A Libertarian Primer on the Issues
Laurence M. Vance
November 2, 2016
Although the Libertarian Party has virtually no chance of winning any presidential election, the presidential campaign of any of its candidates in any such election can and should be used to promote libertarian ideas and educate Americans about libertarianism.
This is not a hard thing to do. The usual Democratic and Republican candidates for president are always so bad on so many issues that it doesn’t take much effort to stand out from them. The Libertarian Party just needs to write a good, brief platform that espouses the libertarian philosophy and then let its candidates for president and vice president apply this philosophy to the issues.
Although the Libertarian Party has a decent platform this election year, its presidential candidates — Gary Johnson and William Weld — are the most non-libertarian Libertarian Party candidates in history. The libertarianism they present to the American public — when they actually present something that can be considered libertarianism — is watered down, weak, and confusing. Don’t look to them to present a principled and effective case for libertarianism.
So, since I am a traditional libertarian, just in time for the election, I present a libertarian primer on the issues, most of which no candidate from any party is talking about — including the Libertarian Party. To keep this primer brief, I am deliberately limiting it to fifty issues, although there are certainly much more that I could mention.
- Taxes: since taxation is government theft and most of what the federal government spends is unconstitutional, taxation should be ended, but until such time as it is, taxes for all Americans should be lowered as much as possible.
- Tax deductions: like tax credits, loopholes, shelters, and exemptions, they are always good and should be broadened and expanded as long as we have a tax code.
- Refundable tax credits: although tax credits are always good, refundable tax credits that give people refunds of money they have not paid in are a form of welfare and should be eliminated.
- The no-fly list: only airlines should be able to make a list of people not allowed to fly — just like any business should be able to make a list of people it will not serve.
- The TSA: should be abolished since it is an illegitimate purpose of government to provide security for private businesses.
- Trade: should be free from government tariffs, quotas, regulations, and management.
- Trade agreements: totally unnecessary with the real free trade.
- Federal land: all federal land owned outside of Washington, D.C. should be turned over to the states or sold to the highest bidder.
- Social Security: since it is not the job of government to institute or operate a retirement program, a safety net, an investment account, or a disability plan, the Social Security program should be abolished and the payroll taxes that partially fund it should be eliminated.
- Medicare: since it is not the job of government to have health-care programs, subsidize health insurance or health care, pay for prescription drugs, or have anything to do with insurance or medicine, Medicare should be eliminated.
- Planned Parenthood: should not be funded by the government even if it performs no abortions since the government should not be funding any private organization.
- Space exploration: should all be privately undertaken and funded since it is not the job of government to do either.
- Occupational licensing: should not exist since no one should have to get permission from the government to open a business, engage in commerce, work in certain occupations, have a particular vocation, or provide a service to willing customers.
- Cultural grants: should be ended since all museums, exhibits, writers, artists, and performers should be privately funded.
- Prison overpopulation: everyone in prison for victimless or non-violent crimes should be released.
- Food stamps: should be eliminated since it is not the job of the government to feed anyone.
- Foreign aid: since the federal government cannot give money to foreigners without first taking it from Americans, all government foreign aid should be ended and left up to private individuals and organizations.
- Disaster relief: since it is an illegitimate purpose of government to provide disaster relief — to citizens or foreigners — all disaster relief should be privately donated.
- Welfare: since it is immoral to take money from those who work and give it to those who don’t — even when the government does it — all welfare programs should be abolished.
- Public housing: since it is an illegitimate function of government to provide anyone with housing, all public housing should be sold to the highest bidder.
- Discrimination: since anti-discrimination laws violate property rights, freedom of association, freedom of contract, and freedom of thought, they should all be repealed and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) should be abolished.
- Scientific research grants: should be ended since all scientific research should be privately funded.
- Citizens United: money is not speech, but individuals, groups, organizations, corporations, and unions should be free to spend any amount of their own money in any way they choose, including spending money on political activities.
- Foreign wars: should be ended immediately since no foreign war should ever be fought in the first place.
- Minimum wage: since it is an illegitimate purpose of government to set maximum or minimum prices for anything, including labor, there should be no minimum wage on the federal or state level.
- NATO: the United States should withdraw from NATO and let the Europeans handle their own security.
- Military spending: the Pentagon’s budget should be slashed and military spending limited to defense instead of offense.
- Foreign policy: neutrality, non-intervention, and Jeffersonian: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”
- Medicaid: since no American should be forced to pay for the health care of any other American, Medicaid should be eliminated.
- Education: since it is not the job of the government to educate anyone’s children or subsidize anyone’s education, all public schools should be closed and all education handled privately.
- Vouchers: all educational vouchers should be privately issued and funded.
- Farm subsidies: should all be eliminated since it is not the job of government to subsidize anything and farming should be treated like any other business.
- Medical research grants: should be ended since all medical research should be privately funded.
- Affirmative Action: should never be practiced by government, but private institutions, businesses, and organizations should have the freedom to practice it.
- The Drug War: since it is none of the government’s business what anyone wants to smoke, snort, or inject, the Drug War should be ended, all drugs should be legalized (not just marijuana), and the DEA should be shuttered.
- Department of Homeland Security: since we already have a Department of Defense to secure the homeland, the Department of Homeland Security should be abolished.
- AMTRAK: should be abolished because all passenger rail traffic throughout the United States should be privately owned and operated since it is not the job of government to own or operate a rail service.
- Organ sales: since every American owns his own body, the government should not prohibit him from selling any of his organs while he is alive or after his death.
- Affordable housing: there should be no government involvement of any kind in the housing market via subsidies or loans or loan guarantees.
- Family leave: should be negotiated between employers and employees with no government laws, mandates, or regulations concerning family leave.
- Cuban embargo: should be ended immediately since the government should never restrict Americans’ trade or travel.
- Guantanamo Bay prison: should be closed along with the U.S. Naval Base there.
- The Patriot Act: the original act along with all of its reauthorizations should be repealed.
- Funding for the UN, World Bank, and IMF: should be ended for many reasons, but especially since only a handful of Americans would give them money if it came out of their own pocket.
- Obamacare: should be repealed but not replaced with anything.
- Unemployment benefits: should be eliminated since the government should never pay anyone for not working.
- E-verify: should be eliminated since businesses should be allowed to hire whomever they choose.
- The National School Lunch Program: should be ended since it is not the job of government to feed any child or be involved in schools in any way.
- The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: should be abolished since it is not the job of government to fund radio or television broadcasting.
- The FCC: should be eliminated since it is not the job of government to regulate communications.
Bonus: In addition to the Department of Homeland Security, the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Energy, and the Interior should be shuttered.
What a shame that the Libertarian Party presidential candidates aren’t discussing these issues.
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom; War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism; War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy; and many other books. His newest book is the second edition of King James, His Bible, and Its Translators. Visit his website.
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