Libertarianism is voluntaryism. I wrote some time ago about my view that the success of libertarianism is rooted in individuals pro-actively following the golden rule – ‘to do unto others…’ – by refraining from using force against others but also voluntarily doing good for others.
On the surface libertarians can appear to be very vocal about the hard edge of sound economics, while not saying very much about how they improve their communities and assist others through their voluntary actions. Because of that outside observers can mistakenly draw the conclusion that libertarianism doesn’t care much for others, which is not the case at all.
Meanwhile socialists and ‘liberals’ loudly proclaim their care for others by calling for a large state to use the threat of violence to force everyone to contribute to the ‘collective good’ in ways those particular socialists think are right (your preferred causes to support or family priorities are ignored, your freedoms and priorities sacrificed for their vision of utopia) – their aim may be presented as noble, but their methods of providing ‘benefits’ are far from noble and their delivery and outcomes worse. Even so, millions have been persuaded that the threat of violence from the state to fund ‘benefits’ is not only acceptable, but the only way in which the needs of the needy will be met.
It’s just not true, there are many examples of needs being met through charitable and voluntary means without the need for state meddling, but unfortunately the state, through coercive taxes, still controls much of the resource that could be voluntarily put towards good causes. In so doing the state determines both what each individual can afford (without reference to the hopes, dreams and goals of individuals and families) but also how that extorted money should be spent or re-distributed. In such circumstances opportunities to demonstrate how a libertarian voluntary approach would work are limited, because the state already has seized much of the resource that would be applied to it.
I favour a voluntary approach to meeting the needs of others. But what do you think? Forced contribution to ‘good causes’ under threat of prison with all the inefficiency and waste of a bureaucratic system? Or voluntary action getting help where it is needed most directly?