This file contains several dozen short original libertarian articles,
a suggested reading list, and two lists of organizations.
This information is free; copy and distribute at will.
Copyright 1995 Harry Reid
Additional Editor's Note: Having rediscovered a .TXT copy of Harry Reid's magnum opus, I decided to mark it up in HTML and put it where interested others might find it and put it to use. Other than standard mark-up and the occasional correction of an obvious misspelling or typo, the text here is all Harry's. Harry himself passed away October 8th, 2000. I have lost touch with Mitzi, his wife.
— Frank Clarke — email: email@example.com — tel: (727) 452 - 7399
Table of Contents:
As a child I assumed that government was useful, complex, and understood by experts; like the insides of a radio. I learned how wrong I was by studying market economics and gradually realized that excessive faith in government is a major barrier to human progress. I became an activist in the late sixties and have been speaking and writing about libertarianism ever since.
Our desperate political situation and positive feedback from movement leaders finally gave me the courage to edit years of mixed writings into this book. Instead of new facts or detailed analysis here are new ways to understand and communicate basic libertarianism. Some pieces written for libertarians may be confusing to the new reader but many are written as outreach to groups such as Greens or humanists. Read them in any order. A reading list and two lists of organizations are included as appendixes.
My criticism of government is not aimed at the people in it. Bad ideas about government do more harm than bad people in government. Changing the rulers without changing their ideas is useless.
The Libertarian Party is mentioned often but there are dozens of other good libertarian organizations. The struggle against political oppression has many fronts and is lead by many different groups. See the lists in the appendixes.
Believing your time is valuable, I compress my writing down to the bare ideas which may therefore seem stark. There are many longer, gentler, well written libertarian books out there for your ongoing enjoyment and education. See the list in the appendix.
No one can speak for all libertarians so I apologize in advance to any who feel they have been misrepresented. I try to describe, not create, but the boundary between the two is soft.
Feel free to copy, fax, upload, and publish these articles to advance the cause. Please send me your comments.
Read with your own eyes, think with your own mind, share what you learn.
To get Beyond Government (book with disk) postage paid send $10 to: P. O. Box 642, Safety Harbor, FL 34695-0642, United States.
P.s: There is a senator from Nevada named Harry Reid who is not connected with me or this book in any way.
I would like to expand on George Washington's masterful analogy that government is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
We need fire in fireplaces to keep us warm and let us live in comfort where it would otherwise be impossible. The fire in a fireplace is surrounded by solid bricks and steel. A chimney carries away the toxic fumes. The only fuel the fire gets is what the people carefully and deliberately give it, one log at a time.
Libertarians believe government should be surrounded by permanent and solid constraints (such as the constitution) which severely limit its power. Special institutions should minimize the inevitable bad effects. Most of all it should only get the limited resources that the people carefully and deliberately give it.
If a fire gets out of a fireplace the house catches fire. The fire takes all your possessions as fuel and grows without limit. You and your loved ones are in ever increasing danger. Some rooms are not as bad as others but the fire will surely spread and destroy the whole house.
Our government is like a fire in our house that used to be small and well contained but has gotten out of control. All around we see our social institutions politicized and our businesses regulated to death. We see our possessions and our livelihoods taxed away to fuel a government that grows without limit. We and our loved ones are in ever increasing danger from foreign wars, drug wars, and police brutality. Some parts of society are not as bad as others but it is clear that soon the government will have its claws in everything.
Libertarians urgently call for the immediate and drastic reduction of government. We realize that there needs to be some government, like a fire in a fireplace, but our government is like a fire out of control which will surely destroy us all if it keeps on growing.
Libertarians believe initiation of violence is always wrong. Only the initiation of force or fraud is crime to a libertarian. Fraud is often described as an indirect form of violence, making initiation of violence the only crime to many libertarians.
To oppose government is to oppose institutional violence. According to Ludwig Von Mises, a primary libertarian writer, "The state is essentially an apparatus of compulsion and coercion. The characteristic feature of its activities is to compel people through the application or the threat of force to behave otherwise than they would like to behave." When government is perceived thus, opposition to violence implies libertarianism.
Libertarian Party members sign a pledge of nonviolence. "I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals."
Libertarians always oppose initiation of violence. Although bees can sting they are considered friendly since they are harmless when left alone. So too with libertarians. The only time violence is excused within libertarianism is in defense against violence initiated by others.
According to Lanza del Vasto, a leader of the nonviolent movement in France, the nonviolent are distinguished by these three beliefs:
Libertarians value restitution to the victim above punishment of the criminal.
Libertarians believe good ends sought by government or individuals do not justify violent means.
Libertarians believe that government is based on fear, compulsion, and force so increasing government can never establish justice.
1988 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Ron Paul said libertarians seek a society where "there shall be no initiation of force by anyone, particularly Government."
Drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, and other vices feel good but sometimes have bad effects. Diatribes against these vices focus on the bad effects but rarely mention the good feeling. Also unmentioned is the virtue of temperance, as contrasted with abstinence. This is justified by the assumption that people can't resist temptation once they've experienced a thrill. Pretending that these vices are not pleasurable is puzzling however, since it clearly detracts from the credibility of the speaker.
A clear statement that things that feel good may have bad effects might lead people to examine other sources of good feelings. I believe that many symbolic political actions that feel good have extremely bad effects. Politicians who inspire people with the thrill of battle against evil would like that thrill to remain unquestioned as a guide to action. Reminding people that thrills destroy judgment might lead them to judge the thrill of politics more objectively.
Years ago I attended a political dinner in Davenport Iowa; it was my first exposure to establishment politics on the grassroots level. As I ate and talked to the people around me I sensed a feeling of great conspiracy, like we were about to commit some incredible crime. Then came the speech; "This is what we have to do to get power. Once we've got power then we'll be able to make everybody do what we want and won't that be great!". The whole message was tactics and techniques for getting power so we could make everybody do what we wanted. I still cringe when I think back on it. The key feature, I realized later, was the conspiratorial thrill. It's us vs them. It's exciting. It's politics.
When our leaders urge us to all pull together they want the audience to feel that thrill. Skilled speakers can work large audiences into a frenzy of enthusiasm. Hitler and the Nazis were making history; they were on the winning team (at least for a while); they were thrilled. The lesson from Hitler, drugs, and alcohol is that the intensity of the thrill is not connected to the goodness of the acts. The thrill is just as real for genocide, generosity, or getting drunk. Just because a speaker or writer thrills you doesn't mean their ideas will work.
It's especially easy to get enthusiastic about benevolent goals such as feeding the hungry, saving the children, or making the streets safe, without questioning what impact your actions have in the real world. How could it do harm to feed the hungry, save the children, or make the streets safe? The thrill of involvement and the elevation of self esteem that come from "doing something" encourage symbolic gestures that often make the problems worse.
Massive shipments of food (to feed the hungry) to the governments of third world nations often reinforce the power of petty tyrants and destroy local agriculture. Intrusive social workers (to save the children) forcibly remove children from non-conforming families and place them in foster homes with lower quality of life. Gun control laws (to make the streets safe) make peaceful honest people helpless in the face of violence.
These examples are all symbolic political acts designed to give people that thrill, the thrill the Nazis felt, the herd thrill. This is the most dangerous drug. Wars and dictatorships depend on this thrill to cloud the citizens' minds and to suspend their judgment.
There are harmless sources of the herd thrill; the most obvious is sports. You can root for your favorite team to your heart's content with social approval and no risk. You can close your mind completely to the idea that the other team might have merit. However when the other team is drug dealers, gun owners, bigots, capitalists, or communists that same enthusiasm and lack of thought leads to disaster time after time.
Remember temperance? Temperance is not abstinence. It is the ability to experience pleasure without being controlled by it. The things I enjoy; food, sex, coffee, politics, etc. do not control me. If I cease to enjoy these or believe they are starting to control me I am ready to give them up.
So what's the point? Be temperate in your enjoyment of the herd thrill for it is the most dangerous drug. Don't let it cloud your thinking or close your mind. Don't let your emotions overwhelm your judgment or your efforts to do good will likely wind up doing harm. If people thought about politics as much as they cared about politics the world would be libertarian today.
Socialism continues to attract the foolish and the wise in spite of its repeated failures. The breadth and depth of this attraction suggest that it is rooted in some common experience. That experience is childhood.
Children have food, shelter, education, and medical care provided (well or badly) by adults. Socialists want food, shelter, education, and medical care provided for everyone. Families are small socialist societies. Socialists want to treat everyone like family.
Children want things before they learn about money. When parents say "we can't afford it", children think they're cruel or stupid. Socialists believe a government that doesn't give the people what they want is cruel or inefficient.
Children believe what they're told. They believe Santa Claus is real and leaders are wise. Socialists believe in the wisdom of their leaders. Adults are skeptical of leaders, preferring their own wisdom and beliefs.
Children can't imagine human diversity. They assume everyone feels like they do. Socialists think the right plan will make everyone happy. In reality our different values, habits, and perceptions make profound disagreement natural and inevitable.
Children need parents who care about them so elected officials claim to care about the people. Businessmen who care mainly for themselves are like bad parents neglecting their children. That's why Socialists respect elected officials and hate businessmen.
Children should not control adults and Socialists should not control society. Socialist thinking regresses us into a state of helpless dependence. The illusion of socialism will only be discarded when people understand its roots and outgrow its childish world view.
The abolitionists in the early 1800's wanted to abolish slavery and were generally considered to be crazy dreamers. Slavery had always existed, it was supported in the Bible. Sweet little old ladies relied on slave income. The slaves were unable to control themselves and needed masters to keep them busy and productive. But the abolitionists wouldn't listen to common sense. They said slavery was morally wrong. They kept up the shouting and, after years of little progress, people started to agree. The serious economic problems of slavery may have caused much of the change but the abolitionists were a visible group with which people could identify. They were also a source of arguments against slavery for anyone to hear, evaluate, and perhaps carry forward to others. In one generation our society came to a consensus that it was wrong for one human being to own another and slavery vanished from the USA. Or did it?
Total slavery was abolished but partial slavery has grown to more than replace it. Slaves are people who work for no money and have no choice. If you can't keep all the money you earn, you're doing some work for no money. Taxation is slavery. Half the population was never wholly enslaved but now the whole population is half enslaved. Total slaves were owned by thousands of different masters, some cruel, some kind. Now we all have the same slave master called government and who would call it kind?
Today's abolitionists are called libertarians. They are generally considered to be crazy dreamers. Taxes have always existed, they are supported in the Bible. Sweet little old ladies rely on social security. Foolish citizens must have some of their money spent more wisely by the authorities. But the libertarians won't listen. They say taxes are morally wrong. They keep shouting and, perhaps sometime soon, people will start to agree. The serious economic problems of taxation may cause much of the change but the libertarians are a visible group with which people can identify. They are also a source of arguments for freedom for anyone to hear, evaluate, and perhaps carry forward to others.
Modern slavery has caused hostility between the races to increase after years of progress. A worker half of whose paycheck goes to taxes feels used by unemployed welfare recipients. Feelings of injustice, resentment, and anger are normal to slaves.
The money you see going as taxes is only part of the total. Every loaf of bread you buy pays hundreds of taxes. The corporate tax on the company that baked the bread, not to mention the corporate taxes on all the companies that supplied materials or services. Fuel taxes on all the transportation, income taxes on all the employees, sales taxes on much of the materials. All businesses pass on taxes as a cost. All the taxes on all the businesses that supplied the company that baked the bread were passed on in the price of their goods or services. This adds to the taxes of all kinds paid directly by the company, and the wholesaler, and the grocery store. All taxes are paid by increased product cost. You pay the cost, you pay the tax. You must, they must. All are enslaved.
The ending of slavery by the abolitionists was from the outside. Most abolitionists were not themselves slaves or masters. The ending of taxation and regulation must happen from the inside. There's nobody out there to rescue us. We can appeal to our master the government to set us free but history doesn't offer much hope of success. We partial slaves are the overwhelming majority however and this alone may permit our liberation by nonviolent means. Those who enjoy the security of slavery will find that the world is full of people who will give love, money, and even respect to anyone who will do exactly as they are told. These will generally be kinder masters because, unlike the government, they must entice people to become their slaves by offering rewards and allow people to quit if the rewards are insufficient.
Those who work for no money voluntarily are called volunteers. Some of our largest and most treasured institutions use volunteer labor to perform important services for society. Those who wish to do good works and can abstain from material rewards form the bulk of the volunteers. Libertarians have no quarrel with those who point to the good works supported by taxes. Let those who value those works be the ones who pay for them or do them without pay. Let those who disagree further their own dreams with their own lives.
Libertarians are often challenged to defend deregulation. Here are some positive examples of deregulation in action.
Religion: Because of the constitutional separation of church and state the religious institutions in the United States are almost completely deregulated. The result of this is diversity, prosperity and abundance of religion. Any religion imaginable is available to the consumer. Buddhists, Unitarians, Scientologists and hundreds of sects of Christians all go to the churches of their choice. The only limitations are lack of interest or the violation of some non-religious law. Not only are the consumers getting what they want but the institutions are thriving. The amount of money received and resources owned by churches is astounding. Although they have profound and unavoidable disagreements the different churches compete to attract customers instead of going to war as they do in many other countries. The institutions are prosperous and the customers are happy, all thanks to the absence of government interference.
Software: A more modern example of the benefits of deregulation is computer software. This industry has escaped regulation by evolving quickly and changing rapidly. Anyone can write computer programs and sell them without a license and without government certification of the programs. The only limitations are selling deliberately destructive programs, selling programs that interfere with national security, and paying income taxes on the profits. The result has again been incredible diversity, prosperity, and abundance. A list of programs available today would fill a large book and it's growing all the time. The price to the consumer is constantly and rapidly falling. Programs costing thousands of dollars a few years ago cost tens of dollars today; programs that used to cost hundreds of dollars are now free. Yet the institutions are prospering. Billions of dollars are spent on programs and they are one of the United State's most profitable exports. All this success is due to the lack of regulation by the government. Imagine how different it would be if computer programmers had to have credentials before they were allowed to program and if programs had to be inspected and approved by government bureaucrats.
Lima, Peru: Anyone who has doubts about anarchy should read a best selling South American book called "The Other Path" by Hernando De Soto. It is the report of a commission set up to study the underground economy in and around Lima, Peru. Poor people coming to Lima find the regulatory barriers completely insurmountable so they take the law into their own hands. What do these anarchists do? Mostly they do construction, manufacturing, transportation, and marketing. Most of the homes around Lima (and most other third world cities) were built in defiance of the law. Most of the bus systems evolved from gypsy cabs. Most retail stores evolved from illegal street vendors. Most factories evolved from underground home shops. The level of violence in these communities is extremely low and so is the presence of government. The people have to be well organized in order to get things done without a government and they spend a lot of time at different organizational meetings. This is hardly the popular image of anarchy yet millions — probably billions — of people live it every day.
It is sometimes hard for non-libertarians to understand why libertarians feel the way they do. Perhaps this parallel between libertarians and vegetarians will help. There are many different reasons for being a vegetarian. Some are vegetarians because they believe it is healthy, or inexpensive, or that it conserves natural resources.
Consider those who are vegetarians because they don't want to be guilty of killing animals. They don't have to watch the animals struggle, hear their screams, or see their blood flow to know that to put meat on their plate an animal had to die. It doesn't help to tell them the deaths are painless or that the animals were bred and raised only for meat. To them it is still killing and they want no part of it. They are fortunate to live in an age when they can avoid it and maintain a normal life style. A hundred years ago those who refused to wear leather shoes probably went barefoot. They realize that they are a small minority and most people don't share their feeling. Some practice their vegetarianism quietly while some argue and march to convince people that it's just plain wrong to kill animals.
There are many different reasons for being a libertarian. Some are libertarians because they dislike being told what to do, or think that politicians are crooks, or appreciate the wonders of a free market.
Consider those who are libertarians because they don't want to be guilty of threatening violence to humans. They don't have to see the people rotting in jail for victimless crimes, or feel the hard choices between health, safety, and paying taxes. They know that behind every regulation or tax there is the threat of violence or even death for disobedience. It doesn't help to tell them that most taxes are painless or that the majority voted to give their power to the government. To them it is still threatening violence and they want no part of it. They are unfortunate to live in an age when they cannot avoid it an maintain a normal life style. Those who refuse to travel on government built roads are immobilized. They realize that they are a small minority and most people don't share their feeling. Some quietly practice their libertarianism while some argue and march to convince people that it's just plain wrong to threaten violence to humans.
The separation of taxes and welfare makes it easy for people to accept money from the government without experiencing any moral conflict. This parable exposes that conflict.
Imagine that you are a single parent with health problems and few job skills trying to go to school, raise children, and earn a living at the same time. You are just the sort of person who deserves welfare.
Imagine that I am a wealthy benefactor who has sympathy for your situation. I drop in every week with a $200 check to help you to survive and work toward your goals. I ask nothing in return and we become friends. Every week I stay and we talk for a while. This goes on for months. You are genuinely thankful for my assistance and I am genuinely happy to see your progress. All is well.
One afternoon while we are talking you ask me what I do for a living.
I explain that I am a mugger. I choose my victims at random, grab them from behind, hold a knife to their throats, and demand their money. I take about half their money, keep most of it for myself, and give the rest to needy people. I rarely kill anyone because most people don't resist.
Does this new information change the way you feel about the $200?
The same government that gives welfare takes, with threats of violence, half the money we earn. They keep most of it for themselves and give some to needy people. They rarely kill anyone because most people don't resist.
Libertarians are often accused of being anarchists or asked what the difference is between a libertarian and an anarchist. The popular image of anarchy is unrestrained violence and looting. Libertarians take a stronger stand against violence and looting than any other political group including Republicans and Democrats. The early history of the United States with its severely limited government was strongly libertarian and completely different from this image of anarchy.
The misunderstanding on this issue comes from the ideal state of peace and productivity with no government interference imagined by many libertarians who forget that we are the only ones who can imagine it. In a libertarian society the evolution of voluntary institutions providing the few remaining government services might lead to the gradual elimination of government but this scenario is completely beyond the imagination of the general public and it harms our cause to confront them with such a startling vision.
Here is a menu of answers to the question:
What's the difference between libertarians and anarchists?
The traditional answer: Libertarians want severely limited government and anarchists want none.
The humanist answer: Libertarians are nonviolent; some anarchists are violent.
The funny answer: Libertarians are to anarchists as nudists are to naked people. They're just middle class & organized so they appear less crazy.
The Party answer (from Andre Marrou): An anarchist is an extreme libertarian, like a socialist is an extreme Democrat, and a fascist is an extreme Republican.
The graphic answer: It's like the difference between a lover and a rapist. They're both in the same place but one uses violence to get there.
Most of these sound bites are original but I probably heard some from other libertarians and forgot their source.
Peaceful honest people don't belong in jail.
Are you skeptical of libertarianism? Good! Skeptics make the best libertarians.
If you want the Democrats or Republicans to run your life, vote for them. If you want to run your own life, vote Libertarian.
Compared to the war on drugs the Viet Nam war was a victory. Viet Nam isn't killing civilians in the United States.
If coffee were illegal we'd be struggling to save our school children from the menace of crack caffeine.
If the government were as involved in clothing as it is in health care sewing at home would be a crime and we would be wondering how to provide $1,000 suits for all the millions of naked people.
Just because a product, like roads, benefits us all doesn't mean the government should provide it. We all benefit when people wake up on time. Should the government provide free alarm clocks?
To live under socialism, join the military.
Taxation is slavery.
The more complex the rules, the more ways to cheat.
Socialist: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Libertarian: From each according to his choice, to each according to your choice.
The only governments in nature are pecking orders and dominance struggles; human governments are included.
Predicting the market is hard but predicting the regulations is harder.
