The UNR Students for Liberty get an article in the Sagebrush
By: Barry Belmont

About two weeks ago the local paper The Nevada Sagebrush had an article criticizing my Anarcho-Capitalism lecture entitled “Libertarianism: Rearing its Ugly Head with Faith in ‘Free Market.’” Figuring this deserved a response, I wrote one and it was published in the Sagebrush.

It can be read at the above link as well as below. But on the Sagebrush site there have been numerous back-and-forths with those that (for some reason) didn’t like the article. You can have your two cents there or here. Please do enjoy.

A Libertarian Conversation
By Barry Belmont

To be justified in believing in any philosophy means to follow its premises to their logical conclusion. For libertarians there are, at base, two undeniable tenets: 1) the right of self-ownership and 2) all interactions between people (self-owners) must be voluntary.

In short, the entirety of libertarianism can be summed up as “you can do whatever you want, just keep your mitts to yourself.”

In a recent article, Nevada Sagebrush writer Lee Hampton attacked libertarian ideas, claiming they hinge “upon a blind, fanatical and theological faith in ‘free markets’” and that libertarians are somehow bad for doing this.

While the words “blind” and “fanatical” are inflammatory and used for offhand dismissals rather than legitimate criticisms, it can rightly be said that we libertarians do have faith in the free market. Free markets are nothing short of the sum total of all free and voluntary human interactions.

If you can’t have faith in this, then what hope is there of ever improving the human condition?

Some might say that the hope lies in governments and that governments must step in to change individual human behavior for the better. But to believe the government is something different from the same individuals who compose markets is absurd. Who are these angels so full of benevolence? The government is composed of the exact same people as those who make up free markets with one important difference: They have no incentive to do anything well because they can use force.

On free markets, how much a service benefits society correlates to the amount of money gained. This is why Apple and Google do so well and why Paint-a-Pet stores generally go out of business. Where Apple and Google make their money by directly serving customers, governments get the same amount of money no matter how poorly they do their job.

In fact, the converse can be seen: The more poorly a government does its job (that is, by allowing crime rates to rise, causing economic strife, etc.) the more money it gets in the name of “solving” the problem.

In essence, advocating for free markets is advocating for personal responsibility, triumphing personal liberty and holding that though there are some greedy, mean and bad people, the vast majority of people are good. Sure, there might be an Enron or an AIG fiasco on the free and open market, but these singular bad instances are overwhelmed by billions of everyday cooperative interactions.

Think of how much cooperation went in to making what you are reading: I wrote this article, an editor edited it, someone placed it in the newspaper, the paper in your hand was made from trees which were transported vast distances by trucks and planes, the ink had to be manufactured, printers had to place it on the page and so on. Thus, faith in free markets is simply a faith in free individuals.

This is what the University of Nevada, Reno Students for Liberty believe and support.

To learn more, or to read the full version of my lecture “Anarcho-Capitalism II: Justice & Defense,” visit

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  • matt lamb

    Very well written Barry.

  • Barry Belmont

    Thank you very much.

  • Barry Belmont

    Thank you very much.

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