Last updated on 2014.07.24
South Dakota Libertarian Party Bob Newland got me to stick my foot in it yesterday. Responding to the growing chorus of Libertarians and others repudiating the viability of Chad Haber's supposed candidacy for the Libertarian nomination for attorney general, I made the argument to Mr. Newland that I would make a better nominee for his party than Haber. Newland said he would welcome my candidacy but that his party would prefer that its candidates endorse at least 7% of the party platform.
Let's roll out that Libertarian platform and see how I do. The Libertarian platform is in the left platform; my responses, plank by plank, are on the right.
|As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.||The blessing of the civil state is “moral liberty, which alone makes him truly master of himself; for the mere impulse of appetite is slavery, while obedience to a law which we prescribe to ourselves is liberty” [Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762] (0.5)|
|We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.||We form society to secure individual rights against the abhorrent force and fraud of the lawless state of nature. Peace and prosperity are worthless without freedom. (0.7)|
|Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.||"...to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" [Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, 1994]. Government is at least a necessary evil, at best a shared institution through which we cooperate and carry out the popular will to enhance the freedom of all citizens. (0.5)|
|In the following pages we have set forth our basic principles and enumerated various policy stands derived from those principles.|
|These specific policies are not our goal, however. Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands.||My goal is to maximize liberty for all citizens. (0.3—I score this one low, out of distaste for the vague puffery of the platform statement)|
|STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES|
|We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.||I belong to no cult. I resist any effort to create any state with unchecked power. (0.3—again, rhetoric aligning with imagination but not reality)|
|We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.||Living the way I want inevitably conflicts with living the way you want. Resolving those conflicts without force or fraud requires reasonable laws determined by democratic processes. (0.5)|
|Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.||Proper democratic government exists and operates by the consent of the governed. We surrender some of our freedom, some of the fruits of our labor, to enjoy true liberty enforced by a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. (0)|
|We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.||I value life, liberty, and property; however, I cannot accept these statements in their absolute form. All rights exist in tension with others. All rights must be balanced with exceptions to accommodate other rights and maximize liberty. (0.8)|
|Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.||Contracts do not exist outside of the social contract. The free market has its merits, but it is not uniquely compatible with nor a guarantor of the protection of individual rights. (0)|
|1.0 Personal Liberty|
|Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.||I support personal choice and responsibility. I reject the use of force. (0.9)|
|1.1 Expression and Communication|
|We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology. We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.||Agreed. (1)|
|1.2 Personal Privacy|
|Libertarians support the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure should include records held by third parties, such as email, medical, and library records. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.||I support the Fourth Amendment and oppose warrantless searches and other Constitutional violations imposed by the Bush and Obama Administrations under the guise of the 2001 Patriot Act.I hesitate to support absolute legalization of all recreational drug use and ask for a greater discussion of the social costs of drug manufacture, marketing, use, and addiction. (0.8)|
|1.3 Personal Relationships|
|Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government's treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.||Agreed. (1)|
|Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.||Agreed... although I support government efforts to promote more equal access to health care services to enhance all citizens' liberty. (0.9)|
|1.5 Crime and Justice|
|Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to themselves. We support restitution to the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. We oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused. The rights of due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must not be denied. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.||I support the rule of law and due process. The definition of the limits of criminal law proposed here is reasonable but open to broad interpretation. Restitution is one worthwhile goal of the criminal justice system, along with rehabilitation, retribution, and deterrence. Jury nullification is problematic. (0.7)|
|The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the individual right recognized by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. We oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition.||Self-defense is legitimate; however, force is permissible only as a last resort, and only until the aggressor is overpowered. The Second Amendment is not absolute; we may justifiably restrict firearms and ammunition, just as we may justifiably restrict speech, press, and religion in certain instances where other rights take precedence. (0.5)|
|2.0 Economic Liberty|
|Libertarians want all members of society to have abundant opportunities to achieve economic success. A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.||Maximizing liberty means maximizing economic opportunity. It's hard to vote, speak, and check government corruption when your kids have no food, when a uranium mine wrecks your water supply, or when corporations collude to depress wages and leave you working 80 hours a week to make rent. The free market does many good things, but it does not always maximize real liberty for all citizens. Government must check the free market, just as citizens check government, just as the courts check Congress. (0.2)|
|2.1 Property and Contract|
|Property rights are entitled to the same protection as all other human rights. The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others. We oppose all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates. We advocate the repeal of all laws banning or restricting the advertising of prices, products, or services. We oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade. The right to trade includes the right not to trade — for any reasons whatsoever. Where property, including land, has been taken from its rightful owners by the government or private action in violation of individual rights, we favor restitution to the rightful owners.||I agree with this statement 90%. However, I can see room to interpret "infringes the valid rights of others" to justify certain restrictions on wages, prices, production, interest rates, advertising, contracts, and trade to prevent exploitation, force, and fraud. I wholeheartedly oppose the use of eminent domain to seize private property to benefit other private interests. I can envision some situations where the government taking of private property, with just compensation, is justified in order to maximize liberty for all citizens; however, eminent domain should be used with great restraint and public oversight. (0.9)|
|We support a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of our natural resources. Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Pollution and misuse of resources cause damage to our ecosystem. Governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. We realize that our planet's climate is constantly changing, but environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.||Rot. The government is we the people. We citizens working together for our shared interest have a better record of protecting common resources than individual corporations that maximize profit by exploiting resources and foisting the externalities on the rest of us. (0)|
