Politics and strangers rarely mix well. And this is especially the case if you happen to call yourself a libertarian. Everyone’s heard of republicans. Everyone’s heard of democrats. Libertarians, however, not so much.

Blank stares are common. Confusion with the term liberal is equally so. And that wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that the two are pretty much polar opposites.

So what exactly is a libertarian? I expect a lot more people will pick up the term if the Free State Project ever goes ahead. But for now, this quote pretty much sums it up:

“Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty” Sharon Harris

Liberty can be applied to almost all areas of life. So here’s eight examples:

Personal Liberty

This is a biggie. What a person does with their life is their decision and theirs alone. Provided they don’t disrespect other people in the process, no third party should have the right to dictate their existence. This applies to everyone from neighbors to the president.

The Right to Bare Arms

It’s in the Second Amendment. It’s also pretty much a requirement of personal liberty. Everyone should have the right to own a gun. And everyone should have the right to use it in self defense.

Personal Privacy

Libertarians believe that each individual is born with the right to personal privacy. In other words, they strongly disagree with the governments current tendency to spy on its own citizens.

No More Income Tax

One of the more popular libertarian ideals is to abolish income tax. We’ve been paying it for so long that by now, it might sound a little crazy. But think about it. If you work hard, why exactly should you have to give away a percentage of the profits?

Reduced Government Spending

A lack of income tax would require a corresponding drop in government expenditure. Most libertarians believe that the government should not be allowed to incur debt either which burdens future generations completely without their consent.

Less Government Intervention

Libertarians don’t just want to stop paying the government, they want to greatly ‘t be reduce its power. Examples of areas in which most libertarians believe that the government doesn’t belong include:

  • Property: People should be free to manage their own property as they see fit.
  • Business: Businesses shouldn’t be subsidized or bailed out.
  • Finance: Inflationary monetary policies should be stopped, banks should operate strictly by free market dynamics.
  • Energy: Fuel, of any kind, shouldn’t be subsidized.

Reduced National Defense Spending

Libertarians are well aware of the importance of maintaining a sufficient military to defend the United States. What they don’t agree with is the need to spend more than that in order to police the rest of the world.

Increased Transparency

The defense of the United States requires intelligence. But most libertarians believe that said intelligence should not come at the cost of our nations civil liberties. In other words, the US should continue to gather intelligence but they shouldn’t be allowed to hide where they got it from.