I am often astonished at the number of people who are sympathetic to the liberty movement who also advocate for their own enslavement. There are many people who aren’t libertarians, yet they have libertarian leanings or are strongly libertarian on some issues. This applies to those who are strongly anti-war (yet favor centralized economic planning) and those who are strongly anti-tax (yet favor a military empire).
I was reminded of this today when I read an interview of Gerald Celente by Anthony Wile of the Daily Bell. There is no question that Celente has some libertarian rhetoric and he is quite popular among many libertarians. He certainly is anti-establishment in many cases, which differentiates him from the typical talking head on television.
In the interview, Celente was asked if austerity works. He replied, “Yeah, it works great. It’s a proven success. It drives the people into poverty and makes the bankers richer. It works perfectly, exactly as planned. The banks made bad bets and the public was forced to pay for them.”
Celente goes on to say, “Governments have cut workers pensions and benefits, raised the retirement age until after you’re dead but the banks have done just fine. They’re thriving and the 1% keeps getting richer. So it worked just the way they intended it to work.”
I don’t really like the term “austerity” because people are defining it differently. I am sympathetic to Celente’s response in terms of the banks being bailed out. But I don’t know how anyone can define this as “austerity”. I find it peculiar that he is complaining about cuts in pensions and benefits. In the context of bailing out the banks, I kind of get it. But it is not the way that I would have explained it.
Where does the government get the money to pay pensions and benefits that Celente is talking about? It doesn’t come from the Tooth Fairy. There isn’t a special fund set aside from previous contributions (sorry, no lock box). In places like Greece, there are people collecting big government pensions at the age of 50. This is part of the reason that the country is in so much trouble. Does Celente think this should continue? Actually, it doesn’t matter, because it is impossible to continue. There simply aren’t enough funds to make good on the all of the previous government promises.
I feel like I am in this awkward position when I have to discuss people who are liberty oriented in some ways, yet advocate policies that will continue to enslave us. I would rather be rude to someone like Bush, Obama, or Clinton (either one). We know they are statists. I don’t care if I insult them.
On the one hand, I don’t want to insult or be rude to someone like Gerald Celente. In some areas, he is on our side. He is far better than the average guy out there. But on the other hand, I want to make sure that libertarians or potential libertarians do not fall for all of the rhetoric. Some of the policies he is advocating are not good and I want it to be known. This is why I have written not-so-nice things about Rand Paul in the past. He is by far the best senator in DC, but I want people to be aware of his shortcomings and the fact that he is not like is father. Rand Paul is not always a friend to liberty.
In conclusion, I will keep criticizing specific policy proposals and philosophies that are at odds with liberty, even if it is coming from someone who is sympathetic to the liberty movement. It is important to recognize the shortcomings of these people or else people will continue to enslave themselves. It is important to have principles and consistency. We cannot advocate freedom in some areas while advocating government solutions in others. It will only enslave us. If we ask the government to do some things, it is going to try to do everything.