|2.3 Energy and Resources|
|While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. We oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production.||I am open to the idea of removing subsidies from the energy marketplace. However, we should also make sure that energy producers pay the cost of all externalities associated with the extraction, production, and use of their fuels and technologies. We also must recognize that the free market, if it currently favors the dominance of one sector of the energy industry, may resist the entry of new players, new ideas, and new technologies that would upset their business models. We as a society may have a countervailing interest in supporting the development of new, superior technologies that would not come about spontaneously in the free market. (0.3)|
|2.4 Government Finance and Spending|
|All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. We oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a "Balanced Budget Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.||More rot. The fruits of our labor are magnified by the protections afforded by the social contract. Every person who benefits from schools, roads, police, and laws has a moral obligation to pay for the upkeep of those social projects. Taxes are necessary, as is an agency to fairly collect those taxes and enforce tax law. Government should avoid incurring debt, but sometimes, debt is good and necessary. Balancing the budget solely by cutting expenditures fails to recognize that we have a moral obligation to pay for the things we've already bought on credit and that raising taxes is at least as practical and moral as cutting spending. (0)|
|2.5 Money and Financial Markets|
|We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies and unconstitutional legal tender laws.||Even competition requires restrictions. (0)|
|2.6 Monopolies and Corporations|
|We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association. We seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals. We oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Industries should be governed by free markets.||NGOs and private individuals can provide education, security, fire protection, and dispute arbitration. Yet we would gravely reduce liberty if government divested itself of all schools, police, fire departments, and courts. (0)|
|2.7 Labor Markets|
|We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment. We oppose government-fostered forced retirement. We support the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union. We oppose government interference in bargaining, such as compulsory arbitration or imposing an obligation to bargain.||Workers cannot refuse to recognize the authority of the corporate board that governs their company; corporate boards likewise cannot refuse to recognize a collective formed freely by employees. Government should refrain from interfering in labor disputes unless the national interest is seriously threatened. (0.2)|
|Education is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality, accountability and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Recognizing that the education of children is a parental responsibility, we would restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children's education.||Education for a liberal democracy is best provided by a common public system that ensures fair and free access to all children, regardless of their economic status. Parents are free to provide their children with other opportunities, but we all have an obligation to ensure that every child receives an education adequate for the demands of exercising liberty and citizenship. (0.1)|
|2.9 Health Care|
|We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines.||It's hard to exercise liberty when you're sick or injured, or when you've gone bankrupt or are scared of going bankrupt because of medical bills. Collective action—health insurance—helps more people get health care and avoid bankruptcy. Health insurance works better with more participants. Public insurance (Medicare) provides more health care for the dollar, with less overhead. A national, public, single-payer health insurance system thus maximizes liberty. (0.5)|
|2.10 Retirement and Income Security|
|Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals. We believe members of society will become more charitable and civil society will be strengthened as government reduces its activity in this realm.||America's long-time private charities were unable to provide reliable relief for the harms of the Great Depression. Social Security is a necessary safety net. All individuals should contribute to this safety net. Individuals are still free to invest their after-tax income as they see fit. (0)|
|3.0 Securing Liberty|
|The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government. Government is constitutionally limited so as to prevent the infringement of individual rights by the government itself. The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.||O.K. (1)|
|3.1 National Defense|
|We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.||O.K. (1)|
|3.2 Internal Security and Individual Rights|
|The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens. The Constitution and Bill of Rights shall not be suspended even during time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government's use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.||O.K. (1)|
|3.3 International Affairs|
|American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.||Mostly o.k., with the exception that some military and economic aid may serve our national interest. (0.9)|
|3.4 Free Trade and Migration|
|We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.||Unrestricted free trade and restricted migration are philosophically incompatible. We should welcome legal immigrants to the extent that our nation can practically accommodate them. We have the right to refuse entry to our country to those who threaten our liberty. We should encourage free trade, but we have the right to restrict the trade of goods and services (at least by market players under our jurisdiction) that undermine the liberty of our people or of innocent people around the world. (0.5)|
|3.5 Rights and Discrimination|
|Libertarians embrace the concept that all people are born with certain inherent rights. We reject the idea that a natural right can ever impose an obligation upon others to fulfill that "right." We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual's human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs. This statement shall not be construed to condone child abuse or neglect.||Agreed... although I reserve the right to seek clarification on the discussion of natural right and obligation. (0.9)|
|3.6 Representative Government|
|We support election systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels. As private voluntary groups, political parties should be allowed to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives. We advocate initiative, referendum, recall and repeal when used as popular checks on government.||Agreed, except for campaign finance restrictions, which are a proper check on the use of force, or unchecked power, by wealthy elites. (0.8)|
|Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to agree to such new governance as to them shall seem most likely to protect their liberty.||This statement comes into effect only when citizens abandon participation in the political process. I can support this statement as a philosopher, but not as a candidate in the established legal electoral process or as an elected official who swears an oath to uphold the Constitution. (0.5)|
|Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval.||The same is true of any silence I offer on certain points of this platform or other things Libertarians might say.|
The Libertarians and I will have the hardest time getting along on questions of economic liberty... and were I ever to run as a Libertarian, I would not accept campaign contributions in Bitcoin, Mazacoin, or any other form of currency other than the Almighty U.S. Dollar (or in-kind contributions, like hot dogs!).
