Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Libertarians could learn from Cambodian Street Children

I recently watched the Documentary Small Voices, which details the lives and struggles of children living on the streets in Cambodian cities. In one scene, one of the street children goes to a shelter to ask for assistance. The child is told that they are homeless and living on the street due to transgressions in a past life (nearly the entire population of Cambodia is Buddhist, and so believes in Karma and reincarnation).

What does this have to do with Libertarians? Well, Libertarians are constantly saying that people have only themselves to blame for being poor, for being unemployed, for being uneducated, and for being unable to move up in the world. They say that it's people's personal responsibility to help themselves, and that everyone should just be looking out for their own best interests. The hitch that Libertarians run into is that they can't explain pervasive poverty when someone has worked hard their whole lives and was simply born into a culture that does not allow them to advance.

So, perhaps libertarians should take a leaf from Cambodia's book and convert to Buddhism. Then, they can argue that people are poor, not necessarily for choices they made in this life, but because of things they've done in a past life as well!

I'm joking a bit, of course, but the point I'm trying to make is that Libertarians claiming that each and every person is an island and completely responsible for their own success of failure is laughable. Do Libertarian's protect and provide for themselves from the moment they're born? Of course not. We all rely on other's at some point, and it is the role of government and society to care for and nurture those who are a part of society.

Libertarians really ought to consider the whole Karma and reincarnation thing in their rhetoric. It would make it much easier to explain why a person who has worked their hands to the bone for their whole lives is still dirt poor.

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