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.
GROWTH IN PUBLIC SCHOOL NON-INSTRUCTIONAL STAFF: TIME TO JUST SAY NO?
Regardless of how well they are intended, government programs often carry significant detrimental consequences. One such consequence is that once established, programs grow and grow, frequently crowding out alternative, more efficient approaches to challenges the programs mean to address. When programs meant to help school children are instituted and subsequently entrenched, consequences can be especially egregious.
Such programs seldom entail classroom teaching of reading, writing, and computing. Instead most have resulted in an explosive growth in non-instructional staff that has little or nothing to do with teaching our children to read or write. Predictably, California public school students, for example, consistently score below proficiency levels in reading assessment tests.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1970 the public school national ratio of pupils per administrative staff was 697.7 (one staffer to 697.7 pupils). In 2011 the number was 379.20 (one staffer to 379.20 pupils). These numbers of non-instructional staff include “officials, administrators, and instructional coordinators.” These numbers do not include principals and assistant principals, instructional aides, librarians, and counselors – all of which are classified as instructional staff. Nor do the numbers include “support staff,” the numbers of which went from one staffer to 43.8 pupils in 1970 to one staffer to 26.40 pupils in 2011. If we look at the growth numbers 1970 – 2011 of classroom teachers vs. that of administrators, we see an increase in classroom teachers of 54%, and an increase of 100% in purely administrative, non-instructional staff.
The customary official declaration is that such growth in the ratio of non-instructional staff to pupils is desirable because it frees teachers from tasks that, absent these staffers, teachers would need to do. Closer to the truth is that most non-instructional staff plays a dubiously-essential role in the school system, but diverts focus and funds away from teachers.
Now there is Proposition C, The Children’s Fund, on the November 4, 2014, San Francisco ballot. This program started out in 1991, to last for 10 years, as an auxiliary service of the school system for children under 18, providing job readiness, training and placement, health and social services, recreation, delinquency prevention and library services – all funded by a 2.5% set aside of property taxes. When the program was renewed by voters in 2001, the set aside grew to 3% and the expiration grew to 15 years. So now the program is up for renewal – for a 4% set aside, to expire in 25 years, and providing benefits for children and “youth” to 24 years of age.
To ensure the perpetuity of the noticeably extravagant “Children and Youth Fund,” Proposition C bundles two innocent- sounding programs with it, the “Enrichment Fund” and the “Rainy Day Fund.” The “Enrichments Fund,” funded by general City revenues, supports libraries, sports, music and other “enrichment” school activities. The “Rainy Day Fund,” pays the salaries of teachers who are no longer needed when pupil enrollment in the school system falls significantly.
Additionally, Proposition C creates a brand new department, the “Oversight Advisory Committee,” under which all three components of Proposition C will operate.
At some point, one would think parents would just say NO. At some point, they would demand that their tax dollars are spent on teachers, teachers’ aides, libraries, and basic school supplies.
Resources are not unlimited. Therefore, schools and school funding should focus exclusively on teaching the basics in the most effective, innovative, and incentivizing way possible. Human nature is what it is, and the status quo tends to grow and resist change. It is up to parents, who want the best outcome for their children, and taxpayers, who foot the bill, to bring about reform.
Table 213.10 Staff employed in public elementary and secondary school systems, by type of assignment: Selected years, 1949-50 through fall 2011.
2013 Mathematics and Reading – Focus on Individual States
We from the Libertarian Party of San Francisco who attended the "Advocacy and Leadership Training Conference 2014" hosted by Libertarian Party of Yolo County were delighted to be reminded of a piece of the LPSF’s colorful past. Old time members of the LPSF are fond of mentioning “The Vice Squad Abolition initiative.” Back in the 1970’s, libertarians decided to make a strong statement against the San Francisco Vice Squad for wasting taxpayer money on victimless “crimes” such as voluntary prostitution. They decided to abolish the Squad.
The Vice Squad Abolition initiative had the support of victims of victimless crimes, but also of notables such as Ed Clark (1980 Libertarian Presidential Candidate, whose VP running mate was David Koch), Ed Crane (one of the founders of the Cato Institute), Murray Rothbard (Austrian School economist), and Cecil Williams (Pastor of Glide Memorial Church). Supporters among elected City officials were Rosario Anaya, Bill Maher, and Ben Tom (members of the Board of Education), and Lillian Sing (member of the Community College Board). Luminaries against the initiative were Dianne Feinstein (Mayor), Robert Barry (President of the Police Officers Association), and William Dauer (President of the Chamber of Commerce). Mayor Feinstein shouted in her ballot argument, “Don’t be fooled by those who encourage vice!” The San Francisco Public Library’s Ballot Propositions Database contains the basic facts of the initiative and a link to the voter pamphlet of November 6, 1979. Public Library Index of Ballot Propositions
Libertarian and libertarian-leaning folk, gathered 15,141 signatures, way above the 10,562 required for LPSF to place Proposition Q on the November 6, 1979 ballot. The vote was 33.80% Yes, and 66.20% No, with 50.1% needed for passage.
At the Yolo County LP Advocacy and Leadership Training Conference, we were honored to meet Isabel Isherwood, Yolo County Libertarian Party activist and one of the signature-gathering volunteers who helped LPSF not only actually place an initiative on the San Francisco ballot, but also make clear the message of the initiative – use scarce resources to catch real criminals!
The Fourth of July is a good time to get together with family and friends, eat hotdogs, watch fireworks, and have a great time all around. The Libertarian Party of San Francisco wishes you all those good things. We also hope you will join us in following our tradition to remember Ben Franklin on this day, so we tell the story once again.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Franklin was queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation. In the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention, a lady asked Dr. Franklin “Well Doctor what have we got, a republic or a monarchy.” Franklin replied, “A republic . . . if you can keep it.”