But a quick subjective tabulation of my responses (and I welcome your alternative interpretations and calculations!) finds that I can claim a Libertarian quotient of 52%, over seven times the minimum threshold Bob Newland requested. Where we don't agree, as on health care (plank 2.9), I can make a sincere case that my position supports liberty better than the Libertarian position.
And I have given the above 35 points more sincere consideration and public explanation in the above table, not to mention in nine years of blogging and online conversation with South Dakotans, than anyone else who has permitted his name to be mentioned publicly as a possible Libertarian candidate for attorney general.
Of course, a guy or a gal might align with the Libertarian platform 100% and still lack the minimum skills necessary to carry out the duties of the attorney general, like personally representing the state in court (statute says nothing about sending a flunky to do so). Those duties require a law degree, which every attorney general in the country has. But fitness for office is a whole separate question from fitness for Libertarianizing.
Feel free to copy the above table, delete my answers, and score your own Libertarianism. Who knows: maybe you'll discover that you, too, are half-Libertarian! (Hmm... so I wonder what the other half is?)
Nicely done, Cory. As I suspected, you clocked in a little over 50% but I liked the way you weighted your scoring. Good overview of the Libertarian mindset in the process, and nuanced and not-so-nuanced rebuttals as needed. Thank you!
As to your last parenthetical, it might be an interesting exercise to review each plank in the context of what we think we know about the other political parties. I suspect there are planks upon which all three parties agree, some that are more "Democratic," some that are more "Republican," and some that are uniquely "Libertarian."
At the very least, finding those planks upon which we all agree could perhaps provide the "common ground" we keep hearing about (...kind of like we keep hearing about Sasquatch.)
Bill, I may have to spend my weekend lining up the GOP and Dem platforms with the Lib platform on the spreadsheet and seeing what numbers I can come up with. The most hilarious result would be if I came up with 52% on all three.
Is that SyFy network movie about Bigfoot starring Danny Bonaduce and Howard Hesseman and set in Deadwood showing again? It lacks the nuance of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes but it has its moments especially the scenes with Alice Cooper and a plastic snake.
On a more serious note, I too wonder if nearly all of us wouldn't score over 50% on most party platforms. Working on commonalities, however, would not keep Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, or George Soros money flowing to candidates or 3rd party interest group coffers.
Kal, yup, polarization seems to be the only game in town these days. Speaking of... I wonder why Bob Newland stipulated the 7% rule. Are there one or two of those Lobertarian platform planks that are harder than others? Absolutes? Dealbreakers?
"Libertarian", not "Lobertarian". Ha. That's a tell on me, I suppose. I am at heart a Lobstertarian. Remember the Maine! (esp. the 2 lb. crab-stuffed lobster at Kennebunkport Inn.)
You don't want any gubmint interference in voluntary and contractual relations(last paragraph before 1.0) and in 2.0-economic liberty you want gubmint to adjudicate disputes. 1.3 personal relationships,if we have a military,officers can't be allowed personal relationships with soldiers or discipline breaks down.
Property rights-how do they resolve conflicts if mineral rights are held by someone else? Is a property owner allowed to shoot korporation A for making a mess on property owner's property? Whose rights prevail?
At what age is a consenting adult a consenting adult? Who gets to decide? Is it okay for a consenting adult to have relations with a minor if the minor consents?
There's an easier, softer way (sorry, AA folks) to determine one's leanings. It's the "World's Smallest Political Quiz," at http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz/quiz.php.
Not only has Cory parsed his own purity more than any Libertarian candidate ever, he's done so in a manner that almost no one else will even read, although it's worth the read.
Bob, I recognized going in that the length of the platform, doubled by even my terse point-by-point responses (focusing on disagreement rather than elaborating on and arguing for common ground) would result in a document not fit for Twitterized attention spans. A cute clicky quiz like the one you link is much more amenable to online sharing and chatter. (That quiz labeled me borderline centrist.)
That said, as is my wont, I reject SEO and happily go long.
It might be worth noting that, even with a substantial number of libertarians in office, political reality would prevent more than a slow movement toward smaller government.
ISideWith.com's online quiz says I'm only 37% Libertarian. It finds me aligning with the Democrats and the Greens 89%, the Socialists 68%, and the GOP 5% (on education issues! I'm a Republican at school!):
I read your post Cory and found myself in large part agreeing with you. One of the more irritating aspects of talking with folks who think they are "libertarians" is their frequent use of the term "government" as if this were some non-human enemy about to pounce on them (how Ronald-Reaganistic). Your comment "The government is we the people" is exactly right on.
When libertarians demonize the "government" they demonize all of their own friends, family, neighbors, etc that work in government for the benefit of us all. To me, that is the stupidest part of the libertarian dialog.
