Ludwig von Mises writes in Human Action: "If it is true that government derives its authority from God and is entrusted by Providence to act as the guardian of the ignorant and stupid populace, then it is certainly its task to regiment every aspect of the subject's conduct. The God-sent ruler knows better what is good for his wards than they do themselves. It is his duty to guard them against the harm they would inflict upon themselves if left alone."
"Self-styled 'realistic' people fail to recognize the immense importance of the principles implied. They contend that they do not want to deal with the matter from what, they say, is a philosophic and academic point of view. Their approach is, they argue, exclusively guided by practical considerations. It is a fact, they say, that some people harm themselves and their innocent families by consuming narcotic drugs. Only doctrinaires could be so dogmatic as to object to the government's regulation of the drug traffic. Its beneficent effects cannot be contested."
"However, the case is not so simple as that. Opium and morphine are certainly dangerous, habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments. A good case could be made out in favor of the prohibition of alcohol and nicotine. And why limit the government's benevolent providence to the protection of the individual's body only? Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and seeing bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious, both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs."
"These fears are not merely imaginary specters terrifying secluded doctrinaires. It is a fact that no paternal government, whether ancient or modern, ever shrank from regimenting its subjects' minds, beliefs, and opinions. If one abolishes man's freedom to determine his own consumption, one takes all freedoms away. The naive advocates of government interference with consumption delude themselves when they neglect what they disdainfully call the philosophical aspect of the problem. They unwittingly support the case of censorship, inquisition, religious intolerance, and the persecution of dissenters."
Peter McWilliams writes against government focusing on punishing people for prostitution, drugs, etc. in Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society. He writes, "almost everyone, at one time or another, has taken part in an illegal consensual activity." In his chapter "Why Consensual Crimes Have So Few Advocates" he writes, "Let's take a look at the various moving-and-shaking organizations and see why none of them protects our right to do with our person and property whatever we choose as long as we do not physically harm the person or property of another."
The first category is "Religions." He writes, "You name the religion and it's against one (often all) of the consensual crimes. Religious leaders -- and fundamentalists in particular -- don't seem to grasp the fundamental notion that keeping the government from criminalizing consensual acts between adults protects religion. If a government establishes its authority to control what people can and cannot do with their person and property, either 'for their own good' or 'for the good of society,' that same government can later begin dictating how much of one's person and property should or can be devoted to the discovery of, communication with, and worship of God. The essence of almost all religions is that one must choose, with one's free will, to worship God: a prayer said at the point of a gun is not a prayer. Likewise, the government has no business restricting how much of ourselves or our property we devote to religion. (It's already happening, of course, in the governmental suppression of 'cults.')"
He quotes Herbert Hoover saying, "Prohibition is a great social and economic experiment -- noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose." He writes, "Prohibition (1920-1933 R.I.P.) was known as The Noble Experiment. The results of the experiment are clear: innocent people suffered; organized crime grew into an empire; the police, courts, and politicians became corrupt; disrespect for the law grew; and the per capita consumption of the prohibited substance -- alcohol -- increased dramatically, year by year, for the thirteen years of this Noble Experiment, never to return to the pre-1920 levels."
"You would think that an experiment with such clear results would not need to be repeated; but the experiment is being repeated; it's going on today. Only the prohibited substances have been changed. The results remain the same. They are clearer now than they were then."
The motif throughout this book is that the 19th century had some values that need to be restored. I find it encouraging to see a renewed appreciation of the Victorians and our Founding Fathers. One of the signs that show people are beginning to get sick of this century as it keeps dropping to new lows of feminist thinking and lifestyle is the popularity of Jane Austen's novels and of movies being made of her novels. In an article in World and I (September 1996) an English professor wrote an article called"Mannerly Novels For an Ill-Mannered Age: Why, nearly two centuries after her death, is Jane Austen so bankable -- both in film and print?" The author says,"Austen presents favorably intelligent women who seek traditional roles and who are content in them and respected; she does not portray such women as witless, helpless victims yearning to discover themselves. She doesn't ridicule them as stay-at-home cookie-bakers. Austen plays to a desire for domesticity today's women often feel but dare not admit, sometimes even to themselves."
He ends by comparing the sick movie Thelma and Louise that exemplfies today's values with Austen who died 179 years ago but whose view of life is life affirming:"Movie producers and audiences will probably still be intriqued and amused by Austen's optimistic fiction 179 years from now. It is much less likely, in 179 years, the pessimistic Thelma and Louise will be anything more than a sociologist's footnote on the quaint, hate-filled idiocies of millennial feminism."
In Man vs. the Welfare State Henry Hazlitt gives many arguments for Libertarian philosophy. There are so many good libertarian books and magazines. I am tempted to write hundreds of pages going into all the arguments for limited government but I hope that what little I write will inspire you to study this important area of life. Hazlitt says that it is an uphill fight: "The task of the tiny minority that is trying to combat this socialist drift seems nearly hopeless. The war must be fought on a thousand fronts, and the true libertarians are grossly outnumbered on practically all these fronts."
"In a thousand fields the welfarists, statists, socialists, and interventionists are daily driving for more restrictions on individual liberty; and the libertarians must combat them." There are so many voices for statism. Hazlitt mentions one of the most famous writers champions for ever-greater governmental power and spending as Professor John Kenneth Galbraith who teaches the "theory that the taxpayer, left to themselves, spend the money they have earned very foolishly, on all sorts of trivialities and rubbish, and that only the bureaucrats, by first seizing it from them, will know how to spend it wisely."