By Matthew La CorteSpecial to the Chronicle
This past weekend, I, along with four other members of Hofstra Libertarians, attended the sixth annual Students For Liberty conference in Washington, D.C. One thousand five hundred libertarian students attended to make the conference the largest ever of its kind. But this was not an event focused on politics or campaigns, and rarely was current political minutia discussed. This weekend was about the vehicle for change: people and ideas.
Politics is an unnecessary by-product of the notion that government, with its elected officials and bureaucrats, can divvy up resources, plan our lives and attempt to fix the problems that were exacerbated by initial government intervention. The world is changed by people and ideas, not by politics.
The battle for prevailing ideas is hashed out in classrooms all over the country, in conversations with friends, in mass media and in hundreds of other non-political places. The final product of these discussions is unfortunately manifested in the poisonous world of Congress and state houses.
Legislative and electoral accomplishments regarding the idea of human freedom are being made continually. From legal marijuana to gay marriage to spurts in economic freedom, the legislative process is bringing about change, albeit very slowly. More importantly, though, are the ideas of liberty that are striking cords in the hearts and minds of the country’s people. People, especially youths, are beginning to reject the false notions pushed by anti-capitalists, defenders of big government and paternal politicians.
Young people understand that businesses are not evil, blood-sucking entities that hurt everyone but the wealthy. Business is only “evil” when it attempts to lobby government for bailouts, special tax-breaks and handouts. People understand that business thrives when it provides consumers with a good or service that they want at a cheap-enough price. Business creates value for our society and brings about the innovation and technology that we all love. People understand that our drug laws are not lowering addiction or crime rates, but increasing them. They understand that drug addiction is not a crime, but a disease that must be treated. People understand that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his prosperous soda ban is nothing but ridiculous governmental meddling in people’s lives. These ideas are becoming more and more commonplace.
Not everyone is libertarian, but everyone sees the value in liberty. The left sees that the government should not interfere with social lives, and the right sees the government should not interfere in economic affairs. But it is becoming an increasingly popular position to hold that individual liberty brings about many desired outcomes for all parties in both social and economic spheres. The seeds of a free society are being planted, and it boils down to one question: can the government plan your life better than you can?