(Part 1 in a 2-part response to my friend Kara, read her blog "Libertarians" here)
I am not a member of the LP. I am registered to vote in the state of Nevada as a Lib but I never joined the party and never will due to a long, boring list of reasons (I'll give you a taste: to change anything on the LP's platform requires a 7/8s vote).
I'm libertarian (and a voluntarist anarchist) because your rights don't mean anything unless other people lack the right to violate them; i.e., when you say you have a right to life it means others lack the right to murder you, etc. "Absolute freedom" is a meaningless term, since freedom only means something when given the context of limitation and cost-benefit analysis, but "maximum freedom" does mean something. And where a state exists, it does so as an institution that monopolizes the use of violence, i.e. it maintains itself by extracting payment through taxes and monopolizes a given territory so that no competing institution may offer better police, court systems, infrastructure etc. Hence, the more power a state has, the less free its captive populace, and vice versa.
My position is that ethics is about the social negotiation of satisfying desire. The more free the people, the more desire can be satisfied, and this is ethical, and thus a Good Thing. I want the freedom to seek out better services if this government is not providing them at a high enough quality or low enough price. I want the freedom to opt out.
This means that I don't care if other people want to live in a theocracy or a socialist paradise, as long as it is voluntary. Allow people to opt out if they want, and leave me the fuck alone.
Backing this up are the mountains of evidence that command economies simply do not function as well as market economies. No competition, no means of determining prices. No price structure, no means of determining efficiency, like when the USSR was filling warehouses full of copper wire with no place to use it rather than shut down the copper wire-producing factories, and the Soviet military having five main battletank designs at the time of its collapse for no reason at all. Determining something's true economic value without competition in the marketplace is impossible.
Of course, the environment is important, which is why I support Climate Care, which not only takes action to reduce carbon emissions but also buys up carbon credits on the Chicago Exchange and retires them to raise their value. Carbon and pollution credits are a fantastic way to protect the environment, much better than the odious idea of electing a government that could just as easily side with the money and protect polluters rather than punish them.
To read what I read to confirm my libertarianism, check out the following books:
The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard
Socialism: an Economic and Sociological Analysis by Ludwig von Mises