Friday, June 27, 2014

Why I Can't Embrace the "Libertarian" Label

In the past five years, "Libertarianism" has been the buzzword. It has recently driven a well oiled machine that is well funded and maintained by hypercapitalism and a brand of religiosity that is appalling to anyone with a true sense of faith. It has been used to justify everything from the right to graze public land without paying fees, to the push to eliminate minimum wage.

And it is there that Libertarianism sticks in my craw. See, the current Libertarian push (not the Randian creation) simply asks adherents to eschew the use of force to obtain political or social ends.

And yet, when I look at the suppression of workers' wages in the current landscape, I cannot help but think that "force" is the very driver of what I am seeing. The architects of this economy have used the vehicle of inflation to cleverly hide the fact that we are stealing the money of the poor and working class as they sleep. That while maintaining the minimum wage at dollar levels that are the same for 6 years running, with no relief in sight, we have actually DECREASED the real wage of the American workforce to a dangerously low level. In no state can a minimum wage job pay the average rent, to say nothing of the other expenses that must accompany it.

I recently heard a computer tech brag that he bids out his labor for assist techs at $100 hour, then pays them $10 an hour. That, in my view, is the purest, vilest form of evil.

So how does this fit into the use of force? Simple, because the theft of the wages of the working class for the enrichment of the wealthy is the ultimate expression of force. If their labor is worth $50 on your books, then you should be paying  them $50 in wages and benefits, and not pocketing that money for your own profit.

It's ironic that every discussion of wages always comes back to hamburgers, such as "would you like to pay $10 for a Big Mac?" And yet, in all of this, the same folks that argue for the elimination of subsidies such as SNAP benefits, WIC, etc, are arguing for the continuing subsidy that keeps the price of their burger low; the suppression of workers' wages.

Libertarians enjoy a great deal of debate about what it means to be Libertarian. But until that debate includes the right of workers to receive a fair wage for a fair day's work, and the responsibility of the government to ensure that, I will not again embrace that level. The battle is far too important.