I joined the Instagram political community when I was a freshman in High School– back in 2013. I started as a strong traditional conservative– think of the basic conservative position on a subject and I had it. Since then I evolved a lot. I’ve also gone from arguing for certain ideas to arguing against other ideas. I think that’s made what I believe somewhat unclear. Let me take this opportunity to explain what I believe.
In a minimal statement? I believe in maximum liberty through minimal coercion. Individuals should be free to do what they want as long as they do not harm anyone else. There should be free markets, free trade and free thoughts. Anyone and everyone should be allowed to engage in any economic activity they want as long as private property is respected and costs are internalized. That includes trading goods and services across international borders. The fact someone doesn’t like the outcome of an economic decision does not mean that decision should be regulated or taxed by the government. Similarly, people should be able to think, say, write, or express in whatever way whatever they want. Yes, that applies to “hate speech”, the flag, and porn. That said, I believe in several important caveats:
First, I believe in state capacity– essentially a small but “powerful” state. When the state does do something it should do it well. I don’t believe inefficient states are less intrusive– rather the opposite is likely true. States that need to expend more resources to achieve the same goal as a more efficient state won’t scale down their goals but expend more resources.
Second, if the state can increase total utility with low to no costs it should. For example, paid sick leave. It helps sick employees recover at home without spreading the disease to others and it does not reduce wages or employment– meaning the costs are minimal to employers. Notice the nuance: the benefit is not for individuals but for society. This is not a justification to transfer utility from person to another but rather increase it for the whole.
Third, I believe in a limited social safety net that encourages working. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit (ie negative income taxes). It supports the poor by increasing their income but does it in a way that encourages work– the more you work the more you earn and the more you earn the more the government provides to you.
Fourth, there are modern problems that require state action. Climate change and global pandemics (ie COVID-19) are two significant current examples. I simply don’t see a plausible market-only mechanism to solve these problems. That said, that does not mean the solutions are heavy handed state actions. Rather, some of the best solutions require a minimal government footprint. For example, a carbon tax (offset by tax cuts elsewhere) to internalize the cost of carbon onto polluters would require minimal state action and help fight climate change.
You could say I believe in liberty but do not view liberty as a “suicide pact”. It should be the guiding and defining principle of our society but not the only principle we live by. The founding fathers wrote the constitution and founded our government to “secure the blessings of liberty” but also to “promote the general welfare”. Maybe we should remember that part a little more.