Tuesday, October 5, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Selwyn Duke
October 5, 2010

While there was a time when I might have described myself as a libertarian, those days are long gone. In fact, I don’t even call myself a conservative anymore. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I agree with libertarians on many issues, and their governmental model is vastly preferable to what liberals have visited upon us. Yet there is a problem: However valid their vision of government may be, their vision of society renders it unattainable.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Now, I certainly agree with the first sentence, as it’s merely a statement of the obvious. But then we have to ask, what constitutes “injurious”? And, when determining this, do we completely ignore indirect injury? Then, if we do consider the latter, to what extent should it be the domain of government? (When pondering these matters, note that the Founding Fathers didn’t reside on the modern libertarian page. They certainly would have, for instance, supported the idea of state and local governments outlawing pornography and would be appalled at what is now justified under the First Amendment.)

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