We would like to offer the Libertarian view concerning subjects that affect us all, such as education, interference with free markets, social mores, individual rights. Please read our articles on various issues, as well as the summary of our views below.
Crime and Violence: We suggest the following: 1) Address the root causes of crime, such as mediocre schools, lack of economic opportunities, dependence on government, and misguided policies like the War on Drugs. 2) Require that criminals pay victims restitution for medical expenses, loss of property, and pain and suffering. 3) Focus on real crimes that harm the innocent.
Education of children: Monopolies are generally viewed as inefficient means of delivering products or services. In the absence of competition, monopolies have no incentive to produce the best possible goods. Government schools are no exception. Therefore, we support diverse systems which offer families the greatest choice, encourage highest parental involvement, and force competing systems to deliver their best efforts. Poor children often suffer the most under the current educational system, since those that want to learn, lacking choices, are grouped with those who choose to be uninvolved and disruptive. We encourage families in poorly-performing school districts to explore alternatives such as, charter schools, voucher programs, and parent-managed co-ops, including home schooling co-ops
Environment: Individuals bear primary responsibility for their own well being as well as that of Mother Earth. The free market responds to consumers’ demands. If consumers keep themselves informed and demand products and services that do the least environmental harm, the need for government’s vast array of costly environmental regulation disappears.
Foreign Policy: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations -- entangling alliances with none." (Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address). Build positive relationships, with emphasis on free trade. Avoid negative relationships, with emphasis on military non-intervention.
Gun Laws: Prohibition did not stop liquor use. The War on Drugs did not stop drug use. Gun prohibition will not stop criminals from owning guns. The Bill of Rights is intended to protect people from a government wanting to go rogue, and the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights gives people the ultimate means to do so.
Health Care: Regulation increases the cost of any product, including healthcare. Transparency, competition, and an informed citizenry keep costs more affordable than healthcare supported by a vast, resource-wasting bureaucracy.
Immigration: Whenever laws conflict with how people actually live and sectors of the economy actually work, problems arise. No amount of “immigration reform” will change these contradictory facts: 1) Sectors of the U.S. economy need low-skilled workers, while everybody’s aspiration is to go to college. 2) Sectors of the economy need highly-skilled technicians who are flexible in their demands, while everybody’s aspiration is a highly-paid position with all kinds of benefits. We need to remove barriers that interfere with how people actually live.
Personal Liberty: Libertarians are guided by the principle of non-aggression. Guided thus, individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. If government is held to the limited responsibilities spelled out in the Constitution, it will not intrude in individuals’ privacy, preferences, or choices.
Poverty and Welfare: Government has the habit of first creating a problem, then passing vast amounts of legislation in attempts to solve it. Policies such as taxation and regulation discourage entrepreneurism that creates jobs. “Solutions” have done nothing but make more people dependent on government and less able to fend for themselves. A better approach is to remove barriers to entrepreneurial activity, and institute a dollar for dollar tax credit for donations to charities that help those who truly need assistance.
Taxes: Government's role needs to be limited to its Constitutional function of protecting life, property, and individual rights, as well as defending us from foreign attack. Those functions can be funded by minimal taxation, as was the original intent of our Constitution. It should be evident that the unchecked growth of government at all levels requires more taxation, which removes money from the free market economy that provides livelihoods.
Guest contributor: Sonja Trauss
I don’t want subsidized, supervised affordable housing.
With a salary of $30,000 per year, I am low-income. Shouldn’t I be calling for more Below Market Rate (BMR) units to be built so that I can live in San Francisco? Don’t I appreciate the efforts of affordable housing advocates? They are working tirelessly to hold up and delay the creation of market rate units while negotiating for a higher percentage of units to be set aside as BMR rentals or condos.
Why aren’t I thankful? Don’t I want a Below Market Rate unit?
No, I want a Market Rate unit. I want the market to provide a unit I can afford.
Imagine the world that affordable housing advocates are trying to build for me: in their visionary utopia, in order to rent an apartment I would have to get my income certified. Next, I would go on a waiting list or enter a lottery. I would either wait years on the list for a unit or endure many rounds of lotteries before winning a unit. Once in a BMR rental unit, I would be discouraged from letting my income increase. If I were to progress in my career, or have some other financial success, I would have to move.
