This is what I love about being a Philosophy major: despite being outnumbered 10 (or maybe closer to 20) to 1 by liberals, for the most part, they are able to debate with fairness and help me to think about things in a new light. That’s not to say that they cause me to change my position – they merely remind me to find answers for different objections to my position. For example:

Tonight we talked about why democracy is a poor political system because it is irrational and, despite the fact that its supporters claim that it maximizes freedom, it actually forces the minority into a state of lesser freedom than the majority. This sparked a discussion on the role of government, which led to a comment from one of the participants that “the government’s job is to take care of everyone” (YIKES! Remember the nine scariest words in the English language – “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”). I wonder, what (and this is from a purely philosophical standpoint, not a Christian one, mind you), what moral grounds does one have to claim that I should have to take care of another person? If you are not claiming some sort of God-based morality, then what basis do you have for making a claim such that anyone is “required” to take care of another person? To maximize the good of the society? Pish tosh. I could argue that we would be better of without those drains on society who aren’t able to take care of themselves. So, how is it that one can claim that the government (or anyone within society) should take care of another? (without, of course, some claim to some higher moral standard, such as, for example, Christianity. Whose adherents, by the way, would claim that it is their personal responsibility, not the government’s).

This led to a conversation on Libertarianism and the fact that the government should just let the people rule themselves without the “Robinhood” interference our government currently employs. There were some who argued that someone who is born into the ghetto isn’t as “free” as someone who is born to a rich family in Beverly Hills. I disagree. Freedom (or liberty) is not defined as “the ability to make any decision that I want.” Liberty is my ability to make a decision without someone else interfering with it (which we don’t have under our current political system – more on that later). I argue that the Beverly Hills rich girl is free in a different way than the child in the ghetto. Sure, Paris Hilton may have a lot of money, but anyone who happened to catch an episode or two of “The Simple Life” saw that Paris has very little in the brain department. The poor girl couldn’t even pull off a job at the Sonic. So while Paris may have more money, the kid in the ghetto may have more brains, in which case the kid in the ghetto actually has a better opportunity than Paris (but I don’t think that anyone would suggest that the kid in the ghetto should give Paris a piece of his brain because he’s smarter than she is…)

Now back to our current political system’s limitations on liberty. Because the government takes my money, there are certain things that I cannot do – there is someone (namely, the IRS agent) standing in my way of doing X. If, however, we have a taxless system (or, at least, a minimalist tax system) and I happen to be poor, I’m just poor. The only thing standing in my way is my lack of funds that are a result of my situation – not a result from someone actually taking money out of my paycheck and infringing on my liberty. This is a key distinction. There is a major difference between the have-nots and the have-nots-because-someone-is-taking-it-away. While the first situation is a result of someone taking away liberty, the second is a mere situational difficulty. So while our government claims to be promoting freedom, it is really restricting the freedom of the vast majority of citizens in favor of increasing the wealth of a few.

So, Paris Hilton happened to be born rich and stupid and the kid in the ghetto happened to be born poor and smart…should the government really be in the business of making them “equal”?