A’ight—Imma get political here.

I have a lot of problems with libertarianism—for starters, an unregulated free market perpetuates inequality and leads to environmental degradation—but I want to look specifically at its effect on mental burden.

Libertarians talk about how free we’d be if we could choose exactly what to do with our money. Gary Johnson said during his presidential run that he wants everything to be like Uber. But what would that model do to our mental burden?

Libertarianism offers the illusion of freedom, but (assuming everything wouldn’t eventually be run by monopolies anyway) too many options can lead to indecision. Having to shop around for who provides your tap water or electricity would add mental burden. Competitors would have different infrastructure, and switching between services would be costly and time consuming.

Of course, having a feckless government—of any type—that fails to provide basic services, including health, infrastructure, and education, is a mental burden, too. Most of us just want government to work in the background without our constant vigilant oversight—which brings up two points:

  1. Some people like to say that they don’t care about politics. Not caring about politics is a privilege: they don’t have to worry about it probably because the system works well for them. Those on the margins have no choice but to care about politics (an added mental burden) because small policy changes can have huge impacts on their lives.
  2. In a libertarian system, instead of holding a government accountable each election cycle, you’d constantly have to hold dozens of individual service providers accountable. And history has shown that corporations beholden to their shareholders don’t always have the public’s best interest at heart.

Regulations on corporate behaviour, particularly environmental and consumer rights regulations, don’t constrain my freedom. They lower my mental burden because I don’t have to worry about personally checking the quality of my tap water, for example.

My political leanings aren’t a secret, so my thoughts in this post probably don’t come as a surprise. I’m not saying there’s only one system of government that would work well, but from a mental burden perspective, libertarianism certainly isn’t it.

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