Tuesday, November 9, 2010
What's the difference?
Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians: What’s the Difference?
by Jacob G. Hornberger
People sometimes ask what the differences are between liberals, conservatives, and libertarians.
The primary differences are moral and philosophical.
Libertarians believe that people should be free to live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is peaceful.
Liberals and conservatives believe that people should be free to live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is responsible.
Libertarians believe that the primary purposes of government are to protect people from the violence of others (e.g., murderers, rapists, thieves, and invaders) and to provide a forum (i.e., a judiciary) in which people can peacefully resolve their disputes.
Liberals and conservatives believe that the primary purposes of government are to take care of people, to regulate and control people’s activities and to manage the economy, and to police the world through an extensive military empire.
To demonstrate the practical differences between liberals, conservatives, and libertarians, here is where most liberals, conservatives, and libertarians stand on a variety of governmental programs, departments, and agencies.
(Of course, it’s always possible to find exceptions within each group. For example, Bill Buckley, a conservative, opposed the drug war but everyone would agree that most Republicans in Congress support it. Liberals Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU oppose infringements on civil liberties but everyone would agree that most Democrats in Congress support them. Moreover, while liberals and conservatives agree on the programs and departments, there might be vehement disagreements between them as to who should run them and how they should be run.)