Libertarians believe that so long as we do not violate others’ rights, we should each be free to live as we choose. To respect one another as equal human beings, we must not force people to serve society, each other, or even themselves.
Critics of libertarianism worry that allowing people so much freedom would produce bad consequences. Critics say, sure, some freedom is good, but we also need to guarantee good results. We need government to guarantee good culture, scientific progress, and economic prosperity.
Libertarians agree that freedom does not guarantee good results. If people are free to choose for themselves, many will make bad choices. Still, libertarians say, nothing guarantees good results, so guarantees are beside the point. Liberty may not guarantee good results, but as a matter of fact it delivers good results.
These are intriguing ideas, whether they are true or false.
I first encountered libertarian ideas in a high school economics class. My teacher, Mr. Lee, suggested I read Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. It transformed me.
Hazlitt taught me that when evaluating policies, you must see past people’s good intentions and look instead at results. He taught me to view politics without romance.
Hazlitt’s one lesson is simple. When assessing a proposed policy, he says, do not just examine its immediate effects on the