Someday I would like to open my morning paper and see nothing about any government on the first few pages.
A dull knife is better than a sharp knife if it's held against your throat. Civilization would be destroyed if all government regulations were enforced.
Some diseases are worse than others but few people approve of any disease. Some taxes are worse than others but few libertarians approve of any tax.
People easily doubt or forget new facts but they generally remember a new way of connecting the facts they already know.
Giving a politician access to your wallet is like giving a dog access to your refrigerator.
We have too much government because we have too much faith in government.
The defining question of any political system is "Who goes to jail?".
A sincere person with illusions is more dangerous than any liar.
All wars and most famines are caused by excessive faith in government.
Bad ideas about government do more harm than bad people in government.
We hold our elected officials to unreasonable standards of perfection because we give them unreasonable power over our lives.
The most dangerous psychopaths are the ones in government. Serial killers may have dozens of victims. Hitler had millions.
There are many quiet libertarians but few ex-libertarians.
You don't need to be 100% libertarian to help the cause. Chicken wouldn't be a popular food if you had to eat the whole thing.
Ignoring the difference between violent and nonviolent crime is like ignoring the difference between biting and nonbiting dogs.
Before asking how people should be governed, ask whether they should be governed.
The government won't use widespread violence to maintain control... unless the people resist.
The video camera is the machine gun of the information age.
Teaching public school children how to think would be like teaching prisoners how to dig tunnels.
The market manipulates you with money. The government manipulates you with jail.
If trade barriers are good then why not have them between all the states or even all the counties?
Free trade isn't described in thousand page documents. Free trade is what happens between Florida and Georgia.
If people thought about politics as much as they cared about politics the world would be libertarian today.
The following "libertarian definition of politics" is not original but it's a great way to start a speech or conversation.
To understand what "politics" really means just break the word into its parts. Everybody knows poly means many; and ticks are bloodsucking parasites.
This is a letter to the editor in response to an editorial decrying the absence of meaningful choice in our elections.
This is in response to the superb column in last Monday's Clearwater Sun entitled "Neither GOP nor Democrats have been able to curb spending." The sorry spectacle of bureaucrats wallowing at the trough of taxpayer's money is sadly accurate. The United States was founded on a constitution whose main purpose was to limit the power and size of the government. It worked well enough to give us the most spectacular demonstration of freedom, prosperity, and productivity that the world has ever seen. But we are witnessing the end of the good times, a decline of freedom, prosperity, and productivity in the United States. We see a government out of control under both Democratic and Republican administrations. What can be done? The article concludes on a weak note of hope, "Maybe we do need a new party."
Maybe we already have one. The Libertarian party has run presidential candidates since 1972 and got one percent of the vote in 1980. They are the third largest and fastest growing party. From the very beginning they have been saying that we don't need a gigantic and powerful government telling us what to do and taking ever increasing amounts of our money. Their platform calls for drastic reduction in the size and power of government on all levels, an end to inflationary monetary policies, and a balanced budget.
The founding fathers fought a bloody revolution to break free of English rule yet those regulations and taxes were far less oppressive than ours today. Instead of violent revolution we can change our government by voting. A vote for the Libertarian party is the most meaningful vote you can cast because it sends an unmistakable message to Washington bureaucrats that if they don't change their ways we the people will boot them out.
There is a third party. They believe that the government is far too powerful. They believe that peaceful honest people don't belong in jail. They believe that you know best how to run your own life and spend your own money. They believe in peace, freedom, and prosperity through less government.
This is a letter to the editor sent during Tampa Bay's annual water crisis.
Perhaps I'm missing some subtle point but it seems to me there is a simple and fair solution to our water crisis. First, raise the price of water. Second, eliminate the legal barriers to conserving it.
If water becomes more expensive people will search for ways to use less as shown in the past with gasoline and energy. The people least hurt will be those who already use the least and those who use the most will feel the biggest pinch, certainly that's fair. The police can devote their time to preventing and punishing violent crime instead of arresting folks for watering their lawns, certainly that makes sense. Our chronic water shortage will continue unless we spend more money to develop supplies and what better source than income from the sale of water. If the price of water reflects the cost of providing it the whole situation will become self sustaining. Maybe someday we could even get the government completely out of the water supply business. If the same bureaucrats were responsible for providing us with toilet paper I'm sure we'd have frequent shortages of that too.
But even if the price goes up (which it will eventually anyway) our own laws prevent us from conserving water. Cisterns to collect rainwater, composting toilets, and gray water systems are generally outlawed by zoning and building codes. These systems are highly developed and can save a great deal of water yet the same people that beg us to conserve water will put us in jail if we use them. The present low price of water also helps make many of these systems uneconomical.
I'm probably whistling in the dark with these ideas. It's far more fun to call the police on your neighbors than to pay a little higher utility bill. It's good politics too, the office holders get to play hero for their stop gap solutions and get no blame for the long term problem. But water shortages will be with us forever unless we pay what it costs to provide and let each other conserve it however we like.
After any widespread natural disaster reporters and commentators often lament the despicable practice of price gouging. Merchants are cursed as heartless and cruel. Victimized shoppers vent their anger and frustration. Local police are called on to intervene.
This is exciting melodrama but sometimes wisdom and mercy dictate different courses of action. The immediate and obvious suffering of the shoppers is not the only consideration. Localized, temporary, radical price increases (price gouging) may actually have some beneficial effects visible only from a more distant perspective.
It is important that critical resources in a post disaster situation be conserved, substituted, and extended as much as possible. Whenever something has a very high price tag, like expensive but life saving medicine, most consumers will try to conserve, substitute, and extend it as much as they can. Very high prices tend to make consumers buy no more than they really need and make that stretch as much as they can.
In a post disaster situation critical resources tend to sell out rapidly and become completely unavailable in the disaster area. Very high prices tend to slow this process and cause the goods to remain in the stores for a somewhat longer period of time, maintaining their availability for victims who cannot reach the stores quickly.
It is important that fresh supplies enter the disaster area as soon as possible even when transportation is difficult. Temporarily high prices insure that both nearby and far away merchants will immediately try to get the needed supplies into the disaster area since the high prices can more than pay for the added transportation expense.
Allocating scarce law enforcement resources to controlling prices takes them away from higher priority activities like fire & rescue, looting prevention, and traffic control. Lives may be lost while emergency personnel argue with merchants about their prices. Price controls also often create black markets, adding a criminal dynamic to an already bad situation.
Locally high prices may increase outside sympathy for the disaster victims. Anger at the price gougers may inspire additional donations of supplies to deprive them of their outrageous profits.
Local merchants have an opportunity (if they can afford it) to purchase community good will by keeping their prices the same or lowering them in spite of increased demand. The merchants may also be victims however and those extra profits might be the only thing that makes it possible for them to rebuild their businesses.
So although it is easy to condemn price gouging as cruel and greedy, it may not be in the best interests of the disaster victims to try to suppress it. Why does the media show only the angry shoppers and not the good effects of price increases? Disasters are human drama and the suffering of the victims is dramatic. The beneficial effects are much harder to observe and describe than the anger and frustration of the disaster victims.
This letter was published shortly after a serial killer was captured.
All too often murders are blamed on the availability of hand guns. Now we have seen a horrible example of what can happen without guns. I'm talking about the women who were recently killed in and around Tampa by a predatory male. What can we learn from this multiple tragedy? First, killers don't need guns. Total elimination of all firearms would not have deterred this one. Second, the way we deal with this type of criminal is not effective. Not only is it costly in personnel, equipment, and money but additional lives are lost while law enforcement agencies identify and locate the killer. Third, some groups of women are so powerless that they can be systematically murdered with little risk to the murderer.
I suggest that women who have to work where there is danger of rape, kidnapping, or murder consider carrying a concealed weapon. Media attention to the possibility that women may be armed can dramatically reduce the incidence of rape. In Orlando, six thousand women took a highly publicized firearms training course and rape declined 90%. Other cities have seen substantial decreases in crime attributable to civilian firearms training. This would work in Tampa Bay.
This is not macho, this is not flag waving or constitution quoting, this is an appeal to women to save their own lives. Don't let terrifying fantasies blind you to terrifying realities. It doesn't help society for peaceful honest people, women or men, to be powerless victims of the violent.
"Going Out of Our Minds" is a superb piece of liberation literature.
It told me a lot about the differences and similarities between feminism and libertarianism. Again and again I saw passages where the substitution of the word "government" for "patriarchy" would change your words into pure libertarianism. Your idea regarding abortion, that women simply learn to do it so laws become unenforceable and meaningless, is a perfect example of a libertarian solution.
I was reminded of an old joke where an atheist was chased up a tree by a bear. As the situation looked more and more hopeless the unbeliever finally broke down and prayed "Lord, if you won't help me, just please don't help that bear!". I feel this way toward the feminist movement. If you won't help the libertarians, just please don't help the government!
Why are we invisible to you? Even in your chapter on running for president you never mention us, the party of liberation. A libertarian woman ran for vice president in 1972 (the first Libertarian Party campaign). A libertarian woman will probably run for president by the end of the century. The campaign manager for Russell Means is a woman. The best state chair Florida has had in recent years was a woman. The best local chair Tampa Bay ever had was a woman. Emma Goldman and Ayn Rand epitomize the dual anarchist-capitalist roots of libertarianism. Even the statue of liberty is female! This isn't tokenism, intelligent women are realizing that government is the worst oppressor and libertarians are the only ones fighting it.
Do you reject our tolerance of evil? I constantly see people around me doing things I know are horribly destructive and cruel. Most folks, naturally enough, want laws to stop people from doing things they consider wrong. But control extended beyond knowledge can only do harm. The question is, what do we really know is wrong, always wrong, so wrong we are better off when violence is used to suppress it? The party platform says only force and fraud qualify. Can men oppress women without using force or fraud? Certainly not very effectively, perhaps not at all.
Do you reject our embrace of property rights? Territoriality throughout the animal kingdom is more pronounced in males so I am not surprised at women's disinterest in property rights. But power will always go to the power seekers and they can do much greater harm with laws than with riches. Laws are harder to resist, harder to escape, harder to control, and inherently violent. Let us remove the weapon of government from the reach of the fighters. There's plenty of politics in business for those who seek to command.
Do you really think the Democrats or Republicans have anyone's liberation on their agenda? The Libertarian Party has everyone's liberation as our only goal.
As a humanist and a libertarian I seek "a world in which peace, prosperity, freedom, and happiness are widely shared" (Humanist Manifesto II). I believe this goal can best be reached by reducing the power of government. There is nothing inherently humanistic about the use of government to improve society.
A serious practical problem is raised by the pervasive inefficiency of government. Wherever both private and government agencies have the same goal we see government agencies operating at lower quality and higher cost. Voluntary institutions usually spend less than a quarter of their funds on administration whereas government agencies often spend more than half. A serious ethical problem is raised by the real or threatened violence behind every government action. When is violence humanistic? Although I share humanist goals the use of violent means to advance them repels me.
Throughout history humankind has been haunted by the twin specters of church and state. The humanists enthusiastically disbelieve in the church but seem to believe all the more in the power and goodness of the state. Freeing human minds of religious shackles is admirable but what of human bodies shackled by well meaning rulers? Let us not shackle others to our dreams. The drug of political power is ever tempting to all who wish to benefit humanity but it is addictive and destructive even to the wise. Time and again powerful rulers seeking a better world cause widespread disaster. Is this the path of humanism?
A thousand years ago only radicals said people could live full and rewarding lives without religion, yet today such lives are common. A hundred and fifty years ago only radicals said slavery was immoral and should be abolished, yet it came to pass. Today only libertarian radicals decry the violence and injustice inherent in government. Both libertarians and humanists seek a world of harmony and abundance. Both are radical movements in a large and diverse society. Both have a heritage of unyielding respect for human rights. Both claim such notables as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Both revere the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. This is a call for dialogue between us.
The decisions we make about our health and our bodies are some of the most important personal choices we face. Today we see the government making these choices for us more and more with terrible results.
Some of you have been hampered in your craft by legal structures claiming to protect health while actually destroying it. Some of you have friends or relatives sick or dead because the FDA won't let them get the cure they need. The catastrophic rise in medical costs in recent years would be much less severe but for the availability of medicare money. Now even medicare fails to buy needed treatments and those without it are doubly hurt.
You may perhaps already have negative feeling towards the AMA and the habit it has of suppressing alternative medical practices. But the AMA is only a professional organization, and there is a real role and a real need for these in most professions, including medicine. The thing that makes the AMA such a problem is that it has the power of the law and the police behind it. Without the power of police it could only protest and withhold approval of alternate medical arts. Whoever believed in conventional medicine could patronize only AMA approved medical facilities so no one would actually lose any protection. Everyone else would be free to practice any sort of healing arts they wished.
How about the FDA? Same approach applies. Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw in their life extension book have a big chapter near the back about the government's role. They want FDA approval to be a matter of labeling. Anybody who wants to be protected from unapproved drugs could just look for the FDA label. Other drugs could sit along side them on the same shelves for people who lack faith in the judgment of the agency. They point out that the FDA policy of requiring extensive safety and effectiveness tests costs a considerable number of lives. Think about it. If the FDA approves a drug and ten people die from taking it then the FDA has a big problem. If the FDA holds a drug off the market and a thousand people die who might have been saved, nobody blames the FDA. People are now leaving the USA to go to Europe for cures they can't get here. The ones who can't afford to go just get to stay sick or die.
These are examples close to home but the principles apply everywhere. It's natural to want to help the poor, the sick, the ignorant. The expression of this desire through government institutions creates a lot of serious problems though. The programs to help the poor have created a whole generation of experts at standing in line and filling out forms. Medicare, meant to help the sick, has driven up the price of medical care and turned medicine into a political problem. Since state educational institutions must provide the same education to all, inevitably some parents find themselves forced to pay to have their children taught things counter to their deepest beliefs.
We see the flourishing of new spiritual movements and beliefs freely competing with the traditional religions. Everybody has an opportunity to choose their own spiritual path. The separation of church and state is one of the main reasons we have such diversity and choice. Why can't we extend this separation to other fields, medicine for instance.
Think about taxes for a moment. Why do people pay taxes? Why do you pay taxes? Usually the reason is fear. Fear of losing your business, your freedom, your wealth. Think about it; can good effects be produced with money obtained by fear?
The libertarian philosophy has been a part of the United States since its birth. Thomas Jefferson and Henry David Thoreau would be called libertarians today. The Libertarian Party, active since 1972, is organized on national and grassroots levels.
Call 1-800-682-1776 and request a free information packet.
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People have mixed feelings about the police because the police have two mixed roles; peace keeper and regulation enforcer.
The peace keeper is respected and admired. Peace keepers are heroes and friends. Children want to grow up to be peace keepers. People like to help the peace keepers do their job.
Peace keepers don't have to be busy, their visible presence discourages violence, that's why they wear uniforms. Since they can be friends to all but the violent they form strong bonds with the people in their communities. People call on peace keepers when they need them by dialing 911 or shouting "help! police!". People generally join the police because they want to be peace keepers.
Regulation enforcers are generally despised and avoided. Few are proud have regulation enforcers for friends. Children rarely want to grow up to be regulation enforcers. Regulation enforcers have to stay busy to do their job and to reduce their visibility they often avoid wearing uniforms. Since there are far more regulations than people are willing to obey there is always more work to do. Instead of waiting for some problem to occur they use expensive equipment and careful planning to seek out violators. When violators hide they request bigger budgets to ferret them out. To keep their identities secret regulation enforcers rarely form strong bonds in their communities. Few people join the police in order to become regulation enforcers.
In recent times there has been a change in the role of the police from peace keeper to regulation enforcer. This change is due to excessive regulation. The libertarians favor massive deregulation so the police can go back to being the peace keepers we respect and admire instead of the regulation enforcers we despise and avoid.
I HEREBY CERTIFY THAT I DO NOT BELIEVE IN OR ADVOCATE THE INITIATION OF FORCE AS A MEANS OF ACHIEVING POLITICAL OR SOCIAL GOALS
Would you sign this? it's the Libertarian Party pledge on every membership card.
I HEREBY CERTIFY THAT I... The pledge is a statement of fact in the present tense about the signer.
...DO NOT BELIEVE IN OR ADVOCATE... The pledge says nothing about your beliefs except that a particular one is absent. It says nothing about your behavior except that you refrain from a particular advocacy.
...THE INITIATION OF FORCE... This can be paraphrased as a no first strike policy. When children fight they often accuse each other of hitting first. By renouncing initiation of force, the libertarian becomes uniquely nonthreatening. The pledge permits the Libertarian Party to function freely in an age when other subversive and radical groups are being persecuted. All force is not initiation, libertarians don't renounce retaliation and many own weapons. Governments get money by initiating force so libertarians don't believe in taxes. Governments regulate by initiating force so libertarians don't believe in regulation.
...AS A MEANS OF ACHIEVING POLITICAL OR SOCIAL GOALS. That's all there is to it.
The pledge doesn't ask why you don't believe in initiation of force. Perhaps you see the initiation of force an inefficient way to solve problems. Perhaps you see the initiation of force an immoral way to solve problems. Perhaps you see the initiation of force as damaging your karma. Perhaps you don't believe in or advocate anything political or have any social goals. You just want the government to leave you alone! Sign the pledge! You've just discovered you're a libertarian.
(In 1992 there was a debate in the Libertarian Party about dropping the membership pledge. This was my input.).
I am strongly opposed to dropping the pledge as a membership requirement for the Libertarian Party. Here are my reasons.
Other dissident political organizations in this country have been destroyed by a simple tactic. The acts of violent and inflammatory members working for the government characterize the groups as violent and erase public sympathy for their causes. The groups can then be suppressed or exterminated with little public outcry. It is naive to think it can't happen to us.
A single politician assassinated or a building blown up by someone claiming to represent the Libertarian Party would cost us many years of progress. The pledge undermines this tactic.
Libertarians often encounter the common belief that all radical political groups are violent. Normal and natural fear of violence thus becomes fear of us. Hundreds of times I have had to emphasize the nonviolence of libertarianism to counter this fear. The pledge is clear proof of our commitment to nonviolence.
In all my years talking and listening libertarianism I don't remember anyone who wanted to be a dues paying member but refused because of the pledge. Arguments for abolishing the pledge seem to assume that there are tens of thousands of such people. I doubt it.
The Communists did not become powerful by getting the masses to join the Communist Party. They became powerful when committed party members provided ideological leadership to millions who became Communists but not party members.
Libertarian Party membership is serious. The pledge is serious. The pledge makes it harder for the government to destroy us. The pledge makes it easier to counter people's fear of violence. Keep the pledge.
We know libertarians are fundamentally different from Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Communists, etc. and we all have ideas about the nature of the difference. Here's another; what makes libertarians different is awareness of their own ignorance.
For example: the right price of water. The stronger statists will say that water should be free but regulated so that it is not overused or wasted. Moderates may favor a sliding price scale to encourage industry, with subsidies so the poor will have good free water to drink. Communists might support decisions by committees of citizens to decide water policy or select representatives to decide for everyone. Conservatives would favor control by local government, and so on. Each believes they know the right price or they know how to find the right price for water.
A libertarian will tell you the market will decide. Market prices are whatever buyers and sellers agree on. Libertarians not only don't know the right price for water, they believe there's no such thing as the right price for water. Wherever water sells someone else can sell at a different price and be just as right.
What makes us different is that we know we don't know. Think about this for a moment. We could say the Democrats don't know what's best but the Republicans say that. Saying we ourselves don't know what's best makes us completely unique. We don't know how to govern the world, we believe that it isn't possible to know how to govern the world. Human behavior is so complex compared to human imagination that it is the height of folly to imagine that you can make good decisions for people you've never met. The best you can do is let them make their own decisions, and how do you do that? By not interfering with them.
