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Are Libertarians Against Welfare?

Are Libertarians Against Welfare?

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Yes, libertarians generally oppose government-run social welfare programs. 

Libertarians believe in the voluntary exchange of goods and services. Arbitrary taxation (rather than user fees) and income tax are generally viewed as theft by libertarians, although not all libertarians subscribe to this idea.

According to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (, about 11% of U.S. federal tax dollars ($665 billion) supported government-run economic security programs in 2022. Another 25% ($1.4 trillion) supported health insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) subsidies.


Most of the Budget Goes Toward Defense, Social Security, and Major Health Programs

While many American citizens believe these are practical, necessary and noble causes to support, libertarians believe that any funding of social welfare or charitable organizations must be voluntary.

Critics argue that social welfare programs would be drastically underfunded if they relied entirely on private donations. Without taxation, social programs would lose a majority of their budget.

Libertarians counter that argument by insisting that without the shortcomings of bureaucracy and government waste, private charities and the private market could achieve desired social outcomes more efficiently. However, there is insufficient data to support this claim.

While data and experimentation are necessary to determine the long-term viability of social welfare programs being exclusively managed by private entities and charitable funding, libertarians steadfastly support a society built on voluntaryism and free market solutions.


For more information on libertarianism, see our Ultimate Guide to Libertarianism

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