14 votes

Is it possible to be a libertarian and have a government job?

Libertarianism is based on the nonaggression principle. That means anyone who receives a paycheck from the taxpayer is anathema to this principle as he receives his paycheck by force and theft. Anyone who makes his living from the government is a bureaucrat. Public school teachers, cops, city, county and state workers, and the biggest employer of all - federal workers. Are these workers de facto anti-libertarian?

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Hunger and anger as a political statement

After reading the comments on this thread, it struck me. What many, myself included, have espoused is that it is somehow "permissible" to suppress or subvert doctrine or principles in order to "eat." I think TPTB know this and exploit it to their fullest advantage. Thus they supply the bread and circuses, highlight the hypocrisy of those who partake and criticize and the status quo is safe. Robert Nesta Marley once sang that "a hungry man is angry man." What if libertarians who otherwise could not feed themselves except via suppression and subversion of principles embraced hunger...and anger? Rage Against The Machine once sang "anger is a gift." Contra Rothbard, martyrdom for liberty? Any takers? Would this lead to positive or negative change politically?

No government = more government.

Anarchy means lots of little governments. Probably more than one just like now (state local federal). Maybe a constitutional government is better. With that come jobs in the executive legislature and judiciary.

I work as Nurse for the County Gov of Los Angeles, and I am a...

proud Ron Paul libertarian Republican.

I hate waste..see how I work, worthy of your hard worked and earned tax money (versus the LAZY PARASITE BUMS around me).

pay checks mean taxes, most of which goes to the military

industrial complex to oppress. Why not just buy a piece of land, build a simple shelter, and grow food?


Edward Snowden

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty."

Click Here To See The Candidates On The Record

what about doctors and nurses

what about doctors and nurses in healthcare who receive a good portion of their money from medicare/medicaid/etc? where do you draw the line?

Michael Nystrom's picture

Is it ok for me to be a pimp?

Is that an okay thing to do for money?

The answer is no to both questions.

And, people do it anyway. And then they make up rationalizations to cover for their lack of principles.

People do it because in this world, without money, you starve.

He's the man.

Thank you for that.

Very powerful indeed. Time to reflect a little.


Michael Nystrom's picture

To build on that, what if I'm a pimp who adheres to the NAP?

I never physically harm my girls. I just tell them I'm going to kill them if they ever leave me. I fly into a histrionic rage, face red, veins popping out of my neck, screaming, saliva flying. But I never lay a hand on my girls.

I don't use violence on them, so what's the problem?

- - -

Thanks for the feedback.

He's the man.


While some people may be wealthy or well-off enough to make a clear choice between working in the private sector, and the bureaucracy, others do not and may need to take a government job in order to survive. The same can be said of welfare recipients. We can argue back and forth about philosophical and political standpoints, but the fact remains that everybody has to survive and feed their families within the system as it exists, not as it may one day exist.

I personally do not fault the very general idea of a libertarian taking a government job, in particular if said libertarian took said job in order to survive. I would, however, have a problem with said libertarian joining the IRS and working on the teams that investigate tax fraud. Or joining the TSA and groping people at the airport. Not to say there may not be legitimate cases of libertarians who may be forced to take such a position, out of necessity. Just as many would fault an individual who stole to fend off starvation, principles or no, I would not fault a libertarian who takes a job in order to prevent his or her family's homelessness or destitution.

It's people's choices that matter. A choice between starvation/homelessnes and high-minded principle is not a choice. It's a no-brainer. Allowing yourself or your family to starve in the name of principle may be honorable, but in the presence of a parasitic system such as we can perceive today, losing more libertarians is not my personal preference.

To be sure, I believe that living off of the proceeds of theft (knowingly) is not consistent with libertarianism. But perhaps that's why having principled discussions with very hungry, homeless people can be somewhat fruitless? Because they're hungry? One area where I strongly agree with minarchists is that society must be stable before high-minded philosophical discussion/thought/debate will be widespread. People don't tend to sit around splitting hairs until their bellies are sufficiently attended to, and their children are safe (enough). Where I disagree with minarchists, is that I do not believe that a central state is necessary to provide the institutions that will foment said stability.

Also, from a strategic perspective, are we not open to the idea of getting more libertarians in government? I admit our small number vs others is a handicap in this regard, but shouldn't we want more liberty-minded folks making bureaucratic and governmental decisions? And to be in the know if the SHTF?

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry



Ventura 2012

Are judges unbiased?

Are judges unbiased when they interpret the rule of law based on their own ideologies? Only to have it overturned by a higher court judge whose own interpretation of the law supersedes the lower court judge? Only to have that judge's verdict finalized one way or the other by 9 "supreme" judges who vote 5-4 one way or the other as to what is the current law of the day/year?

Can a libertarian with a government job break through this matrix?

I see the glass as half full no matter how the matrix represents us.

Author of Buy Gold and Silver Safely
Next book: Illusions of Wealth - due out soon
Also writing book We the Serfs!

You are the fifth columnist

You are the fifth columnist who asked this question.

my 'food stamps' post got 300 comments and still didn't resolve

The issue.

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

It was your food stamps post that made up my mind completely



Yes, but it made us laugh

and cry, and feel
And that's what counts

egapele's picture


to the two of you :-)

I thought he changed his name to


If said government

If said government institution is funded by user fees and/or donations and it is open to competition, then I doubt even any of the anarcho wings would be opposed to people working said job because there is no aggression taking place.