Even our strongest opponents can agree with this description of libertarianism. Statists agree that libertarians don't know how to run the world. It can be disarming when talking with them to take this approach.
What's the invisible hand? In "Wealth of Nations", economist Adam Smith painted the first large and detailed picture of how a free market works to meet society's needs. He coined the term "invisible hand" to describe how the individual greed of merchants in competition meets society's need for goods and services. Individual animals in an ecosystem live and die in fierce competition yet their efforts create balance and growth. So too individual businesses live and die in fierce competition yet their efforts create balance and growth. This is the invisible hand.
Each time you give of yourself, your time, your money, you are part of the invisible hand. The invisible hand of nature guides evolution of nature. The invisible hand of Adam Smith guides the evolution of commerce. In nature and in commerce, competition leads to constant evolution, adaptation, and improvement far beyond any intent of the participants.
The farmer, against nature, fertilizes some plants and poisons others distorting nature and creating imbalance. At least this imbalance keeps us fed. The government, against commerce, funds some enterprises and fines others distorting business and creating imbalance. This imbalance only hurts us for it is ourselves and our potential that is being distorted.
The invisible hand is unquestionably on the side of the libertarians. If libertarianism is going to move into the aquarian age it will need some vivid images with which to communicate. The invisible hand is one such image. The invisible hand is really nothing more or less than the real behavior of ordinary people, you and I. We are all part of the invisible hand. The invisible hand acts through all of us. The invisible hand is the force of evolution.
Being natural is very much in vogue these days, especially in consumer products. Perhaps we can show libertarianism to be natural also and take advantage of this trend.
Begin by watching how animals relate to each other. There are pecking orders, just like humans in corporations or the military. There are flocks of birds and schools of fish, just like humans at sporting events. There are mothers looking after young, just like humans. There is also a lot of territorial behavior, just like humans with their possessions.
Few behaviors are as widespread as territoriality. The tiny tropical fish, with a brain the size of a grain of sand, fiercely chases away other tropical fish of the same species. If property is some kind of abstract concept, how does it occur in creatures too simple to form abstractions? Does your dog have a favorite toy? Have you tried taking it away from him? Could you satisfy the dog with a substitute? Probably not, which indicates that the dog knows and cares which toy is his.
Property isn't just a convention made up by humans, it is one of the most widespread patterns in animal behavior. It is natural to humans just as it is natural to other higher animals.
There is another way in which libertarianism is most in tune with nature's way. Consider an ecosystem, like a woods or a lake. Bunches of different animals and plants all living together. Harmony? Depends on who you ask. The rabbit probably doesn't feel much harmony with the fox and only from our remote perspective can we see how they balance each other. But in spite of the constant eat or be eaten, the whole system works. The ecosystem as a whole remains healthy and adaptable if there is enough species diversity.
Bugs, weather, and disease come to natural systems, but when there are lots of different species, most of them will survive any particular threat and quickly move to fill the void left by those who don't survive.
Farming is a constant battle against nature because it greatly reduces species diversity. The farmer would like to have only wheat in a field but without his attention it would quickly evolve into an ecosystem with hundreds of species of plants and animals. The government is like some humans farming others. They have a plan for the types of activities and people they want to have but without their constant attention society evolves into hundreds of different activities and types. When they try to control humans they are, like the farmer, in a battle against nature.
One of the main principles that makes nature so rich is diversity. An economy with a great diversity of different types will quickly adapt to changing conditions. A diverse culture will be less susceptible to damage from any source. How is this wonderful diversity to be created? Diversity can't be created, it can only be allowed.
This is a libertarian commentary on the Affirmations of Humanism published in Free Inquiry, a humanist magazine.
Humanist: We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
Libertarian: The application of reason and science to politics is like the application of boiling water to snow. The common belief that powerful governments benefit mankind is manifestly unreasonable and unscientific. Many have come to libertarianism when reason led them away from the emotional appeals of politicians.
Humanist: We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
Libertarian: We deplore the efforts by our leaders to denigrate human intelligence when they explain the world in political terms and ask us to look to government instead of ourselves for salvation. The abstract concept of government is completely supernatural and does not explain the world at all.
Humanist: We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.
Libertarian: The libertarian movement has been criticized for having too many technologists and calling for the deregulation of controversial technologies. Scientific discovery and technology progress most rapidly when the hope of profits justifies the investment of time and money in research.
Humanist: We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
Libertarian: No society is more open than one with a libertarian administration since the only legal prohibitions are against force and fraud. Throughout history authoritarian elites and repressive majorities have murdered and tortured millions of people. Ending this oppression is our main goal.
Humanist: We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.
Libertarian: The incredible diversity and prosperity of the churches in the United States and the lack of bloodshed over religious issues is due to this separation. We would like to see other institutions such as agriculture, industry, business, transportation, housing, education, etc. achieve this same diversity, prosperity, and harmony by being separated from the state.
Humanist: We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
Libertarian: The arts of negotiation and compromise are essential to commercial success. Merchants and customers commonly resolve differences and achieve mutual understanding to their mutual benefit. The opposite of negotiation and compromise is authority and force, typically exercised by government. You cannot negotiate or compromise with government regulations.
Humanist: We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and violence.
Libertarian: We are concerned with increasing justice and fairness by reducing force and fraud in society. We do not believe violent means should be used to impose one group's concept of justice and fairness on another or that the use of violence is justified to prevent or enforce discrimination.
Humanist: We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.
Libertarian: Supporting the disadvantaged and handicapped is laudable as long as it is accomplished without violence. When the government dictates our behavior toward the handicapped and other minorities the resentment people naturally feel against arbitrary authority is misdirected at the minorities.
Humanist: We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the good of humanity.
Libertarian: We seek a world free of legal barriers and boundaries which now separate nations, races, and religions. The elimination of all laws based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, or ethnicity will be a major step forward in human progress.
Humanist: We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.
Libertarian: The desire to protect and enhance the earth is most evident in the developed nations where basic survival needs are not in question for most of the population. Only market forces can raise the standard of living to this level. As the consumers become more sensitive to the environment and the suffering of other species the producers must change accordingly to survive.
Humanist: We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to the fullest.
Libertarian: We would lift all legal restrictions on consensual activities to permit everyone to enjoy life as they see fit. Creative talents develop to their fullest where there is the most open communication and the least restrictions on behavior.
Humanist: We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.
Libertarian: We believe that voluntary interactions cultivate and reward moral excellence and that the government has no business dictating morality.
Humanist: We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.
Libertarian: We explicitly uphold the right to privacy and sexuality among consenting adults. People should never go to jail for any consensual activity connected with abortions or suicides. The most comprehensive and informed health care will come when people are free from laws restricting the practice of health care and empowered to create institutions which meet real needs instead of enriching a protected elite.
Humanist: We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
Libertarian: We believe voluntary interactions encourage and reward altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, and responsibility. Moral decency cannot be imposed from above, people develop their own standards when they do not fear authority but instead evaluate the consequences of their own behavior.
Humanist: We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.
Libertarian: Concern for the moral education of children has been a major force against compulsory state educational systems. Most parents will resist with all their resources when they see their children taught what they believe is wrong. Reason and compassion are best nourished where all ideas are free to compete.
Humanist: We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.
Libertarian: Government sponsorship has distorted both the arts and the sciences to their detriment. It should be ended. The angry response to overtly sexual art mostly occurs where it is tax supported. The criticism of expenditures for science is also mostly confined to government projects.
Humanist: We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.
Libertarian: We are strongly represented in space oriented and science fiction organizations. Many younger libertarians plan to be among the first space colonists and are excited about the commercialization of space.
Humanist: We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.
Libertarian: We are especially skeptical of untested claims to knowledge and wisdom by our leaders. Libertarians are frequently criticized for their openness to novel ideas.
Humanist: We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service of others.
Libertarian: We affirm libertarianism as a realistic alternative to the ideology of violence characteristic of powerful governments. Only free individuals can experience personal significance and enjoy genuine service to others.
This paper gives a short response to each question in a paper listing ten key green values. Nobody has all the answers but libertarians see excessive government at the root of most of the problems. Libertarians want to limit government to national defense, police protection for violent crime, and courts to arbitrate disputes. The Libertarian Party has run presidential candidates since 1972 and their platform addresses all major issues clearly and simply.
How can we operate human societies with an understanding that we are part of nature, not on top of it? Only by understanding that we are part of society, and not on top of it. How can we live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet, applying our technological knowledge to the challenge of an energy-efficient economy? Tax funded projects exceed ecological and resource limits worse than private projects. The technology we need will evolve most rapidly in an open market. How can we build a better relationship between cities and countryside? Regulations and tax structures divide city from country interests and set people against each other. How can we guarantee the rights of non-human species? Only market processes can do this without infringing on the rights of human beings. How can we promote sustainable agriculture and respect for self-regulating natural systems? Present agricultural policies are destroying both the environment and the farms. Deregulation will allow sustainable agriculture to flourish. How can we further biocentric wisdom in all spheres of life? State education never teaches wisdom, alternative schooling can.
How can we develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the decisions that affect our lives? The government doesn't want us to control our own lives and will suppress systems that allow it. How can we ensure that representatives will be fully accountable to the people who elected them? By not giving them excessive power. How can we develop planning mechanisms that would allow citizens to develop and implement their own preferences for policies and spending priorities? Citizens constantly plan and implement their own preferences and spending priorities in the market. Government interferes with them. How can we encourage and assist the "mediating institutions" — family, neighborhood organization, church group, voluntary association, ethnic club — recover some of the functions now performed by government? Join the libertarians; these are our goals. How can we relearn the best insights from American traditions of civic vitality, voluntary action, and community responsibility? Join the libertarians; these are our traditions.
How can we respond to human suffering in ways that promote dignity? Any system imaginable would promote dignity better than government welfare. How can we encourage people to commit themselves to lifestyles that promote their own health? By making people (not government) responsible for their own health. How can we have a community-controlled education system that effectively teaches our children academic skills, ecological wisdom, social responsibility, and personal growth? Such systems can only evolve in the absence of compulsory government schools. How can we resolve interpersonal and intergroup conflicts without just turning them over to lawyers and judges? Paid arbitrators are a fast, fair, free market alternative to institutional justice. How can we take responsibility for reducing the crime rate in our neighborhoods? End the prohibition of drugs to take the profit out of crime. End gun control to make violence less safe for criminals. Focus all police activity on violent crime instead of victimless crime. How can we encourage such values as simplicity and moderation? By encouraging people to reject the authoritarian and violent values fostered by government.
How can we, as a society, develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the street to nations and the world? The Libertarian Party is explicitly nonviolent and has a noninterventionist foreign policy. How can we eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth without being naive about the intentions of governments? A libertarian nation would need few missiles since it wouldn't be meddling in other countries affairs. How can we most constructively use non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree and in the process reduce the atmosphere of polarization and selfishness that is itself a source of violence? Libertarians are using non-violent methods to free us all from oppressive government practices and policies (which promote polarization and violence by forcing centralization and uniformity).
How can we restore power and responsibility to individuals, institutions, communities and regions? By taking power and responsibility back from the government. How can we encourage the flourishing of regionally-based culture rather than a dominant monoculture? Government imposes a dominant monoculture. Reduce its power and alternatives will flourish. How can we have a decentralized, Democratic society with our political, economic, and social institutions locating power on the smallest scale (closest to home) that is efficient and practical? Locate power in the individual. Only empowered individuals can create such a society. How can we redesign our institutions so that fewer decisions and less regulation over money are granted as one moves from the community toward the national level? The Libertarian Party platform calls for radical redesign of our government institutions toward fewer decisions and less regulation over people and money. How can we reconcile the need for community and regional self-determination with the need for appropriate centralized regulation in certain matters? Libertarians are skeptical of the need for centralized regulation in most matters. We favor individual self-determination.
How can we redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy? The improved morale and adaptability of employee owned democratic workplaces gives them a competitive advantage over those with obsolete hierarchical management. Deregulation will amplify this advantage. How can we develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological, and accountable and responsive to communities? Present government policies form a major barrier to the development of appropriate new activities and institutions. This barrier should be removed. How can we move beyond the narrow "job ethic" to new definitions of "work," "jobs," and "income" that reflect the changing economy? State education and regulations impose these obsolete concepts and obstruct change. How can we restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal, monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc.? We can each restructure the distribution of our own income to reflect these values. How can we restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation? We give them size and power by buying their products. If we don't buy, they don't survive.
How can we replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways of interacting? Government is the biggest patriarchal institution in our culture. It is based on the ethic of dominance and control. Reject the culture of government and cooperation will blossom. How can we encourage people to care about persons outside their own group? By removing barriers to trade, travel, and charity. By abandoning the myth of the government safety net. How can we promote the building of respectful, positive, and responsible relationships across the lines of gender and other divisions? Laws which now dictate our relationships destroy respect, responsibility, and harmony. They should be repealed. How can we encourage a rich, diverse political culture that respects feelings as well as rationalist approaches? Libertarians welcome voluntary social experimentation and the diversity it brings. How can we proceed with as much respect for the means as well as the end (the process as much as the products of our efforts)? Libertarians firmly reject the initiation of force as a means of achieving any social or political end. How can we learn to respect the contemplative, inner part of life as much as the outer activities? Only if we have the leisure time generated by a free and prosperous economy.
How can we honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility to all beings? Government suppresses diversity and takes away responsibility. Reduce its power. While honoring diversity, how can we reclaim our country's finest shared ideals: the dignity of the individual, democratic participation, and liberty and justice for all? Join the libertarians; these are our ideals.
How can we be of genuine assistance to grassroots groups in the Third World? By eliminating barriers to travel and trade. By denouncing dictatorships in Third World nations. By withdrawing our troops. What can we learn from such groups? How to function in a dictatorship. How can we help other countries make the transition to self-sufficiency in food and other basic necessities? By eliminating barriers to travel and trade. By denouncing dictatorships in Third World nations. By withdrawing our troops. How can we cut our military budget while maintaining an adequate defense? By bringing our troops home from foreign soil and ceasing our meddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. How can we promote these ten green values in the reshaping of global order? By working with and through the libertarians. How can we reshape world order without creating just another enormous nation-state? By supporting the libertarian revolt against oppressive governments everywhere.
How can we induce people and institutions to think in terms of the long-range future, and not just in terms of their short-range selfish interest? Short-range thinking is an adaptation to an environment where government rules can change at any time and taxes destroy long term investments. How can we encourage people to develop their own visions of the future and move more effectively toward them? By not allowing government to impose the vision of the few on the unwilling many. How can we judge whether new technologies are socially useful — and use those judgments to improve our society? As consumers we use our judgment to choose technology that improves our society. The government spends our money on weapons and technology to control us. How can we induce our government and other institutions to practice fiscal responsibility? By withholding our support. How can we make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking? Whatever qualities you desire for your life, you are more likely to get them from an open market than from any government program or agency.
This is a libertarian perspective on ecological wisdom. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we operate human societies with an understanding that we are part of nature, not on top of it? Only by understanding that we are part of society, not on top of it. Human society is not separate from us. We cannot "operate" people without dehumanizing them. We can change our behaviors to reflect our beliefs. We can also encourage and inspire others to change theirs. But forcing others to conform to our beliefs is oppression.
How can we live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet, applying our technological knowledge to the challenge of an energy-efficient economy? As the availability of any resource starts to dwindle, the price will rise. This rise in price is the most certain, fair, and automatic way to conserve any resource. Not only does it require no rules or bureaucracy but it generates the funds to finance the creation of alternatives. The rise in price of a resource causes the alternatives to become economically viable. The increasing cost of vanishing resources not only causes universal conservation and the search for alternatives but funds the development of alternative technologies without any need for central control or planning. Centrally planned tax funded projects often exceed ecological and resource limits worse than private projects. Government is without question one of the worst despoilers of the environment and wasters of resources. Countries such as the former Soviet Union, where the government took complete responsibility for the environment, have suffered environmental catastrophes far worse than anything the market would ever produce.
How can we build a better relationship between cities and countryside? The relationship between city and country interests should be symbiotic and harmonious. Each forms a market for the goods and services produced by the other. Regulations and tax structures divide city from country interests and set people against each other. City planners often use their power to take control of the land from country dwellers creating an adversarial relationship. The different cultures which arise in the city and country should provide enrichment and entertainment for everyone. When a strong government imposes the same cultural values on both the former harmony is replaced by fear of forced change to an alien culture.
How can we guarantee the rights of non-human species? Kindness to animals is a cultural trend which we applaud and expect to continue. But enforcement of any guarantee would require violence against humans who disagreed and thereby constitute a violation of human rights. Increasing consumer awareness has lead many producers of foods and cosmetics to change their practices in order to avoid losing market share to their more sensitive competitors. This is a natural, appropriate, and nonviolent way to improve the treatment of animals.
How can we promote sustainable agriculture and respect for self-regulating natural systems? Self regulating natural systems are the most efficient and economical for the farmer in the absence of senseless bureaucratic interference but present national and state agricultural policies are destroying both the environment and the farms. Government subsidies and regulations have led to the evolution of a wasteful and polluting agricultural system. Subsidies favor larger over smaller farms and tax structures encourage excessive investment in fertilizer and capital equipment. The inheritance tax in particular has forced family farms to incorporate to avoid being eaten away. Deregulation will allow sustainable agriculture to flourish.
How can we further biocentric wisdom in all spheres of life? The political and cultural agendas of government run schools rarely include biocentric wisdom since that pressure group is not as well funded as others. It is not in the interest of the government that the people learn biocentric wisdom since this might make them skeptical of bureaucratic central control. The more influence the government has on our daily lives, the media, and the educational system, the less we will be exposed to biocentric wisdom in these spheres. Compulsory state education is not teaching biocentric wisdom, alternative schooling can.
This is a libertarian perspective on grassroots democracy. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the decisions that effect our lives? By reducing the ability of the government to prevent us from controlling the decisions in our lives. People like to control their own lives but the mission of government is to prevent people from controlling their lives. The more we support it and give it power the less control we will have. It is a reflection of how far we have fallen that we need to develop systems to "allow" us to control our lives.
How can we ensure that representatives will be fully accountable to the people who elected them? By not giving them excessive power. The egotism and disrespect shown by our "representatives" is so blatant as to need no comment. The anti-incumbent, anti-tax, and term limitation movements are positive signs that the people are waking up to how badly their trust has been abused and taking positive action towards change.
How can we develop planning mechanisms that would allow citizens to develop and implement their own preferences for policies and spending priorities? People constantly plan and implement their own preferences and spending priorities when government allows them. Every time you purchase any kind of goods or services you implement your preferences and spending priorities. Attempting to control the way your money is spent after the government has taken it away from you is hopeless but your own spending preferences and priorities are manifested every time you buy anything. Tariffs are a deliberate effort to alter spending priorities geographically. People addicted to nicotine and alcohol are impoverished by misguided governmental efforts to control their spending priorities by imposing excessive taxes. Graduated income taxes are intended to prevent the wealthy from implementing their spending priorities.
How can we encourage and assist the "mediating institutions" — family, neighborhood organization, church group, voluntary association, ethnic club — recover some of the functions now performed by government? Join the libertarians; these are our goals. Taking power back from the government is the main goal of the libertarian movement. Mediating institutions won't need any encouragement or assistance once they are allowed back into their rightful niche in society. They will grow into their functions naturally since they reflect the genuine will of the people. Libertarians are tightly focused on transferring power away from the government and thus empowering other institutions such as families, neighborhood organizations, church groups, voluntary associations, and ethnic clubs.
How can we relearn the best insights from American traditions of civic vitality, voluntary action, and community responsibility? Join the libertarians; these are our traditions. All these traditions were strong when the government was weak. Regulations often interfere with civic vitality, voluntary action, and community responsibility. There is a direct conflict between the growth of centralized control and these traditions.
