Beauprez Denounces Libertarian Philosophy

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Beauprez Denounces Libertarian Philosophy

by Ari Armstrong, September 29, 2002

Bob Beauprez has never been a friend of libertarians. While he was chair of the state Republican party, Beauprez, now a candidate for the new 7th Congressional District, signed Amendment 22 to expand Sarah Brady's gun registration program (see http://www.freecolorado.com/2000/05/beauprez.html). Libertarians, on the other hand, want to repeal all federal firearms laws and all state laws that intrude upon the individual's right to keep and bear arms.

But Beauprez' distaste for libertarian values runs much deeper. On September 7, the Denver Post quoted a lengthy comment by Beauprez critical of libertarianism (page 23B):

I submit to you that the Libertarian philosophy, while often attractive in theory, becomes seriously flawed when put into practice. If government needs to back off on the 'life' issues, does that mean an end to government funding of all medical research? No more cancer research? No search for an AIDS cure? No National Institute of Health? Carrying the 'government only where absolutely necessary' philosophy forward -- no more national parks, no more education funding, no more fighting illegal drugs? No FDA to regulate our medical pharmaceuticals, and no EPA to protect our environment?

Note how casually Beauprez thumbs his nose at the Constitution. The Bill of Rights specifically limits Congress to only those activities expressly delegated. The Constitution does not authorize Congress to socialize medicine, nationalize land, intrude in education, or prohibit drugs. Yet Beauprez advocates all these activities by the national government. His callous disregard of the fundamental law of the land automatically disqualifies him from serving in Congress.

Beauprez' pragmatism fundamentally undermines moral principles. His "theory-practice dichotomy" (as Rand describes it) precludes him both from developing sound theory and from attaining good practical results. A sound theory is one that corresponds to reality. A sound theory necessarily works well in practice. It is simply impossible for a set of ideas to be "attractive in theory" but "seriously flawed when put into practice." If a theory doesn't work, meaning that it's false, then there's nothing attractive about it.

Beauprez' political "philosophy" is neither attractive nor practical. Beauprez believes in central political control over economic affairs. Beauprez advocates the policy of prohibition that increases America's homicide rate between 25% and 75%, as estimated by Jeffrey Miron of Boston University. Beauprez advocates victim disarmament laws that empower criminals and subject peaceable citizens to violence.

Bob Beauprez' politics is ugly and violent. It is the politics of brute force.

Beauprez seems to imagine only the omnipotent state can address social problems. But his view is false. Private initiative, voluntary organizations, and the common law address social problems far better than the centralized state does. If anything, federal control makes problems worse.

The federal government is not needed to fund medical research -- the federal government is the primary enemy of medical research. By keeping needed medicines off the market, the FDA has killed countless thousands of Americans. Many Republicans want to restrict stem-cell research. Federal funding of medicine is wasteful and politicized. The federal government wastes so many resources it chokes voluntary contributions to medicine and all sorts of charities.

Does Beauprez seriously believe the federal government is the best manager of wilderness areas? Notably, the federal government is the biggest polluter in America. I have proposed simply giving much of the nation's wilderness areas to conservation groups. Privately owned property is almost always better maintained. No, we do not need the EPA or any federal agency to "protect our environment." In fact, the EPA spends many of its resources, not to protect the environment, but to harass and harangue property owners. A major impediment to the protection of the environment are federal and state laws that protect polluters. Libertarianism is fundamentally a theory of property rights. The law exists to protect property, and a libertarian society would be one in which polluters were consistently thwarted.

Beauprez' statement about education is perhaps his most ridiculous. As political education has become more centralized, academic performance has declined. The national government has no business getting involved in education at all. But libertarians argue that socialized education should be converted to market education across the board. Socialism doesn't work for any other enterprise; why does Beauprez think it works for education?

Beauprez lists libertarian positions as if doing so somehow provided a reductio ad absurdum argument against them. But all Beauprez' comments demonstrate is that the would-be legislator lacks the ability to understand the significance of moral principles with his mindless "me-too" pragmatism.

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