Friday, August 2, 2013

Five things that will happen when you date a libertarian

I was recently challenged to write a libertarian version of a piece about what to expect when dating a Marxist. The problem is, I've never dated a libertarian. Instead I've predicted what is typical for me and my kindred to do without being overly generous or complimentary.

1. They will believe they are smarter than you.

It doesn't matter if they're an economics professor or the half-dead survivor of a helmet-less motorcycle crash; your libertarian mate will consider themself to be the smart one, and where does that leave you? Oh sure, they'll tell you that they respect your intelligence, but they'll still try to suppress a smirk when you speak about positive government interventions. After all, if you were so smart you'd be a libertarian too.

You will be told, often, that you are hurting whatever cause you champion. Do you care about sweat shop workers? Demanding safety standards hurts them. Do you want to protect handicap people from discrimination? The laws are worse. Do you want to protect abortion rights? Well we haven't figured out the details yet but somehow you're the real problem.

2. You will be asked to read things.

Or maybe watch things. Either way, they will be long things. Often poorly-written things like Friedrich Hayek things. You can expect some Frederic Bastiat, some Milton Friedman and eventually, Ayn Rand. Even if they claim to disagree with Rand your liberty lad or lass will want you to consume her work the way a cow chews its cud: With glossy, unblinking eyes and no opportunity for enjoyment.

There will also be economics lessons and videos. Always. They will spend a lot of time on Adam Smith's invisible hand and the self-organizing nature of capitalism, but they will leave out market failures. Make sure you read up on externalities, asymmetrical information and public goods on your own because you won't hear them from your partner.

3. If there's an obvious villain in an ongoing news story your partner will take their side.

Is Monsanto suing a farmer? They deserve to win. Did a gun owner shoot an unarmed child? Self defense.
Did the Supreme Court allow corporations to air as many ads as they want during an election season? That's a free speech victory.

The more repugnant something is, the greater glee libertarians will take in supporting it.

The exception is if the villain is part of the government. In that case your libertarian lover will jump in front of every parade or march against it.

4. They will try to outdoing you on social liberalism.

They know that you two will never see eye to eye on fiscal issues, but even the fiercest contrarian feels the need for peer approval like a secret Holden Caulfield. While you will never write love sonnets to capitalism and globalization together, your freedom freak will want to impress you with how socially enlightened they are.

Support gay marriage? They are way passed that and on to legalizing group marriages. How about legalizing marijuana? Sure, whatever, it will be moot once we legalize heroin and cocaine.

5. Your Facebook comments will become a battleground.

With your newfound love commenting on your reposted news articles something bad is going to happen. Eventually malicious remarks will be exchanged online between your libertarian and one of your dear friends who doesn't know them. It's not a question if it will happen, but when. It may be your lover or it may be your friend, but one of them will get so fed up with the others' expression of an opposing view that they will launch into a screed laced with personal attacks. Nazis will be mentioned eventually.

It doesn't sound so bad but when your partner and a dear friend are howling for each other's blood online you will feel thrust in the middle.