Lets say that I own a company and that I feel safe and reliable transportation for my employees is so important that I choose to give each employee a car. I’m paying for the car, so I get to decide what type of car they get and what features it has. This is a gift for being an employee, or in other words it is an employee benefit. A benefit is just a gift with strings attached.
Lets say an employee smokes and demands that the car I give him has a built in lighter and ashtray, or an employee drives in from out of town and demands that the car I give him has satellite internet. They can demand and I can refuse; this is called a free market. I can also fire, and get less whiny employees; this is called free market. They can quit and go try to find another employer that will give them the type of car they want; this is called free market.
How about I just want to give them a basic car, purely no frills transportation. No power steering, no power locks, no power windows. Even if 99% of cars have these. I’m upfront with my employees and prospective hires. If they choose to work for me they know what to expect, no secrets there. And if they want those features, they can pay to have them installed. I could even give them cars with no airbags or seat belts, personally I never would omit those features, but the point is I should be allowed to give or not give them whatever I want; it’s my gift.
Facts about how air bags and seat belts save lives and are important features to a safe car are not relevant; no one should be allowed to force me to pay for them if I don’t want. That is called freedom. It’s also called stupid, but that is the great thing about freedom, freedom allows stupidity. Freedom allows choice. Any attempt to remove or limit choice is an assault on freedom. Freedom is choice. Force is authoritarianism.
As a Libertarian I oppose the initiation of force. In the above example, no one is forcing me to give anyone a car, no one is forcing someone to take a car, no one is forcing the car to have certain features. The parties involved in that exchange can use their leverage and power to negotiate a situation more conducive to their desires without initiating force or violence. An outside party (or even a government) can look in on this private situation and baulk at one one side offers and what the other side agrees to, but it is never their place to interfere with free exchange between consenting adults.
If you see a situation that you don’t like and you want to use the force (violence) of government to fix it, ask first if a problem can be solved with more freedom instead of less. If less freedom, then stop, you are out of line.
Back to the car example. To improve the choices for the employer providing the free car to the employees and to improve the choices the employees have to customize the cars to suit their desires, there are several ways for the government to provide more freedom. Equalize tax burdens so a gift of a car and the gift of money equal to what the employer would spend on the car are taxed or not taxed the same. (Gasp, do we dare to remove a crony tax loophole!) Reduce regulations that drive up the cost of cars, yes government should be in charge of defining standards it’s listed right there in the US Constitution, and yes an appropriate level of regulation forcing car makers to reduce the harm their cars might do to people that do not opt in to a fully disclosed risk. But for the most part there are a lot of shenanigans from the mining of the raw materials to the buyer registering the final product that needlessly drive up the cost of a car.