When reviewing the libertarian platform here, I find a huge inconsistency. It looks like libertarians claim to want the "government" to defend us from other nations and criminals, yet they want to repeal the income tax and other taxes. How are we supposed to pay the good people in our military and police force (you know, the "government") with no source of revenue?
Finally, a former libertarian named Will Moyer wrote a compelling essay explaining how he became a libertarian and why he stopped.
The ethical aspect of his critique weighed heavily on me. Local people who think of themselves a libertarians seem to be decent folk, but when they tell me that we (the government) have no obligation to assist others who are in need, that strikes me as both unethical and inconsistent with the assertion that we (the government) have an obligation to stop others from acts of fraud, violence, or war.
As someone who won't join a political party, I find this topic curious. At what level of agreement does anyone feel comfortable saying "I am a Democrat-Republican-Libertarian-Whig-KnowNothing-Federalist?" Are some planks worth more than others? Are some planks close enough to your own view that you can accept them for the sake of other more important ones? Are some planks complete deal-breakers, trumping anything else the party stands for?
Further, if someone identifies with a certain party, is it reasonable to assume they accept and support everything in the platform? I await enlightenment from the citizens of Madville.
Let me fuse BCB and Newland's 11:31 and 11:04 comments: A miraculous Libertarian majority in Pierre would indeed move toward smaller government much more slowly than the LP platform might lead us to expect, because they would reality would butt up against the inconsistencies BCB identifies pretty quickly, especially at the state level. The practical business of running schools, fixing and plowing roads, and catching bad guys would push aside the philosophical abstractions of the platform... just as reality pushed aside my own talk-radio abstractions from the 1990s and turned me into a Democrat in the 2000s.
But there are still valuable principles in the LP platform—basically, respect for life, liberty, and property—that should underpin every political platform.
What I always seem to notice about libertarians: they talk voluminously about freedoms, but never seem to have the slightest thing to say about responsibilities.
Cory, I agree that many of the ideas advocated by libertarians would improve everyone's lives. I wholeheartedly support many of their policy goals. Yet I have real trouble with their ethics when it comes to helping others, and as noted, the internal inconsistencies of their view of the function of "government" and how to pay for it.
Personally, I am with Jessie. Political parties are simply business and social clubs whose membership purportedly shares some socio-religious philosophy, but in truth is as fractious within that philosophy as is the public at large.
I think we should stop publicly funding the choosing of candidates at primary elections. Let the "parties" choose candidates if they want to, and put them on ballots with no mention of "party" affiliation.
The state-funded primary election process is simply state-funded advertising for the named parties.
I took the quiz and it says I'm 40% Centrist.
Mine says: Green Party 89%, Democrat 84%, Socialist 54%, Libertarian 44%, and Republican 25%.
I decided to take it too - I apparently side with libertarians 31% of the time.
On Cory's quiz I side with Greenies-97%,Dems-92%,Soc-75%,Libs-69% and reps-7%.
ok, that was fun.
Also, I just got a telephone poll funded by the SD Dems, covering education funding, EB-5, minimum wage, etc. Glad to see them doing research and, I hope, listening to the answers.
I am more progressive than I thought, always considered myself a moderate.
Do those numbers make me a left wing radical? Does this explain why I can't stand to be around the right wing of my family?
Cory, you have my vote for AG, if you decide to run.
Is it possible that we've moved so far right as a country that what used to be moderate is now progressive? I thought I was moderate too, but according to that quiz, I'm borderline socialist!
Green Party 92%
Earth haters 11%
SD, I have heard and read that in many other places. 20 years ago I would be considered a solid republican, now with very little changing in what I believe they call me a LWNJ. Personally, I still think I'm a moderate.
i thot the kinder softer way was marijuana maintenance
I haven't finished reading the Libertarian platform, but I will.
The one commonality that I see with the Libertarians that I know is that they are all pro-marijuana. In fact the times I have visited with them there is very little, if any, discussion about other parts of their platform.
It does make me wonder if the only reason they are Libertarians if for the legalization of weed.
Well, Roger, since cannabis prohibition is the linchpin of the whole "drug" war, and since the war on (some) "drugs" has toppled or destabilized every country south of Brownsville TX, has been the principle force in the development of the police state in the USA, and is the principle funding factor in gangs in the USA and in Latin America, it seems like a good place to start.
I favor legal weed. The "war on drugs" has been a failure of epic proportions. I have to wonder how things would be different if the billions already spent and the billions they continue to spend had been spent in other more productive ways. Not only how things would be different here but also the other countries Bob refers too. Of course, South Dakotans will never get the chance to find out, our single party rulers won't allow that.
Ha! Took the test and I'm 100% left wing liberal, which I knew anyway.
On Bob Newland's site I was one space away from the far left corner of the diamond.
-40% on everything else
I love Bob's statement at 16:04. Exactly right. But . . . While I am in complete agreement with his logic, I do worry about the effect easily obtainable heroin, meth, LSD, and other mind-altering potions might have on our population. I believe a sizable majority of Americans would be unaffected because they choose not to use them, but what about those who do? Especially the younger ones? Would rates of drug addiction skyrocket? How would our society be affected?
