Barney Frank: Libertarian Impersonatorby Stephen Littau
When I think about lawmakers with libertarian leanings, Massachusettsâ€™ Barney Frank (D) isnâ€™t one that normally comes to mind. With the way Frank responded today in regard to the bill passed by the last G.O.P. controlled congress and assuming I knew nothing else about him, I would think him to be ideologically similar to Ron Paul (but I do know better and clearly he isnâ€™t). Barney Frank does apparently have a bit of a libertarian streak, when it comes to internet gambling at least.
Here are a few of Frankâ€™s statements he made today on the House floor:
“What kind of social, cultural authoritarianism are we practicing here? I think it is a great infringement on liberty. When it comes to an individual decision on how to spend your own time and money, that’s not my position. That’s not my business. I am skeptical of people who want to protect people from themselves.”
“[T]he fundamental point is this. If an adult in this country, with his or her own money, wants to engage in an activity that harms no one, how dare we prohibit it because it doesn’t add to the GDP or it has no macroeconomic benefit. Are we all to take home calculators and, until we have satisfied…that we are being socially useful, we abstain from recreational activities that we choose? This Congress is well on the way to getting it absolutely backwards. In areas where we need to act together to protect the quality of our life, in the environment, in transportation, in public safety, we abstain; but in those areas where individuals ought to be allowed to make their own choices, we intervene.”
“People have said, what is the value of gambling? Here is the value. Some human beings enjoy doing it. Shouldn’t that be our principle? If individuals like doing something and they harm no one, we will allow them to do it, even if other people disapprove of what they do.”
The very idea that adults should be trusted to make their own decisions provided they do not harm a non-consenting other adultâ€¦what a concept! If only he would apply this thinking to other such government interventions such as the war on (some) drugs, obscenity laws, prostitution, and blue laws.
One would think that the so-called party of limited government (donâ€™t laugh, Iâ€™m referring to the Republican Party) would be on board with Barney Frank on this issue but sadly this is not the case. Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter, for example, wants to restrict gambling even further both online and offline. Frankâ€™s position on this issue is currently unpopular in both political parties and his proposed legislation faces certain defeat.
Itâ€™s too bad that our elected officials have caved to pressures from moral busy-bodies of all stripes. I have never personally participated in online gambling, but what business is it of mine if my neighbor does? The answer is of course that it isnâ€™t any of my business at all and certainly not the business of the federal government.