Polarization in American politics sometimes feels like it’s at an all-time high.
Last year, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll on Americans’ feelings about ideologies. Predictably, Republicans approved of conservatives and disapproved of liberals and progressives, and Democrats felt the opposite. But in this time of division, one label earned majority support from both groups: libertarian.
What, then, does it mean to be a libertarian?
Libertarians believe that as long as people are not harming others, they should be left to do as they wish. We know that communities are best equipped to handle most issues and that people spend their money better than any politician ever could. We welcome free trade and open immigration, and encourage peace and diplomacy in foreign affairs.
As president, I want to unite Americans behind the cause of personal responsibility and individual liberty.
Take healthcare. For decades, American politicians have insisted that the free market has failed and that we need to go to a single-payer system.
I have news for them: we haven't had anything even resembling a competition-based system in nearly a century. The alternative to our current, big-government failure isn't an even bigger government failure.
The most startling problem with the American healthcare system is that most insurance is government-mandated, and therefore is not actual insurance. Real insurance only pays for unexpected costs, and because of that, costs generally remain low.
Just think how expensive car insurance would be if it paid for gas, oil changes, or car washes. Americans would have no reason to shop around for those services, and all of the gas stations and mechanics could increase costs without them even knowing. The car insurance companies wouldn't care because they would be getting paid big dollars either way.
This is exactly what has happened in our healthcare system: there is no incentive to look for better prices, and as a result, healthcare providers have no reason to compete. Insurance companies can charge higher prices without any accountability, and all of us have to foot the bill.
The two most free-market health specialties — cosmetic surgery and LASIK surgery — are convincing examples. Because insurance doesn’t pay for these procedures, patients shop around for the best price and quality, and doctors have to compete with each other to get their business. In both of these specialties, unlike the rest of healthcare, prices have gone down while quality has gone up.
The best example of how a market-based healthcare system can operate is in Singapore, which reserves the use of insurance for catastrophic care. In 2014, Singapore spent less than a third per person on healthcare than what the United States spent.
So, how about another big American issue: the military?
I want to turn America into one giant Switzerland – armed and neutral.
Virtually none of the countries we’ve invaded since the Second World War have posed a clear and present danger to America. These needless wars caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and foreign citizens, and wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars. Worse, the damage we left behind only created new enemies.
It’s time to bring America to peace. We must stop inserting ourselves in countries where we don’t belong. We should instead engage the world through free trade; history shows that peaceful commerce prevents conflict. When goods don’t cross borders, troops do.
And then there’s the environment. When you look at a globe, you’ll quickly notice that countries with larger governments tend to have more pollution. Freer markets lead to innovation and better technology, and away from older and dirtier sources of energy.
We need to take advantage of nuclear energy. Companies like Rolls Royce are innovating to earn business, and as a result, they are now developing reactors that are safer and one-tenth of their original size.
Progressives have rightfully railed against the Department of Defense as the world’s largest polluter. But if government is the problem, then why would we trust them to fix it? This is the same federal government that grants $15 billion annually in subsidies to oil and coal companies and whose red tape prevents cleaner and more sustainable energy from entering the marketplace.
Lastly, it’s important to consider education. Education should be a local issue decided by parents, teachers, and students. Instead, we have a federal Department of Education, which imposes a top-down, one-size-fits-all curriculum. It is more concerned with the next standardized test than preparing children for adulthood. Schools have had little incentive to compete or improve, as parents often get stuck sending their kids to the school nearest where they happen to live.
Instead of allowing only those with the resources to pay for private schooling to have a choice, we owe that right to all American families.
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