Libertarians: personal responsibility means freedom FROM responsibility

In our last random and spontaneous episode, we (well… I) discussed the backward olde world ideology of libertarians. Today’s topic is the odd notion of “personal responsibility” and “user pays” according to libertarians… Which is to say “freedom from responsibility” and “user pays if they feel like it, and only what they think they should pay for, not for what they actually use”.

Actually you can stop reading there if you like, that pretty much sums up the rest.

Look at environmental issues such as Australia’s carbon price (called the carbon tax, despite being a price) the purpose of the tax is to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions, to attribute a cost to the production of this pollutant (in high volumes in our atmosphere and oceans at least). The fixed price is merely a starting price, to be variable when trading is established. You need to actually establish a market before you can trade something. Shocking, right?

But to the economic conservatives and libertarians, this is a bad thing. Government intervention! That’s right, the establishment of a free market solution to a problem the free market has failed to address on it’s own is a bad thing. Apparently they’re not so fond of the free market after all.

They’ll give you a long spiel about how this sort of environmental responsibility is bad for business or should be voluntary etc, how it will drive up prices, make us non competitive etc. I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ve seen all the arguments before.

The libertarians will then talk about the glories of modern technology and industrialization being the answer to save everything. You’ll also see arguments that our emissions are minuscule compared to somewhere like china, so why should we do anything if china isn’t going to?

What they havn’t taken into consideration is that we have all of those things in places like china, imported to us. Our carbon emissions, the ones for our goods, the ones we but and consume, are emitted in china. Those ARE our emissions.

They also, with a lack of compassion erring on the sociopathic, fail to consider that the emissions we are responsible for (with good we produce, consume, import AND export) will have a much larger impact on vulnerable, poorer nations more than on the wealthy countries.

The things that happen there through climate change are things WE are responsible for. The libertarian view is not one of personal responsibility or user pays. It is one of “someone else’s responsibility, someone else pays, just give me the cheapest deal”.

Not only does this view lack an awareness of the world around them, it ignores the economic and health impacts of the damage done by climate change.

So remember next time- we are the users, we are the consumers and the responsibility of climate change EVEN in the developing world are our responsibility.


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