We have personal responsibilities. We have responsibilities to each other too. (not all believe the latter )
It would be nice if individuals would meet the responsibilities we have toward others without the intervention of some central authority… but we don’t. We never, in post hunter-gatherer History, have. No reason to expect that we would now. Even the appearance of the Son of God on earth did not alter this situation.
Faced with this, Libertarians like to argue that such a situation is regrettable but anything government does distorts the Free market and so makes things worse.
If we did have a truly free markets than this might carry some weight. But a Free market is an abstract impossibility that is only useful for economic theorizing. ( for that it is indispensable. )
In the US of A what we actually have is a competitive system of what economist call “Rent Seeking” (an awful term because it has nothing to do with rents as we think of them. ) Rent Seeking means trying to get institutionalized privilege.
So we have a system where we compete to influence the government with the goal of maintaining or increasing our privilege. In this key way our system is no different than any other that came before it. But our system is far more democratic than most that came before; the game is open to all in our system. But the game is the same.
There is not an occupation or business that does not depend in someway on rent seeking.
Now when Libertarians and conservatives complain about government “hand outs” they are complaining about the rent seeking of the poor, old or sick. They seldom complain about the rent seeking of the elite. And like most of us they don’t even see the rent seeking that boosts them up.
When this is pointed out, libertarians will always decry the whole rent seeking form of government…and will argue that shrinking the government is the way to stop it.
But we have never in History had a system where the elite did not rig the system. Never. But we have had lots and lots of systems where the government was small and there was ONLY elite rent seeking. (A king is a pretty small government.)
If Conservatives want to prove that government with out rent seeking is possible…Then take away the rent seeking of the elite first and then get back to us. Taking away the rent seeking of the common man proves nothing. Historically it has been easy and always INCREASES elite’s rent seeking. (Because who is gonna stop them? The invisible hand ? The elite have been ignoring the invisible hand forever. )
If you can’t take a way the institutionalized privilege of the elite, then it is immoral to ask the common citizen to give up his privileges, the ability to protect them, and to the ability to seek new privileges.
In the end, rent seeking is a market. It is a market for privilege that effects your chances in all the other markets. You can’t make it go away anymore than you can make the market for drugs go away. If people want something and others have more of it than they need…An exchange will happen.
How can Libertarians deny this ? There own beliefs tell them it is true.