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Lee Wrights: It just ain’t none of my business

Archived column by Lee Wrights, published again today at Liberty for All and submitted to IPR. Wrights may be seeking the Libertarian Party 2012 Presidential nomination.

Human beings are consumed by the notion that everything must have a label.

We have an inherent need to categorize every circumstance and individual into some sort of group or set so that larger numbers of people or circumstances can be more easily identified according to common traits they share. The whole idea of unique people and circumstances is abandoned for the concept of common denominators. In no arena of human interaction is this more apparent, or prevalent, than inside the world of politics. Labels become very important when you need a constituency.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all labels are bad. In fact, individuals choosing to label themselves is entirely proper, in my opinion. We all should be free to identify ourselves in any manner we see fit. We have Democrats and Republicans, as well as, Libertarians and Greens, not to mention a myriad of other lesser known political parties and organizations. All of these groups allow free individuals to self-identify according to their own personal philosophies, and allow for groups of individuals to enjoy the fellowship of others that are of like mind. But problems arise when these groups take up the practice of labeling each other using their own agendas and criteria, which causes individuals to be unjustly categorized into groups where they just do not belong.

Being a Libertarian, I know all too well what it is like to be “mislabeled” by the other parties. We Libertarians are constantly judged falsely for the stances we take against government intrusions into individuals’ lives. If you believe the political rhetoric of the Democrats and Republicans, mixed with all the media hype, you will think that Libertarians are “for” all kinds of reprehensible behaviors instead of seeing the truth of the philosophy which is, in fact, “against” government making decisions for people that should be left to the individuals themselves. You see, Libertarians believe that most places where government has its collective nose today are just none of its business.

Libertarians know that most things government bureaucrats do these days just ain’t none of their business. I mean, there are laws regulating everything from what color you can and cannot paint your house to what kind of sex in which two consenting adults are allowed to engage. What business is it of government who you have sex with or what your home looks like? What business do politicians have telling us what we can and cannot do with our own bodies and our own property? What makes them think they know better than you how to run your life? Why is the nature of modern-day politics like this?

Crime is big business, that’s why. In fact, crime is government’s biggest industry.

Surprised to see me say that? It really isn’t all that odd when you consider that the State derives revenue on both sides of the law. Remember, all those licenses and permits you are required to obtain in order to do something are accompanied by fees. While on the flip side, every breech of the never-ending, self-perpetuating, always-growing bureaucracy carries a fine. You are forced to pay in order to abide by the law so you can avoid having to pay for breaking the law.

Consequently, as the beast Bureaucracy has grown, it has become the State’s own self-interest that drives legislators to constantly search for new sources of revenue; thereby, constantly encroaching further into the personal lives of citizens. That’s why 519 laws were passed in my home state a couple of years ago. That is why 500 new laws will probably be passed this year, and again next year, and again the year after that. The only way a government can realize greater income than it does today is either by accelerating tax increases; or, by creating new ways for us to become criminals and providing the appropriately-priced bounties required to avoid becoming criminals. This means that everything you do becomes the State’s business, or so the politicians think. Libertarians, on the other hand, simple say, “It just ain’t none of my business.”

So you see, every new law not only nibbles away at your personal freedom, while further gorging an already bloated beast Bureaucracy, it also becomes a new source of revenue for the State. Meanwhile, Libertarians are saying, “It just ain’t none of my business what you do with your body and your property.” Libertarians realize that government should not be engaged in the practice of creating convenient crimes so that revenues go up; but rather, government’s only legitimate role in society is restricted to protecting the individual rights of its citizens as the founders of this great country intended. The consequence of this is Libertarians get falsely labeled as “anti-government” when what we really are is “pro-personal freedom.”

Perhaps no two issues better exemplify this kind of mislabeling than the ever-popular War on Drugs or the current debate over gay marriage.

It is a well known position of the Libertarian Party that the War on Drugs is not only a complete failure, but that it is also a disaster for many of the nation’s citizens. We know that imprisonment does nothing to stop the flow of drugs into the country, nor does it stop individuals from ingesting what the State has determined to be “illegal substances.” In fact, history itself teaches us that prohibitions of any kind create more crime, not less. After all, it was a prohibition on alcohol in the early part of the 20th century that gave rise to a new menace called “organized crime.” Plus, it just is not government’s business to determine how we should medicate ourselves. That is a decision best left to individuals and their doctors. In other words, it just ain’t none of my business what kind of drugs you do or do not take. This does not mean Libertarians are “pro-drugs” as the talking heads would have you believe. Libertarians do not want to give your children drugs. It means Libertarians are “anti-government-playing-doctor.” There is a big difference. The choice should be yours, not some fat cat politician’s in Washington.

The same is true of the gay marriage debate that is now all the rage. Libertarians oppose a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman. So naturally we get labeled as “pro-gay marriage.” This is simply false. In fact, many Libertarians believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but we also believe that it just ain’t none of our business who you marry. Just because I believe one thing, does not mean you are wrong because you believe something else. Marriage is a contract between two individuals and possibly, depending on your personal belief system, God almighty, but the government has no place in the mix. Government only got in the marriage license business in the first place to stop interracial marriages. Now they want to stop same-sex marriages. What would you say if someone told you that your husband or wife was ill-suited for you and therefore your marriage was illegal? You would probably tell them, “It ain’t none of your damned business who I marry and I will thank you to keep your big fat nose out of my affairs.” You would also be one step closer to understanding the true foundation of libertarianism.

So whether we are talking about what drugs we take or who we will marry or what color we choose to paint our homes, what business is it of government? Why should we allow politicians to make such personal decisions for us? Their only motivation is to make money for the State. Is that the criteria you want used when making decisions that will impact the rest of your life?

We all will be much better off when everyone, especially elected politicians, start saying more and more, “It just ain’t none of my business.”

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

-Thomas Sowell

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