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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/887419-About-the-Libertarian-Platform
Rated: E · Book · Writing · #2044345
Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
#887419 added July 14, 2016 at 5:52pm
Restrictions: None
About the Libertarian Platform
The event that prompted me to write today: Watching Thom Hartman on Free Speech TV, I was presented with the platform of the Libertarian Party. Renee and I then looked it up and read it again on the internet at: http://www.lp.org/platform. As you are the only libertarian I know, you have the privilege of receiving my response.

I am teaching in the Missouri State University Graduate School of Social Work. This requires me to read a lot, and to think a lot about theories and ethics in human interaction. As a social worker I am bound by my personal commitment, and by law, to a clearly articulated code of ethics. You can read it in its entirety at: www.socialworkers.org. The reason I was drawn to social work in the first place is the approach to human interaction that is present in this code. The code is built on 6 principles:

The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers throughout the profession’s history, are the foundation of social work’s unique purpose and perspective:
• service
• social justice
• dignity and worth of the person
• importance of human relationships
• integrity
• competence.

As you can see, there are places where the code and the libertarian point of view intersect: right to self-determination is the central point of agreement. This summer I am teaching a course on theoretical constructs for intervening with clients who seek our services. All of the approaches begin with honoring self-determination and actively oppose hierarchical relationships in our interactions. There is inherent conflict between our code and the fact that we primarily provide our services within structures that are hierarchical.

A major offender is the medical/scientific community. The traditions in these areas contend that people with more knowledge should have authority over those who have less. Instead of sharing what they know through Socratic discourse, they just want to impose their “wisdom” in the form of “prescription.” The assumption here is that, even though they can make grievous error, their errors are somehow more legitimate than the patient’s errors. For example, a doctor has the right to prescribe drugs to a person, and if the drugs have a negative impact on the patient, well, it is a mistake for which there is no legal consequence. However, if people without the medical “expertise” use a drug, they can be arrested regardless of the effect of the drug on the person who chose to take it.

We social workers constantly walk a narrow path within this context, trying to counteract the many dysfunctions of the hierarchy that is essentially a meritocracy. This authoritarian structure is protected by government through law. Here is where the ethics of social work diverge from the stated values of libertarians. We don’t choose to abandon our social structures, nor do we choose to say all structures are bad. We choose to focus on the wellbeing of those fellow travelers who are also put at a disadvantage by the structures and to support them in participating in society in efficacious ways for the welfare of all. I do not hear this anywhere in the libertarian platform. Instead I hear that an individual has no responsibility to care about or support neighbors. I hear an old west sort of “one for one and none for all” attitude.

In my 46 years as a professional social worker, I have often helped people injured by violence including child sexual abuse and rape. I live in one of the poorest congressional districts in America by choice. There are many sources of discomfort here. There are also many opportunities to be of service. I have seen a lot and learned a lot. The most important thing I have learned is that people organize themselves to promote survival. Many human efforts promote the survival of structures and ideas that help some and hurt others. I choose not to take a position: “Let them eat cake.” I know what it is like to be hurt and abandoned by my culture. I know what it is like to suffer prejudice. I know what it is like to be impoverished. I know that many people cannot find a place in this society that meets their needs and the needs of their families. There is no longer enough call for ditch diggers and apple pickers to support many families in a way that provides adequate housing, health care, education, transportation, communication and nutrition.

The more complex the society becomes, the more heavily dependent on technology, the more people who are left behind. What would the libertarians do in response? Take away the communal supports that exist and demand the creation of new structures to cope with this? I receive Social Security retirement benifits. This is the only way I can afford to teach. I am paid as an adjunct teacher, $16.00 per hour, 20 hours per week and I am the only faculty member in my department at the small branch campus where I teach that is paid to do anything more than the 54 hours of classroom time for each course. This is significantly less per course than I was paid to teach freshman sociology in 1990. This is because of constantly shrinking financial resources within the University.

When I went on Social Security at age 67, my monthly income dropped to what I previously took home in two weeks without the same quality of benefits. Now, I have to spend almost $7000.00 a year for health insurance and Medicare. Previously, my insurance, that cost me $20.00 per month, covered all prescription drugs, Now, one of the drugs I need is not on the list for reduced cost. Tell me, is this because I haven’t done my part in our economy? Is this because we should be more libertarian? Should I have chosen to abandon the people I serve in this very violent country so I could pay for all of this on my own? Often, my students have to work full time while they go to school because they cannot afford to go to school full time like I did. I was educated through an NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) grant. This source of money is not available to them. Is this because they don’t do their share? Should they abandon the effort to advocate for the helpless, to empower the powerless and go to work making money?

The reason this area is impoverished is its dependence on agriculture and tourism focused on the natural beauty of the area. It is because of newly, slowly emerging educational institutions that previously didn’t exist at all. It is because the low wages used to lure manufacturing to the area weren't low enough to keep them here. It isn’t because these folks don’t participate responsibly in the economy. It is because the things that come from nature are less valued than things that are manufactured. And yet, we cannot survive without these things. And, from reading the libertarian platform, I see that this party would destroy the supports we have and abandon the producers of food and other products that come from nature to a world that is heating up and making agriculture increasingly difficult. It would leave the food producers to a world that has been so poisoned by Monsanto and Monsanto-like products that plants are not getting pollinated due to a dramatic and obvious decrease in pollinators. I cannot imagine a solution to this that will be provided by the profit motive. How can the profit motive lead people to stop the marketing of chemicals? The profit motive also increases the cost of things we all need, but does not give the profits to the people who produce them.

Clearly, I, personally am not considered in this platform. My people, my neighbors, my friends and loved ones, are not welcome in the world this document describes. This is a document that forgets that even though we have equal rights, we don’t have equal opportunity, equal resources, things to offer that are equally valued, or equal ability at any given moment. If this platform is implemented, our biggest risk is in getting older. If this platform is implemented, We will be totally abandoned by our culture when we are least able to do anything about it.

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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/887419-About-the-Libertarian-Platform