"I'm still looking for the avowed libertarian who doesn't come across as a grumpy uncle."I don't think I qualify as an "avowed" libertarian, but some background is in order. I would describe my friend as being enamored with Statism and I take the definition of Statism right out of the dictionary: "the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty." He believes that the reduction of individual liberty is more than made up for by the solutions made possible using the resources available to a large and powerful government.
Each of us occasionally sends the other a book to read. The last book I sent him was A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell which makes the argument (compellingly, in my opinion) that a vast number of ideological disagreements can be traced back to assumptions about human nature and the extent of the malleability of human nature.
My friend continued with:
"Although I've experienced plenty of times with you when joy was the operative factor, your written language almost always comes across as negative when it comes to evaluating the human condition (starting with yourself)."I'm no angel and I know it and I rather doubt that the world is populated with all that many angels or even saints. Perhaps I'm projecting, but I think it's likely that most people are like me, and with the right incentives have a capacity to live good lives that are beneficial to themselves and those around them. However, without those incentives or with the wrong incentives, they have the capacity for evil, perhaps great evil.
An example I've given both to my friend and detailed in comment sections of various blogs (including this one) is that I'd be a disaster if I was working within a government framework and had much power. While I probably wouldn't hurt any fellow citizens if it didn't benefit me (and my family, friends, and communities), if I was presented with a situation where I could extract a penny from every citizen and line my pockets with it, I wouldn't hesitate. A mere penny. Even the poorest of poor would hardly miss a penny. And given a population of 300 million, that would be $3,000,000 in my pocket. Definitely a worthwhile tradeoff to me. I wouldn't even feel guilty - a mere penny!
When a million politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, government contractors, and constituents all do the same thing, it turns into many thousands of dollars out of the pockets of every citizen every year. And that's pretty much how the whole lobbyist-bureaucrat game works.
So yes, starting with myself, I have a pretty skeptical view of the human condition when it comes to running governments.
The other reason I'm a grumpy uncle according to my friend, is my disdain for the concept of utilizing experts to tell me and the rest of us how we should live:
"The no-so-subtle loathing by people like Sowell for those of us who dare to imagine that we can actually make the world a better place by taking action at a level above that of the individual used to surprise me given how much empirical evidence there is for the progress wrought on behalf of collective ends. Sowell and others deride "experts" as if experts have never accomplished something useful."Yes, I am continually unenthusiastic about assigning yet more resources for yet more "experts" to come up with yet more regulations and programs administered by yet more government costing me yet more money while reducing my liberty every step of the way. I can see how Statists would find my attitude as decidedly grumpy.
My friend can't understand why I might be grumpy just because I'm forced to fund and be subject to his beloved government and I wanted to try and enlighten him. Conveniently, he's an avowed Atheist - the type that's certain that deities don't exist, that anyone who's not certain of their non-existence is seriously deluded, and that all religion is evil. Given that, I wrote the following (unedited) to try to enlighten him as to the cause of my grumpiness:
But let me give an analogy that I think sheds light on why libertarians are "grumpy uncles"...
So let's say that suddenly, the super majority of Christians in the country managed to get a constitutional amendment passed repealing freedom of religion and declaring the United States to be a Christian nation with forced daily church attendance and whatever the Christian version of sharia law is called including enforced donations to the church. In addition, the Christians are absolutely certain that this move is required in order to halt and then reverse the rapidly degrading morality that, in their minds, is clearly leading to barbarism and the collapse of the nation. Because of their certainty of the goodness of their cause, they're also convinced they have the moral high ground in addition to the constitutional and legal high ground.
And let's take it one step further such that every country on earth also became a Christian country except a dozen poverty stricken hell holes.
So I rather imagine that if you found yourself in this Christian world with mandatory daily church attendance, you might be a rather grumpy uncle. Or would you go to church with joy in your heart?
That's what the world looks like to libertarians, except substitute centralized government for church. That's why we're grumpy uncles.I'm not religious and for me Big Church and Big Government look remarkably similar. They have leaders, followers, power, corruption, certainty of rightness (moral superiority, better world or afterlife, etc.), evangelical leanings, ostracizing or dealing harshly with heretics, etc.
From the outside, all dogmas look the same and are annoying to everyone else.
Hence the grumpiness.