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Should Libertarians Get a Job Working for Government?

The foundation of libertarian philosophy is the non-aggression principle – do not initiate aggression. Like most such sentiments, easy to explain in theory, at times difficult to define in practice.

Eric Peters recently wrote a column on this subject, posted here at LRC. His focus was on the bright line of working for the government or not – his view is that under no circumstance should a libertarian take a government paycheck. His views on this caused me to revisit this topic; I have held a certain view on this general topic (which I will come to shortly, and is different than that of Mr. Peters); my intent here is to explain my view while walking through the spectrum of possibilities and conflicts inherent in this subject of living in accordance with the NAP while swimming in the mud of a state-sanctioned coercive economy.

I will start with what I see as the most lenient alternative and move to the most stringent and pure. It seems to me that only one possibility is completely consistent with the NAP; all of the other possibilities are merely shades of gray – with none able to claim libertarian purity, and therefore none able to stand on any rock more firm than personal preference and comfort.

I don’t claim that my list is exhaustive – I can imagine shades in between each line I have identified, and there may be even more lenient possibilities than my most lenient view. In any case, let’s begin with what seems to me to be the most lenient interpretation available within a libertarian view in this non-libertarian world:

One can work for the government, but only in jobs that would exist in a free market and do not otherwise violate the NAP.

I believe this is the line viewed as acceptable by Rothbard and Block (I might be wrong here, I am drawing on memory for this). The idea is that if one wants to be a university professor or a librarian (as two of many such professions that would likely exist in a free-market world), and these professions are primarily available only in government (or government supported) institutions, an individual should not be denied from achieving his calling merely because the government has monopolized (or for all practical purposes, reasonably monopolized) the profession.

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Those who can get jobs in your town, county, state, and on Federal levels. Become Teachers,Cops, Lawyers, Judges, Guards at Jails and Prisons...And keep the Constitution Legal...And leak out anything you can.

I believe in Hope & Change..I Hope the government will Change
Spindale-Rutherford County-North Carolina

Republicae's picture

Absolutely, we should

Absolutely, we should infiltrate every single government agency available. We will need key, loyal people on the inside for when THE TIME comes...eyes and ears in the heart of the enemy camp is an extremely valuable resource!


"We are not a nation, but a union, a confederacy of equal and sovereign States" John C. Calhoun

You got that right

I have eyes and ears at four key agencies who will all warn me if something's about to go down.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~J. Swift

It's not a good question Marc

Should Congresspeople, Senators the president be paid?

Government is the biggest employer as many jobs, education, healthcare and subsidized.. automobile, restaurants..

When it comes to a job, there is ONE THING that it important.. do you LOVE it? Do you LOVE what you are doing? I have met ail carriers who LOVE their jobs.. civil service, I love my Sheriff, I genuinely am blessed to have many GOOD people who have government jobs.. it only takes a few bad ones..

Now if there is a way, and I believe there is, to make government jobs free market jobs.. I think that would work better.. competition is a wonderful thing, though some folks are not competitors and want to depend on the state.. so to me.

Thank you...

for your thoughtful analysis of this article

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*


I didn't finish my post..

I think government departments, like the EPA should be free market,, like Seal of Good Housekeeping.. there should be many businesses that are competing to do a better job and .. like if I have a restaurant, rather than the EPA telling me what I have to do.. there are many businesses.. could be Vegan Seal of Good Food.. but the company competes and I share that with my customers.. instead of a state or county license to operate.. I have (or not) seals from respected firms my customers appreciate and trust.

To me, that's how it should be working.. not government departments with folks who hate their jobs and codes that no one cares about....

If you get a job working for the State

then your first paycheck will give you a valid cause of action to sue the State for violation of Article 1 Section 10 tender laws when they do not pay you in gold or silver coin.

This is the only reason I can see for getting a job working for the state.

The most powerful Law of Nature is Time. It is finite and we all will run out of it. Use this Law to your advantage, for it offers you infinite possibilities...


:D you made me crack my face. What a great rally that would be..

I can see the rally signs now...

That's funny!

I was thinking more like a real government shut down.. by the people.

Sure. Especi@lly The Kinds Of Jobs...

....with Top Sekrit cleerinces.


When I meet government employees, casually, I can't help but cringe when they first tell me!