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 the summary of our views, as well as artilces on various issues, following the summary.
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.
An even more unflattering view of Robber Barons comes from Edmund Optiz, “So far were they from wanting a genuinely free market economy that they bought up senators and paid off judges in order to stifle competition. They did not want a government that would let them alone; they wanted a government they could use.”
Today’s most visible titans are not of industry but of information. Just as the Robber Barons transformed America from rural to industrial, the “silicon sultans,” as The Economist calls them, transformed America from industrial to digital. Mouse clicks can help you complete your GED or your doctoral thesis, find a job, acquaint you with all the paintings of Vermeer, or help you win an election (just ask Trump) – a revolution as significant as any the barons of old could devise. “Both relied on the relentless logic of economies of scale,” says The Economist, and the result “in both cases, is an unparalleled concentration of power. A century ago the barons had a lock on transportation and energy. Today Google and Apple between them provide 90% of smartphone operating systems.”
However, that is where the similarities end, since today holding sway requires no more than using the information channels created by the very same silicon sultans. No need for any nefarious behavior. The Economist article mentions the prospectus of fwd.us, a group founded by silicon sultans that believes the tech industry will become “one of the most powerful political forces..”..”we control massive distribution channels, both as companies and as individuals.”
The good news is silicon sultans made many distribution channels available to anyone. If you agree with a proposal, great! If you are skeptical, fact check. If you do not agree at all, start an easy off-the-shelf website, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a Reddit account, and post every chance you get. The playing field is not as lumpy as some might whine about. The democracy is not as helpless.
Picture: The Robber Barons by Mark Zug. Google N.C. Wyeth “Carpetbaggers” to enjoy this illustration even more. Informative Internet browsing courtesy of today’s Robber Barons.
The interpretation of extremism becomes difficult when violence is added to the mix. “States’ rights” might sound good in light of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” However, even a modicum of morality would prompt anyone to reject the tactics of the Ku Klux Klan. What would a frank discussion of extremism in the American Civil War contain, a conflict in which 620,000 souls were claimed.
Today’s presidential elections reveal extremisms. Not violent extremism, but that bred from years of incremental visions. If the Tea Party could get droves of conservatives elected, progressives could pass the Affordable Care Act, and Ron Paul could become an icon of liberty, could conservatives not turn the nation into a quasi theocracy, progressives turn it into a socialist paradise, or libertarians/Libertarians into the small-government republic originally intended? And let’s not forget the latest vision, seemingly not yet fully understood, of "making America great again."
Who decides how you get where you want to go? “Why, I do!” you might say. Well, partially so. A good portion of the decision comes from visions of the future once or presently held by others. How about where you live? Who decides that? Again, partially others. Land use, suburban sprawl, walkable cities, stack-and-pack, transit first, highway network, are words and phrases coined by those who envision and perhaps ultimately determine your transportations choices, and therefore your domicile choices.
Moreover, visions evolve. What your choices are today suddenly may not be the ones you have tomorrow.
“In the future you would no longer have to live in a city just because you worked in one. You would live in the countryside or in 'garden apartments' around the city's rim. Factory workers would live in green towns just like everybody else. You would drive to work, or to sprawling green parks in the countryside, not on packed city streets but on landscaped highways.” (Gelernter, David. 1939: The Lost World of the Fair. The Free Press: New York, 1995.)
This is a succinct description by David Gelernter of the vision expressed by the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The magnificent Futurama was designed by Norman Bel Geddes, sponsored by General Motors, and depicted automated highways and infinite suburbs. So, pretty soon, the American dream became a home in the city’s outskirts and Daddy commuting to work on a network of highways. Cars became increasingly more efficient and economical, while taxpayers accepted the idea of funding highway systems.
Back in 2011, Foster Gamble, president and co-founder of Clear Compass Media, created, produced, directed, and narrated the film Thrive. The film disturbed the status quo sufficiently to receive invective from a number of predictable sources. One source published an engaging piece called Deconstructing Libertarianism – A Critique Prompted by the Film Thrive. A quote in the piece acknowledged the following, “Politics is about story telling --- about which story will prevail.” (Larry Robinson, former mayor of Sebastopol, CA.). Good point. Therefore, we will take an opportunity here to tell our side of the story.
Contributors to Deconstructing Libertarianism were five scholars whose names appear after their quotes and at the end of this article. The publisher was the Praxis Peace Institute, founded in 2001, “a non-profit, peace education organization dedicated to deep inquiry, constructive dialogue, creative problem solving, and informed civic participation.” Praxis viewed the anarchic-leanings of Thrive as an affront to democracy and community. We Libertarians view societal challenges that Praxis claimed needed amelioration by government as largely government created during the past 75 years or so. Therefore, while Praxis saw legislation “for the common good” as solution, Libertarians see it as original problem.
Here is a list of outrages against democracy and community, such as elimination of the IRS and removal of market regulations, with which Praxis appeared particularly distressed, as well as a Libertarian take on the matter.
When there is a rise in the mandatory minimum wage, businesses can either raise the price of their goods or lay off workers. To think that businesses will absorb the extra cost without taking action is naïve.
The workplace used to be a lot more professionally diverse thanks to different types of instruction, such as vocational institutions, apprentice shops, and inexpensive certificate classes. Then government decided everybody needs to go to college, and poured money into subsidized student loans. Now we have sky-high tuition and college graduates taking orders at McDonalds. To think colleges will not raise tuition to capture as much of the large amount of government money available is naïve.
Up until the 1960s, owning a little house in which to raise a family was possible for members of a thriving middle class. There was help from the GI Bill and Fannie Mae, but most homes were privately built and privately owned. Then government decided that if a little subsidy was good, lots of subsidy would be even better. So we have a lot more people competing for housing where the subsidies are the most generous. To think that housing subsidies do not contribute to high housing prices is naïve.