LIBERTARIANISM

What's in libertarianism for the "average" voter?

(1) Libertarianism would encourage you to keep all of what you earn, in exchange for giving up most government programs.

(2) Libertarianism is good for you if you can take full account for your own actions. Libertarianism cares very little about the "example" you set for others as long as you don't harm others or deny them their own rights or property.

(3) If you have children or grand-children or other younger loved ones, libertarianism encourages you to save as much as possible for your own retirement years, in order to avoid leaving debt for your children.

(4) Libertarianism encourages efficient delivery of medical research and products to the market to help those with AIDS, cancer, physical injuries, or any other medical problems.

(5) Libertarianism maintains that legitimate use of private property by owners favors the environment. The right to property means that pollution of another party's property would be "trespass," actionable as a tort.

(6) Libertarianism keeps government out of the bedroom and out of the medicine cabinet. Libertarianism opposes punishing private behaviors without "victims" as crimes.

(7) Libertarianism opposes the imposition by government or any institution or person of its will on another person. Therefore libertarianism opposes conscription and forced servitude. Military service should be voluntary and, within reasonable rules of discipline and conduct, should not involve the surrender of fundamental human rights.

(8) Libertarianism opposes the use of government for "social engineering" and the "special rights" for persons who enter into any particular interpersonal relationship ("marriage").

(9) Libertarianism supports freedom to contract and the enforcement of contracts. Libertarianism supports tort reform and the discouragement of frivolous litigation.

(10) Libertarianism supports free speech, free expression of religious, spiritual, agnostics or atheistic beliefs, the right to bear arms, due process of law, and the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure (even when applied to civil and administrative proceedings). Libertarianism opposes civil forfeiture. Libertarianism welcomes full public debate about issues, and recognizes there is a healthful tension between personal self-expression and economic or familial loyalty.

(11) Libertarianism believes the free market in the long run will force social justice and fairness in the workplace. Employers and property owners should be free to use their own personal values in choosing those with whom to do business; most will find that discrimination is not good business or within their economic interest.

(12) Libertarianism believes that government programs (particularly welfare) actually destroy families and create disincentives for families to take care of themselves. These programs can be replaced by private workfare and enterprise initiatives.

(13)Libertarianism supports the modern workplace, with its practical emphasis on employer and associate freedom, employee ownership, and entrepreneurialism.

(14)Libertarianism believes that consumer responsibility and private "medical savings accounts" can lower the cost of health care for everybody.

(15)Libertarianism believes in a direct connection between individual freedom in personal affairs with freedom in economic markets.

Eight Natural Rights of Man:

(1) The Right to Life

(2) The Right to Be Free from Involuntary Servitude

(3) The Right to Be Left Alone (include The Right to Privacy)

(4) The Right to Speak and to Write Freely

(5) The Right to Property (includes indirectly the Right to Bear Arms and the right to be dealt with as an individual)

(6) The Right to Religious Belief and Religious Unbelief

(7) The Right to Parent

(8) The Right to Vote

List of Practical Proposals (both state and federal)to Move the Country in a More Libertarian Direction

  1. Eliminate all laws prohibiting sex between consenting adults in private
  2. Allow medical marijuana and decriminalize most private drug use
  3. Abolish the Selective Service System and end mandatory registration for the draft of 18-year-old men
  4. Eliminate all special privileges associated with marital status
  5. Replace the current income tax system with a flat tax that allows only (a) exemptions for dependents (2) exemptions for some savings (3) exemptions for medical savings accounts. Respect the libertarian proposal: "End the income tax and replace it with nothing" (at both federal and state levels).
  6. Gradually privatize social security
  7. Reform the tort system to discourage frivolous lawsuits.
  8. Streamline the regulation of medications and medical devices to allow consumers more access; allow sale or donation or organs according to the market.
  9. Reaffirm the right to free speech: only the actual perpetrators of crimes are punished
  10. Respect the right to work. Do not allow involuntary payroll deductions for union dues that eventually go to political contributions
  11. Install term limits
  12. Implement ballot access reforms and proportional representation or immediate runoff
  13. Allow property owners to defend property with deadly force.
  14. Consider the future "cloning" issue very carefully. Realistically, most parents would not want to "clone" even if it were legal to do so.