Lots of worries, lots of questions.
BTW Cory, this is a great post, wonderful comments. Good on y'all.
Aachen is right. It's all individual freedom, no responsibilities. The "fruits of labor" sounds really good, until you realize they're talking about keeping everything they earn for themselves. No country can exist without taxation; and in our country, the government is indeed us. But instead of trusting in a democratically elected government, they would rather trust unelected corporations to run everything. No, no, and no.
Deb, legalizing so-called hard drugs would have a similar effect that Roe had when it legalized abortion. Instead of increasing abortions, this reduced dangerous abortions that had a high chance of injuring or killing women.
Just as women obtained abortions when they were illegal, people who want heroin will find ways to illegally obtain it. Just as illegal back alley abortions endangered women, illegal back alley heroin endangers users. Further, the illegality makes it much more difficult for a heroin user to come forward to seek help in kicking the habit.
Put these drugs in the light and we can take some control over quality and dosage, which is going to necessarily save lives. Folks who use will be able to come out of the shadows for treatment and rehab when they discover that heroin doesn't solve their problems. And those that decide their lives are happier and better off with heroin use are likely the same individuals who would make such a decision if the drug was unlawful. There is no rational reason I can think of to make these people criminals just because they have decided their lives are better off when use heroin.
Same goes for coke, meth, et al. It makes more sense to monitor the quality and keep users safe than it does to force them to buy from underground suppliers with no control over the quality or safety of the drug, and to force them to do their business with potentially dangerous sellers.
And I think the most important element would be that it would end the "forbidden fruit" draw that sucks so many young people into trying something just because they are told that they can't. I believe with a change in the law and little time, the usage of so-called hard drugs would drop substantially below usage levels under existing law.
I agree with you bearcreekbat about how to handle the drug problem. It seems like such a good idea, I'm wondering if it's been tried in other countries, and if so, if it's achieved the results you mention. Incidentally, I don't think yours is a Libertarian position exactly. My hunch is, they wouldn't want the government involved. But I could be mistaken.
Legalize and license the users. We require driver licenses, why not drug, alcohol, and gambling user licenses? It doesn't take a dozen armed cops to enforce a license system on every street.
Doug, license? How much longer before you would require a tattoo on the forearm or something?
Deb, Illegal drugs have always been easy to get. Sometimes I have to wait 15 minutes to get weed in Rapid City, but I'd have to drive 5 hours to get legal weed in Denver. Same for meth, coke and heroin, even though there's no place to get it legally.
I appreciate your arguments Bob, and I think you make a lot of sense. What I hear about most in MN is deaths from tainted heroin and those crazy chemical concoctions that are called "bath salts" and other benign-sounding names. Regulation would change that.
I haven't smoked any weed since the early 1980s. I haven't really had a desire to, but - if it was legalized in Minn, yeah. I would probably get a bong and inhale a little now and then. About as often as I drink. A 6 pack lasts me a month, so not much.
Here is an interesting article describing the state of affairs when heroin was still legal in the UK and USA.
Dem-96 Green-89 Soc-53 Rep-12 Lib-8
I'm not a big fan of druggie culture, unregulated industry and unfettered rule by an oligarchy, so my Republican and Libertarian scores are very low. The druggie questions are probably why my Democrat score is above my Green score. I did all the extra questions, and mostly used the expanded answers, making my own up in some instances.
Drug culture and policy is one of the areas that epitomizes the difficulty a Libertarian candidate would have as Attorney General. The Libertarian platform says government should not make drug use a crime, just as it calls on government not to interfere in numerous other activities. Yet the Attorney General is bound to uphold the law as it stands, and that law includes drug cases. Will a candidate have to promise not to enforce drug laws to win the LP AG nomination? Will a candidate have to promise not to prosecute any violations of state commercial regulations?
AG might be a great spot for a hardheaded Libertarian to impose Libertarian philosophy on the state, but without Legislative backup, such action would seem to require acting outside the requirements of the law and Constitution that the AG swears to uphold.
That's all the more reason the SDLP needs to nominate a smart, qualified, well-spoken candidate who can articulate and promote Libertarian principles yet assure the other 99.9% of South Dakotans of his or her commitment to justice and enforcement of the law as written, not the law as he or she would write it if he or she occupied a legislative office.
Eve, you identify exactly the philosophical point where we should have the greatest argument with the Libertarians. I can find points of agreement in the platform, but I've called Libertarianism selfishness in philosophical drag. Libertarian philosophy may be deeper than it looks, but some people casually adhere to it out of a selfish refusal to recognize their interconnectedness with everyone else.
I know whereof I speak, because that's the philosophical track that I jumped when I moved from the Republican to Democratic.
I have often wondered how people measure the "war on drugs" as a failure because there is no way of knowing of what it would be like if there had not been the "war on drugs."
If the "war on drugs" had not taken place, would there be more, less, or about the same level of drug use? No one will be able to answer that. Maybe the WoD was completely unsuccessful, or perhaps in some ways, it has been successful. I do not know.
