Chris Hallquist has written up a great blog-post on libertarianism. I strongly recommend reading the whole post, but in a nutshell Chris makes the point that it really does not make sense to make sweeping statements about government regulation. Instead, one should look at regulation on a case-by-case basis. Here’s how he ends his post:
“[W]anting the same solution to every problem is actually a pretty strange kind of ‘consistency’ to demand. It’s not like there’s anything logically inconsistent about sometimes regulating and sometimes not. It makes much more sense to have a consistent goal–like making the world a better place–and adopting complex means to achieve that goal when reality demands it.”
I agree completely. In my post Why I am a Weak Libertarian, I explain that I believe the government’s job is to set rules that result in the happiest, fairest, and most prosperous nation we can possibly have. That doesn’t mean that the government’s job is to set-up a utopia. It just means that every bill we pass needs to be aimed at achieving those goals that I described. While that sounds uncontroversial, there are plenty of people who oppose it in some way (Strong libertarians do, and it seems to me that so do many Republicans).
That’s why I identify as a weak libertarian, or, alternately, a liberaltarian. My general goals are similar to what Chris describes, but my philosophy is that the best method of achieving those goals is with liberty, liberty of a general kind which still has some rules and restrictions to ensure we as a society don’t self-destruct.