LIBERTARIANISM AND SOCIAL JUSTICE:

The “left” likes to view social justice in terms of working with oppressed groups, and providing restitution or retroactively reparative remedies for previous wrongs. The affirmative action and even school bussing debate emphasizes this. Two wrongs make a right in this view, however the injustice in some individual circumstances. The expressive welfare of the individual is not as importance as community, fitting in, and justice for peoples considered as a whole.

The social conservative relies on “family” as the equalizer, although there are obvious problems with this view. But the socialization of “normal” males through women and marriage is supposed to be such an automatic process that it is not perceived as a moralizing one by the participants.

The libertarian is conscious of unfairness, but is more likely to emphasizing making the rules fair at the individual level essentially through the marketplace and freedom to contract, and enforcement of contracts and promises that are made. It gets tricky when you have to think about the different obligations that people have (for dependents) and whether these obligations are really chosen “freely.” 

 LIBERTARIANISM AND MORALITY

 Some libertarians subscribe to a very simple notion of morality. An act is morally wrong only if the act aggresses upon another person without consent. Any other personal behavior is at worst morally neutral. There is no principled way to delineate moral consequences among a number of behaviors: consensual sex acts, drug, alcohol or tobacco use, discrimination.

Other libertarians (or at least classical liberals) would recognize areas of moral ambiguity. Some acts and value systems have unforeseen consequences, especially for more vulnerable people. Therefore morality properly considers such issues as commitment to and caring for others ("family values"), emotional motivation, and appreciating what is really one's to have. "Morality" in this sense refers to "karma," whether one really is entitled to what one has or aspires to based on what he or she can offer others. Commitment subsumes limits! Moral values may properly be developed in conjunction with religious faith. But the government should not be deciding these issues, even through "representative democracy." Government cannot be trusted to make sensitive moral delineations without becoming corrupted by the political barter that such determinations require. Such a viewpoint could be called "neo-conservatism." (DADT, section 1 of Chapter 5).

 

One other aspect of morality is whether there is "absolute" right and wrong (whether there is knowledge of good and evil). In the sense of non-aggression on contract fulfillment, there should be no compromise. Suppose you sign a contract with party A, and know that fulfilling the contract to the letter will cost you much more than you thought and that "cheating" a little will save you much and not be noticed by party A in practice. Is it all right to break the promise? It is not all right without Party A's permission. To do so would sound like "situational ethics," to avoid interpreting a well-intended rule in an obviously unreasonable manner. But it is still breaking a promise, and that must be "absolutely" wrong.

"Promise keeping" (and this comment isn't limited to the "Promise Keepers") might be seen as a sub-principle of the Honor Principle so well stated in Joseph Steffan's Honor Bound, that "personal honor is an absolute" (Villard 1992 edition, p. 145). This idea, for me, has always been the justification to bringing down moral discussions to an individual level. Otherwise we are left with evaluating people's behaviors just in terms of their collective motivational effects, as in the writings of "conservatives" such as George Gilder, Robert Bork, and William Murchison.

 

LIBERTARIAN STRATEGY:

There are two main strategies for expanding the influence of libertarianism. The first is advocated by presidential candidate Harry Browne. The strategy is to recruit members as quickly as possible by telling people in very simple terms what libertarianism offers them for their own lives. Essentially, if the income tax is ended and various other government intrusions are ended, people will have more money to make adaptive choices on their own.

The second approach, advocated in my own DADT book, would stress focused debate on the policy issues associated with government regulations, particularly in personal areas. People would learn that, even as government butts out, the stakes for personal responsibility are very high, and that added personal responsibility, for one's own health and for making and keeping family commitments, might be great indeed.

A newer approach now advocated by the Libertarian Party of Minnesota would support “beacon groups” and help them apply libertarian principles to specific issues.  The Libertarian Party itself would focus on “ideology”—personal liberty and associated personal responsibility.  

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