Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Obamacare: Oh So Libertarian!

I will go easy on this one.  The author, one Rory McPeak, is perhaps 20 years old.  Not old enough to (legally) drink; I don’t want to be the one to drive him to a life in the bottle.

He has penned (I know, I am showing my age) a piece at Students for Liberty (I said I would be nice, hence not Students for Libertine, Students for less Liberty, Students not-yet-qualified-to-write-about Liberty), entitled Can a Libertarian Support Obamacare?

Of course, the proper two-letter answer would not make for an interesting post; Rory offers more.

I will start with a hearty “thank you.”  Rory has identified that the so-called conservatives were all for an individual healthcare mandate before they were against it:

It was first developed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989.  It was the health care plan signed into law by Mitt Romney during his governorship of Massachusetts.  The earliest incidence of united Republican opposition to the individual mandate seems to have occurred in 2009, when President Obama began pushing for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Rory, Rory, rah, rah, rah; Rory, Rory, sis-boom-bah!

However, that doesn’t answer the question of whether a self-proclaimed libertarian should support the compulsory purchase of health insurance.

However, that doesn’t answer the question of whether a self-proclaimed libertarian should support the compulsory purchase of health insurance.

Sorry, Rory; I didn’t mean to step on your line.

And I doubt that I’ll be able to answer that question in a single blog, since “libertarian” is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of political and economic philosophies.

You must realize by now that Rory is headed for trouble; he could answer the question in a single blog, even (as mentioned) a single word!  It seems to me you can make the range as wide as you want, as long as the non-aggression principle, based on a sound view of property rights, is upheld.

Someone who rejects the very premise of the state, or who only accepts a state that strictly adheres to the non-aggression principle, is not likely to support the mandated purchase of anything, even something as societally beneficial as health insurance.

Rory is confused; let me explain. You see, there cannot be “a state that strictly adheres to the non-aggression principle.”  If it did, it wouldn’t be a “state.”  Rory, consider this my contribution to your education.

In support of Rory’s view that a libertarian can, in fact, support the initiation of aggression, he cites two non-libertarians:

In 2012, Hayek scholar Erik Angner wrote a piece for Politico on this very subject.  While acknowledging Friedrich Hayek’s disapproval of mandates, Angner notes the Austrian economist’s support for redistribution in the form of a guaranteed minimum income…. The piece became the subject of an interview of Angner by Reason’s Nick Gillespie, which also touched on economist and libertarian icon Milton Friedman’s support for redistribution schemes including the negative income tax and the voucher system.

Hayek…and Friedman. 

I have often been labelled by other libertarians as a “left-libertarian” due to my cautious yet adamant support for Obamacare along with other redistribution schemes that rely on market solutions to social welfare problems. 

Wait a minute…what is a “redistribution [scheme] that [relies] on market solutions”?

However, I reject the label…

That’s alright, Rory – I have many other appropriate labels from which you may make a choice.


  1. The rebranding of libertarianism continues. Too funny. And thank you for this lighthearted work, since I could barely make it past your Joker article, with its reminder of the exponentially growing federal register.

    "I hasten to laugh at everything, for fear of being obliged to cry." - The Barber of Seville; Act 1, Scene1

  2. This kid is not a libertarian...PERIOD. He's either a liar, an idiot, ot just plain naive.

  3. The concept of state aside, there’s a bit of inconsistency between the concepts of Obama Care and representative democracy. Obama Care was passed as a secret bill sans vetting and comment from those affected and supposedly represented. As to be expected from such an approach the law has requirements that have already caused to Supreme Court to prostitute itself by declaring a charge to be a “tax” when clearly it wasn’t. Now the court is being pressured to compound its culpability by rewriting clear language in the law to change the law as passed.

    I suppose we’ve move on to National Socialism with the government controlling property and businesses rather than international socialism in which the state has title ownership of everything. Hardly the proper subject for exploring libertarianism.

    1. This is an issue beyond Obamacare (as I know you know); the fact that almost everything meaningful done by government is done in secret. And somehow this is democratic; and somehow uninformed votes make this all legitimate.

    2. Noted that my spellchecker capitalized “National Socialism”. This should be genetic lower case lower case fascism. There was no intent to attach inappropriate baggage to an already concerning change in the U.S. slide from representative government.


  4. Obamacare has WAY MUCH MORE than just insurance. ICD-10 is an abominable mess of 68,000 codes, and it is part of the expansion of government control over individual health care and medical information. Industry writers are calling it "bigger than Y2K", and say it is costing trillions to the industry. CFO where I work said in a meeting it is causing a major epidemic (my word) of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare space. Smaller medical and hospital establishments, overwhelmed, are begging for bigger buyers to save them from regulatory disaster when it hits in October 2015.

    Jesus Christ warned us in Matthew 17 that taxation has nothing to do with freedom, it only makes the rulers' children (economically) 'free".


  5. Hayek supported a minimum income guarantee only for people UNABLE to work. Unable.

  6. That may be true but Hayek wasn't a libertarian. He was more of a British Whig (whom he admired) with a touch of Austrian old liberalism (which concedes in some areas more of liberalism then Whiggism) I would say Hayek was a moderate classical liberal. Hoppe argues that Hayek was actually a social democrat. Hayek is mentioned by the establishment because he is "safe." Hayek was a great economist but his political beliefs were, as Anthony de Jasay would say, muddled