Private citizens and legislators alike expressed horror and outrage at the National Security Agency when the agency’s phone surveillance practices were revealed. Although the NSA continues to be much maligned, it is still operating and still snooping. We predict the same pattern of much talk and no meaningful action will emanate from the recent revelations that local police in many cities throughout California, including San Francisco, are using phone surveillance equipment. Not only are police using this equipment, but they are keeping quiet about it, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Northern California reported its director of technology and civil liberties as saying,
“Local law enforcement has been taking advantage of millions of federal surveillance dollars streaming into California to sidestep the normal oversight process of city councils and boards of supervisors and keep the public in the dark about important community decisions.”
Maybe the issue here should be that the feds are footing the bill for this equipment at all!
However the issue was reiterated as surveillance is just fine, we just need more legislation regarding it when San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos called for passage of legislation, presumably to provide transparency and accountability in the acquisition and use of surveillance equipment.
The ACLU drafted a clear four-page “model legislation” that requires discussion of the costs and benefits of surveillance equipment, which is a good thing. Those of us who are concerned not only with the use of such equipment, but also with the strings that come attached to the federal dollars pouring into local communities will want to get involved in making sure the costs part of the discussion is forcefully articulated.
Article on ACLU website:
Legislation drafted by the ACLU:
The renovated Nourse Theater and building art at the old Commerce High School.
Libertarians favor individual action over government involvement. Government involvement removes individual initiative and accountability, often producing poor results. We are following this logic when we recommend “No” votes on proposals to implement or expand most government programs.
This logic is evident, for example, in school systems. Parochial and charter schools, often serving disadvantaged children, are known to achieve better results with less money than traditional public schools. An interesting and colorful piece of history of the San Francisco School District illustrates our point.
Teachers old enough to remember call it “the old Commerce High School.” Commerce High was established in 1883 as the business department of Boys High School. Its original location was on Nob Hill, but it relocated to Market Street just before it went up in the flames in the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was rebuilt at Grove and Larkin streets, only to move again to Franklin and Fell Streets in order to make way for the Civic Auditorium.
In its new and as it turned out permanent location on Franklin and Fell, the school received a loftier name, High School of Commerce. In 1927, a magnificent 1,800-seat student auditorium was built in the school site. The Nourse Auditorium, named to honor educator Joseph Nourse, was used for assemblies and other school events.
In 1951, High School of Commerce closed. However the splendid auditorium, with its Beaux-Arts design and grand hanging chandeliers became a coveted destination for special events and fine arts performances. In 1985, this jewel of San Francisco and revenue generator unceremoniously fell victim to San Francisco Judge Ira Brown.
Libertarians have always failed to see why the end of Alcohol Prohibition is seen as a good thing while the war on drugs is tolerated. December 5, 2014, marks the 81st anniversary of the end of Prohibition, a good day to wonder why a colossal failure such as the idea of prohibition won't go away.
The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, establishing alcohol prohibition, came about thanks to the temperance societies concerned about drunkenness in the family, factory owners wanting to increase workers’ productivity, and progressive reformers. “Progressive reformers also took to Prohibition for they saw it as a continuation of their efforts to improve society in general. Temperance societies and Progressives alike saw the need for more governmental control and involvement in citizens' lives.”1
The Amendment prohibited the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol, and it worked – it first. Alcohol consumption fell by 30%! However, all was not well. “The intensity of the temperance advocates was matched only by the inventiveness of those who wanted to keep drinking…The illegal production and distribution of liquor, or bootlegging, became rampant.”2 Bootleggers fought for turf and profits. There was no shortage of recruits, “Jobs were scarce and people needed to provide for their families, gangsterism was dangerous but provided an easy way to make money.”3
We'll Tax Only the Rich! We promise!
That was the promise politicians made in order to pass the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and establish the income tax. How is that promise working out for you?
The Libertarian Party asks “Why An Income Tax? Before 1913, federal income taxes were rare and short lived. America became the most prosperous nation on earth. The U.S. government did not try to police the world or play ‘nanny’ to everyone from cradle to grave. People took responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is how the founders of America thought it should be. And it worked. It can again!” http://www.lp.org/issues/taxes
But we do have an income tax, as well as several payroll taxes, corporate taxes, capital gain taxes – the list is endless. Those taxes are ever present, obnoxious entities that influence pretty much all our actions. These entities suck income from those who earn it, heap mounds of paperwork on everyone, snoop into everyone’s every move, generate constant threats, carry with them an assumption of guilt not innocence, and are beloved by those who either do not pay any of them or can shelter themselves from paying much of them. Worse, these taxes (along with fiat currency, of course) finance a gargantuan wasteful bureaucracy that crowds out the efficient free market, noses into our private lives, and manhandles us at airports.
Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and a bevy of other hopefuls have been running their 2016 presidential campaign for the last couple of years. The two main political parties and their candidates only need to promise some freebies – either to voters or to big business -- and use the political campaign money that pours in to buy some ads. Libertarians have major additional work to do. Most of this additional work is brought about by the two major parties fighting to keep the status quo untouched. We Libertarians suspect leaders of the two main parties stay up nights thinking of ways to keep third parties invisible, such as:
1. Encouraging the idea of the “wasted vote,” while dismissing voting your conscience, voting to incrementally break the status quo, or voting to show the true number of voters who are not satisfied with the country’s current path.
2. Shaming third party voters for diverting votes from the crucial objectives of the main parties, while ignoring that these objectives may be detrimental to the well being of both the average voter and the nation.
3. Claiming libertarian credentials, while seeking to bring about laws such as those that provide “free” higher education (the Tooth Fairy pays for that), or to declare “personhood at conception” (ignoring separation of church and state?).
4. Looking for legal loopholes to keep Libertarians off ballots, taking advantage of the smaller money pool available to Libertarians to fight court battles.
5. Encourage confusion as to what the Libertarian Party is, ignoring that the word “Party” in our name is the same word as that in “Democratic Party,” “Green Party,” or “Republican Party.”
These efforts by the two main parties succeed in discouraging Libertarians, many confessing they simply do not vote. How about changing that on the road to 2016? How about making the Republicrats’s tactics an energizing factor that will encourage us Libertarians to donate, purchase and distribute Libertarian literature, precinct walk, carry registration forms in our backpack, have fund raising or strategy planning house parties, make Libertarians visible on Facebook pages, write letters to the editor, or whatever! We at the Libertarian Party of San Francisco will remain energized all the way to November 2016! Won't you join us?