Imagine a small group of libertarians sitting around a table on the sidewalk outside John Jay Myers’ Free Man Cajun Cafe in Dallas’ Deep Ellum on a warm spring evening, enjoying conversation along with their nightcaps.
One young man says he’s been unemployed for weeks.
“Grab all the unemployment checks you can get,” an old hand tells him.
“I can’t do that,” the younger man says. “I’m a libertarian.”
“Let me tell you a story,” the older gent begins.
When you work as a direct employee for a company you get a paycheck plus benefits, like medical insurance and sick and personal leave and vacation days. Problem is, if you never use those benefits they’re not really benefits, and you have little choice about it.
But when you work as a contract employee for a contract engineering firm you get a much bigger check every week because all those benefits are factored right into your hourly rate, leaving it up to the contract employee to handle his own benefits as he sees fit.
“I decided to go to work for a contract engineering firm,” the old libertarian says. “We used to call them ‘job shops.’ So I walked into a shop and asked the owner to hire me and send me out to one of his client companies for a nice fat hourly rate.”
But the owner said, “I’m required to pay state and federal unemployment taxes for you and that money has to come from somewhere.”
“He poked around on his calculator and offered me a lower rate, which I reluctantly accepted.”
“From that moment on I always knew that I had every right to file claims for unemployment compensation whenever I was between jobs with a clear libertarian conscience because that money was very obviously, explicitly, subtracted from my income, not from my employer’s profit. It was my money.”
Then the old man says “If you’ve read Atlas Shrugged” and the younger man nods “You know about the pirate character named Ragnar Danneskjöld who raided government ships sending taxpayer-funded goods to foreign countries and confiscated their cargoes. Ragnar then returned some of it to its ‘rightful owner,’ Hank Reardon, in the form of a gold bar.”
“So shouldn’t we all be Ragnar Danneskjölds, taking back from the thieving government what is rightfully ours?”
And the others sat at the table and sipped their drinks and thought.
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