The line above is something I heard while listening to a Toronto talk radio station earlier this week. The caller was complaining about the PCs and Liberals arguing semantics about the Liberals $10,000 tax credit for hiring immigrant workers – a ridiculous policy suggestion, by the way – instead of talking about solving “real people’s” problems. This quote drove home, yet again, what a tough task we in the libertarian community have ahead of us, not just in terms of this election, but in terms of driving change in society as a whole.
Those of you familiar with me probably already know my problem with the quote in the title – the implicit assumption on the part of the caller that it is the role of government to solve all our problems. The woman who said that is sitting at home, looking at all the things wrong with Ontario – insufficient access to healthcare, a struggling economy, joblessness, energy policy, and whatever other issues she identifies with – and is certain that the solution to all of them lies with government intervention. She wants politicians to get up on stage and tell her how they’re going to fix her problems, and she will pick the one whose solution is closest to what she would prefer.
That attitude is the primary source of our ever expanding government. A clever politician can always find a new problem they can solve, if only you vote for them. That solution will require a little more tax money, of course, and takes away a little more of our freedom, but it “solves” a “problem”. As I said before, the government cannot solve your problems. Only you can solve your problems, and passing off responsibility to the government only ensures that you have someone else to blame if things don’t work out.
I’ve come to believe that libertarians should start to focus our communication on this idea – that government solutions to problems are not good solutions, and in many cases create additional problems. If we can convince people of this simple idea, then 90% of our job is done.