Leonard Melman: “LIBERTARIAN THOUGHTS Part 3 – Newspapers”

One problem for libertarians attempting to ‘convert’ non-libertarians is attempting to find a source of information available to virtually everyone.  This source must also be one which a significant percentage of the population will actually access.

Many libertarians, like myself, have attempted to suggest the reading and discussion of lengthy philosophical texts such as Spencer’s “The Man Versus the State” or Herbert’s “The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State” or Von Mises’ free market economic text “Human Action” or Robert Poole’s “Cutting Back on City Hall” or even works of fiction such as Rand’s “The Fountainhead” or “Atlas Shrugged.”   Unfortunately, many people are simply unwilling to invest the time and effort to indulge in such studies.

Therefore, it is well worth the libertarian’s time to find an easier source to support arguments for freedom. I would suggest that one of those sources is none other than our daily newspapers.

For many years, particularly as part of my writing research, I have been an avid reader of daily papers and have found them to not only to be valuable sources of factual material in terms of weather, sports, transportation schedules and so forth, but, strangely enough, they can also provide excellent material for our arguments relating to the ongoing destruction by government of our genuine freedoms.

As an intellectual exercise if nothing else, I have collected several such articles to illustrate the point.

For example, the Financial Post section of the February 16 National Post newspaper details a story entitled, “Five ‘Superclusters’ Selected to Share $950 million in Funding.”  Inside the article we learn details of how, those five will, “…divvy up $950 million of public funding in hope of stoking economic growth and of job creation in return.”

The five supercluster areas are the “Ocean supercluster in Atlantic Canada”; the “Scale A1 supercluster in Quebec”; the “Advanced Manufacturing supercluster in Ontario”; the “Protein Industries supercluster” in the Prairies and the “Digital Technology supercluster” in B.C.  Each ‘winner’ will receive between $150 million and $250 million each.

Somehow, foolish person that I am, I believed that in a free society, the consumer made the choices regarding which entity to support via his/her voluntary actions.  If I wish to support a corporate entity, I shop there.  If I wish to support a particular region, I engage in trade within that locale or region.  But now, it appears that the government will deny me those choices, instead using my coercively collected taxes to enhance the regions or business entities THEY prefer.

Another National Post story of February 16 also caught my eye.  It is an article relating to the pressure being advanced in Ottawa for government support for newspapers.  I always thought newspapers had to earn customer support through excellence of quality.  Now it appears there are those – many in fact – who want government to turn over taxpayer money in order to bless those important papers which might otherwise fail – to the supposed detriment of the public.

Aside from the obvious potential for government influence relating to governmental influence in newspaper content, a policy of this nature violates my right to freely support those publications which I admire and withholding support from those I oppose, with the free choice being mine!

Victoria’s ‘Times-Colonist’ of February 17 carried an article on the contentious policy recently announced by the NDP government in Alberta which declared that all importation of British Columbia wine into Alberta was now prohibited.  The (somewhat vindictive?) explanation was that regulatory retaliation was in order because the BC government had reversed the Federal government’s decision to allow the additional development of the Kinder Morgan pipeline which was to carry increasing quantities of Alberta oil through BC for either refinement in BC or export to foreign markets.

NDP Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s explanation was that since the BC government’s action would inflict harm on Alberta’s economy, Alberta therefore had a right to inflict harm on the economy of B.C.

What neither government seems to have considered is a simple point.  When societies form governments, that decision has historically been based on two concepts.  First, individuals simply cannot mount a defense for the nation when their country is faced with outside aggression and, therefore, a system of government-managed defense forces is essential.  Also, since no individual has the right to initiate force against anyone else, a system of internal justice must be established by government to maintain civil order.

However, no government that I know was originally formed on the concept that the governing entity has the right to tell the citizenry what they can consume or what products they might enjoy using – and this article defines the violation of both precepts.  First, the government of Alberta is telling its citizens that they are no longer to be permitted to enjoy a favourite brand of B.C. grown and bottled wine.  Second, the government of B.C. is telling their citizens that they cannot enjoy the freely-accessed benefits of additional petroleum product supplies.

These are only a VERY FEW timely examples.  During the past forty years, I have amassed several THOUSAND such articles which I hope to assemble into either a series of articles or a book describing these limitations on liberty.

In the meantime, please keep searching your newspapers or other newsmagazines and, when you find an article which illustrates any diminishment of freedom, set it aside to share with your non-libertarian friends and associates.

Such actions cannot but help the libertarian cause.