Libertarian Party of San Francisco 2215-R Market Street, PMB170, San Francisco, CA 94114 (415) 775-LPSF www.lpsf.org February 2001
From the Chair
[Note: This letter was submitted for the January issue, 2 hours after it went to press. --Ed.]
Dear Fellow Libertarians,
During the last year we have had many wonderful accomplishments. It was a very exciting year to be a Libertarian in San Francisco. We have made many improvements and changes in order to create a more vital and dynamic local party.
Our 2000 accomplishments include moving our business meeting to a more accessible time, and recruiting a Newsletter Chair, a Fundraising Chair, and a Web Chair.
We all worked hard on Election 2000, with special kudos to Starchild and Erik Bauman for their campaigns. Jerry Cullen, with the Sonoma and Marin Libertarian Parties, put on a campaign event for Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne.
We elected a full slate of San Francisco representatives for our 2001 Libertarian State Convention in February 2001: David Molony (ex officio), Mike Acree, Starchild, Chikako Suzuki, and Leilani Wright..
I recommend three main goals for 2001. They are (a) increasing membership from 210 to 300, (b) recruiting an Activities/Events Chair, (c) starting two or three more meeting locations. [Note: Leilani Wright accepted this position at the meeting of January 13. Two to go!]
I am looking forward to seeing you in 2001!
There is one word which is forbidden in this valley: the word give.
Be it only a penny you will not miss or a kindly smile he has not earned, a tribute to a zero is treason to life and to all those who struggle to maintain it. It is of such pennies and smiles that the desolation of your world is made.
It would be easy to get the impression from observing libertarians that these were the best-loved lines in Atlas Shrugged. Either that, or most people they run into they appraise as zeroes. If you eavesdrop on conversations between staff members at hotels hosting Libertarian conventions, you will find that Libertarians have a reputation as notoriously stingy tippers. Not very compelling evidence, all in all, for our favorite argument that private charity will take up the slack.
LPSF Media Coordinator Jerry Pico is one who believes not only that libertarianism is compatible with compassion and generosity, but that the success of the libertarian movement depends partly on the degree to which we live our values as opposed to merely espousing them. Many libertarians say, "Sure, wait till all taxes are repealed. Then well think about whether we may want to help anybody." But as Harry Browne and John Stossel have splendidly demonstrated, the government does a terrible job of everything it essays, including helping the poor. As a result, there are lots of people nowincluding childrenwho really are in bad situations through no fault of their own. And it may take awhile before all our taxes are repealed.
Jerry has been a volunteer at Raphael House, a transitional homeless shelter for families, for the past 6 years. Raphael House, at 1065 Sutter Street, between Hyde and Larkin, is actually the oldest shelter for homeless families in San Francisco, having been founded in 1971. Prior to that time, social service agencies took the children of homeless families and put them in foster homes, and put the parents separately (See Raphael House, p. 2)
GOLDEN GATE LIBERTARIAN FEBRUARY 2001 PAGE 2
Raphael House(from p. 1)
into homes for men and women. The founder of Raphael House, Ella Rigney, liked the idea of families being able to stay together.
The interest of Raphael House to libertarians is that it is based very much on libertarian principles. The website,www.raphaelhouse.org, emphasizes that Raphael House accepts no government funds. It is funded completely by private donations and some revenues from businesses it runs, including a thrift store. Jerry says, "They know that I am there because I am a Libertarian and believe in their kind of charity because it is consistent with our ideology." In fact, he says, the Executive Director, Father David Lowell, "has confessed to me that he is a libertarian (small l) and shares much of our ideology." In keeping with the ideas of Marvin Olasky in The Tragedy of American Compassion, they require a great deal of personal responsibility from their clients in order to participate in their programs. Although the typical stay for a family is 4-6 months, they encourage families to stay long enough to be able to address the underlying problems. Their time at Raphael House is designed as a respite, to give them the opportunity to stop and focus on their lives. The website proclaims in bold, "One of the modern amenities we do not provide is television." There are also no radios, or electronic toys. Activities for children focus on nature (e.g., growing plants), with which city kids have typically had little experience.