Have we kept our republic? Have we taken the trouble to be vigilant? Do we still remember what was really meant by “the price of liberty?” Well, we still have peaceful elections, and our Bill of Rights is still hanging in there – for how long depends on all of us. We Libertarians aim to stay in the fight. May we also count on you?
When Lady Bird Johnson became First Lady amidst collective confusion and gloom, she started a beautification campaign. As a traditional Democrat, she pushed for legislation, but her focus was on changing personal behavior. “There is much the government can do and should do to improve the environment. But even more important is the individual who plants a tree or cleans a corner of neglect. For it is the individual who himself benefits, and also protects a heritage of beauty for his children and future generations.” One of Lady Bird’s supporters, Walter Washington, at the time executive director of the National Capital Housing Authority, encouraged everyone to “Clean-up, fix-up, paint-up and plant-up.” We Libertarians wholeheartedly concur with the second part of the First Lady’s thoughts and with Mr. Washington’s call for action.
The way we see it, endless environmental legislation carries with it diminishing returns that result in increasing economic disruption, assaults on private property, and loss of entrepreneurial enthusiasm. Endless bickering about “global warming” or “climate change” does not make our air cleaner, our water clearer, or our oceans free from garbage. Whether or not human beings are responsible for melting Arctic ice and rising sea levels is less important than each one of us making a personal voluntary decision to promote clean, comfortable and reliable mass transit that simply keeps our air more pleasant to breath, without interfering with those who choose other means of transportation.
Dr. Mary Ruwart, Author of Healing Our World, and Short Answers to the Tough Questions proposes the following:
1. Abolish government’s sovereign immunity: All government agencies should be held as responsible for keeping the environment clean as everyone else. They need to clean up soil contaminated with toxic chemicals from weapons plants and nuclear testing.
2. Transfer grazing land now owned by the federal government to private owners: Ranchers, like all business people, want to maximize profit. To do that, they need to keep their capital investments working efficiently and sustainably. For ranchers, the most valuable capital investment is grazing land.
3. Be aware of corporate welfare: Dr. Ruwart compares putting government in charge of protecting natural land to putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Such comparison is especially apt in the case of government assistance to favorite corporate interests, such as logging. She suggests that naturalist societies, such as Audubon, would do a better job stewarding natural land than government.
4. Make use of restitution: Punishment is intended to hurt aggressors but does nothing to restore what victims lost as a result of aggression. Restitution focuses on aggressors restoring victims’ health and property to the fullest extent possible. Restitution is the “punishment” that truly fits the crime; therefore, it not only addresses victims’ losses, but serves as a more efficient deterrent to aggression. Obviously, restitution cannot remedy loss of life or a permanently poisoned well; however, environmental degradation often does not involve these unfortunate extremes. There will be aggressors who will be legitimately unable to make immediate restoration; they would, therefore, be allowed to make gradual restitution (payment, for example) until their debt is fully satisfied. The alternative to refusal to restore would be work prison, where regrettably restoration would be imposed more forcefully. In short, if you mess it up, you clean it up, whether you are a neighbor that dumps garbage on the street, or British Petroleum.
To summarize: Libertarians agree with Lady Bird Johnson, “…But even more important is the individual who plants a tree or cleans a corner of neglect. For it is the individual who himself benefits, and also protects a heritage of beauty for his children and future generations.” We join Walter Washington in calling for personal action – “Clean-up, fix-up, paint-up and plant-up.” This Libertarian position is consistent with our core principles of individual liberty and individual responsibility.
Read Dr. Mary Ruwart’s “Pollution Solution”
Read Lady Bird Johnson words on beautification
Read about “green lady” Lady Bird Johnson
“Priority Development Areas” are a bureaucrat’s dream. Not just any bureaucrat, but one with lots of time and taxpayer money in his/her hands. Once upon a time, town and cities developed organically. People settled where it best suited their tastes, their imagination, their talents and abilities. As they settled, leaders rose to develop amenities and facilitate commerce – Romans built aqueducts, settlers built general stores, skilled folks provided factories to produce goods, others offered services. Then came “Planning.” As manual work and basic private services decreased, bureaucracy increased. Now we have reached the pinnacle of up-side-down bureaucratic meddling, when planning micromanages population flows.
This map shows San Francisco’s Priority Development Areas. Red and pink are "priority areas." Since around 70% of amenities, services and commerce are to be shoehorned into these two areas, good luck if you live outside of them. Of course, if you live outside of a Priority Development Area, you are not as done for as if you live inside a “Priority Conservation Area,” which will be the subject of another post later.
However, “Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans,” and that goes for bureaucrats too. The red and pink areas on the map indicate where bureaucrats wish to move the greatest number of folks, by building tall buildings and concentrating commerce. These areas also happen to be where the City’s most magnificent views are. Therefore, the bureaucrats are experiencing some unexpectedly strong push back from current residents and visitors.
The gray areas on the map, outside of the priority areas, will by necessity suffer neglect. What is not a “priority” is shoved aside. Residents in those areas can either lament their fate, or seize the opportunity to acquire greater autonomy for their neighborhoods. Obviously Libertarians encourage the latter.
We at the Libertarian Party of San Francisco have been talking for a long time about the negative consequences of Plan Bay Area. We will continue to point out how we the people abdicate control when we allow unelected bureaucrats to be placed in charge of where we live and how we live. We encourage you to think about how your neighborhood will be impacted by the Priority Development Areas. Then organize neighborhood groups that include property owners, renters, merchants, school teachers, parents, and other neighborhood participants to ensure the local neighborhood vision prevails.
Further reading on unelected officials: