Radley Balko speaks for libertarians:
“It’s perfectly acceptable for a constitutionally-limited government to act to prevent the outbreak of deadly, highly-communicable diseases. If the bird flu is as lethal and transferable as some have suggested, protection from it amounts to a public good worthy of government attention, provided said attention is proportional to the extent of the threat, transparent, and accountable.”
Translation: It’s perfectly acceptable for the government to put a gun to your head to compel you to participate in collectivist schemes when it will produce a sufficient public good.
But what about all Balko’s caveats you ask? They amount to nothing.
Is this government accountable? Sure, it’s accountable to the voters. How could government be more accountable than that?
Ah, but is our government constitutionally limited? Yup, as much as it can be. There’s a note in the cookie jar that says “We promise to never reach in the cookie jar. Sincerely, We The People”. Now of course the fact that they got the note in the cookie jar in the first place implies they’re going to reach in there whenever they feel the need, but you can’t really improve on the note. It’s as limiting to We The People as any such note could be in principle.
But is the public good produced sufficient? And is the government action proportional and transparent? Well someone has to judge, but who? It can only go back to accountability. The voters judge whether the benefits are sufficient and whether the means are acceptably proportional and transparent.
We pretty much already have everything Balko wants in politics, he just happens to disagree with most voters about the weights to assign to the costs and benefits of government actions. So he spends his life arguing with them about how much of your life should be stolen and what it should be spent on.
And that passes for libertarianism.