This is a libertarian perspective on personal and social responsibility. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we respond to human suffering in ways that promote dignity? A giant impersonal bureaucracy financed by involuntary taxation has replaced the thousands of diverse institutions that used to respond to human suffering. Only the libertarians have the courage to declare the welfare system a disaster and call for its end. Humans want to respond to human suffering but the system imposed on us now is the worst of all possible ways and it inhibits the evolution of more humane alternatives.
How can we encourage people to commit themselves to lifestyles that promote their own health? By making people (not government) responsible for their own health. Medical knowledge, medical tools, and medical skills have been restricted by law to a wealthy elite. Knowledge, tools, and skills need to be allowed into the population so everyone can learn about and do more of their own medicine and their own health. The FDA must lose its power to withhold lifesaving drugs from the people. The AMA must lose its power to put people in jail for practicing healing arts. The present cultural trends toward healthier lifestyles are encouraging and will accelerate if people are given greater responsibility.
How can we have a community-controlled education system that effectively teaches our children academic skills, ecological wisdom, social responsibility, and personal growth? Such systems can only evolve in the absence of compulsory government schools. The education system does not need to be "controlled" any more than the entertainment system. Since we want our children to acquire certain skills and knowledge a market in education will make these available without the need for any centralized control. The political instead of educational agenda of compulsory schools teaches only obedience and servility. Let people purchase whatever education they want and the educational institutions will compete to provide it.
How can we resolve interpersonal and intergroup conflicts without just turning them over to lawyers and judges? Paid arbitrators and mediators are a fast, fair, free market alternative to governmental justice. All that is necessary is for both parties to agree to abide by the decision of an arbitrator and pay their (usually reasonable) fee. Since arbitrators are in the business of marketing justice they try to provide the best quality at a reasonable price. If they become slow, corrupt, or overly expensive they will lose business to competing arbitrators.
How can we take responsibility for reducing the crime rate in our neighborhoods? End the prohibition of drugs to take the profit out of crime. End gun control to make violence less safe for criminals. Focus all police activity on violent crime instead of victimless crime. The drug war is responsible for most violent crime and should be abandoned immediately before more lives are lost. The libertarians are the largest organization with the courage to state the obvious; the drug war is bogus and violence will continue to increase until we end it. The government has also aggravated the neighborhood crime problem by disarming the peaceful honest people. Most people hate violence and it can only flourish where the majority of the people are deliberately rendered powerless to intervene. This allows the violent minority to terrorize the peaceful majority with impunity. The people then support the building of more jails and the writing of more laws without realizing that this approach will never solve the problem. The United States already has a higher percentage of its population behind bars than any other nation and half of them are there for victimless crimes. This is absurd. If the government would empower the people instead of trying to mother them the problem would be solved.
How can we encourage such values as simplicity and moderation? By encouraging people to reject the authoritarian and violent values fostered by government. Simplicity and moderation don't come from government. They come from the peace and harmony that can only flourish in an atmosphere free of fear and distrust.
This is a libertarian perspective on nonviolence. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we, as a society, develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the street to nations and the world? The Libertarian Party is explicitly nonviolent and has a noninterventionist foreign policy. Many of our current patterns of violence have their roots in our own oppression. The justification of violent means to enforce trivial laws promotes the acceptance of violence to settle disputes. The rampant violence in the drug trade is wholly attributable to the misguided and unwinnable drug war declared on the people by the government. This policy raises prices to absurd levels making theft necessary to support otherwise cheap drug habits. A second policy that encourages violence in the drug trade is the absence of enforceable contracts or protection of property rights. If the government refused to enforce contracts involving jewelry or acknowledge anyone's right to possess jewelry there would certainly be a lot of violence connected with the jewelry trade. Only the libertarians explicitly call for the withdrawal of our troops from foreign soil; a major step toward global peace.
How can we eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth without being naive about the intentions of governments? A libertarian nation would need few missiles since it wouldn't be meddling in other countries affairs. The Libertarian Party platform explicitly calls for the withdrawal of all of our troops from foreign soil. In spite of their availability for many years, atomic weapons remain limited to the defense forces of national governments. The only reason they have not been used by terrorists is their global unpopularity. Nonintervention is not naiveté. We can recognize that bloodthirsty despots rule many nations and still see the wisdom in not meddling in their affairs. Our intervention often makes them stronger and more hostile. Instead we can show the people of oppressed nations how much better off they could be without their oppressors. We can lead by example. As governments everywhere become less powerful and less hostile the world will become a safer place and the need for atomic weapons will fade away.
How can we most constructively use non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree and in the process reduce the atmosphere of polarization and selfishness that is itself a source of violence? Libertarians are using non-violent methods to free us all from oppressive government practices and policies (which promote polarization and violence by forcing centralization and uniformity). There is a broad spectrum of non-violent means available today. The boycott is powerful and effective against anyone doing business with the public. The electoral process is also available to express public disapproval of misguided policies. Civil disobedience has a history of success mainly through the media attention it draws.
Polarization is reduced between people who want to do business. The boss is always right and so is the customer. Violence will be reduced to its lowest point in an environment with the most opportunities to acquire and maintain wealth by nonviolent means.
This is a libertarian perspective on decentralization. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we restore power and responsibility to individuals, institutions, communities and regions? By taking power and responsibility back from the government. The power that used to be held by individuals, institutions, communities and regions has in recent times been seized by the central government with its myriad agencies and bureaucrats. Libertarians call for massive reduction of government power and the return of responsibility and power to individuals.
How can we encourage the flourishing of regionally-based culture rather than a dominant monoculture? Government imposes a dominant monoculture. Reduce its power and alternatives will flourish. The traditional regional cultures used to be a source of pride and profit to the people. The dominant national government imposes uniform standards and practices without regard for regional differences. When its power is reduced the regional differences will grow and the harmonious diversity we used to enjoy will return.
How can we have a decentralized, democratic society with our political, economic, and social institutions locating power on the smallest scale (closest to home) that is efficient and practical? Locate power in the individual. Empowered individuals can create such a society but it cannot be imposed from above. Individuals are the most efficient and practical scale for the location of power since they will use their power to create voluntary political, economic, and social institutions to meet their diverse needs. The most decentralized and democratic society is the one with the most fully empowered individuals. This is the goal of the libertarians.
How can we redesign our institutions so that fewer decisions and less regulation over money are granted as one moves from the community toward the national level? The Libertarian Party platform calls for radical redesign of our national government institutions toward fewer decisions and less regulation over people and money. Libertarians would like to limit our national level decisions and regulations to the barest minimum.
How can we reconcile the need for community and regional self- determination with the need for appropriate centralized regulation in certain matters? Libertarians are skeptical of the need for centralized regulation in most matters. We favor individual self-determination. Regulations are usually self defeating, often amplifying the very problems they were intended to solve. Individuals are naturally self-determining unless they are forcibly prevented by regulations. Community and regional self-determination can only grow when the power of the national government over communities and regions is diminished.
This is a libertarian perspective on community-based economics. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy? The improved morale and adaptability of employee owned democratic workplaces gives them a competitive advantage over those with obsolete hierarchical management. Deregulation will amplify this advantage. Redesign of work structures grows more important every day as the international business climate changes. Only the most flexible and responsive businesses will survive in this environment of ever accelerating change. Government regulations freeze and stifle structural change in the workplace, preventing the experimentation and evolution necessary in today's global economy.
How can we develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological, and accountable and responsive to communities? Present government policies prevent the development of appropriate new activities and institutions. The evolution of new economic activities and institutions rarely comes from the central authorities but rather from creative individuals and organizations. People everywhere want to use technology in humane, freeing, and ecological ways but they are often prevented by a web of archaic and outdated regulations imposed by the central government and its bureaucrats.
How can we move beyond the narrow "job ethic" to new definitions of "work," "jobs," and "income" that reflect the changing economy? State education and regulations impose these obsolete concepts and obstruct change. New and diverse relationships between people who create their own definitions among themselves of "work", "jobs" and "income" usually must be created in spite of and in opposition to the prevailing legal definitions of these things by such agencies as the IRS.
How can we restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal, monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc.? We can each restructure the distribution of our own income to reward those around us who perform these services. We benefit from our own such efforts in both monetary and nonmonetary ways. People are forced out of (or into) the monetary economy by the IRS and other regulators.
How can we restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation? We give them size and power by buying their products. If we don't buy, they don't survive. The advantage of size is amplified in a heavily regulated society since large firms can more easily sustain the additional expense and effort the regulations require. Large corporations can also afford to send lobbyists to Washington to create regulations which suppress smaller and more innovative competing firms. The thousands of small businesses each with their own ideas should be free to compete on an equal footing with the giants. Regulations obstruct them, encouraging the giants and punishing the innovators. Libertarians generally favor strict liability and some feel the limited liability of corporations encourages their irresponsible behavior.
This is a libertarian perspective on postpatriarchal values. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways of interacting? Government is the main patriarchal institution in our culture. It is based on the ethic of dominance and control. Reject the patriarchal culture of government and cooperation will blossom. Free the schools. Free the airwaves. Withhold your support of government and avoid dependence on it. Goals which can only be met by dominance and control (government action) are patriarchal goals.
How can we encourage people to care about persons outside their own group? By removing barriers to communication, trade, travel, and charity. By abandoning the myth of the government safety net. Caring grows where there is no exploitation or restriction but through taxes and regulations we exploit and restrict each other needlessly.
How can we promote the building of respectful, positive, and responsible relationships across the lines of gender and other divisions? Respectful, positive, and responsible relationships cannot be created by law. Laws which dictate our relationships create an atmosphere of oppression which destroys respect, responsibility, and harmony. Only when these laws have been repealed will we see real progress. Merchants everywhere compete to build respectful, positive, and responsible relationships with their customers in spite of legal, natural, and cultural divisions. Libertarians are working to remove the legal divisions between people everywhere.
How can we encourage a rich, diverse political culture that respects feelings as well as rationalist approaches? Libertarians welcome voluntary social experimentation and the diversity it brings. Government seldom encourages political diversity and rarely shows respect for feelings. Only a libertarian administration can accept political experimentation and allow any voluntary system to evolve and flourish. Some political cultures respect feelings and some do not. Prohibiting the initiation of force eliminates fear of violent retribution for the expression of feelings.
How can we proceed with as much respect for the means as well as the end (the process as much as the products of our efforts)? Libertarianism is means oriented. Party members must sign a pledge that they reject the initiation of force as a means of achieving any social or political goal. The exclusion of violence is a unique and identifying characteristic of libertarianism. History shows us again and again how powerful and well meaning rulers using violent means have created only destruction and misery in spite of their best intentions. Libertarians believe the process of violence poisons the products of anyone's efforts, no matter how well intentioned.
How can we learn to respect the contemplative, inner part of life as much as the outer activities? Only if we have the leisure time generated by a free and prosperous economy. People become contemplative when their material needs are met and no system generates as much material wealth as the free market. Eliminating all censorship and other barriers to communication encourages exploration of our inner selves and sharing of what we learn.
This is a libertarian perspective on respect for diversity. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility to all beings? There is no conflict between honor for diversity and individual responsibility. They reinforce each other since a heightened sense of individuality promotes awareness of the vast differences between people. Genuine honor and respect must come from the individual and cannot be imposed from without by threats of punishment for noncompliance. Yet the government routinely punishes those who do not pretend to accept those cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious, and spiritual people and practices which have obtained political power. The normal and natural resistance and resentment people feel to being pushed around is then mistakenly directed toward the people and practices forced upon them by the regulations. The outcome is suspicion and hostility which would not have occurred in the absence of regulation. The libertarians stress individual responsibility in all areas and honor the cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious, and spiritual diversity which comes with it. The government suppresses diversity and takes away responsibility. Reduce its power and allow people to learn to live in harmony at their own pace instead of trying to compel respect and understanding.
While honoring diversity, how can we reclaim our country's finest shared ideals: the dignity of the individual, democratic participation, and liberty and justice for all? None have more respect for diversity or are more concerned about the dignity of the individual than the libertarians. For over twenty years the Libertarian Party has been participating in the democratic process on a local, state, and national level in spite of oppressive ballot access laws and a media blackout. Liberty and justice for all will never come from a heavily taxed and heavily regulated society since taxes and regulations always interfere with liberty and justice.
This is a libertarian perspective on global responsibility. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we be of genuine assistance to grassroots groups in the Third World? By eliminating barriers to travel and trade. By denouncing dictatorships in Third World nations. By withdrawing our troops. Access to markets in the United States would be a tremendous economic boost to third world nations. The opportunity to travel here, learn, and bring back what is best in our culture would unleash the human potential of people now living with ignorance and disease. Most third world nations remain impoverished and oppressed because they are ruled by dictators with no concept of freedom or democracy. Our reluctance to identify the cause of their problems helps keep these people starving and enslaved. Sending military forces abroad reinforces their dependency and hopelessness and destroys their cultures by transplanting the worst of ours.
What can we learn from such groups? How to function in a dictatorship. As our own government becomes more intrusive and oppressive we will find ourselves adopting some of the survival strategies common in third world nations. Subsistence farming is common there but almost forgotten here. It is a skill we may have to relearn if our market economy is so disabled that it can no longer provide for our necessities.
How can we help other countries make the transition to self-sufficiency in food and other basic necessities? Many of the most successful and prosperous nations are not self-sufficient in food or other basic necessities. But if this is what the people desire they can achieve it most quickly by massive deregulation within their own borders. All over the world there are farmers who know how to farm and petty tyrants who kill them when they try. Most third world nations could export food if they were not ruled by dictators who were intent on controlling the food supply to control the people.
How can we cut our military budget while maintaining an adequate defense? By bringing our troops home from foreign soil and ceasing our meddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. Only the Libertarian Party is willing to take the step toward world peace of withdrawing our troops from foreign soil yet what could be more obvious? This simple step would cut the military budget dramatically and the money paid to our troops would be spent here on domestic goods and services. Our constant and costly meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign nations has promoted hostility and conflict all over the world and made us countless angry enemies. There is no excuse for this, it is contrary to our character as a people and our self interest as a nation.
How can we promote these ten green values in the reshaping of global order? By working with and through the libertarians. Only the libertarians have been working consistently for twenty years toward the promotion of these values all over the world. Only the libertarians have consistently opposed the emergence of new and more powerful global governments who's idea of global order is global slavery.
How can we reshape world order without creating just another enormous nation-state? By supporting the libertarian revolt against oppressive governments everywhere. Libertarians are adamant and focused against the increasing power of national and supernational governments everywhere. World order is being dramatically reshaped by a global libertarian revolution as people everywhere are waking up and throwing off their oppressors. Join the nonviolent revolution, join the libertarians.
This is a libertarian perspective on future focus. The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the Greens.
How can we induce people and institutions to think in terms of the long-range future, and not just in terms of their short-range selfish interest? Short-range thinking is an adaptation to an environment where regulations can change at any time and taxes destroy long term investments. People and institutions used to have much longer range plans but these proved to be maladaptive in today's world. Inheritance taxes destroy family farms, capital gains taxes destroy long term investment. The IRS promotes investment in insane and nonproductive tax shelters. The long range future has been poisoned by the prospect of ever increasing government intrusion thus forcing people into short range planning. It is hard to plan for changes in the market but it is impossible to plan for changes in the regulations. People can and will plan more rationally in a deregulated economy.
How can we encourage people to develop their own visions of the future and move more effectively toward them? By not allowing government to impose the vision of the few on the unwilling many. People all have their own visions and one of the main barriers to the attainment of these visions is the wall of bureaucracy and regulation faced by anyone with new cultural, technological, or business ideas. Tear down these walls and the visions of the people will flourish.
How can we judge whether new technologies are socially useful — and use those judgments to improve our society? As consumers we use our judgment to choose technology that improves our lives and thus our society. The government spends our money on weapons to control us and civil engineering projects that destroy our environment. More people are becoming more socially conscious all the time and their spending habits reflect this growing awareness. If we, as consumers, purchase socially useful technology that is what the market will produce.
How can we induce our government and other institutions to practice fiscal responsibility? By withholding our support. It is unreasonable to expect elected officials not to spend the money they are allocated. Fiscal responsibility is a natural response to limited resources. It is our responsibility as citizens to limit the resources we allocate to government by rejecting new taxes and protesting present ones. The tax protests and balanced budget movements show that people are becoming aware and active on this issue. Work with them, work with us.
How can we make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking? Whatever qualities you desire for your life, you are more likely to get them from an open market than from any government program or agency. For people who have lived generations in grinding poverty economic growth is strongly associated with quality of life and it would be unjust to deny them the opportunity to experience it. Those who seek quality of life improvements in other ways will often find those other ways blocked by government regulations. Libertarians want to remove the burden of heavy taxes from those who seek economic growth and to remove the barrier of excessive regulation from those who seek other ways to improve their quality of life.
Three different types of believers have a similar thought pattern.
Fundamentalist: God is in control and would never harm his children so as a child of God I am safe. Those who oppose God threaten my safety so I must enforce God's will against all who oppose it.
Socialist: The government is in control and would never harm its subjects so as a loyal subject I am safe. Those who oppose the government threaten my safety so I must enforce the will of the government against all who oppose it.
Environmentalist: Nature should be in control and would never harm her children so as nature's child I am safe. Those who oppose nature threaten my safety so I must enforce nature's way against all who oppose it.
In many places the majority believe God is in control and they are the children of God. The bible says God would never hurt his children. Fundamentalists rail against immorality because it challenges God's authority and thus threatens their safety. If people can disobey God with impunity then all security and safety is lost and the world is a frightening place with no certain limits on what people can do.
Government schools and mass media tell us the government is in control. The uproar when veterans are mistreated or the police are killed by mere citizens reveals a belief that the government should never let its subjects be harmed. Socialists rail against those who challenge the government's power because it threatens their safety. If people can disobey regulations with impunity then all security and safety is lost and the world is a frightening place with no certain limits on what people can do.
Unlike the previous two cases nature is often not in control but the environmentalist believes she should be. The assumption that nature would never harm her children is shown by environmentalists who ignore the harmfulness of natural toxins and carcinogens. Environmentalists rail against scientists and engineers who challenge nature's control and thus threaten the safety of nature's children. If people can defy nature with impunity then all security and safety is lost and the world is a frightening place with no certain limits on what people can do.
In each case a childhood emotional dynamic has been retained into adulthood. God, government, or nature assumes the role of a child's parents to become a universal parent for adults. Believers can't be reasoned out of their loyalties any more than a child can be reasoned out of family loyalty.
Normal adults develop powers of observation and reasoning sufficient to overcome childhood dependencies and assume individual responsibility for thought and action. The growth of these powers is reduced however if the environment of the child is flooded with superficial positive images of God, government, and nature.
The development of objectivity is further complicated by the adolescent thrill of rebellion against authority. Angry adolescent rebellion and independent adult thought are both pleasurable and therefore easily confused. Some will see this essay as mere rebellion against authority but I believe my thrill comes from the discovery of hidden patterns because I also feel it when solving other types of puzzles.
Those of you who came to libertarianism like I did, through economics, probably have a special fondness for the idea of transactions. Transactions are the great equalizer and maker of friends. Any two people who trade are acting as partners and both benefit or they wouldn't participate. The objectivists especially emphasize the difference between transaction and theft as a conceptual tool for illustrating the difference between market and government.
It may come as a surprise therefore, when I say that transactions are not the atom of economics, gifts are. Transactions are just gifts bound together in pairs like the atoms of nitrogen in the air. Just as nitrogen is inert when the atoms are paired, transactions are tremendously useful compared to other gift giving customs. We give away our money to strangers because we have the expectation that these strangers will then give us merchandise. Without this pairing we would have to individually know and trust everyone we dealt with. Only in small groups like families and tribes can this be the case.