I do know that we live in a culture that condones and encourages drug use. A prime example of that is the drug alcohol. Although alcohol, in its various forms, is a legal and socially acceptable drug, there are problems related to alcohol that have not been addressed adequately.
The problem with drug use is not just the user, it is the impact on the people who are around the drug users. There are victims of drug users include children, employers, co-workers, and society in general.
I grew up in an alcoholic home, and an alcoholic neighborhood. I seriously doubt that any of those who consumed alcohol considered themselves as being drug abusers, or thought they drank too much. Oftentimes the users were "mean drunks." None of them thought that their alcohol use meant that they should get treatment. Guess who paid the price besides the user?
Every drug has side-effects, some of those side effects are desired, some not. I do not believe that there are drugs that are completely safe. Even aspirin has undesirable side effects.
My biggest concern about legalizing what is now illegal, is that the drugs will become glorified and promoted as alcohol is, and there will not be adequate ways to deal with the related problems.
Having seen the effects of alcohol use, crack use, and marijuana use on others, I have stayed away from all of them. I hate the thought of not being in control of my mind or body, even for the shortest time.
Legalize drugs if that is what the majority want, but also include plans and funding to deal with the related problems, provide protection for the potential victims, and put as much effort in discouraging drug use as there is for discouraging tobacco use.
Jeni, all the problems you mention exist under the current system. In other words, making some "drugs" illegal doesn't seem to do much to keep people from using them. Under alcohol Prohibition, alcohol use approximately doubled in the USA.
What's obvious is the ancillary problems "drug" prohibition causes. Alcohol dealers rarely have gunfights in the street over who gets to sell what where. When bullets fly, occasionally people get hit; occasionally those people are down the street simply watching TV.
"Drug" prohibition is a price support program for the most vicious people on Earth. The risk factor in bringing illegal shit to the willing buyers has been estimated as representing up to 95% of the end user's cost.
"Drug" prohibition has created massive incentives for cops to corrupt themselves. Cop enters a room where a curtain is waving in front of the window where a dealer escaped. There's $100k on the table in cash, along with 2 kilos of coke. Cop turns in $30k and 1 kilo as having been confiscated.
Additionally, a virtual industry has been created wherein copshops get federal money for volume of arrests/convictions for drugs. That creates incentives to get people to roll on people who are not even involved in the trade in order for some people to get reduced sentences. That is perhaps the most pernicious form of corruption.
As for comparison to alcohol, no currently illegal drug creates anywhere near the havoc wrought by alcohol use. Heroin overdoses kill you by depressing involuntary muscle function (like breathing and haertbeat), but heroin use creates no organic damage. Heroin users don't beat up other people as a side effect of their heroin use. Pot users certainly don't either.
Legalization will provide opportunities for educating people in the dangers of use of currently illegal stuff, as well as allow people who need help to get help without fearing being arrested.
We punish folks for doing certain harmful things, some of which they do while drunk. We do not punish people merely for drinking (except doing so underage). The same should be true for all "drugs."
Jeni, what Bob said. Since I only type with two fingers it would have taken me a half hour to type that, thanks Bob.
having just buried my 80s something mom, the last few/several years of diminished capacity have not been pleasant nor reliably treatable. so if heroin does no organic damage, do these researchers know what they are doing?
Heroin causes Alzheimer-like brain damage
Good work, Bob. I assume you agree that the legalized drugs should be regulated for purity, licensed and taxed etc?
Leslie, without even looking at your link, I will say that many such published articles are suspect. I am going on what is largely settled medical opinion, gleaned a few years ago.
Whether or not heroin causes organic damage is really irrelevant anyway. Everyone knows the dangers of heroin overdose, which is an easy slip-up to make, but some choose to take the chance.
Alcohol causes Alzheimer-like brain damage, but usually only after excessive use over many years (or after EXCESSIVE excessive use on discrete occasions). We've known that for centuries. Some think we should illegalize alcohol. I say, bring it on. I like a random gunfight over speakeasy turf better'n most folks.
Bill, I don't care about any of that. If they're legal, the marketplace will sort that stuff out. I want the government to stop jailing people for trying to feel better.
Corey, I also notice that Libertarians, and other small-to-no government types are all about abolishing government regulation re commerce, corporations, environment, and protecting minority rights, which is another reason I don't buy into it. I want clean air and water, and I certainly don't want to go back to the "good old days" where anybody (i.e., racial minorities) could be refused service for any reason. For one thing, it's still happening: back in 1991, I was refused a motel room in a small West River town because - thanks to my then long black hair and brown eyes - the owners thought I was Native American. (I am 100% Greek). So Ron and Rand Paul lost all credibility for me back when they were against the Civil Rights Bill (later Rand realized he might lose some black votes and backtracked semi-heavily).
At the same time, these bastions of liberty are 100% in favor of government regulations on sexuality; and I note that 100% of Republicans voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act (equal pay for women). (The inimitable Rand Paul compared it to setting up a Politburo.) Again, no, no, and no.
Bob N-is it true that you can die or be seriously damaged the very first time you imbibe alcohol or take heroin? I am talking about just from taking either substance. Can you OD on either or both the first time you try them?
