At their most basic level, Libertarians have a pretty good understanding of how society works. Everyone should work hard and try their best to achieve their goals with as little intervention from the government as possible. Government should not get in the way of personal freedom. That’s all well and good, but the problem is that Libertarians assume that everyone is created “equal” and there are no forms of discrimination in our society.
Libertarians have this innocent idea that everyone is born at the starting line and that it’s up to all of us to achieve our dreams. If we fall into poverty, then we just made bad choices, and if someone ends up a billionaire, well, they just wanted it more.
Obviously, it’s important to work hard. No one is saying that you should just expect things to be handed to you. Mature people understand that basic concept and have moved on. What Libertarians don’t understand is that there is no starting line for everyone, for a lot of different reasons. Maybe a child was born in a low-income neighborhood and wasn’t able to earn enough money to go to college. Sure, there’s grants, which Libertarians wouldn’t like anyway because it has to do with the government, but those aren’t always enough. And, what if the schools the child goes to have poor resources, so they don’t have access to the same level of education as others? Finally, what if the only jobs in that area are low-income jobs and the kid, at this point an adult, can’t afford to move to a new location?
In the previous example, we’re just assuming that kid was a white male. If he’s any ethnicity but white, well, we have a lot more problems to deal with thanks to good ole American racism. At this point, Libertarians like to argue that it’s illegal to not hire a person due to his/her ethnicity because of the Civil Rights Act. To that, I just pat the Libertarian on the head and call him precious. Obviously, an employer can’t base their hiring practice on a person’s skin color. However, empirical data has shown a cognitive bias in the hiring process. So, even though not hiring someone due to their ethnicity is illegal, it never-the-less still occurs.
When a minority brings this up to a Libertarian, the Libertarian often likes to respond that he/she is just being a victim. Again, this is just precious. Simply stating facts about the disadvantages, a certain group of people has does not make that person a victim. Of course, if that same person decides to just give up and never try and do anything with his/her life because the odds are against him, then I would be inclined to agree with the Libertarian that that person is playing the victim..
It’s important to acknowledge that different people have different life experiences, and not all of them will be fair or equal. Sometimes, government needs to intervene in order to help create some type of equal playing field, Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and so on. It’s also important for those in minority groups who do face some degree of discrimination to not cave into the predictability of just giving up and living off the government or blaming others for your problems. Of course, there are real issues, and it’s important to talk about those issues and find ways to fix them. But these our conversations that I feel go over the simplistic minds of Libertarians. I might be a little too cynical in my assessment, but not really.
I earned my M.A in English Lit from Gardner-Webb University in 2019. My writing mainly focuses on disability positivity. I enjoy sci-fi, fantasy and classic rock. Oh, and I’m also a part time phone sex operator. So, that’s a thing.