Gifts also provide a way to extend the idea of a free market to primitive cultures. Sometimes these societies don't have anything we could really call a market economy but are instead permeated with elaborate gift giving rituals. A citizen's status and whole life may be determined by the gifts they give.
Where gift giving exists in any culture personal property exists there also. Only what is owned can be given, only by the owner, and the receiver becomes the new owner. Many view ownership as evil and greedy, but who abolishes ownership also abolishes gift giving.
The idea of gifts extends to the emotional and psychological realm. We give our attention, our time, to those around us. You give to others by talking, listening, making love, playing chess, rescuing from drowning, etc., it is a benevolent expression of personal power. It might seem that we have power over others by threatening withdrawal, but if the gift is withdrawn the power vanishes.
Gift giving can be extended to include all the things we do for others and all they do for us. We all know people who seem to do well in life without working. They have found other ways, such as charm, to cause people to give them what they need. We give labor to our children, parents, and lovers because we want them to be happy. We give labor to our bosses because they give us money. We give money to merchants because when we do they give us the things we want.
Gift giving puts a whole different perspective on theft. Suppose someone breaks into my house and steals something. I can take the attitude that I have accidentally made them a gift, and take care not to have such accidents in the future. I may find myself in a dark alley giving my wallet to a stranger with a knife. The gift isn't an accident but the situation is. This shifts my perspective from right vs wrong to caution vs carelessness. This attitude toward robbery can now be applied to taxes without any moral confusion. Instead of wasting time on anger you can immediately look for ways to improve the situation.
Even violence and aggression are describable in terms of gifts. Everything from a neighbor's dog barking to a bullet wound can be considered unwanted gifts. You may think of new ways to deal with aggression by looking at it this way.
What does the government give us? Let's ignore those cases where it provides money to a specific person like a welfare recipient. Whatever it gives must first have been given to it by taxpayers, usually many times over. Perhaps what government gives is law, order, authority. The need for authority is strong in many people. They are getting value for value, a feeling of being in the right in return for some of their income and autonomy. The problem of government doesn't lie with them, for them it is a solution, albeit a bad one, to a significant need. The punch line is that these needs can be easily met without government. The world is full of churches and businesses telling their members and employees just how to behave. Businesses pay well for obedience and a church will assure you that you are superior in the eyes of the Lord as long as you do as they say.
This essay is my gift to you. Look at your personal, economic, and political behavior in terms of gift giving and see what happens.
Essays from a talk delivered at the 1986 convention of the Libertarian Party of Florida by Harry Reid
Some of you remember me from the 1984 state convention where I spoke mainly of techniques of communication with nonlibertarians. This was looking outward, trying to see out from libertarianism to see things through the eyes of others and understand their feelings. This time is different. This time we will be looking inward, subjecting libertarianism itself to scrutiny from different perspectives and examining some aspects that, I hope, you will find useful or at least entertaining.
I will begin with my own perspective on what internal disagreement I have observed within the ranks of the libertarian movement. I give you two images. First, arguing amongst ourselves about the difference between little government and no government is like arguing about the right amount of bilge water for a boat while the boat is sinking under the waves. Perhaps a little bilge water does no harm, perhaps not. Right now let us realize our mutual interest in staying afloat and bail. Second image: arguing about the right amount of government society needs is like arguing about whether you need a fire in your house to keep warm while the house is burning down around you. Again, let us work together to bring the government under some kind of control. Until we have a small government it will be impossible to know the effects of reducing it further. Unless we make the government smaller, it may become impossible for us to continue to exist on this planet at all.
Close your eyes and envision an iceberg. See the whiteness, the waves, perhaps birds flying about. How many envisioned the part that was below the waterline, even though you knew that was most of it? This is how I perceive the Libertarian Party, the tip of the iceberg. It's only a small part of a big movement but it's the only part most people see, indeed the only part most people can see. What I will talk about is largely the part underwater. Not just the large number of silent sympathizers out there but the inner workings of the ideology itself. The libertarianism between your ears.
The problem of government actions can often be seen as the problem of the rest of us. When the Apple Macintosh computer was first advertised they used the slogan "The computer for the rest of us." The slogan applies to libertarians in some ways. Many envision government supported health care as a good thing for all concerned and I have no quarrel with their joining forces and doing it among themselves. But what about the rest of us, who may disagree, we're forced to pay for it anyway. The media find it easy to cover the people with the plans and schemes for solving everybody's problems, but they find it very hard to cover the rest of us. Wanting to control your neighbor's life is news, living your own life independently is not news. Failing to cope is news, coping isn't.
Folks tell me of their visions of society and how the world could change and be a better place. I try not to oppose these visions, instead I ask if there is some way to achieve them without violence. This is one of the bottom lines, the pivot point between our friends and enemies. If someone has a plan for society, no matter how regimented, and wants to bring it forth completely without violence or the threat of violence, we do not oppose that. Libertarians are the only ones, in fact, who can be absolutely relied upon to permit any nonviolent social experiment. Most idealists abhor the violence in their vision of society, so most will agree with you in rejecting it. Work with that agreement, and stress that this is the only objection you have to their vision. Show them ways the government obstructs their goals, describe likely future obstructions. Remind them how horribly wrong many visions have gone when implemented by the government and how well others have turned out when implemented voluntarily. People should not have to abandon their visions to become libertarian sympathizers and even supporters. All they have to do is believe that their vision stands a better chance with us than with the Republicans or Democrats.
One of the reasons I feel optimistic about our movement in the long run is that we are entering the information age. As more information becomes available in more useful form to everyone, it will become clearer that government works badly, if at all, as a means to achieve social ends. This process has already begun. A good friend of mine pointed out a significant long term trend in movies. When was the last time you saw a movie where the government was portrayed as the good guys? Even on cop shows the heroes are generally either somewhat independent of the politicians or working past them and in spite of them. In the sixties though, it was still possible for politicians to be heroes, not any more, and never again.
Information is also a useful viewpoint on the question of property vs politics as an allocation of decision making power in a society. If the allocation is based on property, a person can make almost any decisions about certain things and within a certain area. Outside this area when dealing with others they are limited by the need for the agreement with the owners. When decision making power is allocated by political process, the decisions you make touch thousands of people throughout the society and their decisions touch you. You control by threat the lives of people you will never meet and they control your life by threat also. Since the process is not individual there is a need for some elaborate protocol for generating or pretending to generate agreement. Which approach will result in the highest quality decisions? In the property case your decisions are all concerning the things nearest and dearest to you. The consequences of good or bad decisions come quickly and naturally to you and increase or decrease your influence by increasing or decreasing your property. These are optimum conditions for intelligent decision making and fast learning. With political process you are making decisions based on hearsay, through an elaborate agreement generating protocol, concerning the lives and lifestyles of people you will never meet. How much easier it is to make bad decisions and never know the consequences of them.
Descriptions of libertarianism generally emphasize individual rights and property rights. But rights come in all sorts of flavors, such as the right to work, the right of free speech, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to free medical treatment etc, they go on and on. Most folk, including most libertarians, separate the rights into two piles labeled "real" and "not real". Sorting rules are part of each ideology.
Perhaps the feeling of having rights is related to the feeling of being in the right and rights can be understood as emotional experiences. Our pets experience a range of emotions without much abstract thought, consider a dog's right to a bone. If you don't think the dog has this right you will deal with the dog's teeth. Although the dog has no explicit conception of rights, he behaves just as if he did. The only thing in question is your agreement with the dog.
Suppose we replace the word "right" with "agreement". What's changed? For one thing, there is little misunderstanding about agreement and a lot of misunderstanding about right. Suppose we had an agreement of free speech, an agreement to keep and bear arms, an agreement to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With whom would we have these agreements? With each other? With the government? Do rights exist for those who disagree? Do rights exist whether anyone agrees or not? Is it possible to have rights you yourself disagree with? It is certainly possible to not have rights that you think you have, witness someone explaining their right to free medical care to a libertarian.
To a human being in isolation, rights are irrelevant. Therefore the word must describe some human interaction. What human interaction is referred to by the word 'right'? Perhaps restraint from violence. If you believe someone has the right to bear arms and speak freely then you don't believe in using violence to stop them. Either you believe in the rights, or you believe in using violence to stop the behaviors. The word 'right' might mean negative violence, nonviolence. Cold is just the absence of heat and rights are just the absence of violence. If rights can be seen as the right to nonviolence and rights can be seen as agreements, then rights can be seen as agreements to nonviolence.
People who believe I have a right to free speech will not violently interfere in my speaking. People who agree with my right to property will not take it from me violently. People who believe a dog has a right to a bone won't take the bone from him. One major difference between rights and agreements is that rights are abstract and presumed to apply to everyone whereas agreements are concrete, individual things created by the people interacting. There are a limited number of rights, but the number of agreements is huge. Many feel oppressed, that their rights have been violated. Try saying instead that the agreement has been broken. Rights are not something you have or don't have in any absolute sense, they are the agreements between you and the people around you.
My agreement with a dog's right to a bone may be based on abstract principles, fear of being bitten, or just laziness. The dog doesn't care except to add to my fear of being bitten by growling. If I take the bone he may hide it next time making my agreement unnecessary. In the same way, I would not expect the police to respect my right to own a bag of marijuana. If I were to own such a thing I would surely keep it secret from them and only share knowledge of it with people who agree with my right to keep it.
It is difficult to ponder "Do I have a right?" when a new situation arises. Much easier to ask "Do I have an agreement?". Those who believe in the right to free medical care are promoting an agreement to pay for each others medical care. The amount of agreement determines the strength of the right. I'm sure there are strong arguments on each side of the right to go barefoot but if it is looked at as an agreement with those around you there is little to argue about. The only thing that distinguishes a nudist park from anywhere else is that the people there have an agreement of nonviolence regarding nudity. In a nudist park there is a right to not wear any clothing, a right which doesn't extend to the neighborhood grocery store.
The question of what rights do we have becomes what agreements have we made. Perhaps the concept of rights as agreements can help bridge the gap between the abstract principle of rights and our day to day dealings with people around us.
Fictional futures illustrate the values promoted by television media today. Those who don't watch Star Trek may be startled by my observations but you can observe for yourself or ask one of the many "trekkies" who are familiar with the series.
In Star Trek, The Next Generation (the new series) there are two alien races still around from the original series: the Klingons (fierce but honorable) and the Romulans (like the Klingons but sneaky). The Klingons have signed a peace treaty and one even serves on our side. The Romulans are still an enemy but their goals of empire aren't much different from ours and they are also (sometimes) honorable. In the original Star Trek there were no absolutely bad alien races. When aliens did bad things it was for some good reason, often discovered in the ending scene.
The new series has introduced some new and unpleasant aliens but they generally have latent virtues. The Cardasianss appear mean but have been brutalized by prolonged warfare. The Borg appear robotic but are becoming more human with each encounter.
Toward the end of the first season the Ferengi were introduced. They had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. They were rat like and hateful in every way. They always whined or sneered. They were ugly with protruding foreheads, giant ears, and pointed teeth (in their first appearance their image on the screen was enlarged to amplify their ugliness). They took visible pleasure in being dishonest and dishonorable and were usually on a mission of theft or treachery (an exception is discussed below). What sets them apart from the humans, Klingons, Romulans, Cardasiansss, and Borg? They care about money. A rare exception was a Ferengi scientist who was obsessed with getting credit for his discovery. He was described as very unusual for his race and was killed early in the episode.
Another illustration of the new Star Trek's attitude toward money is an episode dealing with terrorists. The crew was evacuated from the Enterprise while it was docked for a maintenance procedure. The captain returned briefly and encountered robbers stealing the ship's atomic fuel. At first he deliberately avoids killing and explains that this is his morality. Later he kills them without remorse. What changed? He learned that the robbers were planning to sell the atomic fuel for money. This justified killing them.
The spin off series Deep Space Nine is just as bad. A Ferengi is in charge of the space station's casino and bar. Again and again his dishonesty and greed endanger everyone. A plague is spread when he uses the only functional food equipment on the station to get refreshments for his customers. He arranges an auction of artifacts one of which almost destroys the station. He cheats some alien gamblers at the casino and the game they play in retaliation uses humans as pieces. The embedded message is clear: all money making is cheating, all money makers are cheats.
The search for patterns unavoidably entails the risk of seeing patterns that are not there. Here are some patterns that might or might not be real.
Suspecting evil motives in the absence of evidence is paranoid but it is unreasonable to expect direct evidence of evil government plans and governments often have evil and deceitful plans.
Assault weapon ban. These "assault weapons" are just military weapons. Military engagements are the only situation in which military weapons are the best choice. If a government were planning military actions against a civilian population it would be wise to confiscate military weapons beforehand.
Humans not allowed in environmentally sensitive areas. According to some environmental agendas, large areas of land in the USA are to be off limits to humans; even to low flying aircraft. These would be good locations for concentration camps or other secret facilities since civilians would never be allowed near them.
Space aliens. Throughout history governments have reduced opposition by directing attention to external enemies even if they had to create them. The appearance of space aliens would greatly reduce opposition to a world government. Anyone planning to implement a world government would therefore have a motive to fabricate evidence for space aliens.
The apocalypse. Fundamentalist Christians strongly oppose world government but many believe that modern events correspond to biblical prophesy. These believers won't interfere with developments that appear to be God's will. Anyone planning to implement a world government could therefore reduce opposition from fundamentalists by incorporating elements of biblical prophesy.
Who are these Libertarians anyway, and what do they believe? They are perhaps more easily understood in terms of what they don't believe; they don't believe in government nearly as much as other political persuasions. Nearly all libertarians would agree that the government we have now is at least ten times too big; most would agree that it is at least 100 times too big; and a significant minority feel that it is 1000 or more times too big. They tend to argue among themselves about how much government is really optimum for society but the amount under discussion is always a tiny fraction of what we are used to. They believe that most, if not all, of the services performed by governments at all levels can be either eliminated or performed more fairly and efficiently by private enterprise, churches, charity, or other voluntary means.
Although the Libertarian Party is only the tip of the iceberg of the libertarian movement, party literature is representative of the ideology and is generally accessible to nonlibertarians. Most libertarian literature, party and otherwise, tends to focus on one of two perspectives. The first is economic efficiency, where it is shown again and again how government policies have aggravated the problems they were meant to solve, whereas non-government alternatives have been more effective and fairer. The second is the perspective of rights, especially property rights and civil rights. It is repeatedly shown how government policies can (and must) violate rights of all types even while claiming to protect them.
There is nothing wrong with these arguments; they are deeply felt and well supported by facts. I sense however, that they lack some critical ingredient, that they miss some crucial perspective. These arguments do not speak to the heart, and so they do not speak to liberals. In the following essay I am attempting to fill this gap.
Most political activism has some roots in the desire to do good, to benefit our fellow humans, the warm glow that comes from feeling that something you are doing contributes to human happiness. Who among us would not see the sick healed, the ignorant educated, the hungry fed? Most feel that sickness, ignorance, and hunger are basic evils and would like to help rid the world of them. Libertarians feel the same way but they strongly disagree with the methods commonly used on these problems.
Consider for example, the process of supporting a government solution to healing the sick. It seems unjust that the poor should suffer because they can't afford doctors, so you support government funded health care of some sort. It seems like a simple and direct approach, but although you mean well, you're creating some harmful and destructive dynamics for all involved — yourself included.
The money spent to heal the sick is first collected as taxes. That means people are forced to pay. So you are supporting the use of force to take people's money from them and spend it as you see fit. Is this just? Would you feel it was just that someone should take what is yours and use it as they see fit? This is what you are doing to others. It doesn't matter what the program is; however sure you are of its merits you're only a human being with human judgment. You are imposing your decisions on someone else's life without their agreement. There has never been any government program that everyone agreed with.
Stop and consider. Is this how you want to relate to your fellow humans? Is this the path of personal growth? You act as dictator over those who disagree with you whenever you support a government program. Instead of looking at this in terms of right vs. wrong, I only ask that you look within yourself and see how it makes you feel.
Staying with this example of healing the sick through government programs, let's look at another harmful dynamic created by this well intended act. Consider the doctors; when their services are funded by the state they are employees of the state and naturally owe their first allegiance to it. Shouldn't they owe that to their patients?
Can a government health care agency be flexible enough to support innovative or radical therapies (keeping in mind that this is taxpayer's money)? Can new forms of healing compete effectively with a "free" service of conventional medicine, even though they may in fact be cheaper? Can the doctors whose livelihood depends on the continuation of the system be expected to be impartial in their evaluation of it? Can the administrators whose careers depend on the growth of the system be expected to accept the growth of alternatives? Isn't it to the best interests of all the participants to support the system even at the expense of the patient's health?
Lastly let's consider the patients. It is from empathy with their suffering that government programs receive their support. It is an almost universal human trait to value things on the basis of their cost and to be wasteful of things that are cheap or free. When electricity is cheap we waste electricity. When water is free we waste water. If medical care were free it would be wasted also. If drugs were free, wouldn't you take more? If back rubs were free, wouldn't you get one every few days?
Think of the people you know personally. Most have health, family, friends, church affiliations, insurance, or money. The few that lack all these are probably similar in number to those who would slip through any government net of health care.
Consider also how low the cost of health care could become if there were no restrictions on how it was done or who did it. Good medical care is administered by veterinarians for about a tenth the comparable cost for humans. The opportunity to select exactly the style and amount of medical care you could afford would also reduce costs.
Imagine how much food would cost and how little choice we would have it all had to be prescribed by highly trained nutritionists. Think how much would be wasted if it were free. Is this what we want for medical care?
So far I have only shown the harm of government solutions. Where does that leave you with your desire to do good? If government programs don't work, then what does? Consider giving directly. Most charities are much more efficient than the government at delivering goods and services to the needy. By giving directly, you can exactly target your donation to the most worthy cause you see.
Do you feel your contribution isn't enough? Contribute more. Do you feel others should contribute more? Spend time soliciting and collecting their contributions. Do you feel others should be forced to contribute whether they want to or not? Examine this feeling carefully and decide for yourself if it is compatible with your desire to be good to your fellow humans.
These arguments on healing the sick are merely a single example of the general patterns of thought and feeling characteristic of libertarianism. The same approach is just as sound when applied to the problems of feeding the hungry, educating the ignorant, building roads, regulating business, protecting the consumer, restricting trade, fixing prices and wages, prohibiting the purchase of certain goods and services, prohibiting the use of certain weapons and chemicals, etc. In each of these cases, when you support a legal system which forces people to behave as you like, you cast yourself in the role of tyrant over others who find themselves cast in the role of subjects.
Is your own life so free of errors, so well run, so ideal compared to the lives of those around you that it's right for you to force your values and decisions on them? Do you really believe you're that much smarter than everyone else?
Speech delivered at the 1984 Libertarian Party of Florida Convention
David Bergland said "When people know what we stand for we have won." This is what's happening today with the Libertarian Party. We're telling people what we stand for, a communication process, one on one. The previous speakers have talked about politicizing the masses and this is a very important part of libertarianism. However, we should also seek people who are already active in other camps, who are idealists. We cannot offer much to the power seekers because we don't have any power to hand out. But we have something for idealists. We have an ideology for them that is more coherent, more powerful, and more spirited than the ideologies they have now.
A quote from Louis Brandeis: "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachments by men of zeal. Well meaning but without understanding."
These people are all around us. They are full of zeal, they are well meaning, but they are without understanding. We must acknowledge that well meaningness, we must acknowledge that zeal. We must begin by recognizing that these people are trying to do good, and not immediately tell them how wrong they are.
I believe people who are opposed to us should still know about us. One local paper, the St. Petersburg times, is very hostile to libertarianism. During the Clark campaign the only coverage they gave was "Libertarian presidential candidate Ed Clark wants to legalize hand guns and narcotics." That was their total coverage. I was glad they published it; I would rather hear a hundred people speak against us saying things that are true than hear one person speak in favor of us saying things that are not true.
