The Problem with “Should”

The Problem with “Should”

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Often, I find that the feedback and suggestions I hear from within the libertarian community are unintentionally similar to feedback and suggestions from non-libertarians about the role of government. In fact, I find them to be eerily similar to the way many Americans talk use a phrase many libertarians despise.


Are you among those I’m writing about in this cautionary tale?

That feedback and those suggestions typically involve the word “should.”

“We should do this.”

“This should be done.”

In nearly every case, the word “should” is used without follow-up about how the giver of that feedback or suggestion will perform or help to perform toward their intended outcome.

That is an outsourcing of responsibility.

By only suggesting that something should be done, you assign an obligation or duty to someone else. Many times, that person will agree, but they have priorities and tasks that take precedence.

How do you remove the “should problem”?

That problem disappears when you take on the responsibility of some tasks toward the outcome.

Is it any different from saying “There ought to be a law!”?

Knowing what to address is a great start, though if you don’t have a solution or take action to correct things, are you really part of the solution? Or simply joining the chorus that points out a problem?

One of the things that makes an effective libertarian is having a defined solution in mind when you see a problem in government.

The next time you are about to say “should,” will you have an action plan and support for what you are pointing out? Are you willing to pitch in to solve the problem? Or are you outsourcing the responsibility of what should be done to someone else?

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