Remember that anarchism isn't anti-government so much as it is anti-state.

No easy answers...

On the one hand, you've gotta do what you've gotta do to eat, feed your family, and survive. In some areas, and this is becoming more widespread, gov't employment is the only game in town. Sustainable, right? On the other hand, if you are a libertarian or similarly inclined politically you will reek of hypocrisy for the entire tenure of your employment every time you rail against big gov't, taxes, deficits, debt, inflation. In fact, such speech will probably lead to the termination of your employment sooner rather than later. Did someone say "insider threat" or something about biting the hand that feeds and/or it is impossible to get a man to know something when his salary depends on not knowing it. Same goes with gov't bennies and refundable tax credits beyond what you owe. I think TPTB exploit this at every turn to reward friends with fiat and punish enemies.

To the extent possible libertarians shouldn't let libertarian friends be forced by circumstances to work in gov't if they don't want to. Instead, try to employ them, help them out privately, and support the businesses they start and operate. Try same with non-libertarians as well.

I think libertarianism is based on...

I think libertarianism is based on the principle of self-ownership. The non-aggression principle is an extension of self-ownership.

Don't hit (it's my face), don't push (it's my body), don't hurt (it's my body), don't steal (it's my property) all require the belief in property rights to justify. The most fundamental level of property rights is that of self-ownership.

But to answer your question, "is it possible to be a libertarian and have a government job?" I'd say clearly yes. Now, you may be contradicting your moral compass by willingly executing orders that are counter to your personal beliefs, but it's possible.

Are these workers defacto anti-libertarian? I don't necessarily think they're automatically anti-libertarian, but if they are self-described libertarians, then at a minimum, they're hypocrites.

They can't change the world, but they can change themselves.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


tasmlab's picture

By extension, could you work for a govt-helped industry?

Could a libertarian work for any of the following industries that are highly entwined in Government?:
- Banking and wall st.
- Private prison complex
- Higher education
- Lower education
- Healthcare and insurance
- Transportation
- Oil, gas
- Energy production/distribution
- Accounting
- Pharmaceuticals
- Agriculture
- Automotive
- Any business with heavy liscensure requirements

It might be best for a libertarian to not work at all!

Just an opinion: I don't personally have a beef if somebody needs to work for the government. It's the state of nature that we're living in. This said, I wouldn't be surprised if this govt-employed libertarian felt like crap day in and out. But then I guess most people working for the govt do anyways.

Currently consuming: Morehouse's "Better off free", FDR; Wii U; NEP Football


its the other way around, you work for the government, they brake your mind with how retarded they are, BLAM! you're a libertarian now.


Yes. It depends, but yes.

Yes. It depends, but yes.

Almost all federal jobs would be a contradiction. The Constitution explicitly forbids many government agencies that exist today, and I see the Constitution as a rather good libertarian document if it was followed. So if teachers were purely a state and local function, and weren't funded by income and property taxes, then I don't see a problem with having such a job.

Can a true libertarian live

Can a true libertarian live in the United States? A place where personal freedom is stripped bare and every aspect of your life infringed upon? After-all a true libertarian believes in personal responsibility and freedom so long as it doesn't harm others.

Using a religious reference,the Christians in Rome are still Christians are they not?

While it may oppose some of your ideology and views, you are required to accept certain things for the time being, but should always be working to change them.

While I would agree a self proclaimed libertarian that works in the government helping bomb children or beat citizens is not a libertarian. But someone who takes a job doing what they can to make a paycheck, weather its building roads or filing papers is. Or maybe its someone who takes that government job to try and push change from the inside.

We live in an imperfect system so it is impossible to live a perfect libertarian lifestyle. All we can do is try our best to.

Ways to be Libertarian

I'm a libertarian by personality, so I don't want to have a job where I have to carry out, with force or threats of force, actions determined by the voters and their reps. Many libertarian personalities have this problem and that's the main reason why we don't get into politics--we hate politics.

But there are plenty of libertarians by politics, who want a more libertarian government. Some of them are comfortable in using their position of authority, as the position requires, in order to change government from inside. It's a dirty job, but I'm glad they do it.

The LP is the party for people who hate politics. To be a member of the Party, one must affirm one does not advocate the initiation of force. If the voters vote to raise a tax, or if the voters elect representatives who do so, that's not the fault of the individual who is libertarian.

It's not easy to decide where to draw the line in these situations, but some of our best tax-fighters are ex-IRS agents, and I'd hate to think there aren't any libertarians in the IRS today. We need all the allies we can get, even if they're in a government job!

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

Yes it is possible to be a Libertarian and work for government.

Of course it is because Libertarians are not anarchists.

As long as you work only for a proper role of government that is.

Any job which falls under the proper role of government as defined in our Constitution would be fine.

But if you were working for an agency like USAID or the IRS, then you would be a hypocrite if you called yourself a Libertarian.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

Okay . . . name one.

What specific government job could one take which is entirely within the "proper" boundaries -- one real, uncorrupted job which protects our liberty instead of eating it.

Name one.

Good luck, Mr. Phelps.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

What if lindsey graham was in a dress

and was court jester

The Court doesn't need a jester.

They've already got 9 Stooges.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose