Selfish Libertarians Fight For the Freedom of Others

June 22nd, 2011

Very good piece at the Atlantic that addresses, and rebuts the common myth that libetarians only seek to improve their own well-being. This couldn’t be further from the truth:

There are a lot of libertarians working on issues that could be construed as self-interested – lowering taxes is the obvious example. There are even some hard core Ayn Rand sycophants who embrace little more than themselves. Find that repugnant? Have at ’em! But you’re just misinformed if you think that libertarians as a whole care for nothing more than their self-interest. Countless libertarians are working to advance the freedom and fair-treatment of people other than themselves. Often they do so more consistently than some of the liberals who sneer at them.

The article cites numerous efforts from groups like the Institute for Justice, and the Cato Institute, who seek to help improve the freedom and liberty of everyone (not just libetarians).

The beauty of rational self-interest is that in many cases it results in benefiting others. For example, Cato is in favor of limited government. Thus, they fight against the war on drugs, and seek the repeal of what they consider nonsensical narcotic laws that amount to prohibition. Now, I think it is safe to say that supporters of Cato are not among the large drug traffickers and dealers the state targets. But, by fighting to achieve a rationally self interested goal–limited criminal prosecutions–Cato, at the same time is able to benefit countless people who are affected by these laws. Libertarian rational self interest in action.