The always entertaining P.J. O’Rourke has some reflections on the recent FreedomFest in Las Vegas (DailyBeast). Much of the piece is good fun (as one might expect). But O’Rourke does end with an important question that has bedeviled libertarians for quite some time: how do you make the leap to mass politics? In O’Rourke’s words:
people love to hear what libertarians have to say until those people go into the voting both. Then limitations on the size, power, and expense of government start to get personal.
According to the Census Bureau, 49 percent of Americans receive some kind of government benefits. And political scientists Suzanne Mettler and John Sides of The Century Foundation (which is liberal-centrist) say that if you throw in everything that can be construed as a government benefit, e.g. mortgage interest deductions, 96% of Americans are on the take.
What would be a good yard sign for a libertarian politician?
Vote for _______ He Can Give You Less
“Make Sure Not Much Happens Ever” isn’t a catchy slogan. As O’Rourke notes: “I suppose we could infiltrate the government and do nothing. But federal employees, at the V.A. for instance, seem to have that base covered.”