Maybe I could buy a BMR condo. That takes care of the possibility of being forced out if my income increases, but owning a BMR condo is false ownership. I don’t have the two main advantages of true ownership: I cannot pass the property onto my heirs, and I cannot take advantage of the full appreciation of the property. The resale price of a BMR unit is determined by the Area Median Income at the time of the resale. Unlike a true owner, increases in property values in my neighborhood do nothing for my overall wealth.
I want to rent on the open market. If I can buy, I want to buy and truly own. I want to consume housing the way I consume all other products: Buy used, old or out of fashion, buy scratched and dented, buy odd lots, split the cost with friends. Of course I’m not going to move into a new building. If you’re trying to save money on a car, do you buy this year’s model? No.
Every new affordable unit means another renter living under income supervision and perverse incentives. It means another “owner” robbed of the appreciation of his asset, and his children alienated from their inheritance.
There is a place for subsidized housing: people who are unable to work due to advanced age or disability should be entitled to a housing benefit along with their social security benefits. If you’re working, the market should be big enough to supply you with housing. If the supply is sufficient, and the lowest wage workers are still priced out, then the area minimum wage is too low.
In my utopia there would be zero working-age, able-bodied, sound of mind people in supervisory subsidized housing, zero hamstrung owners, ZERO WAIT LISTS. Zero supply constraints!
How do we get market rate housing for all markets? Step One: End the shortage. If we need 100,000 units, we have a lot of work ahead of us. If you’re involved in opposing a new housing project, stop, just stop.
Our need for housing at all price levels far outstrips our supply at any level. Are you preoccupied with whether the new units “match” the rest of the neighborhood? Matching is for your belt and your shoes. Housing supply is a serious problem. If you’re sentimental about the past, swallow your tears.
Sonja Trauss is the founder of SF Bay Area Renter’s Federation.Her views are her own and not an official position of SFBARF.
In November 2012, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco encouraged voters to vote “NO” on Proposition C, The Housing Trust Fund. Our statement on the Voters’ Pamphlet expressed our concerns:
“Proposition C would commit San Francisco to increasing payouts through 2042 and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that won't be available for other priorities like schools, parks, infrastructure, or health care, plus an open-ended authority to issue bonds without voter approval!”
Proposition C passed by 65.15%. However, two years later in 2014, Mayor Ed Lee issued the “Findings and Recommendations by the Housing Work Group 2014,” which stated,
“When San Franciscans adopted the Housing Trust Fund two years ago, they put in place the most aggressive local funding stream for affordable housing in California. But given the steady decline of federal and state funding for affordable housing, the loss of Redevelopment, and the increasing cost of producing affordable housing, it became clear to Working Group members that our existing funding streams are still not enough.”
So, we are telling you once again, it will never be “enough,” because market forces simply cannot be legislated away. All that will happen is San Francisco piling up debt that will encumber our children and grandchildren for decades to come. This in addition to squeezing all that is possible from residents and businesses doing business in the City. Noted in the Working Group recommendations is the following,
“The Capital Planning and Budget Offices should examine the potential for General Obligation bonds for affordable housing development and rehabilitation over the next several years…The City should examine how best to use tax increment financing to provide affordable housing to a range of income levels, using tools such as the Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District recently enabled by the state…” “To leverage limited public dollars for housing, the City should pursue the development of an off balance-sheet Housing Affordability Fund…”
Wall Street high jinks pale in comparison to these plans, and as we noted in 2012, voter approval is not necessary.
A few statistics can clarify our point that there will never be enough. Median household income 2009 – 2013 is $75,604. Of those in the bottom half, 13.5% are below the poverty line. Average rent for a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,800. We ask, as we did in 2012, what distortion and damage are needed to keep pursuing the notion of “housing for all” in the most expensive city in the nation.
The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States. It's views and objectives differ in profound ways from those of the two main parties. Voters who are registered Libertarians identify with the Libertarian Party, and support both the Party and its candidates. Being a "libertarian" (small "l"), is not necessarily the same as being a "Libertarian" (big "L").
The National Libertarian Party has a Platform that clearly describes the views and objectives of the Party. We invite you to read this Platform if you are not currently a Libertarian and are not satisfied with your political affiliation. If you are already a registered Libertarian, we encourage you to read the Platform periodically as a reminder of what we Libertarians stand for.
National Libertarian Party Platform:
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By way of introduction, here is the Preamble to the Libertarian Party Platform:
"As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.
We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power."
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