Raphael House has a program called Corporate Chefs through which groups of volunteers cook dinner for the residents. Six to eight people work from 2:30 to 7 preparing and serving dinner and then cleaning up. There was an opening for February 1, and, although Jerry couldnt make that date, he arranged for seven local libertarians to work that day. It seemed brave of regular chef Chris Colton to entrust meal preparation for 50 people to seven total newcomers, but he provided excellent supervision. Kelly Russell Simpson made the saladthough it was not a libertarian salad (lettuce alone); Christian Wignall concocted a Dijon balsamic vinaigrette and also made some professional-looking biscotti; Mike Acree made eight loaves of Italian bread (thanks to an industrial-grade dough hook that looked like a medieval torture implement) and then helped Chris Maden and Erik Bauman make ten pans of lasagna. Michael Denny and Naomi Lopez Bauman arrived later and helped with service and clean-up. One of the memorable moments of the day came as Chris Maden triumphantly announced, picking up a large Pyrex pan of lasagna, "Well, heres our first completed lasagnaOOPS!"and miraculously recovered from slipping on the wet floor.
It was obviously a little bit of a stretch for some libertarians to get the idea of just giving, or of interacting with nonlibertarians without attempting to convert them, or at least expressing disapproval. But there is reason to believe that these attitudes and skills can be acquired, and so participation in charitable activities like this may offer benefits to us as well as to them.
Some had difficulty with the idea of spending so much more time preparing a delicious meal for strangers than they would (See Raphael House, p. 3)
Vice-Chair and Activities Chair
email@example.com (415) 786-5505
Secretary and Database Manager
Treasurer and Newsletter Editor
(temporarily without e-mail)
Opinions expressed in unsigned columns of the Golden Gate Libertarian do not necessarily represent those of anyone but the Editor. Submissions are encouraged. The deadline (including agenda and calendar items) is the first Thursday of the month.
Next meeting: Feb. 10, 3-5 p.m. (business), 5-6 (social), upstairs at Round Table Pizza, 5160 Geary Blvd. (at 16th Avenue).
GOLDEN GATE LIBERTARIAN FEBRUARY 2001 PAGE 3
Its Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse . . . Big Government
Are you looking for a way to help the Libertarian Party of San Francisco? Can you help the LPSF with your expert skills, or are you looking to develop skills or hobbies? The activities listed below require minimum time commitments, some as low as an hour or two per monthso dont be shy. Give us a call if you are willing to contribute your skills and expertise.
1. Membership Committee Member (1 hour per week). For those of you who would like to help us expand our San Francisco membership.
2. Photographers (2-4 hours per month). We are looking for one or more photographers. If you own a good digital camera and are able to attend some or all Libertarian events, please call. If you have software that allows you to touch up photographs, or are willing to learn, thats even better. The first assignment will be to take photographs of SFLP officers and chairs.
3. Fundraising Committee Member (2 hours per month). Prerequisite: You like money. Raising it. (You know who you are )
4. Administration/Office Manager (2 hours per week). Do you have skills for coordinating our adminstration (see next item)?
5. Administration (2-4 hours per week). Data entryon your home computer. Reception/phone answeringat your home. Scheduling.
6. Communication Coordinator (8 hours per month). We are looking for a Communications Chair to coordinate communications for the website, newsletter, and photographers, and other news organs.
7. Libertarian Host (4 hours per month). Would you like to host a libertarian event in your home (or nearby location)? Does your business have a conference room available to the Libertarian Party for you or another libertarian host?
8. Publicity Committee (4 hours per month). Are you a publicity guru? Would you like to see our local Party in the local news? Heres your chance to make it happen.
If you are interested in any of the above activities, please contact me directly at 415-820-3923.
Hear from you soon!
Raphael House(from p. 2)
spend making dinner for themselves. But others got a big kick out of cooking for the families and serving them as if it were an elegant restaurant. For all, it was an opportunity for people who typically never meet except in a business meeting to get together, socialize, and collaborate on a nonpolitical project.
Several of us are looking forward to doing it again. The afternoon time makes it difficult for some to take off workthough that may not be so much a problem in Dotcomland where many libertarians live. It may also be a little frustrating not to get to eat the delicacies youve lovingly prepared, but there are good restaurants in the neighborhood for dinner afterward, to continue the social contact. Please let Mike Acree know if youd like to join us any time. If the Corporate Chefs program doesnt work for you, there are other ways to help. As Jerry says, Raphael House "is a shining example of how effective private charity can be in replacing government services."
