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.
“In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause - it is seen. The others unfold in succession - they are not seen: it is well for us, if they are foreseen.” 1
The above paragraph, written in 1850, is the introduction to Frederic Bastiat’s dissertation That Which is Seen and That Which is Unseen, a collection of ideas that seem good – the seen – but devolve into unintended consequences – the unseen. Idea number one is “The Broken Window,” a fable about a child who breaks a window in his father’s bakery shop. The baker’s neighbors tell him that his purchase of a new window will put money in the glazier’s hands, the glazier can buy new goods, and the whole neighborhood economy will profit. Bastiat reminds us that the unseen consequence is that the baker, who was planning to purchase a new suit, now does not have money to do so, and the tailor misses out on money with which to buy more goods.
Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner and New York Times columnist, would side with the baker’s neighbors. He wrote in his opinion piece of September 14, 2001, “Reckonings After the Horror,” “Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack -- like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression -- could even do some economic good…Now, all of a sudden, we need some new office buildings. As I've already indicated, the destruction isn't big compared with the economy, but rebuilding will generate at least some increase in business spending.”2 Break some windows, improve the economy. We will see if the rubble left behind by protesters in Baltimore this week will do wonders for the region’s economy.
Some in the press have blamed another broken window theory for the deaths of black men at the hands of police. The Economist article “What Broken Windows Policing Is” says, “In July 2014 an unarmed black man named Eric Garner died at the hands of a police officer after allegedly resisting arrest. Garner’s presumed crime was selling ‘loosies’, or untaxed cigarettes, on a street corner in Staten Island… Some say the problem is ‘broken windows’ policing, an approach to law enforcement based on the theory that cracking down on minor crimes helps to prevent major ones.” 3 Based on broken windows (plural) policing, New York instituted “stop and frisk,” under which mostly black and Hispanic men are stopped and searched without probable cause, creating a great deal of animosity and distrust between neighborhoods of color and police.
The article quoted above goes on to say: “The term ‘broken windows’ refers to an observation made in the early 1980s by [George] Kelling, a criminologist, and James Wilson, a social scientist, that when a building window is broken and left unrepaired, the rest of the windows will soon be broken too.”
Written by guest poster Phil Berg
It's the money, stupid
There are two things involved in any transaction, the stuff and the money. It used to be that gas was five cents a gallon. Now it's three bucks. It's still the same old gas. So what has changed? The bucks have changed. The same goes for housing--more bucks chasing a fixed housing stock.
Let’s follow the money. But before I continue, I should say that almost everybody thinks that money is too complicated. It is much easier to make an emotional decision to just throw up your hands and blame greed. Blaming a broken market on greed is like blaming an airplane crash on gravity. Of course gravity is to blame, but the other reasons need to be investigated.
Following the money
One source of more money chasing housing is mortgages. The cash for mortgages largely comes from banks. Now, most people think that banks just recycle money from depositors. OK, this is right where most people stop listening and change the topic. But right here is the crux of the problem.
It is a little complicated. This is largely because we like to think that things work in a logical way. Honesty works in a logical. Fraud is more complicated. The machinery for creating more money for mortgages, or any other credit, is a fraud. That is a strong statement, but please just entertain the idea. Think about it for a while after you read this.
You will not be alone in being dazed by what I am about to write. No less a famous liberal economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, said that, “The mind is repelled by the notion of how money creation works.”
So here goes
We will start with a car loan, so as not to be distracted by the complications of real estate.
Because pictures speak louder than words, we commissioned renowned graphic artist Scott Bieser* to create a poster illustrating situations in which individuals feel powerless against draconian laws and regulations – situations the Libertarian Party has been combating since the party’s founding in 1971.
Each panel stands as a benchmark against which we can all measure progress since the poster’s first printing in 2007:
Our tax code is 73,954 pages long, and therefore, compliance costs in anguish and currency are huge. Often ordinary citizens are subjected to harassment or worse by the IRS. Today, at least the realization that the tax code needs reform has descended upon Congresses.
Excessive force, profiling, unwarranted searches and seizures, and other lapses mar the reputation of those sworn to uphold the Constitution and tasked to promote our safety. Today, tragic events involving excessive force in the cities of Ferguson, MO, and NY City do not indicate much progress.
