Recently, in this column, I have been trying to illustrate concrete ways libertarianism works in real life, each and every day, sometimes for people who don’t even realize they are behaving as libertarians.
The common thread should be obvious: It’s not difficult to act in a libertarian manner. It’s how almost all of us were taught to behave from our very earliest experiences with other people.
“Don’t start fights.” “Don’t take what isn’t yours.” Those are good lessons and are the foundation of being a decent person — of being libertarian.
One lesson almost universally imposed on small children, though, is less helpful. That is “You have to share.”
If you are given no choice in how your property is used by another person, it isn’t “sharing.”
It can be a considerate thing to decide to let someone else use your property. Usually. It can’t be done under coercion or it isn’t “sharing,” no matter what the parents may call it.
It needs to be a choice freely made, or it is worthless.
I suspect parents often make this demand to keep the “have-not” kid quiet, not thinking of the long-term consequences.
If you know the other person will refuse to give your property back, or will damage it while using it, then refusing to share is the wiser choice.
To teach children that they have no say in how their property is used is not a good lesson. Your teachings will cause more trouble later on, particularly if the child takes the idea to its logical conclusion.
If they do, and decide that what applies to them also applies to everyone else, then you have a likely vandal or thief on your hands who will believe if they want it, someone owes it to them.
There is a lesson in the value of things, and it doesn’t come by undermining ownership. Teaching kids to respect other people’s property begins with respecting theirs. The forced “sharing” does teach a lesson, however, but that lesson is perverted.
We see the danger of this lesson all around us today. People grow up to believe they can be “generous” with other people’s money. In their attempt to “share,” they implement taxes and distribute welfare.
If you really want to share, do it. If you must take other people’s money to put toward your goal, you are not sharing.
It’s not complicated; it’s life. Just like every other aspect of libertarianism.
Farwell’s Kent McManigal champions liberty. Contact him at: