Religion: Christian (but, contrary to most Christians, I’m a strict believer in NOT forcing others to obey Christian morals through government laws)
Political Views: Libertarian
Occupation: Environmental Engineer
My personal passions (besides Christianity) include science, math, and environmentalism, so these naturally led me to my career choice. Physics and its subcategories are my favorite subjects.
Upbringing and Political Evolution:
The reason I write the following is not to focus on me, but to enable me to connect with you better, as many of the beliefs that you have now I have also had at one time or another.
I was raised by a single mother with three other siblings besides myself. I was in the middle. My dad died when I was 2 years old. Because libertarians are against welfare, some people mistakenly believe that we are just a bunch of rich snobs (quick aside: it actually seems that libertarians in academia tend to come from poor backgrounds). But, I do not come from a wealthy family. My family was poor when I was a child. Actually, we lived in a homeless shelter for two months when I was really young. Then, my mother received government assistance housing for a few years. She had started her own business producing and selling her artwork to churches. It was successful and she eventually had enough money to join the middle class and buy her own home in a basic suburban neighborhood. So, we were middle class in my teenage years. Yes, I am aware that I and my family received government assistance, and this may seem ironic now that I am against all forms of government financial assistance.
My mother was a firm Republican. I was raised in a Republican household and naturally self-identified as a conservative Republican in teenage years even though I didn’t know a lot about political issues at the time. My mother had Fox News on TV nearly every night, and we all watched a lot of Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor, among other conservative shows. (Of course, now I know that O’Reilly is completely irrational. By the way, in case you didn’t know, Fox News is a conservative news channel that’s practically an arm of the Republican Party, MSNBC is a progressive liberal (“liberal” in the modern meaning) news channel that’s practically an arm of the Democratic Party, and CNN is just a mindless, trivial waste of time. I strongly encourage everyone to keep their minds healthy by not watching any major news channels). Besides being a Republican, I was very interested in environmental issues. The thought of environmental damage did and still does anger me. I also fell in love with math and physics in high school.
Then, I went to college for Biosystems Engineering with two concentrations: Applied Biotechnology and Natural Resources and Environment. As might be a typical result of going to college, I became “liberal” and self-identified as a Democrat for the last 2 years of college. The transition was slow, as I gradually shed some of the political myths and irrational arguments I was brought up in, only to adopt and/or reinforce other bad ideas from the left. The main reasons I became a liberal were:
1. I was and still am a strict environmentalist, and I had the typical (but, incorrect) view that Democrats and governments were the heroes for environmental protection. These views became more developed as I studied coursework for my major, most of which was related to environmental issues.
2. Education: as every “liberal” believes once they study societal issues, I thought that the sole hope for humanity and the poor was first and foremost an extensive, foundational, institutional education, and that everything collapses in society if this is not met. I was particularly fierce about this. I had become well educated by the end of college (particularly because I spent most of my time reading the books instead of going to class, which enabled me to spend much more time on actual in depth studying instead of going to a class to hear a superficial lecture). Education had such a profoundly positive effect on me that it made sense that all people should have that same level of knowledge. I had the typical (but, incorrect) view that Democrats and governments were the heroes for education, and that we needed to spend much more on it. I never thought that one day I would advocate the abolition of the public education system, as I do now.
3. Democrats seemed more likely to legalize marijuana, and that did and still does make sense to me.
4. Democrats seemed more interested in civil rights issues and reducing the prison population, and I did and still do favor that.
5. Republicans were war hungry, and I did not and still do not favor frequent wars for non-defense purposes.
6. Democrats seemed smarter and more pro-science, (although now I know that they are actually just as bad as Republicans, but in different ways).
During this transition period, and really throughout all college years, I heavily immersed myself in all forms of news and political media from many political positions. I watched a lot of MSNBC and regretfully went through that embarrassing phase where I thought Rachel Maddow was an awesome intellectual hero. I watched every single episode of the Daily Show and Colbert Report. (I actually still watch the Daily Show, not because I agree with him, but because I’m interested in what young progressives are listening to. If you are thinking to yourself, “this Tom Nor guy simply doesn’t understand the truth about the world, and I do because I’ve seen a lot of the Daily Show”, please think again. I’ve seen every episode since 2008. If your argument is something borrowed from the Daily Show, then yes, I’ve already heard that argument. By the way, Stewart is really not that funny, Colbert is the comedic genius). I still watched a lot of Fox News, but only because I thought it was morbidly entertaining and I wanted to understand what arguments Republicans used so that I could better know how to defeat them in debate. So, that’s how I turned into a Democrat.
But, even while I was a Democrat, I still felt a little uneasy and conflicted about it. I wanted all the things that I thought were good from a big government, but I also was concerned that if a government had that much power, it could just as easily do a lot of harm. Deep down, I knew that my arguments wouldn’t always work if they were applied consistently. And, the idea of violating freedoms and stealing (taxation) to obtain the goals I wanted made me a little uncomfortable. And, I always believed in the concept that a majority of people in a democracy should never be able to violate fundamental rights of anyone (even though I didn’t apply it consistently to its logical and moral extreme). But, I had the mindset of “the ends justify the means” and we should just accept a lot of necessary evils in this imperfect world. I thought that I simply had to live with complex conflicting views. Why not? It’s what all people do in modern times. Government seemed like second nature. What else could we do?
Then came along libertarianism. It seemed at first like some crazy old fashioned political system that couldn’t apply to the 21st century, that maybe it could only work in small population societies and before we understood environmental problems. But, being curious, I toyed with it for a while. Ron Paul was my introduction. He’s not a perfect libertarian, but he’s pretty good, and he was the most high profile libertarian-leaning politician in recent times. After a couple years of studying libertarianism, I found that it could firmly address nearly any concern I had. I loved that it was intellectually consistent. I no longer had to hold conflicting ideas in my head. I don’t describe the arguments here, as that’s what the blog posts are for. My prior conceptions about it were entirely wrong. Gradually, I finally became a libertarian. One of the last issues I wrestled with was environmental protection. But, as I soon realized, and as I will discuss in the blog posts, libertarian principles provide the strongest and strictest standards of environmental protection and harmonize the concerns of both the left and right. It may seem odd that I currently have only one post about environmentalism given my repeated mentions of it. But, this is because environmental issues and property rights theory are so immensely complex that I would rather spend much more time studying them before fully articulating the libertarian and scientific arguments.
After that, I still had a few lingering anti-freedom positions. For example, even though I considered myself a libertarian, the thought of no “free” public education still scared me. But, after more and more study, I finally realized that, yes, education should be completely privatized with no government involvement or regulation. And, that’s the story of becoming a libertarian: the more you study it, the more you realize it’s right.