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?
The November 4, 2014 election is now behind us. Our proud position as the “loyal opposition” remains unscathed. We are forever recommending a NO vote on measures that further increase already bloated bureaucracies, crowd out opportunities in the free market, and view the electorate as needing told what to do. But this is a progressive town, where such messages go largely unheeded. There were a couple of successes, though, in the form of Propositions E (soda tax) and G (surtax on the sale of residential property).
In the case of Proposition E, could its defeat be due to the proposal being too obviously a pocket book issue, or too intrusive even for San Francisco? Other propositions are equally expensive to voters and taxpayers, but not as obviously so. Other propositions are equally intrusive in our businesses and our homes, but not as obviously so.
About Proposition G, this was simply a misguided effort, since it is not only “speculators” that sell homes within 5 years of purchase. Sometimes life happens when we are making other plans, and we need to sell a dream home before we intended to.
Actually, there were other successes. The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco invited us to participate in a discussion on Proposition E, for which we are most appreciative. Our Outreach Director, Starchild, did an excellent job presenting our view that we as individuals, not government, must be ultimately responsible for what we and our families eat or drink. We were also guests of the League of Women Voters, who invited us to present our view on Propositions B (Transportation Funding Based on Population Growth), C (Children’s Fund), and G (Additional Tax on Residential Sales). Also, as always, we had a good time at local organizations' endorsement meetings speaking out against the ever expanding Nanny State lurking behind pretty much all ballot proposals.
So now, with the November election behind us, we move on to other endeavors! Our next major project is gathering panel participants for our Second Annual Tax Day Symposium, scheduled for April 5, 2015. Our aim at this gathering is to present differing points of view on how we best fund the basic functions of goverment -- or more fundamentally, what are the basic functions to be funded? Save the date.