Let me tell you the story of Larry Holden. He is touring the country and plans to run for president in the year 2000 with the Human Party. He is full of compassion, full of caring, full of new age mysticism, he believes that we have to have a new mind, and he is 100% sincere.
He drives around the country in a used car with a total budget of $7000 and his media success is spectacular. He walks into a newspaper office and they publish an article with photograph on him, he walks into a radio station and they grant him a big interview. Why? Because he comes from the heart. Because he is full of spirit. Because he is a totally sincere in trying to communicate what he really believes.
I listened and found out his basic ideas then I asked him, "Have you ever heard of libertarianism?". He said he read some libertarian literature and he didn't really find anything in it he objected to but the libertarians he had met were empty of spirit, they had no heart, they were all intellectuals. So he didn't become a libertarian. He could be one of us today.
Now I will talk about communication techniques, and remember, techniques for communication are like techniques for sex; they won't help at all if you're not alert, sensitive, and responsive. You are dealing with a particular individual human being and they are dealing with you as a particular individual human being. I cannot too strongly stress this. Sales techniques are good but the first technique is to listen, to pay attention.
Maslow said when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If the only thing you know how to do is argue ideological principles, every conversation is going to be an ideological argument. That's okay if you are talking to somebody else who likes it, if not, you will make no progress at all.
I'm going to call on us to spend a few moments in introspection exercises. They won't all touch everyone but I'm hoping to try to get everyone loosened up a bit with some emotional calisthenics.
First thing I would like us to experience is loneliness. Look around you. See us in this room, we're the biggest gathering of libertarians in the state. Think of how many millions of people there are in the state of Florida and how many dozens of people there are in this room. Ponder that for a minute. We're looking at ourselves as a big live wire movement but we are a very tiny minority. A frighteningly tiny minority when you consider the strength of the state. I think it's optimistic to say that one percent of the population really knows what libertarianism is about and is willing to get out there and vote and support us, like the activists in the Democratic and Republican camps. Robespierre once said "The defenders of liberty will be but outlaws so long as a horde of knaves shall rule." I think we have a horde of knaves ruling, and under those circumstances I think we can be described as outlaws.
The next thing I want to deal with is fear of oppression. I think this is the motivation for many of us. We're trying to start society moving in our direction and if we fail, which may very well happen, ten years from now we may not be able to meet in a room like this. Ten years from now we may have to be dispersed, letting only a few friends know we are libertarians. We should all be aware that we ride a razor edge and if things fall our way well and good. If they don't we would best be prepared to go into hiding. The fact that we are here, and our names are known as libertarians may some day wreak havoc with our individual lives. This is a chance we have all taken and a chance we should remain aware of.
I'd like to move us into another state, a state of humility. This is unique to libertarians because the Democrats and the Republicans and the populists and the fascists and most of the other groups believe they know what's best for everybody. We're unique, we believe that everybody knows what's best for themselves. This is our unique humility, this is something the other movements lack. It is this ability to say "I don't know what color you should paint your car. All I know is that you are the person who should decide what color to paint your car." Most of the other movements are out there arguing over the right colors and telling people what color to paint their cars. We're not saying what you should do. We're saying you're the one to decide what you should do, and this makes us unique. Remember this uniqueness, it is one of our greatest assets.
There's a problem I've observed among libertarians. It traces back to Ayn Rand and I can only call it "fear of altruism". Perhaps this is heresy but I believe there is nothing wrong with wanting to make the world a better place to live. Just because other people do it with bad effects doesn't mean that it's something that we should not do. It's natural and normal to want your fellow human beings to be happy and healthy, and to devote your own time and energy toward that end. This is not something to avoid. Just because altruists wreak havoc doesn't mean that we should avoid altruism.
Which moves close to another feeling that I would like us to consider, exhilaration. This is an adrenaline rush. Whenever you get involved in political power, it's exciting. That's like being in a football game. You can feel it raise your heart rate when politics gets going, when you really get into a discussion with someone. There's nothing wrong with this but beware, it's a drug. I don't have anything against drugs but be careful of this one, because it doesn't discriminate between good and evil causes. It's something that also thrills our opponents. This is what the Nazis felt. The more we are aware of it in ourselves the more we can be aware of it in others. The more empathy we feel with others the better we can understand them, the better we can communicate with them. By knowing of this feeling, by being aware of this exhilaration, by feeling this rush that people get from the challenge and the combat of politics, only thus will we become able to communicate with and perhaps convince those who mistake excitement for a guide to constructive action.
I'd like to tell a little story. Years ago, in Davenport Iowa, I was visiting a woman who was going to a political dinner, I came along for the companionship and the food. I got my food and sat and talked to the people around me at the table. This was my first exposure to either Democratic or Republican politics as they were practiced on the grassroots level. The air was thick with a feeling of great conspiracy, like we were about to pull off some incredible crime. When the speaker got up I was absolutely appalled and horrified. He said "This is what we have to do in order to get power. Once we've got power then we'll be able to make everybody do what we want and won't that be great!". That was the whole message. It was all tactics and techniques for getting power so they could make everybody do what they wanted. That gave me a bad taste for the whole process which I'm still getting over. There's nothing wrong with power as long as you don't exercise it.
Enough of the introspection. That may be a little more exercise than most of you were ready for but I wanted to start out with that just to get you loosened up and feeling that this speech is also a one on one process.
Now we will move on to empathy, a crucial part of communications. Unless you can see things the way someone else sees them, you will find it impossible to communicate the way you see things to them. I had a fortunate experience these last few years of being involved in a course in aikido. This is a harmonious and peaceful martial art, although that may be hard to imagine. One of the first principles of aikido is to never meet force with force, never. When someone attacks you pivot, turn, move yourself sideways alongside them so you can steer the energy of the attack. Don't oppose it, steer it. You can only steer if you're facing in the same direction. You can only control something you're moving with. You can't control things you oppose. The same is true in dealing with people. If someone comes at you with an argument, a hostile argument like an attack, if you meet that attack directly you'll do nothing but butt heads. No one will come away with any changes. If instead you can pivot and find something in that attack with which you sincerely agree you will gain the capability of steering that argument in the direction you want. You control a two ton automobile at 70 miles per hour by moving the wheel with one finger. It's because you're not opposing, all of the force you're exerting is steering. When someone comes at you with an argument don't try to stop it. Try to find something in it to agree with so you can try to steer that argument in the direction you want. Part of this process of course, is listening to feelings. Don't just listen with your ears, listen with your heart. When people talk to you it's because they care. It's because there's something they want to communicate. Find out what it is. Find out what they care about. You'll only find that out by listening to them. The first step for getting someone to pay attention to what you say is to pay attention to what they say. If you do it in a half-hearted or insincere manner then all you're going to get back is half-hearted or insincere attention. It's a difficult process, a process many of us are not used to, and yet something we should cultivate.
Many people relate to the political process with a parent child model. If you listen to how someone relates to government and politics you will find a lot of people behaving as if they are a good or bad child to the parent government. This is something we grow up with. We learn at a very early age to deal with our parents and I think that is a model for the way we deal with authority the rest of our lives. Some of us are fortunate enough to have libertarian parents. Others have had very authoritarian parents whom they really loved and they follow authority the rest of their lives while others really hate it and rebel against authority the rest of their lives. Whether you follow it or whether you rebel against it, you may be controlled by it, because you can be controlled by what you rebel against just as you can be controlled by what you agree with. I think we can learn a great deal from the spread of early Christianity. The Christians were very apolitical. They would rarely be trapped into making direct statements for or against the government. It was strictly "give onto Caesar that which is Caesar's". There was a lot of politics going on back then and Christ's advice was "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves". Good advice for us too. Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Because if we threaten people, they're going to come back and stomp us, there's a lot more of them than there is of us. We threaten nobody. The other side of the coin in these parent child relationships is the person who says "Well we have to take care of the poor, don't we?". This is a statement like "I have to take care of my children, don't I?".
It's the same relationship. You're not going to change that relationship, the best you can do is try to convince someone that they aren't really the child of the government, they aren't really parent to the poor. The problems come from this parent child relationship with the government or the people. You'll never change the way people relate to their parents or children but you can try to change the subject of those relationships.
Another story. I learned something from arguing with a very bright lady who was concerned about the oil companies buying up the solar cell industry. She was convinced that they were conspiring to withhold photovoltaics from market until the oil ran out. We talked about this and I finally realized that she couldn't envision the kind of bloodthirsty competition that actually takes place in industry. If you've been in small communities, small groups, and families and you've always been around cooperative people, the cut throat competition in industry is difficult to imagine. It is much easier to imagine the oil company presidents getting together and saying "All right, we're not going to develop solar cells until the oil runs out." than it is to imagine the fears of each oil company president thinking "If I don't get these things out first and the other company does, I'm dead in the water." Competition in industry is like war without violence. While many within an industry may become personal friends, the relationships between corporations are made of distrust and malevolence.
Now I want to move on to some specific emotions you will encounter in others. Remember the principle of aikido, find areas of agreement. Once you have agreement you can start steering. As long as you remain in a state of disagreement, all you will do is butt heads.
First I want to touch on something so common you can get almost anybody started on it, fear of war. A lot of people out there are very afraid of war and this is appropriate. We had this TV show, "The Day After" we have the nuclear freeze movement, not to be confused with the nuclear winter, we have lots of media activity on fear of war. We can exploit this because we have a great deal to say about war. We have real strategies to reduce the likelihood of war. Talk about signing a no first strike agreement. Talk about pulling out of NATO. Talk about ending the draft and bringing overseas troops back home. Don't shift the subject. If somebody is afraid of war, that's good, we're afraid of war too. We even have a plan that offers some hope. This is what I mean by steering. If somebody is afraid of war, don't fight that, use it.
Closely related is fear of crime. This usually translates into fear of violence. I think we have a great deal to say to this too. Yes, the streets are dangerous. Yes, you have to lock your car. Yes, you have to beware of burglars in your home. These are scary times we live in. Talk to them about some of the things that can help. You might consider going armed. You might consider encouraging other people to go armed so it would be scary for the criminals too. Consider diverting police resources away from victimless crimes toward crimes of violence. When you have some agreement, lead the conversation to other topics and look for other points of agreement.
One of the things working against us is fear of anarchy. As soon as someone gets a fairly clear idea of what libertarianism means this fear of anarchy comes up pretty often. "Oh my God, what are we going to do? People are going to riot in the streets!" and so on and so forth. What people actually fear when they talk about anarchy is actually fear of violence or theft. Libertarians are strongest of all against violence and theft. So if someone starts talking about anarchy, ask "What are you really afraid is going to happen?" Ask for a description, try to make it concrete. Once it becomes concrete it will be much easier to show that we're really on their side. We share that fear. We don't want people looting and rioting in the streets either. There's no disagreement there. So you're not really in opposition to someone who comes out with that kind of a fear of anarchy although you may want to move away from the term "anarchy". I believe that we will see a lot more riots and looting under the administrations of Democrats and Republicans than we would under Libertarians. While I'm at it I would like to point out that of all of the ideologies available to the voter, ours is the most explicitly nonviolent. Unlike the others, we don't believe in violent means no matter how good the ends. Any association we have with violence is completely undeserved and it is up to us to change it.
Fear of poverty is also common. I think most of us have experienced it at one time or another. Those who haven't, I'm sure will. I've been there so long I'm getting used to it. We can say quite a bit to this. We can show how the government destroys the prosperity of the country and causes poverty. People are poorer because they pay taxes. Mention all the government roadblocks to making money; licensing, minimum wage, red tape, all that stuff. My step son, Denny, took a course in horticultural technology and got a good job with a landscaping company. He was getting ready to leave town so he quit, but his leaving town was delayed, so for the last few weeks he's been mowing lawns. He came up to me the other day and said "You know, I've been making more money mowing lawns than I got working for the landscaping company." This brings me to our amazing underground economy. May I suggest that we begin calling it the "informal economy". This is more descriptive and up beat. Every success of the informal economy is an argument for the adaptability of laissez faire capitalism, and successes surround us. Marijuana may now be the second largest cash crop in the United States, next to corn. Drugs passed tourism years ago as the biggest business in Florida. Estimates of the size of the informal economy range from ten to twenty five percent. Visit a flea market and you will meet hundreds of shoppers and merchants who may or may not obey the law but who generally have no use for it.
Moving along, we come to discouragement. There are a lot of people out there into discouragement. Nothing seems to help. Nothing the government does seems to really cure the problems. Nobody has the answers. Remember what I said about humility? We don't have the answers either. All we have is the idea that people should be free to find and implement their own answers. So we agree that nobody has all the answers, everyone has their own answers. We need an opportunity to implement those answers. I have a slogan "If you want the Democrats or Republicans to run your life, then vote for them. If you want to run your own life, vote Libertarian." Communicate this to people in discouragement. We don't really care so much what is chosen as who does the choosing. The key factor is who makes the decisions, not how they turn out.
Now we come back to something I covered earlier, fear of oppression. Sometimes you will wind up talking to someone about libertarianism who is into social systems. My approach to them is that libertarians do not oppose any voluntary social experiments. If a bunch of socialists want to get together and they want to set up their socialist community, as long as none of them are prevented from escaping, libertarians will never stand in their way. This means that we can relate to fear of oppression in people who want to do social experiments. We can say "We will not stop you in your social experiments as long as they're voluntary. As long as the people involved are not forced to participate, we're not going to interfere. We're not going to stop you from propagating your ideas". They have more chance to bloom and flourish under libertarianism than any other system because nobody but libertarians can tolerate such diversity. Of course as libertarians we all believe they are doomed to dismal failure, but they don't know that, and they certainly don't want to hear it from us. They will learn only by experiment, and the more they can experiment, the faster they will learn.
Although you may not see it as an emotion, I'm going to talk about the feeling of fairness. We've had a lot of discussion of rights and closely related to rights is justice. Rights and justice are very hard terms with hard definitions. Fairness is a feeling. Instead of talking about someone's rights, ask "Does this feel fair to you?". Don't say people have an inalienable right to property, say "Do you feel it's fair to take away what someone has earned?". You're saying the same thing except now someone can look within themselves and respond, "Well no, I guess that's not fair." Now you've got some agreement. If you start talking about property rights, someone's going to try definition matching, "Do I believe in rights? What is just? What is right?" A process all taking place in the head. Appeal to people's fairness. That's different, that comes from the heart. People will agree that something is or is not fair much sooner than they will agree that it is or is not right, or just, because they own the feeling of fairness. If you say "I think this is right." you have to look in some book to see if you're correct or not. Fairness comes from the heart, and everyone has their own feeling of what's fair.
Now we come to what I honestly believe is the most powerful emotion that we can use, it will eventually wind up fueling us better than anything else. It's love. Here is another slogan, an example of love in the form of compassion; "Peaceful honest people don't belong in jail." It's short enough to remember and hard to dispute, yet I think it is pure libertarianism. It creates the image of peaceful honest people sitting in jail. Good image, great image for people to ponder. "Gee, am I really supporting that? Am I in favor of that?"
I talk to liberals about the poor, and what I find is compassion for the victims. I got into a fine talk once about wage and price controls and they were sorry for the poor farmers. I said supports drive up food prices. The poor spend the largest part of their income on food. There's a lot more poor people than farmers. Shift your victims. Don't think of the farmers as victims, there's only a few of them. Look at all those poor people out there paying more for food. Think about their status as victims, have some compassion for them too. Point out how horribly oppressed the poor are by the actions of government. Encourage people to have compassion, encourage them to express love. Say things like "Should everyone have to pay for things that only a few people enjoy?" That doesn't seem fair does it?
One of the commonest expressions of love is the desire to help. People want to make the world a better place to live. Remember fear of altruism, this is what we shouldn't avoid, this wanting to make the world a better place to live. We want to make the world a better place to live too. There's nothing that liberals can claim on that stand that we cannot. We can point out that government presently does a lot of harm. Real human lives are hurt by people who want to help. They're not bad, just mistaken. Just needing a little one on one communication.
One of the things that I've been learning to communicate is the importance of directness in helping. If you want to help the poor, help the poor. Give them your money. If you feel that what you're giving isn't enough, give more. If you feel that other people should give more, give your time in soliciting and distributing their contributions. If you feel that other people should be forced to give more whether they want to or not, reconsider your perspective and decide if forcibly imposing your value system on others is really helping them.
I'm going to quit now and go to questions, but first a little poem.
A flea market is a happy place, a little like a fair.
There's smiling faces all around, and freedom in the air.
I stroll the aisles of anarchy and mingle with the crowd,
The shoppers and the merchants, telling tales and laughing loud.
I buy a trinket for a dime, the man says "Penny tax."
I smile and say "Someday we'll get those bastards off our backs."
He looks up, startled, as I drop a penny in his hand.
The sparkle in his eye shows me he starts to understand.
He grins and says "You bet your ass!" and cheers me on my way.
The sun is bright, my tread is light, subversive Saturday.
The experts tell of gloom and doom and danger all around
But our economy is strong and healthy, underground.
Question: When I Say, "Is it fair to pay for something you don't use?" people come back and say "Is it fair to use something you don't pay for?"
Response: Look for agreement, say "No, and this is the unfairness of the system." You have to participate in unfairness in order to live. You can't get from one place to another without driving on the roads that others have been forced to pay for. Two years ago I was at Fort DeSoto Park at a fourth of July party. I got into a fine talk with someone there. I said I don't like to go to Fort DeSoto Park, I don't like to go to any public park, because I feel that people who can't be here are forced to subsidize my leisure. It detracts from my enjoyment because I am oppressing people just by being here. That's the best response I know to that line of argument. It's not fair and I hate to use things that I haven't paid for. That is one unfairness of the system, that it is very difficult to avoid oppressing others. That's one of many unfairnesses we are trying to change.
This is a chronicle of the 1987 Libertarian Party National Convention in Seattle, Washington from within the Russel Means campaign for the presidential nomination.
I spent the first week in September in Seattle at the Libertarian Party National convention. Perhaps we made history. Long before the convention it was clear that nothing like it had ever happened before to the LP. Both major contenders for the presidential nomination were far better known than any from previous years yet they couldn't have been more different.
First came Ron Paul, ex-Republican congressman from Texas. A politician through and through who published a financial newsletter advocating free markets and received the highest rating ever by the National Taxpayer's Union. He wrote a blistering letter of resignation to the Republican party and came to the Libertarians seeking to be our presidential candidate. He had the support of the LP establishment and promised to raise enough money to get us on the ballot in every state and buy enough TV ads so people would know who we were. Never had anyone who held such office come to us seeking to be our candidate. He had money, power, and agreed with everything on the party platform except abortion (Paul is pro- life, the platform isn't).
Then came Russell Means. It is impossible for me to conceal that he was my favorite although I promised to fully support whoever won the nomination. He is best remembered for the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee where he and a small band of followers held off federal agents for a couple of months. He had been around the globe attending international conferences and meeting with various leaders. He had been beat up, shot, stabbed, strafed, and bombed fighting for freedom. He had lots of charisma, lots of media appeal, and agreed with the entire party platform.
There was also Jim Lewis, a constitutional lawyer who was our vice-presidential candidate in 1984. His main emphasis was fighting the IRS. He may go to jail soon. There was also Harry Glenn, a true country boy with a bushy white beard and a home grown libertarian attitude who came 2,000 miles in a broken down car to run for president. He felt he would be the best candidate since there's a lot more bars than libraries and everybody listens to country music. As in any Libertarian Party election anywhere there was NOTA (none of the above).
The convention was in the Sheraton in the middle of downtown Seattle. I set up my trusty Macintosh (it traveled in two very heavy suitcases of checked baggage) in the room used for Russell Means headquarters. The first couple of nights I shared a hotel a few blocks away with a couple of other Florida libertarians. After that I was able to find places to crash in the Sheraton.