New LPSF Officers
At the meeting of January 13, Kelly Russell Simpson stepped down after several years of service as Vice Chair, and Leilani Wright was elected to replace her. Leilani has been a registered Libertarian for 11 years, and joined the LP last fall when she was managing the campaign of J. R. Manuel for Supervisor in District 10. Leilani is bringing a lot of energy to the LPSF, despite the demands of working on a dissertation on medieval Britain. In addition to serving as Vice Chair, she accepted the position of Activities Chair and is also a delegate to the state convention this year.
The other officers are continuing from last year. All four officers were elected unanimously. In related actions, Jawj Greenwald was appointed as Chair of the Legal Committee, and Bryce Bigwood was appointed Chair of the Information Services Committee.
(See Officers, p. 4)
GOLDEN GATE LIBERTARIAN FEBRUARY 2001 PAGE 4
Challenges of Being a Libertarian: Part I
by Mike Acree
Its hard being a libertarian. Every libertarian knows that, whether we ever stop to reflect on it or not. Quite apart from the formidable external opposition we confront, there is good reason to believe that these personal, or psychological, challenges have much to do with the discouraging progress of the libertarian movement; so it is interesting that they have received so little systematic attention. The principal exception of which I am aware was an important but neglected address by Nathaniel Branden at the 1979 national convention in Los Angeles. He had written, a few years earlier, in Breaking Free, about the phenomenon of being threatened by success: If your self-concept is that of a loser, then youll be driven, wittingly or not, to resist or sabotage anything that would contradict that. He discerned, as did some of the rest of us, a contingent in the Party whose efforts were rather consistently destructive, for evidently this reason. This problem is not a characteristic of libertarianism per se, of course, except insofar, perhaps, as libertarianism tends to attract people with such a self-concept. This question of selection is one worth returning to.
The most obvious psychological challenge of libertarianism is just the vulnerabilityhumiliation may not be too strong a wordof holding a position which everyone else thinks is nuts, and vicious to boot. To varying degrees for different people, that inhibits our even being "out" as libertarians. Jeffrey Sommer mentioned recently that he knows several libertarians who ride in the "Dykes on Bikes" contingent in the Gay Freedom Day parade and suggested that I might contact them about participating with the LP contingent instead. But I pointed out that it was easier to be out as a lesbian than as a libertarian. (He thought that might make a good sign.)
The potential loss from being "out" is not just social capital; many libertarians may judge it too professionally risky to be publicly identified with an organization which draws such contumely. As with other stigmatized groups, the actual risk is often less than is feared, but it is not always. The impact of
Lets Make a Float!
June seems a long way off. But application deadlines for the Gay Freedom Day Parade are fast approaching. The good news is that if we apply by April 2, our fees will be waived this year since we participated last year. We were extremely pleased last year to have a marching contingent in addition to a booth, but more and more organizations are making floats. They draw a much more enthusiastic response from the crowd, and the Pride Committee actively encourages the construction of floats by giving workshops. We would love to have a float this yeardont you think two Lady Libertys in drag, holding their torches aloft while theyre making out, would make a great statement, and a memorable image?but a float would require still more volunteers. Floats are required to have a monitor for each wheelpeople have been known to fall off floats unseen by the driver, and alert monitors could theoretically snatch them from in front of the wheel. Do you have any artistic talents youd like to exercise in decorating a float? Do you have access to a flatbed truck? (If we cant get a truck, maybe we can have a flatbed trailer drawn by people in harnesses, disguised as taxpayers.) Obviously we will need lots of help, on various tasks, from now through Pride Day. Contact Mike Acree (info on masthead)preferably soonif youd like to have some fun with any of this.
Officers(from p. 3)
The new year started off with a bang, as the January meeting drew half a dozen newcomers. And David Molony kicked off his new term with a spectacular challenge: If everyone present would invite 5 people to the next meeting, he would invite 25.
the vulnerability factor on the movement is probably hard to overestimate.