Of course, Mike. It happens all the time. I nearly died from an overdose the first time I ate lasagna, and I run that risk every time there's any left after I eat what's on my plate.
Eve, the Libertarian stances on the areas you mention in your first paragraph are a little more nuanced than you imply.
As for the sexuality charge, you're wrong. Some folks who get labeled by the press as being "libertarian" may think govt should prohibit some consensual sex acts, but such a position is anti-libertarian.
Here is the basic libertarian philosophical stance, upon which all libertarian policy positions are based: "It is immoral to pursue personal or political goals by use of force or fraud."
The federal government mad a huge mistake on calling this a
War on Drugs, the government doesn't have a particular good record of winning any kind of war, in this day and age wars are not won, they are compromised.
By declaring a war on drugs they opened the door for opponents to cry their efforts were a failure.
I'm not so quick to condemn the war on drugs a failure, other to say it should have been called something else.
The DEA and other law enforcement agencies have seized an enormous amount of illegal drugs and weed, and have prosecuted many more.
Not ever having been a pot smoker, I do recognize that it should decriminalized and made legal.
Drugs that are lethal and addictive should not be legalized, as Don Pay says, I can't imagine an American drug culture.
Now that Libertarians have made legal weed the core of their party's agenda, what other issues or relevancy and effect do they have to offer.
My comment and opinions about weed and illegal are reflective of the 5 years I worked as chemical dependency counselor in hard core alcohol and drug treatment facility.
Most of our clients were actually un-treatable and were there by court order or paroled to us.
The devastation to every aspect of their lives had all but made them hopeless, successful treatment was rare, by providing long term care and treatment, the best we could guarantee was keeping them alive for a few more days.
Bob, I recognize that the problems with drugs, either legal or illegal, exist now.
I also know that "prohibition" created violent gang like behaviors.
What my concern is, is what I wrote earlier, that is legalizing the now illegal drugs will lead to the same glorification and promoting of drug use as alcohol currently is. There is very little, if any, that I know of, education about the damaging effects of alcohol, other than the "don't drink and drive" campaign.
I see PSAs about the damaging effects of tobacco use, but have never seen a PSA about liver damage that makes people bleed to death, nor about the negative effects on the pancreas, brain, or nervous symptoms.
I have yet to see a PSA that goes "the alcohol industry does not care that you turn yellow from liver disease." "the alcohol industry does not care that children live in fear of someone who has been drinking."
There is no protection of victims and potential victims of alcohol users, there is no funding or plans to deal with the effects of alcohol on the users or victims, and most certainly there is no effort by anyone to discourage the use of alcohol. How would it be any different when other drugs are legalize?
We also have to address as to what is considered "excessive." For many alcohol consumers they may not view their alcohol intake as excessive, even if they wake up with the symptoms of a hang-over. What is excessive for one, is not excessive for others. The measure of excessive appears to be subjective.
I don't buy the notion that just because other drugs are suppose to be less harmful than alcohol, that makes their use more acceptable or safer.
As I mentioned, legalize the now illegal drugs if that is what the majority wants, but please funding and develop a strategy plan to prevent or reduce the related problems/issues, provide protections for victims and potential victims, be more active in discouraging the drug use, be pro-active in teaching people how to deal with their social or mental health problems and stresses without resorting to drugs, and how to enjoy life without drug use.
Drugs and alcohol should, IMO, never be glorified the way that alcohol currently is. My guess is that eventually, all the now illegal drugs will be legalized, but there will not be any pro-active funding or plans to deal with the related problems. Who then will advocate for the victims, whether the victims are the users or have been impacted by the users?
If I am not mistaken one significant cause of overdosing on illegal drugs is the lack of knowledge about the drug's potency. A legal and regulated drug could provide that information and likely would have significant warnings of potential side effects. Somehow that seems much safer and more humane than telling users to "go get your drugs in the street" and take your chances.
I cannot escape the abortion analogy. When abortion was illegal, women still got abortions. They used dangerous methods and feared going for help when in trouble, as they knew they faced prosecution. Legalizing abortion did not encourage abortion, rather, it made the lives of women who would get an abortion anyway much safer.
While drugs are illegal, people will still take drugs. They will use dangerous, unregulated drugs and will fear going for help when in trouble, as they knew they will face prosecution. Legalizing drugs will not encourage people to take drugs, rather, it would give society the tools to make the lives of these individual much safer.
Without prolonging the argument that seems not to convince some, I will say that the main thing I want is for the State to quit putting people in jail merely for trying to feel better.
Good point Bear, but we never see a commercial promoting abortions.
There are media commercials, signage, and etc. promoting alcohol use. Those commercials, advertisements, signage and etc do not cite the harmful effects of alcohol.
How, if at all, will that be different when all other drugs are legalize?
JeniW, your comments make good sense. I think the goals that you identify can be best met in the sunshine, not in dark alleys. PSA's describing the dangers of improper drug use should be a top priority.
But here is a twist. As the article I linked earlier indicated, when heroin was legal in the USA and UK, the problem users were minimal.