Victimless crimes still consume inordinate amounts of time and treasure. The war on drugs still promotes violence within our poorer neighborhoods and supports a costly massive bureaucracy. However, today some progress is evidenced by the enactment of state and local drug laws that ignore federal legislation.
People crossing borders in search of freedom and better opportunities than they have at home still suffer dangers, even death, in their efforts. Today, at least immigration reform is on Congress’s table.
Those who have forgotten the Redevelopment Agencies razing San Francisco’s Fillmore District in the 1950’s, erasing a part of the City’s rich culture, depriving hundreds of their homes and livelihood, might not be bothered by our current Board of Supervisors’ loose talk of exercising eminent domain, or insinuating the obsolescence of the single family home. We have not forgotten.
Progress has been made in the acceptance of the idea that the choice of whom one marries should be a personal one. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states. Some progress has been since 2007.
Small and medium-sized businesses are essential for a healthy economy. Yet, they are burdened by layers of legislation, taxes and fees, causing many to close. Progress today is as elusive as in 2007.
This beautiful poster contains a couple of interesting pieces of history worth mentioning:
The second panel down on the left shows two SWAT team members seizing a gun from an older woman. All three are standing in water up to their knees. This scene immortalizes the tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 devastation caused by nature, government bungling, and random assaults on civil liberties.*
The panel right below that shows a menacing “coyote” asking for money to drive a worker across the border. The poster’s artist, Scott Bieser, did not know Spanish, and it appears the LPSF member who worked with Mr. Bieser on the poster didn’t either. Subsequent printings of the poster by others (the artist retained the right to modify and print the image) show corrected versions. So, you know you are seeing an original authentic LPSF poster if you see the mangled Spanish sentences!
The primary intent of our purchasing this poster was to help highlight a few infringements on personal liberty which Libertarians have consistently resisted. However, the secondary intent was to reward those who contributed to our cause by either bringing in three or more dues-paying members or donating $100 to the Libertarian Party of San Francisco. As of today, we still have a few of these beautiful posters left.
March 21, 2015
Libertarian Party of San Francisco’s Outreach Director Starchild was the guest speaker at Jim Elwood’s “Free Exchange” on March 7th, speaking on Libertarianism and the Singularity.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil says the Singularity will occur in 2045, when artificial intelligence suddenly surpasses human intelligence. Then the machines – which by then would blend seamlessly with humans – would be the world’s problem solvers. Humans would enjoy the benefits of abundant resources, good health, even freedom from death. Stephen Hawking says artificial intelligence would be the biggest event in human history, and probably the last unless we learn how to avoid the risks.
The techno-singularity advocated by Kurzweil and other notable personalities, such as Peter Thiel, sound very new. However, the pursuit of transhumanism, the discipline that would eventually lead to the moment in time called singularity, can be said to date back to 2100 BC, with the Epic of Gilgamesh and his search for eternal life. Quests for the Fountain of Youth and the Elixir of Life enjoy equal classic standing.
Starchild discussed the development and predictions in Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near, such as reversing the aging process, nanotech-based manufacturing devices capable of creating almost any physical product, monitoring by government of ubiquitous software.
Libertarianism can lend valuable perspectives to the subject of transhumanism, Starchild believes. For example, libertarians have traditionally embraced equality, and are comfortable with stretching definitions of gender, color, relationships, or world boundaries. It would not be a leap for libertarians to accept expanded definitions of what it means to be “human.”
"Free Exchange" is a monthly open house get together, where there is a lot of conversation, discussion, and many good guest speakers. For more information on Free Exchange, visit their Meetup Group http://www.meetup.com/Free-Exchange/
When 32 people crowd into an average-sized living room, you know the event is going to be a good one. It was. David Friedman’s talk at Jim Elwood’s Free Exchange on February 7th was a winner. Professor Friedman spoke from his book The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism.
A little synopsis of the book from Google Books:
Some highlights of Professor Friedman’s talk at Free Exchange:
Market failure occurs when decisions individuals in any group make that benefit them do not necessarily translate into benefits to the group. “Individual rationality does not lead to group rationality.”