change anything, and there are almost no meaningful checks for quality when they get to a certain size because competition is limited or non-existent. They can be even worse than big government because they are compelled to grab every penny with no direct incentive toward any other values or mission.

  2. The ability to dramatically alter one’s lot in life for the better (as compared to your parents, for example) is a very, very rare ability no matter what one’s socio-economic background. It is even harder, though, for those who are poor, who have been marginalized, or who are culturally or socially conditioned toward certain dysfunctional behaviors and thoughts.

While the question of “wanting it bad enough” is certainly a contributing factor for those that do succeed, it still requires extraordinary levels of self-knowledge, persistence, good-fortune, and support from others that cannot be expected of the vast majority of people even in the middle class.

Furthermore, for many if not most people, an overly uncomfortable situation drains their capacity for self-discipline, self-control, goal-orientation, long-term thinking, and personal growth. These people will either turn to crime or will simply stagnate for generations.

Update

I didn’t expect this much attention. Part of me wants to reply to every dissenter to help facilitate a dialogue, but having tried that before, it would take hours and hours with the vast majority of those discussions going in circles. So, I won’t do that.

Insead, I’m going to try something new.

I have created http://reddit.com/r/theagora/ . It is a place for dialectical arguments, and there will be little to no tolerance of colorful or deceptive rhetoric. Failure to engage an argument in favor of such rhetoric will result in deletion or being banned. Instigation of hostility will also be forbidden.

I’ve reposted this over there in hopes of a constructive and fruitful discussion.

Interesting view on how people are moving towards big government again. Does this shift in mindset switch the libertarian trend on personal freedoms to a big government collective good policy going forward?

The economic situation has seemed to usher in the trend of European style socialist policies and a more powerful law enforcement apparatus thanks to terrorism. Does this mean we are actually go back to lesser freedoms akin to the 1800’s?

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