1) Do you believe that politicians own people or that people own themselves?
Central to the classical liberal, libertarian, voluntaryist, and anarchist ideologies is the principle of self ownership. Libertarians believe that each individual owns themselves and is solely responsible for and in control of their own actions, property, and freedoms. As such, libertarians do not believe that we are de facto owned by politicians, bureaucrats, judges, or anyone else who claims to have rightful dominion over us for any reason. Anyone who uses violence to coerce people into doing things or uses violence to take property from individuals is an immoral person, according to liberty-minded people.
2) Do you trust politicians?
Skepticism is at the core of libertarians’ ideology, and for good reason. History has proven time and again the politicians should not be trusted. Those who seek and/or attain power are nearly always corrupt. Politicians have been the most damaging group of individuals in the history of humanity. Politicians start wars. Politicians rob their people to pay for wars. Politicians torture and kill people. Politicians imprison people for victimless acts. If you are hesitant to trust politicians, you are at least somewhat libertarian.
As President Reagan said, “If you can’t trust people with freedom, how could you trust them with power?”
3) Do you like controlling others?
The libertarian ideology is the least controlling one. Conservatives and progressives both must believe in at least a moderate level of controlling others by coercive means (with the use/threat of force). Conservatives often believe in the use of armed men to punish those who consume unapproved substances in their own homes. Progressives often believe in the use of armed men to regulate and confiscate property from innocent people. Libertarians believe that people can do whatever they want and that the only true crime is the violation of a person’s body or their property – or a nonconsensual transaction, in other words. Libertarians do not believe in controlling others. They do not believe that some humans are inherently elite, royalty, or Gods.
4) Do you believe in mob rule?
While conservatives and progressives often praise ‘democracy’ and ‘voting’, libertarians understand that if every decision in society were determined by a popular vote, our society would quite literally be run by mob rule. Libertarians believe that every transaction and interaction among adults must occur in the presence of affirmative consent by all parties involved. Conservatives and progressive believe that every transaction must be approved by the politicians who are elected by the popular vote.
5) Do you believe in slavery?
If you believe that slavery is inherently immoral because no person should be forced to work for another person under the threat of violence or the threat of being prosecuted, you should oppose the existence of coercive government. Without even delving into military conscription and jury duty – both of which are examples of ‘involuntary servitude’ – the government essentially enslaves all workers. Being that slave owners retained nearly 100% of the value produced by slaves under penalty of prosecution/violence, one would agree that a 100% income tax would be at least relative slavery, if not identical to slavery of old. Working under the same idea, wouldn’t a 50% income tax create a nation full of half-slaves working half of their time for their masters (AKA politicians)? Well, the average American worker has a total effective tax burden of around 50% once you account for the income taxes, sales taxes, tolls, property taxes, corporate taxes, payroll taxes, and the other 90+ taxes that our masters force us to pay. Unlike slaves when they ‘bought’ some time off, we must live with thousands of burdensome regulations 100% of the time, and there is no way to escape them (other than bribing the politicians directly). If you reject the idea that slavery is moral, you are a libertarian.
6) Do you support perpetual war?
The past 100+ years has shown us that neither progressives nor conservatives oppose war. Other than the few libertarians (Ron Paul, Justin Amash, Rand Paul) in DC over the past century, nearly everyone seemingly loves perpetual wars and supports their proliferation in nearly every country on Earth. The ‘war on terror’ alone has cost taxpayers (read: slaves) nearly 5 trillion dollars or $32 million each hour and the lives of many soldiers. If you do not believe that we should stick our nose into every conflict in the world, you are a libertarian, at least in terms of foreign policy.
7) Do you believe in property rights?
If you believe that whatever you buy becomes yours, you are a libertarian. Conservatives and progressives believe that politicians (those elected by mob rule/voting) have absolute and final control over all property. Conservatives believe that politicians can send armed enforcers to confiscate your house or any other property you own as long as a politician claims it’s for ‘safety’. Progressives believe that politicians should send armed enforcers to confiscate your home if you neglect to pay for the indoctrination of the children in your state, no matter how high the tuition bill. Nobody seems to believe in property rights other than libertarians. So, if you believe that you and only you own your rightfully acquired property, you might be a libertarian.
8) Do you understand supply and demand?
The laws of supply and demand are just that – laws. They function naturally and are not created by man. Of course, politicians can and do pervert and manipulate these laws to an extent by getting involved in the economy and nullifying the choices of free individuals. Supply and demand govern the natural economy by dictating the value each specific worker, resource, and product. The more scarce, the more valuable. The more abundant, the less valuable. Oxygen is found everywhere at a concentration of 21%, so we do not need to pay for it. Reliably clean water is less abundant, so it costs money, because people must clean it and transport it to us. You might spend $20 each month on clean drinking water and another $80 each month for the water delivered to your home via pipes. Cars are built by relatively scarce laborers spending a lot of time putting together thousands of relatively scarce items. This results in cars being quite expensive. Regardless of my personal feelings towards Mr. Ford, it would be ridiculous to insinuate that he sold his cars for so much money because he was a greedy pig who hated poor people. Greed is not inherently bad in the socioeconomic sense – it drives nearly all innovation – but that’s beside the point. The point is that cars cost so much because they cost a lot to make and people are willing to buy them at their current price point. Conservatives and progressives both seem to misunderstand or reject this natural law of economics. They have long supported government intervention in nearly every market, including the labor market. Libertarians believe that people are free, supply and demand is the only law that should control the economy (other than mutual consent) and that politicians should not subvert the law of supply and demand. If you understand this basic premise, you just might be a libertarian or voluntaryist.
9) Do you support a free market?
Adjacent to property rights and mutual consent is the concept of the free market. The basic premise states that all transactions must be voluntary and non-coercive. If you oppose a centrally-planned economy run by politicians, you are a libertarian. Conservatives and progressives in DC have long supported an economy absent of consent and directed by the ‘elected officials’.
10) Do you believe in self-defense?
Conservatives and progressives both seem to criminalize self-defense in many ways. For decades, progressives have been advocating for numerous restrictions which hinder a person from defending themselves. Such restrictions include banning certain firearms, magazines, ammunition, and making it illegal to carry firearms that an individual already owns. The actual act of shooting a person in self-defense is largely illegal and nearly always results in the shooter being arrested and having all of their firearms and ammunition confiscated indefinitely. And conservatives have put up less than convincing opposition. Only a few states allow people to own and carry firearms without restrictions. And those states are among the safest in the US. If you believe in the natural right to self-defense, congratulations! You are a libertarian!