My intent from the start was to bury myself behind the scenes and be part of the machinery making Russell Means the next presidential candidate. Due to the restrictions on airline travel I arrived a few days early however and indulged in breakfast in the Space Needle. It's not as complex or expensive a building as it appears. I think Tampa Bay should have one just like it.
From the beginning the Means team had a different atmosphere than you would expect from campaigners at a convention. On the traditional night of wild partying in the respective hospitality suites the two cases of beer in the bathtub at the Means suite went largely unconsumed. Apples, on the other hand, were everywhere. The Ron Paul supporters generally had short hair and neckties, the Russell Means supporters looked like they came by bus.
We were terribly disorganized and underfunded compared to the Ron Paul team but remained dedicated, cheerful, and optimistic right up to the vote on Saturday morning, September 5. Ron Paul got 51% to win on the first ballot, Russell Means got over 30%, Jim Lewis, Harry Glenn, and NOTA got the rest. The next ten or twenty minutes were pandemonium with balloons popping, signs waving, and all four hundred or so of us laughing or crying from triumph or despair.
As calm gradually emerged from chaos the next order of business was to choose a vice-presidential candidate. Andre Marrou from Alaska was the only serious contender. He had announced very early and seemed unchallenged. Someone nominated Russell Means, although we all knew he wouldn't take it. During the nominating speech Russell himself walked in and took the podium.
The room exploded with cheering and applause that continued longer than any I have ever heard anywhere. Most of those present had just voted against him but they were all on their feet yelling and clapping until he waved for them to stop. I had not imagined that such unity and enthusiasm could ever come from such a collection of hard core individualists. He declined with good spirit, explaining that he knew Andre to be a freedom fighter and we should all support him. He explained that vice-president wasn't the office he was seeking and besides, he'd already done that with Larry Flynt. The only other contender for vice-president withdrew so Andre Marrou won it by a voice vote.
Later the Means team met in the hospitality suite. I had never imagined that a group of people who had just been defeated, some at considerable personal cost, could turn around so quickly. The only explanation was that although it appeared to be a goal oriented effort (to elect Russell Means as candidate) in fact it was process oriented (to reach the rest of society with libertarianism). Russell had plans of his own to run for the state legislature in Arizona as a Libertarian Party candidate and seek the presidential nomination again in 1991. He also has a project underway to establish a free nation on an Indian reservation in North America. Russell Means is still part of the Libertarian Party and is likely to remain so. (In all my years as a vocal libertarian I have yet to encounter a single genuine ex-libertarian, although I have met any number of ex-activists.)
We formed a new organization named FIFE, the acronym of "freedom is for everyone". The image of a fife is associated with the American Revolution and a fife is also an American Indian instrument. Naming the organization after a musical instrument emphasizes the process of nonthreatening communication so central to our aim. Our newsletter will be called "The Sound of the FIFE".
At the convention there were a lot of buttons with no words but only a picture of a feather. We chose this as a symbol of freedom to propagate libertarianism outward and downward. Suppose the wearing of a feather comes to express a belief that freedom is for everyone, a belief that we all need more freedom and less government, a belief that it's time to lighten up, a belief that government should touch our lives as lightly as a feather.
Feathers are free. Feathers are all different. Anyone can wear one, from the corporate executive to the drunken city panhandler; from the glittery rock star to the migrant laborer. Anyone can be a libertarian. The aim of FIFE is not just to reach those people who don't read books but those who can't read books, not just to reach the non-intellectuals but also anti-intellectuals, not just to reach all segments of society but also those outside society. FIFE exists to reach the people the Ron Paul for President campaign will miss.
It will be an exciting election year. The Republican and Democratic candidates are so dull that Ron Paul should draw good media attention. His resources should enable us to be on the ballot in all fifty states. There are enough radical elements in the platform to draw media attention away from the abortion issue and anyway Ron Paul has promised to distinguish between his personal viewpoint and the party platform. It's funny to think that the Republican and Democratic platforms are hardly an issue even within the parties yet the Libertarian platform is central to us and defines us. I have some concern that through Ron Paul's candidacy we may be labeled as ultra-conservative but it is easier to correct false ideas than to speak in a total vacuum.
This is a chronicle of the 1987 Libertarian Party National Convention in Seattle, Washington from within the Russel Means campaign for the presidential nomination.
We on the Means team all felt shock and dismay on the morning of Saturday, September 5,1987 when Ron Paul won the Libertarian Party presidential nomination on the first ballot. Many of us had wagered much and lost much pursuing a dream of the libertarian message carried to the oppressed throughout the USA and even the world. But wait, from such defeats do even greater victories spring.
The first sign that the defeat was not as it appeared came quickly. To no one's surprise Russell was nominated for vice president although we all knew he would decline. During the nominating speech he came from the back of the hall and took the podium. He declined the nomination and praised Andre Marrou, the only other viable vice presidential nominee, as a good libertarian and freedom fighter. He spoke of his love and gratitude for all the wonderful people he met in the Libertarian Party. He spoke to 400 hard core libertarians heart to heart.
When he finished the hall exploded with cheering and applause that continued longer and louder than any I can remember. Less than a third of these folks had voted for Russell yet they all stood cheering and applauding for what seemed like forever. How could this be? What did it mean?
What it meant to me was that even the people who voted against him regarded Russell as a hero, a freedom fighter, a good libertarian, and an asset to the party. It communicated love and respect. Russell felt it and began to smile. He later said that he had never felt such love from a crowd since he got out of prison, and that crowd was Indian. Ron Paul felt it too. He later jokingly asked the audience why Russell always got more applause than he did.
Soon many of us were in the hospitality suite with Russell and the mood was very odd. The despair and defeat were still present but there was a peculiar feeling of enthusiasm. We didn't have to form a group because we already were a group, we only needed a name. We didn't have to create a goal because we already had a goal, spreading the word that freedom is for everyone.
There were some revealing comments made. Someone quipped "Well, now they have their candidate and we have our hero". Everyone laughed. Someone asked us to talk Russell into staying in the party. They were told Russell was talking us into staying in the party. Everyone laughed again. We began to identify a lot of talents, skills, and resources.
What to do next? We found a name in the campaign slogan "Freedom is for Everyone". The acronym FIFE suggests the American revolution. The fife is also an Indian instrument. Naming our group after a musical instrument emphasized nonthreatening communication. A vivid image, and easy acronym, it felt right. The newsletter name followed easily "The Sound of the Fife".
Ben Olsen and his feather buttons prompted us to adopt the feather as our symbol. Russell liked that since it was part of his mother's name. I liked it most of all, the feather as a symbol of libertarianism is truly inspired.
Why FIFE? What is the reason for such an organization to exist?
Most people are libertarians at heart. FIFE can introduce them gently to libertarianism without the hard political edge of the Libertarian Party.
FIFE can act as a clearinghouse organization for libertarian groups of all kinds. The "Sound of the FIFE" newsletter can publish ads for and articles about many different libertarian groups thus showing the diversity within the libertarian movement. Freedom socials hosted by local FIFE representatives can distribute literature from various organizations.
Few people are now or will soon be hard core libertarians. Many people already believe that the path to a better world is generally the path of less government. FIFE can reach out to these people the hand of friendship. The Libertarian Party is rightly seen as hard core, far removed from "mainstream" society. Unless the LP changes a great deal, which is unlikely, this creates a niche. This is the organization for people who like the ideas of the libertarians but think the Libertarian Party is too extreme. People who feel this way can wear a feather and come to FIFE meetings expecting to find some agreement.
Many hard core libertarians are never seen by the Libertarian Party because they have no belief in politics. FIFE is beyond politics, it is culture. People who despise all things political can wear a feather and go to FIFE meetings expecting to find some agreement.
People who just want to be left alone can wear a feather.
I have been holding Libertarian Party meetings at my home for over a year now on the 8th of every month at 8:00 pm. Just recently I changed the name to "Freedom Social" and now consider the event to be cosponsored by LP and FIFE. The loose party atmosphere is intended to encourage lots of individual conversations. People generally like to eat and drink and talk. If the regulars bring drinks and snacks and others can be convinced to contribute to a kitty it need not be expensive. I try to have as much literature out as there is room for. I take contributions but the literature is generally free; it's better off in the hands of someone who wants to read it than going back in the box. Literature from all different groups is available to best match the interests of the partiers. The hardest part is encouraging the emergence of leadership from chaos. The less leadership is present (or at least visible) the quicker new leaders will emerge. There have been successes with this method but the results are generally disappointing.
I have written elsewhere (Vision of a feather) about the ideology of wearing a feather, what are the mechanics? Start with yourself wearing a feather. Someone asks why. What you say and what you do may be the main propagation tool of FIFE. Suppose you say the feather stands for freedom and give them a business card. The light blue card has the same logo as the t-shirts: "Freedom is for Everyone. Russell Means" and a picture of a feather. At the bottom is the national phone number for FIFE. Local organizations could put their own stuff on the backs of the cards such as some nonthreatening libertarian saying and a phone number of a local contact. The cards could be printed in large numbers by the main office and distributed nationally to get lower printing costs and better appearance.
Just as we have different reasons for wearing feathers, we have different answers when people ask us why.
Think of a little leaflet explaining FIFE as a loose organization of people who believe in freedom. The leaflet has a feather and a tiny safety pin attached inside. If the reader believes in freedom, please wear the feather. If not, pass the leaflet on to a friend. It also mentions the monthly freedom socials.
The issue has been raised concerning the deliberate killing of birds for their feathers. The feathers in the leaflets should of course all be shed naturally. Otherwise this is a task for group spirit rather than rules. As long as the spirit of nonviolence is strong in us this will never be a problem. Feathers are easy to collect in large numbers for free.
I would like to see the background color behind the feather be sky blue. The sky is a natural place for a feather. It suggests looking up. The color of the Libertarian Party is (generally) dark blue. FIFE carries the same message with more light, let us choose the same color with more light. Sky blue is also the only color "invisible" to copying machines.
I wrote this for Russel Means in '87 and Dick Boddie also used it in '91.
In 1980 we spent about four million dollars and got about one million votes. In 1984 we spent about one million dollars and got a little over a quarter million votes, the same number of votes per dollar each time. But even our million votes in 1980 were invisible to the press. There was no coverage on election night, no coverage after election night. We were ignored and forgotten. LaRouche is still more remembered than Ed Clark or David Bergland. I believe that even if another candidate of the same mold raises twelve million dollars and gets three million votes we will be forgotten the next day, just as we were in 1980. It doesn't have to be like that. Libertarianism can be remembered. Libertarianism can be news. We can ensure that the vast majority of Americans learn about Libertarianism in 1988, but we will never do it with a cookie cutter politician for a candidate — even if we spend several times as much money as we did in 1980.
Russell Means has already gotten three times the media coverage of his nearest competitor on only a tenth as much money because he is news and gets media attention free. Through Russell Means Libertarianism can be news and Libertarianism can get media attention — and public awareness — beyond our fondest hopes. Ed Clark said "When people know what we stand for we have won." This is a unique opportunity to reach more people with our message than we ever imagined possible.
Russell arrived at the Seattle Sheraton and the press was there with their cameras and microphones. Why? Not because he spent money. How much money does it take to get the press to come out to interview a politician? It doesn't work like that. The only way to buy media is to buy commercials. Nobody can buy television talk shows or magazine covers. They pick what they think will appeal to their customers, whatever is interesting, whatever is news. It can be Libertarianism. How much money would it take to get a Libertarian Party candidate on the cover of Newsweek or Time? How much money would it take to get a Libertarian Party candidate on the Oprah Winfrey show? Forget it! Money can only buy advertisements in magazines or on television. Are we news to be covered or are we commercials to be ignored? Russell Means will be news, other candidates can only buy commercials. Which do you want us to be?
Although I no longer wear a feather I still think that the ideas expressed here have merit and I would like to see them carried on in some form.
I wear a feather as a symbol of freedom. Freedom that brings harmony, abundance, and love. It is the freedom we all have when we give it to others, like love. It is the freedom of those who have outgrown the desire for control over others but who instead delight in the diversity of humankind.
To be free we learn not to be threatened by the desires of people with different goals. The converse is also true. We also learn not to threaten others, even indirectly, to achieve our goals. This is what it means to wear a feather. Fear me not. I have no desire to control you. If you have no desire to control me, wear a feather so I can recognize you as a friend.
We will have harmony as soon as we stop trying to control each other. We will have abundance as soon as we stop robbing each other. If you don't want to control, if you don't want to rob, wear a feather.
If you just want the government to leave you alone wear a feather. If you believe that the path to a better world is the path of less government wear a feather. If you like what the libertarians are saying but the Libertarian Party is too political wear a feather. If you don't care about politics but think people everywhere should be free wear a feather.
When you see someone else wearing a feather you will know each other to be potential friends. You already have a shared belief in freedom although everything else about you may be different. That shared belief lets you communicate freely and agreeably. It also makes it easy to start conversations with strangers and encourages strangers to start conversations with you. The act of wearing a feather is an invitation to those around you to ask why. This asking why may well be their first introduction to the idea of freedom. This one-on-one contact can shortcut the usual growth process of organizations. It is especially helpful if you have a card or something with some information and a local phone number for more. You may even carry a spare feather for giving away.
This is on the cover of the book "Beyond Government" but in case you don't have it here is a description:
The libertarian duality symbol consists of a yin-yang symbol with the movement counter clockwise and the dark half on the bottom. This places the round parts side by side with the dark one on the right. The dark round area on the right contains a light dollar sign. and the light round area on the left contains a dark peace sign.
We can best communicate our ideas to the rest of the world by using a lot of different methods. This symbolizes a positive attitude towards peace and money instead of a negative attitude toward government.
I developed this symbol on the drive up to the 1991 Libertarian National Convention in Chicago. I made up some buttons at the convention and was able to get the opinions of some of the movers and shakers of the libertarian movement who were there. I saw some puzzlement and confusion but lots of nods, smiles, and laughter from hard core libertarians.
The peace sign is a symbol of the sixties. The symbol for opposition to war and the "establishment". Libertarians oppose foreign wars and often the hated "establishment" was actually the government. Nonviolence and noninterference are characteristics of both hippies and libertarians. Toleration of diversity and social experimentation are common to both. Both hippies and libertarians call for the legalization of drugs. The people that wore peace signs in the sixties are now everywhere in our society and many still hold strong beliefs. We represent them better than anyone else today. We represent peace, nonviolence, and toleration; attractive values to a whole generation.
The dollar sign brings completely different images. Ayn Rand made it symbolize the free market in millions of minds. It stands for having money, making money, caring about money. Most people want more money. We know how to make it happen. We represent them.
The yin-yang symbolizes a duality where two concepts or aspects each support and enable the other to exist as in night & day, black & white, male & female, etc. Libertarian duality has been expressed in many ways: left & right, peace & prosperity, harmony & abundance, liberal & conservative, free minds & free markets, toleration & responsibility, personal freedom & economic freedom, freedom of expression & freedom of enterprise, etc.
Both are necessary for either to exist. Harmony and scarcity are exclusive, so are abundance and conflict. Where there is no peace, there is no prosperity; where there is no prosperity, there is no peace. The symbol joining the peace sign and the dollar sign shows this duality.
The Libertarian Party is symbolized by the Statue of Liberty. Other libertarian organizations like the Advocates for Self Government and the International Society for Individual Liberty also have good symbols. The peace sign, the dollar sign, the yin-yang, all represent general ideas, not specific groups. The libertarian duality symbol stands for an idea, not a group.
It can be used anywhere: T-shirts, hats, buttons, belt buckles, jewelry, graffiti, etc. If you feel that it expresses what you feel about libertarianism, display one. It invites comment and question. Even folks with a strong negative attitude toward one of the symbols are likely to have a positive attitude toward the other.
Complex objects become clearer when seen from different angles. Here is libertarianism from pairs of opposing viewpoints.
Because we seek to undermine the very foundations of political power we threaten the establishment not with mere change but with annihilation. Politics is a power game where the winners impose their plan on the people. Whoever wins, the game continues. But when the libertarians win the game is over. Nobody imposes their plan on the people. The immense power and wealth of the churches is based on faith. If Sunday comes and nobody goes to church the game is over. Less obviously government is also based on faith. If people stop believing in it the game is over. Libertarians are working toward that day.
Libertarians are completely nonviolent and do not seek to seize anyone's wealth. A libertarian take over will protect wealth from seizure and businesses from interference.
The libertarian party is absolutely committed to peaceful means of political and social change. It is written into the platform and the pledge. No other political organization requires its members to sign a pledge of nonviolence. This pledge insures that no violent political act will ever be approved by the libertarian party.
The libertarian founding fathers of this country fought a bloody revolutionary war against oppressive British rule. Libertarians today believe strongly in the right of the people to be heavily armed and to defend themselves with lethal force against government tyranny.
Just as cold is the absence of heat, liberty is the absence of tyranny. Where others have complex plans to run your life the libertarians let you live your own plan. Governments have shelves of books of laws you must obey but libertarianism can be learned in one lesson. What could be simpler than leaving people alone?
The market dynamics that evolve in the absence of regulation are far more complex than the regulations could ever be. The state can make a law that all who enter stores must wear shoes. Libertarians would let the myriad merchants each make their own policy to fit their separate needs. Price fixing always fails because real prices come from thousands of judgments by millions of people. Regulations could never approach this complexity.
Most Americans are libertarians, they just don't know it yet. What could be more obvious than the incompetence of the government? Songs and jokes chronicle our contempt for our leaders every day. It is abundantly clear to most Americans that the government is far too large; this is the message of the libertarians.
Who are the libertarians? Ask a hundred people on the street and perhaps five will have heard the word and two will know what it means. Since there is no plan, there is no plan to grasp, to like or dislike. No one who has, or hopes for, political power has any reason to spread the word. The media get a lot of news and entertainment from the politicians and have nothing to gain by alienating them. Without the support of rulers or media the libertarian message is easily obscured.
Only the libertarians will accept your right to pursue your dreams. Only if you dream of oppressing others will you be opposed and then it will be mainly by your empowered victims instead of a dominant authority. Only the libertarians will allow the poor to build their wealth and climb the ladder of success without legal impediment. Only the libertarians will allow the desperately ill access to any person, procedure, or medicine that they wish to pursue. Only the libertarians will allow the dreamers of other forms of society to pursue their plans and build their (voluntary) social systems. Many are inspired to libertarianiam by sympathy for the millions who have suffered and died at the hands of governments through the ages.
A libertarian administration would let the hungry starve, the sick perish, and the poor remain poor. It would allow mistreatment of animals and destruction of the environment. It would allow people to waste their lives with drugs, gambling, prostitution, and other vices still unimagined.
Libertarians have their own special beliefs and jargon wildly at odds with prevailing cultural norms. Libertarian Party members must sign an oath when they join. They believe they are a global revolutionary movement with the force of morality behind it. They attract the young and impressionable by advocating the deregulation of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Those infected with libertarianism rarely return to conventional political beliefs. Many libertarians are heavily armed and believe the government is their enemy.
Libertarian organizations have no strong leaders and no secret agendas. Their ideology is drawn from dozens of unrelated sources throughout history. Completely independent libertarian organizations work together without conflict. They are proud of the diversity of personalities and lifestyles within the movement. They are firmly and adamantly nonviolent. They believe they represent the mainstream, that most Americans are libertarians who just don't know it yet.
Libertarians believe that people are so good that they don't need to be controlled by a government. They believe laws to compel people to be good are unnecessary. The common people with their common wisdom will handle their lives better than any laws could tell them they must.
Libertarians believe people are too evil to be trusted with the power of government. They believe people will oppress and tyrannize each other if the tools are in their hands. Even wise and kind people usually do more harm than good using the violent power of government.
