Why I am a Liberaltarian

I am a liberaltarian. I’m a starbucks coffee swigging, Bloomberg reading, urban denizen who sees both the need for robust personal liberties, and a freer market. I wasn’t always this way, and while there was no moment where I suddenly felt a spark rush through my body, it has been a slow progress of understanding and learning.

At the beginning of college I was sure I was going to be a life long democrat. My dad had always looked up to individuals like Bill Clinton, and tried to instill in me a strong sense of social justice. Hoping that good policy would promote a society that has a strong welfare state in order to enable an opportunity society.

When I first went off to college, a small local area institution called Moravian College, I quickly joined the college democrats. As the primaries heated up I was one of the handful of students that was part of Students for Barack Obama. Moravian College’s sole blip on the map, is as the 14th most political apathetic school in the country according to Princeton Review, after all, and as such we were the only politically active students on campus. 

However, at the same time I was going through my first economics class with a professor named Jason Hockenberry. I remember his missing teeth, and the way he presented some of the material- especially through creating a prisoners dilemma by accusing students of cheating on the midterm. It was with his class that I began to think about economics more. Though, even as my interest in economics grew, I was adamant in campaigning and exuding the merits of then senator Obama. Naturally the year ended with hate groups for me forming on Facebook calling for a stop to the “Obamanazi.”

My sophomore year had me taking classes on labor politics with a socialist professor, macroeconomics with a professor from Zimbabwe, and the financial crisis in full swing while I watched the investment club’s portfolio plummet week after week. I started to champion free trade after taking a class on Economics of China and India, and wanted to move the direction of College Democrats, which I was then president of, away from campaigning and towards talking about policy and why it matters.

When I transferred to George Washington University I started taking the blunt of my economics courses, and came to disagree with some of the basic foundations the theory I was learning. During this time that I became disenfranchised with the College Democrats and initially joined the GW Liberty Society as a means of talking more academically about policy and it’s effects. I came to see the vast amount of policies- from both sides- as counter productive, or like using a sledge hammer to put together a model airplane, in which sweeping reform often missed the targets that actually needed to be adjusted

During the summer I read Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, and to date the most influential book on my development, Eric Beinhocker’s Origin of Wealth, which opened me up to a method of analysis that stressed the complex system of interdependent individuals whose interactions leads to emergent, spontaneous order. It was from this point that I started to understand the limitations of institutions to affect the economy, which was predominately driven by the individual decisions of billions of people acting independently- and perhaps most humorously counterproductively.

It was around then that I finally started seeing myself as a liberaltarian rather than as a liberal Democrat. It was a slow progression, starting out as a hardcore democrat, a campaigner for Barack Obama- during which I got to be a media placement and talk to him briefly- to a member of the executive board of a nationally recognized libertarian organization.

My progress has not been brought out through political philosophy nor moral philosophy, but a quest for what sort of policies I think will be best to bring about a prosperous society. A society that will enable the poor to become rich, and provide for the common well being of all, just like the morals my dad years ago instilled in me. And it has, after nearly four years of soul searching, paper reading, and vivid and sometimes livid debate, made me settle quite comfortably as a liberaltarian.

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