In fact, like the many adults who safely use alcohol, I suspect that many adults could safely ingest heroin, meth, cocaine and other so called hard drugs, if the drugs were regulated for quality control and through education about what might constitute a safe usage level. Wouldn't you agree that for most people "abuse" is not the same as "use?" Indeed, if drugs were lawful manufacturers would face product liability lawsuits for drugs that caused unnecessary harm, or for failing to adequately warn potential users of dangerous side effects. Since they are illegal, however, such lawsuits are impossible.
Today, alcohol is generally lawful for adults and the general public pretty much is told over and over that one alcohol drink a day is safe for women, and two a day is safe for men. With all the AA and rehab programs around, along with DUI laws, etc, I doubt that very many young people today are unaware of the dangers of alcohol abuse.
What we have now is a crap shoot for young people who want to experiment with drugs, who are basically told only that they will be arrested if caught. And by keeping all this in the shadows, there is a much greater chance that these young folks will be harmed.
JeniW, I note that hard liquor is not in TV ads, while beer commercials are. As for drugs, I see no problem with prohibiting ads, just as we currently prohibit cigarette ads. In fact, good public policy should support ads that educate about the potential dangers, just as we now do with cigarettes.
And I will admit that when it comes to cigarettes, for me there is no safe amount. One cig and I would be hooked again. But I know others who apparently can have a cigarette or cigar now and then without developing the craving I experienced. I also had friends who could not take one drink of alcohol without a similar reaction. I no longer smoke and my friends know they cannot drink. Neither they nor I needed the threat of jail to figure that out.
Yeah, I'm right where Roger is on this. I've seen too much dysfunctional behavior, and worse, as a result of legal (alcohol) and illegal drug use. Lots of traumatic brain injuries occur as a result of alcohol and drug use, not just from auto accidents, but strokes. Prescription drugs are especially bad, and are being abused more and more. And all these club drugs that kids and young adults do is ridiculous. I'm not sure what to do about it. It's way out of control.
Then there is another aspect of drug culture that I don't like, one which might be cleaned up by legalization. I had to live next door to a small time drug dealer here in Madison, WI, till the landlord finally kicked him out. Some of the folks he sold to with were pretty hard-core users. We didn't feel safe. He had folks coming all hours of the night to pick up their drugs. It was obvious, but the police wouldn't do anything. He was underneath their radar. They only go after the big time importers, and he wasn't big time enough for them. His customers were mostly white. Had they been black, they might have taken more interest. Even here in liberal Madison we jail black folks who use and sell drugs, while we ignore the white folks.
It's really at this point becoming a civil rights issue for me. Drugs are being used to victimize blacks in all sorts of ways. I hate the drug culture and I hate the war on drugs.
Thank you everyone for your discussion and sharing your opinions.
Central to me, when it comes to any kind of drug, are the victims. I grew up in an alcoholic home and alcoholic neighborhood. My perspective of drugs is that of a victim. I was a kid, I had no power, and was trapped. There was no place else for me to go. No one stood for me, no one helped me cope with the fear, hurt, anger, and grief that alcohol users caused for me. No one cared, no one reached out to me, even though I was obviously an unhappy child.
Is it any different now days? Will it be any different when other drugs are legalize? What will be in place, for the victims, namely children of drug users, when the other drugs become legal?
JeniW, thanks for your comments too! I am very sorry about what you experienced as a child.
The unfortunate truth is that whether legal or illegal, some families will be hurt by a member's drug use. But others will not be hurt if the drugs are used responsibly rather than abused.
The good news is that there is plenty of help out there today for kids who are being hurt by irresponsible parents. A report of abuse or neglect to law enforcement results in a referral to DSS workers, and if substantiated, will result in Court intervention designed to protect the child from further harm and to require the parent to clean up his or her act.
While the DSS solution is far from perfect, bringing drug use into the light would certainly help DSS workers find kids who are in homes with abusers of drugs. It would increase the opportunity for parental rehabilitation, which is in the children's interest. To me that would be a great improvement for kids and family members hurt by the abuse of drugs.
"I hate the drug culture and I hate the war on drugs"—Donald, you may have just handed me the platform bullet point I've been looking for on drugs. Linking the war on drugs to civil rights is a strong stand, one that could pull me in to fighting a little harder for repealing drug sentences, if not drug prohibitions. Set up the drug laws so that drug arrests require us to give help to minorities, and the racist powers that be might not pursue the drug war so avidly.
There is does exist a potential and realistic obstacle or problem with drug legalization that we haven't looked at.
If all drugs become legal, will employers change their position accordingly? Most major employers require a drug test prior to employment and than employees are subject to random drug tests.
Will drug users, even recreational users, choose to work for employers that don't drug test and possibly limit their career options and earning potential.
And the government itself, will they amend a zero tolerance policy to allowing those under the influence to work with the public?
In MN heroin deaths have jumped. I've read about heroin that was tainted, or much stronger than usual. Enough ODs have occurred that the legislature passed a law allowing cops and EMTs to carry an antidote. I don't remember the name of it, but the idea is that emergency people who are not MDs will be allowed to provide this med immediately to overdosers and thus save lives.
I haven't heard of any results yet. It just became effective this month. MN DFLers frequently seemy to come at a problem with the view of figuring out how to save lives first, and worry about punishment later. Refreshing.
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