by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Maybe you're one of the 52% of voters who don't trust Hillary Clinton. You might also be one of the 57% who are afraid of Donald Trump. What do you do?
Some people would tell you to vote for the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.
On the surface, the ex-Republicans turned Libertarians are attractive. They're for marriage equality and against neo-con military interventionism. They're for pot and contraceptives, against torture and bank bailouts.
On the other hand, they're also against Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, gun control, anti-discrimination laws, hate crime laws, income taxes, the Federal Reserve - in short, they reject the last 100 years of progressive social legislation.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson endorsed same-sex marriage in 2011 and advocated for a federal constitutional amendment protecting equal marriage rights. Weld came on board even earlier - in 1996 - when, as governor of Massachusetts, he said his state should recognize same-sex marriages performed in Hawaii, if that state legalized them.
While Libertarians support formal legal equality when it comes to marriage, they reject other legal protections for the LGBT community - laws against discrimination or hate crimes, for example - on the grounds that people have a 'natural right' to have and express any ideas, no matter how bigoted or destructive.
Therefore, Libertarians would say, it's perfectly OK for businesses to refuse to serve LGBT people. LGBT 'individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts, and other free-market solutions,' their platform says, but not to ask for government protection.
Even worse, 'the Libertarian Party favors a free-market health care system, without government oversight, approval, regulation, and licensing...They support the repeal of all social insurance policies, such as Medicare and Medicaid.'
In other words, federal subsidies that help low-income Americans get insurance or pay for expensive medications like Truvada are out. Health care for seniors is also out, except for the few who are rich enough to pay for their own private insurance.
Johnson advocates immediate cuts to Medicare and Medicaid of 43%, and turning over the balance of funds to the states in the form of so-called 'block grants.'
According to Johnson, this idea would create 'fifty laboratories of innovation,' but his block grant program would put all health care funds in the hands of right-wing governors like Mike Pence, Pat McCrory, and Sam Brownback. The inevitable result would be defunding of Planned Parenthood and HIV/AIDS resources.
While more people might get sick and more might die from untreated diseases or botched back-alley abortions, cutting off federal money for health care would help Johnson achieve his number one goal - a balanced budget.
Libertarians oppose income taxes, and they don't want the federal government to sell bonds or other financial instruments, so the only way to balance the budget would be to drastically cut spending. Not military spending, because national defense is a 'legitimate' function of government, they say, but other budget items are all on the chopping block.
That includes whole federal departments, like the Department of Education. It would be best if that department is abolished, the Libertarians say, but if it isn't, they should just hand out money to the states and not make funding contingent on following federal guidelines.
Remember Title IX, the law the Obama administration used to defend the rights of Transgender students to gender-appropriate restrooms? Well, the legal mechanism that protects Trans students depends on the Department of Education threatening reluctant schools districts with loss of funding if they don't comply with civil rights guidelines.
In the same way, anti-discrimination guidelines for contractors depend on federal agencies using the power of money to make businesses comply with civil rights laws. Give up the enforcement mechanism and you might as well give up the civil rights laws.
That's the fatal flaw in the Libertarian argument. A really free-market country only favors people with the wealth to buy what they want in the market. Most people depend on social arrangements like health care programs, government pensions, and civil rights laws to get at least a part of what rich people can buy.
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