The media and the educational system have convinced the people that a strong government is good, or at least necessary. Opposition forces, including the libertarians, are infiltrated, disorganized, and obscured by a media blackout. All political struggle is portrayed as personality conflicts between rulers thus avoiding examination of principles or trends. Laws soon to be passed will suppress any resistance to unlimited increases in government. Liberty is doomed when people accept tyranny.
Big government can't survive unless the people believe in it. The Soviet system collapsed in spite of its overwhelming power when the people stopped believing in it. In an information age the principles and trends of government failure will become impossible to conceal. Tyranny is doomed when people seek liberty.
(*) indicates introductory non-fiction works
Compiled by Advocates for Self-Government, 1994. It is very likely that many of these have changed since 'Beyond Government' was first published.
161 Ottawa NW, Suite 405K, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Promotes a contemporary understanding of the classical liberal philosophy which is the product of the religious traditions of the West. Publishes books, policy papers, newsletters, and conducts conferences and seminars. (Fr. Dirico) 616-454-3080
ADAM SMITH INSTITUTE
2 Orchard Street, London SW1P3DQ, England
Educational and research institute. Publishes studies on privatization and deregulation, and suggests free market policy applications. 01Đ222-4995
ADVOCATES FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT
3955 Pleasantdale Rd, Suite 106A, Atlanta, GA 30340
Supports local libertarian outreach with Seminar 1 and Operation Politically Homeless; publishes Liberator and World's Smallest Political Quiz. Teaches libertarian communication skills Catalog of audio tapes, video, books & more. (Carole Ann Rand) 404-417-1304
4084 University Drive, Suite 103, Fairfax, VA 22030-6813
Expounds principle that economic actions have economic consequences; helps set up new free market think tanks; publishes Highlights & Atlas Report. (Alex Chafmen) 703-934-6969
1000 Mass Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001-5403
Public policy research foundation; publishes books, monographs, policy analysis & CATO Journal, all from a market liberal perspective; sponsors acclaimed week-long summer seminar at Dartmouth, (David Boaz) 202-842-0200
CENTER FOR LIBERTARIAN STUDIES
P.O.Box 4091, Burlington, CA 94011
Holds conferences, seminars & symposia for "scholarly business people." Publishes Journal of Libertarian Studies. (Burton Blumert) 800-325-7257
CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF MARKET ALTERNATIVES
P.O.Box 15749, Boise, ID 83717
Conducts free market seminars for teachers and the general public, and debate seminars for high schools. Publishes CSMA Newsletter. (Allan Dalton) 208-368-7811
CITIZENS FOR A SOUND ECONOMY
1250 H Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005
Free-market public-interest advocacy organization; lobbies for free-market legislation (e.g. Individual Retirement Accounts, free trade, privatization & deregulation). (Paul Beckner) 202-488-8200
COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
1001 Connecticut Ave, NW Suite 1250, Washington, DC 20036
Explores free-market solutions to environmental problems, antitrust reform & trade; sponsors Jefferson Group pro-market information exchange forum. (Fred Smith) 202-331-1010
FOUNDATION FOR ECONOMIC EDUCATION
30 S Broadway, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533
Original libertarian educational foundation, est. 1947. Publishes Freeman magazine, books; conducts week-long summer seminars; provides material for high school & college debaters. (Hans Sennholz) 914-591-7230
FOUNDATION FOR RESEARCH ON ECONOMICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
502 S. 19th #1, Bozeman, MT 59715
Promotes public policy reform supporting conservation & wise use of natural resources based on property rights, reliance on market processes. (John Baden) 406-585-1776 206-548-1776
626 Bute Street, Vancouver, BC Canada V6E3MI
Public policy research institute w/free market orientation; publishes books & studies on economic effects of government policy. Center for the study of Economics & Religion division promotes dialogue between ecclesiastics and economists. 604-688-0221
FREE MARKET FOUNDATION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
P. O. Box 52713, Saxonwold, South Africa 2173
Promotes privatization, deregulation & the free market; publishes books & studies; sponsors conferences. (Leon Louw) 642-4407
4415 W Pacific Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Teaches Bob LeFevere's dynamic Freedom School; Excellent follow- up to CATO, IHS, or FEE seminars. Conferences in various locations. (Kevin Cullinane) 714-650-5259
FREEDOM PARTY OF ONTARIO
Box 2214 Station A, London, Ontario, Canada N6A4E3
Publishes Calendar of Individual Freedom (US & Canadian versions available). Also publishes newsletters and issue papers, and fields candidates for public office. 519-433-8612
FULLY INFORMED JURY ASSOCIATION
P. O. Box 59, Helmville, MT 59843
Promotes legislation requiring that juries be informed of their right to consider both law and fact in reaching verdicts. Publishes FIJA Activist. 406-793-5550
FUTURE OF FREEDOM FOUNDATION
11350 Random Hills Rd. #800, Fairfax, VA 22030-6044
Defends free markets, private property, free trade, freedom of conscience & civil liberties. Produces audio tapes on history, economics, philosophy & principles of liberty; publishes Freedom Daily (monthly calendar book). (Jacob G. Hornburger) 703-934-6101
800 East Northwest Hwy Suite 1080, Palatine, IL 60067
Provides privatization and deregulation studies and conferences aimed at Midwest news editors, news directors, and legislative aides. (Joseph Bast) 708-202-3060
14142 Denver West Pkwy #101, Golden CO 80401
Colorado's public policy center. Endeavors to build consensus on the truths of the Declaration of Independence and explores their applicability to political and economic issues at the state level. (John Andrews) 303-279-6536
134 98th Ave. Oakland, CA 94603
Public policy institute. Sponsors non-political studies into critical public issues; publishes books & the Independent ; conducts conferences. (Jim Christie) 510-632-1366
INSTITUTE FOR HUMANE STUDIES
4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
Searches for the best moral argument for a free society, and discovers, encourages and supports scholars who articulate that argument. (William Beach) 703-934-6920
INSTITUTE FOR OBJECTIVIST STUDIES
82 Washington ST. Suite 207, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Sponsors seminars & lectures to advance Objectivism as basis for theoretical knowledge, social progress & individual happiness. Supports research & publishes the IOS Journal. (David Kelly) 914- 471-6100
INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
2 Lord North Street, London SW1T3LB, England
Conducts public policy research with a free market orientation; publishes newsletter, books and video tapes on free-market subjects. 01-799-3745
INSTITUTE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-0725
Research institute. Studies political, philosophical & moral foundations of a free society. Sponsors conferences, issue papers & op-eds. (Veronica Ward) 801-750-2064
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY
1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94120
International libertarian network. Publishes issue papers, Freedom Network News; sponsors int'l conferences. (Vince Miller) 415-864- 0952
JAMES MADISON INSTITUTE
P. O. Box 13894, Tallahassee, FL 32317
Researches issues of concern to Florida & other southeastern states. Emphasizes economic freedom, individual responsibility, limited gov't. Publishes monographs & newsletter. (John Cooper) 904-386- 3131
P. O. Box 305151, Nashville, TN 37230
Produces audio tapes of the words of great thinkers, many with a freedom orientation (Jefferson, Smith, Thoreau, etc.). (Michael Hassell) 615-889-6223
LAISSEZ FAIRE BOOKS
938 Howard Street #202, San Francisco, CA 94103
Sells wide selection of libertarian, history, philosophy & Randian books, audio tapes, videos; informative monthly book catalog. 415- 541-9780/800-326-0996/fax:415-541-0597
LANDMARK LEGAL FOUNDATION
1006 Grand Avenue 8th Floor, Kansas City, MO 64106
Engages in aggressive litigation to protect and promote a free-market economy and Constitutional principles. 816-474-6600
LIBERTARIAN FAMILIST MOVEMENT
P.O.Box 4826 El Paso, TX 79914-4826
Family oriented children's rights advocates. Publishes Libertarian Familist. (Bob Krel) 915-755-6940
LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF CANADA
1 St. John's Rd. Suite 301, Toronto, Ontario, M6P4C7 Canada
Runs candidates for public office; holds an annual convention. 416- 763-3688
LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF U.S.A.
1528 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20003
Runs candidates for public office; publishes Libertarian Party News; holds bi-annual convention. 202-543-1988
LIBERTARIANS FOR LIFE
13424 Hathaway Drive, Wheaton, MD 20906
Formed to show why abortion is aggression under general libertarian principles. Reasoning is expressly philosophical rather than religious. (Doris Gordon) 301-460-4141
LIBERTARIAN PRESS, INC.
Spring Mills, PA 16875
Sells a limited selection of libertarian and Austrian economic titles. Book catalog. (412) 458-5861
8335 Allison Pointe Trail Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46250
Encourages study of the ideal society of free and responsible individuals. Sponsors conferences, publishes books, produces films. (Dub Hill) 317-842-0880
P.O.Box 1181, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Bimonthly review of libertarian & classical liberal thought, culture, politics. Contributors include Hospers, Hess, Casey, other libertarian notables. (R.W. Bradford) 206-385-5097
134 98th Ave., Oakland, CA 94063
Mail order supplier of free market books, audio tapes, video tapes, collectibles and gifts. (David Theroux) 415-632-1366/800-872- 4866
LINCOLN LEGAL FOUNDATION
100 W. Monroe #1600, Chicago, IL 60603
Public interest law center defends individual liberty, promotes free markets and works to limit government power through the rule of law. (Joe Morris) 312-606-0951
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CENTER
3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Suite #400, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Privatization clearinghouse. Publishes Fiscal Watchdog; maintains privatization database. (Philip Fixler) 213-392-0443
119 Ashman St, PO 568, Midland MI 48640
Analyzes Michigan economic issues from a free market perspective. Sponsors seminars; publishes commentaries and studies. (Lawrence Reed) 517-631-0900
52 Vanderbuilt Ave., New York, NY 10017
Promotes free market with books, symposia & Manhattan Report for scholars, officials & the public. (William Hammet) 212-599-7000
Mises Bldg. Auburn University, Auburn, AL 34689-5301
Promotes Mises' principles with seminars, books; publishes The Free Market and Austrian Economics Newsletter. 205-844-2500
NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS
12655 North Central Expressway, Suite #720, Dallas, TX 75243- 1739
Does policy research on privatization; focus is health care, welfare; publishes books & monographs. (John Goodman) 214-386-6272
NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION
325 Penn. Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003
Lobbies to reduce taxes; ranks Congressmen/"Spending Score." Dollars & Sense newsletter. 202-543-1300
PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION
2151 River Plaza Drive Suite 305, Sacramento, CA 95833
Law firm; litigates in support of free enterprise, property rights, limited gov't. Publishes In Perspective newsletter. (Ron Zumbrum) 916-641-888
PACIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE
755 Samsone Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
Publishes studies & books on market solutions to social, economic, environmental issues. (Sally Pipes) 415-989-0833
85 Devonshire Street 8th floor, Boston, MA 02109
Commissions in-depth market-oriented studies from scholars on Massachusetts public policy issues. Runs annual citizen contest on privatization ideas. (Virginia Straus) 617-723-2277
POLITICAL ECONOMY RESEARCH CENTER
502 S 19th Ave #211, Bozeman, MT 59715
Specializes in natural resource economics, hazardous waste policy, Native American issues; publishes PERC Reports, books & op-ed pieces. (Michael Copeland) 406-587-9591
P.O.Box 387, Forest Grove, PA 18922
Bimonthly magazine presents practical arguments for libertarianism. Analyzes issues from a pragmatic standpoint. (Jorge Amador)
3415 Sepulveda Blvd. Suite #400, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Educates public on principles of a free society w/Reason magazine, op-ed articles, and more. (Robert Poole, Jr.) 310-391-2245
RENAISSANCE BOOK SERVICE
P.O.Box 2451 Riverside, CA 92516
Offers wide selection of free market books; selection in German, Spanish & French; catalog available. (Gene Berkman) 909-369-8843
REPUBLICAN LIBERTY CAUCUS
1717 Apalachee Pkwy Suite 434, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Works to move Republican party toward greater support for libertarian ideals through education & outreach efforts. Supports libertarian-minded candidates for office. Publishes Republican Liberty. (Eric Rittberg) 904-878-4464
1815 N Lynn St. #200, Arlington, VA 22209
Consults on liberalization of economic policies, esp. free trade zones, private provision of public services. (Mark Frazier) 703-528- 7444
1250 H Street, NW Suite 750, Washington, DC 20005-3908
Affiliated with Citizens for a Sound Economy. Non-partisan think tank which has monitored tax & fiscal activities of federal, state, and local gov't since 1937. Publishes Tax Features; coined idea of "tax freedom day." (Dan Witt) 202-783-2760
P.O.Box 1275, Grambling, SC 29348
Bimonthly publication explores non-political strategies for achieving liberty. (Carl Watner)
WRI FILMS, WORLD RESEARCH INC.
P.O.Box 935 San Diego, CA 92169
Produces liberty-based educational films on economics, inflation, social justice, poverty, etc. (Dan Loeffler) 619-456-5278
List of libertarian and free market oriented organizations from the Atlas Foundation, March 1995.
Appendix C has been dropped in favor of a link back to the Atlas Network where the original text is kept.
I have written these essays and delivered these speeches over many years without any thought that they would someday be a book. In some cases I don't remember exactly when or where they were distributed. Updated for 1995 edition: introduction, Libertarianism and Humanism, Soundbites, Paranoia, Libertarian Paradoxy, Appendix C.
Fire in the House
Written in 1993, this vivid image communicates the libertarian vision of limited government contrasted with our present situation.
Libertarianism and Nonviolence
This is my personal favorite. It was written around 1987 and handed out extensively ever since with minor modifications. Jim Ray and Susan Debusk, activists in the Miami area, changed the wording somewhat and distributed this along with responses to key values of the Greens in early 1993. The first quote is from Ludwig Von Mises "Omnipotent Government" Arlington House, New York, 1966, p 46 and the second is from Lanza del Vasto "Warriors of Peace" Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1974, p 53-4
The most dangerous drug
Written in early 1994, this focuses on what I feel is a key feature of all oppression. The example is from "Communicating Libertarianism".
Roots of Socialism
I usually avoid going on the offensive but here I make an exception. Written in 1993.
A recurring theme I have used often. Probably written in 1989.
One of the most recent works, this was written in early 1993 although I had used it in talks up to a year earlier. Originally I had included an example of auto mechanics but dropped it when I heard a rumor that legislation was proposed to regulate them!
Libertarians and Vegetarians
I had little faith in this approach until I described it to Dick Boddie and he liked it. Written during lunch breaks while working at a dental clinic in 1991. Jim Ray has distributed this with "Libertarianism and Nonviolence".
This was written in January 1994. Reactions range from confusion to anger. Be warned.
Libertarian or Anarchist?
Every libertarian has to deal with questions about anarchy and it is good to have a menu of answers to fit the audience. Fear of anarchy is also mentioned in "Communicating Libertarianism".
This is a grab bag of short libertarian quips and come backs. Updated for 1995
This was published in a Southwest Florida regional newspaper called the Suncoast News around 1985.
The Water Crisis
I sent this letter to four different newspapers and three of them published it around 1986. It is an example of promoting libertarian ideas without directly referring to the libertarian party.
A letter to the editor from January 1994. Media laments about price gouging will never end and neither will price gouging.
Another successful letter to the editor published in two papers also around 1986.
To Feminist writer Sonia Johnson
I was fortunate to meet Sonia Johnson and thoroughly enjoyed her book "Going Out of Our Minds". She did not agree with the letter but her response was well thought out and well written. I regret that I have lost it. I continue to believe that the techniques of the women's liberation movement, such as consciousness raising, hold much potential for the libertarian movement.
Although I have always had good relations with the humanists and they consider me one of them, they generally don't like this letter and don't want to discuss it.
To New Age Healers
This was written around 1986 as a handout at a new age health fair.
Easy Things to do for Libertarianism
This list should be modified to meet the needs of the local organization. It is for those people who become enthusiastic about libertarianism and ask "What can I do?".
Written in 1992.
Probably written in 1988.
Keep the Pledge
Written in 1993 as my input into a debate within the Libertarian Party about dropping the pledge.
Awareness of Ignorance
Part of the 1986 Libertarian Party of Florida convention speech.
The Invisible Hand
Written in 1988 following the National convention in Seattle.
This is also from the 1986 Libertarian Party of Florida convention speech.
Libertarianism and Humanism
Written in 1992. Updated for 1995.
Libertarian Responses to Ten Key Green Values
I had been trying to communicate libertarianism to the Greens for some time when I received their ten key values in a handout. I was amazed and delighted to find that they were all expressed as questions so I immediately set to work developing libertarian answers. The original short answers were written in 1990 and the expanded answers in 1992-3. Jim Ray has handed out the short answers, with some modification, in the Miami area in 1993.
This goes slightly beyond politics but it shows a common pattern that is at the root of much confusion about political power. Written in mid 1994.
This is one of my favorite pieces that seems only to draw a luke warm response, oh well. It comes from the 1986 Libertarian Party of Florida convention talk.
This is the introduction to the 1986 Libertarian Party of Florida talk. Parts of this are repeated in some other essays.
What are Rights?
I have spent days arguing this with objectivists and others obsessed with the idea of rights. The lack of progress is part of why I generally avoid referring to rights when talking about libertarianism. This first appeared in the 1986 Libertarian Party of Florida convention talk.
The Ferengi Phenomenon
This was written in early 1993.
New for 1995.
Libertarianism From the Heart
An early work from around 1983. Still one of my favorites although a little long.
The keynote speaker at the 1984 Libertarian Party of Florida convention was Jim Lewis, the vice presidential candidate. I followed him in the program and began my speech with a Monty Python quote "and now for something completely different." This is where I first introduced one of my favorite slogans "peaceful honest people don't belong in jail".
Freedom is for Everyone (1987 National LP Convention)
This was a unique experience in many ways. Not only did I get to meet Russel Means and a number of other exceptional people but for several weeks I was possessed by the ideas embodied in FIFE. Most of these were written for the short lived newsletter "Sound of the FIFE".
Libertarian Duality Symbol
This was created during the 1991 National Libertarian Party Convention.
Written in 1993. I saved this for last because I wanted readers to be prepared by the time they reached it. Unfortunately it will probably be a source of quotes out of context by enemies of liberty. Updated for 1995.
Appendix A - Suggested Readings from the Libertarian Party, U.S.A.
This list appeared in the center fold of Liberty Today #3, an outreach tabloid publication of the Libertarian Party. I thank them for permission to include it.
Appendix B - ASG list of libertarian oriented organizations
The Advocates for Self Government published this in their newsletter, Liberator. I thank them for permission to include it.
Appendix C - Atlas list of libertarian and free market organizations.
This list was mailed to me by the Atlas Foundation. I thank them for permission to include it. Updated for 1995. The International Society for Individual Liberty also publishes a large and detailed list which they sell for a few dollars.
In addition to the books listed in the appendixes I have a few favorites of my own.
I recommend anything by Ludwig von Mises, several of his works are in the suggested readings. "America's Great Depression" by Murray Rothbard overcame my initial skepticism about free market economics. For a different view of anarchy vs government in the third world read "The Other Path" by Hernando De Soto. This is described in the article "Deregulation Examples". "The Ego and His Own" by Max Stirner is radical individualist anarchist writing for those who find libertarianism too tame. My favorite science fiction novel is "The Time Machine", a classic by H. G. Wells. It is short, full of action, highly political, and completely unlike the movie.
As a source of books I recommend:
The Philosophy Store
P. O. Box 13736
Gainesville, FL 32604
Telephone (904) 378-6370
This is small book store with a big selection of libertarian, free market, and related books. John Asfour will special order titles he doesn't stock.
I hope you enjoy reading "Beyond Government" as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please write and tell me what you think.