Is Libertarianism Dead?
Along the lines of there being no atheists in foxholes, are there no Libertarians in pandemics? I've been a registered Libertarian for a very long time. I think I am a Libertarian, hopefully not the crazy extreme parts but the idea of smaller government, self sufficiency, autonomy and so on appeal to me. I don't believe in no government but for example I think a lot of Federal social services can be farmed out to the states to be administered, same dollars to people who need it, just a fraction of the headcount at the Federal level. I realize all the obstacles in the way of tax simplification to the point of one sheet of paper for most people thus greatly reducing the IRS headcount but I believe it's possible.
For years we've been reading news stories about how no one has enough money for a $1000 emergency or has $400 in the bank and other variations on that theme and now many people are confronting the consequence of that unfortunate financial reality. I am not judging anyone, this appears to be a reality for many people which is why the government reacted so quickly to try to pass a stimulus (checks to people and all the rest). They did start to try quickly but it took them a while to actually get it done (blame whatever party you want). The checks are at least a week away if not more but the country started shutting down a couple of weeks ago. The shutdown puts things like rent/mortgage, groceries and health insurance in jeopardy.
No one's political or ideological beliefs change the reality of people quickly running out of money. Debates about what to do is where ideology comes in. There is visibility for even more stimulus for people beyond the $1200/$2400 that's about to come. We don't know how long this will last. We might have indications from other places but no certainty for now. So are people going to need another $1200/$2400 in May and is the government going to give it to them? What about June? If this event lasts for three months, is letting however many people go down financially in the country's best interest? I can't see how we're better off if some purportedly large portion of the population goes under financially.
The deficit concerns me greatly but the idea that the time to not care about deficits is during true crises resonates with me. Additionally we're borrowing the money just about for free.
Not being against the payments, being ok with putting deficit concerns on the back burner raises a legitimate question, am I really a Libertarian? Bigger picture is whether Libertarianism is dead if some large number of people who thought they were Libertarians need that handout after just three weeks (or four, whatever) of disruption? Wikipeida says there are 511,000 Libertarians (surprised it's that small), if 400,000 of them (totally made up number) need that handout to pay their April rent/mortgage then arguably, Libertarianism is dead.
I am able to reconcile this personally with a dose of Stoicism which in part includes only focusing on what you can control. Hopefully people can figure out what is important to them, focus on how to achieve what they view is important to them without worrying about what others think. Once you have your own house in order then maybe you can help others (by volunteering maybe?).
My wife and I built our entire lives around these ideas. Living below your means for a long period creates a financial buffer so that you're not desperate for that $1200/$2400. My working from home in a small town with a small advisory practice has afforded me tremendous autonomy in terms of how I spend my time and the resiliency to handle a large decline income if that happens (if markets go down my income goes down, if the market goes up my income goes up). We have skin in the game with our Airbnb rental. We've had some cancellations during this event but still have bookings, as a secluded cabin it is a great place for distancing. If all income dried up, we'd could make it but discretionary spending would have to be curtailed dramatically. With all that is going on and all that we have to worry about and all the unknowns it would be nice if being able to pay the bills wasn't source of worry.
In all the posts I've written on this topic, an event like this (global, regional or individual circumstance) is exactly what I had in mind. I think that is what appeals to me about Libertarianism and Stoicism, which is self-sufficiency to weather these things. Taking the stoic idea of only focusing on what I can control, I cannot control whether someone else, Libertarian or not, has created a life for themselves with a decent amount of robustness to endure. So then I can't get upset when other people are in a position to need the stimulus check. How people handle their business, come to their beliefs and stay true to their beliefs is up to them and that's how I reconcile the dilemma personally. I think I am a Libertarian but maybe I am not.