Every additional person who is openly and proudly libertarian, however, brings us closer to the critical mass which will dissolve the stigma. There are, moreover, specific psychological advantages to being out. One has to do with the kind of errors we avoida concern like that of the man who was trying to remember whether the correct spelling were ax or axe, and finally decided on ax, on the ground that, if he were wrong, at least he would be misspelling a three-letter word. George Weinberg advises us, in his book The Action Approach: How Your Personality Developed and How You Can Change It (which was recommended by Nathaniel (See Challenges, p. 5)
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Challenges(from p. 4)
Branden shortly after he moved to Los Angeles, in 1969), that choosing to conceal our political orientation strengthens the belief on which it is based, namely that people cannot be trusted. More importantly, it deprives us of the chance of being proven wrong in our uncharitable assumption. If we err in being open, we may be hurt, but at least we have not gratuitously insulted people with unwarranted negative assumptions about them. It is also a commonplace observation that people who expect to be treated well tend to be treated better than those who expect to be treated badly. There is thus the possibility here for a virtuous circle.
It is extraordinarily difficult, however, just simply to be out, as a libertarian, in the face of intense derision or hostility. One often hears the complaint about gays, feminists, or other stigmatized groups: "Why do they have to flaunt it? Why do they have to be so in-your-face? What cant they just quietly go about their business like the rest of us?" The answer is that just to stick your head out in the world, to face such abuse, almost requires you to lead with a "hard edge," a dug-in, defiant stance which may actually overrepresent the strength of our convictions. In this way, libertarians can easily acquire, like other groups in the same situation, a reputation as shrill, strident, and overbearing. I would not say that the bad behavior of others excuses ours; the challenge is still there for us to meet hostility and derision with grace and humorand, insofar as possible, to avoid falsely anticipating a hostile response.
It could be argued, in a perverse way, that libertarianism, like other minorities, holds the epistemologically privileged position. A liberal friend of mine told me once of being at a dinner party where she was seated next to Rose Friedman. When I asked her impression, she described Friedman as "very opinionated." This was an interesting perception, inasmuch as my friend, having won awards for social activism in areas like gun control, could be described similarly herself. It occurred to me that she, like almost everyone else, surrounds herself with like-minded people, so Friedman stood out as "opinionated" just because her opinions were different. In another conversation after the recent election, a liberal friend (there arent many other kinds in San Francisco) remarked that she couldnt imagine being intimately involved with anyone with different political beliefs. For people who move in such homogeneous circles, it is very easy to think of themselves as broad-minded, liberal, and tolerant, just because they never come in contact with anything to challenge that view. As we all know well, however, they can be remarkably intolerant of and hostile to conservatives and libertarians. Libertarians, on the other hand, have all the experience we ever wanted dealing with people, at all levels of intimacy, with drastically different beliefs and values. I say "all the experience we ever wanted" rather than "all well ever need," however, because the experience alone doesnt guarantee well make good use of it. The experience all of us have had in confronting difference, especially in those we care about, could be invaluable for everyone in working toward a civil society. The challenge is obviously to find, or to create, a human connection across the barrier of difference. Libertarians are in a great position to lead the way, especially given our explicit philosophy of tolerance and respect for differences.
Although I dont conceal even my most radical political beliefs, I dont necessarily volunteer them, either, unless the occasion arises. As a result, Democrats, when they are getting to know me, invariably assume Im a Democrat, and Republicans assume Im a Republican. (Just as heterosexuals assume Im straight and gay people assume Im gay. Theyre all wrong.) Frequently, by the time theyve begun to realize what a freak is in their midst, its too late to be dismissive, since they already perceive me as a nice person. If they have trouble assimilating my libertarian views to that image, then they will be the ones stuck with the appearance of being narrow-minded and intolerant; but I can help them with that, if they wish, by explaining how libertarianism is really the philosophy of benevolence and respect, in contrast to approaches based on forcing people to do things against their will. I tend to think this sort of practice, in its own small way, can be very helpful, not only for the spread of libertarianism, but for progress toward a civil society more broadly. But this strategy works less well for all those libertariansthe traditional mainstream of the Partywho are instantly perceived as obnoxious, or even simply dorky. Thats the selection problem, again.
(To be continued)
Saturday, February 10: Regular LPSF meeting.
February 16-19: State convention at Doubletree Hotel in San Jose. Registration info at www.ca.lp.org/conv/2001/.
Monday, April 16: Tax Day protest, 5 p.m. Contact Leilani Wright for further info.
Saturday, May 5: Million Marijuana March. Contact Leilani Wright for more info.
GOLDEN GATE LIBERTARIAN FEBRUARY 2001 PAGE 6
Libertarian Party of San Francisco Membership, Donation, and Volunteer Form
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Golden Gate Libertarian
2215-R Market Street, PMB 170
San Francisco, CA 94114