6. Myth: Libertarians have a narrow “don’t tread on me” ethos.
Well, this isn’t a complete myth. Let’s just say it’s a myth of omission — that is, only part of the story. It’s true that in our guts we don’t want anyone to tell us what to do. We don’t think anyone should decide what we may put into our bodies, how to spend our money, or how to live our lives. We don’t want to be used as slave labor for all or part of the year. I guess we could be accused of sounding like most teenagers — only with a big caveat about personal responsibility.
But if we look at the whole libertarian ethos, we can see a corollary to the Gadsden flag motto: “Don’t tread on others.” In other words, Rabbi Hillel the Elder had it right more than 2,000 years ago when he said, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” On the other side of the world (at probably the exact same time) Lao-Tzu warned: “The more artificial taboos and restrictions there are in the world, the more the people are impoverished. … The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be.” It’s not that hard to understand why. If more people adhered to the “don’t tread” principle as a matter of ethics and of policy, there would be less treading-upon in the world. Far from being based in some Enlightenment fancy or tea party slogan, libertarianism is rooted in ancient truths about how people can achieve social harmony and prosperity.
7. Myth: Libertarians are corporate apologists.
To quote Bugs Bunny: “Eh, he don’t know me very well, do he?”
Libertarians and classical liberals from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, James Madison to James Buchanan, and Frederic Bastiat to Friedrich Hayek have been warning us about corporations since there were corporations. It’s not that corporations are evil per se, however. Companies are just people cooperating for common goals. Bad things happen when corporations collude with the state against the people. When you hear the words “crony capitalism,” there is a 95 percent chance that’s coming from the mouth of a libertarian. That’s because liberals, conservatives and populists cannot so easily distance themselves from it. The left has had its Solyndras. The right has had its Halliburtons. Both tribes have had their banksters. And libertarians have had enough. We believe cronyism will destroy this Republic as surely as it destroyed Rome.
8. Myth: Libertarians agree on everything.
Here’s a mini top ten list of things about which libertarians are fairly divided:
2.) Austrian or Chicago economics
4.) Origin of rights
5.) The status of children and teenagers
6.) War and pacifism
7.) Strategy of reform
8.) Tactics of reform
9.) Whether to compromise
10.) Intellectual property rights