Libertarian Party National Issues
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.
Police are no longer protecting rights of civilians; they are protecting people from making any decision in their life not deemed “safe” or “prudent” by the government. This explains why the government enforcement arm is getting more militarized, more aggressive and involved in issues not limited to protecting the rights of the individual.
Libertarians are committed to restoring and protecting civil liberties. Libertarians will:
- Protect freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly.
- Reverse the militarization of law-enforcement tactics.
- Reform asset-forfeiture laws.
- Restore Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
- Restore voting and gun rights for those convicted of non-violent drug offenses.
- Fight against federal overreach and government spying programs.
- Restrict law-enforcement use of general surveillance technologies.
- Protect internet freedom & privacy.
Libertarians believe an important part of restoring civil liberties is ending the drug war. Voluntary treatment vs. mandatory incarceration is a winning strategy.
Crime & Violence
The Libertarian Party is the only party that addresses the issue of Crime at the basic fundamental level. The first step to fighting crime is to identify what a “crime” is. A “crime” is defined as the use of force, including fraud, against another individual or group. Without the description of “crime”, what you have are violations of someone’s idea of what you should be doing. The Libertarian Party is committed to reducing the “crime” rate by addressing only those acts that have a victim, by doing the following:
- Protect the rights of the victim by requiring justice for the crime committed.
- End Prohibition and the failed Drug War that wastes enormous resources, infringes on the rights of individuals and allows the Federal Government to seize personal property and use it or sell it for illegal profit.
- Punish “real” crimes by putting criminals in jail for their full sentences; instead of the revolving door they currently have at prisons because of overcrowding due to non violent offenders taking up space.
- Protect the Right of Self Defense by supporting the private ownership of firearms and support the right of citizens to carry concealed firearms for their self defense.
- Address the Root Causes of crime which stem from a welfare cycle that dooms so many to a life of poverty, a public school system that teaches failure and fails to teach, and free up the people to join the economy by lowering barriers to entry into business and ending Government run monopolies that trample on the entrepreneurial spirit of the individual.
Step 1. Protect Victims’ Rights
Protecting the rights and interests of victims should be the basis of our criminal justice system. Victims should have the right to be present, consulted and heard throughout the prosecution of their case. In addition, Libertarians would do more than just punish criminals. We would also make them pay restitution to their victims for the damage they’ve caused, including property loss, medical costs, pain, and suffering. If you are the victim of a crime, the criminal should fully compensate you for your loss.
Step 2. End Prohibition
Drug prohibition does more to make Americans unsafe than any other factor. Just as alcohol prohibition gave us Al Capone and the mafia, drug prohibition has given us the Crips, the Bloods and drive-by shootings. Consider the historical evidence: America’s murder rate rose nearly 70% during alcohol prohibition, but returned to its previous levels after prohibition ended. Now, since the War on Drugs began, America’s murder rates have doubled. The cause/effect relationship is clear. Prohibition is putting innocent lives at risk.
What’s more, drug prohibition also inflates the cost of drugs, leading users to steal to support their high priced habits. It is estimated that drug addicts commit 25% of all auto thefts, 40% of robberies and assaults, and 50% of burglaries and larcenies. Prohibition puts your property at risk. Finally, nearly one half of all police resources are devoted to stopping drug trafficking, instead of preventing violent crime. The bottom line? By ending drug prohibition Libertarians would double the resources available for crime prevention, and significantly reduce the number of violent criminals at work in your neighborhood.
Step 3. Get Tough on Real Crime
The Libertarian Party is the party of personal responsibility. We believe that anyone who harms another person should be held responsible for that action. By contrast, the Democrats and Republicans have created a system where criminals can get away with almost anything.
For instance: sentences seldom mean what they say. Fewer than one out of every four violent felons serves more than four years. Libertarians would dramatically reduce the number of these early releases by eliminating their root cause – prison over-crowding.
Since nearly six out of every ten federal prison inmates are there for non-violent drug-related offenses, it’s clear that drug prohibition is the primary source of this over-crowding. It has been estimated that every drug offender imprisoned results in the release of one violent criminal, who then commits an average of 40 robberies, 7 assaults, 110 burglaries and 25 auto thefts. Early release of violent criminals puts you and your family at risk. It must stop.
Step 4. Protect the Right to Self-Defense
We believe that the private ownership of firearms is part of the solution to America’s crime epidemic, not part of the problem. Evidence: law-abiding citizens in Florida have been able to carry concealed weapons since 1987. During that time, the murder rate in Florida has declined 21% while the national murder rate has increased 12%.
In addition, evidence shows that self-defense with guns is the safest response to violent crime. It results in fewer injuries to the defender (17.4% injury rate) than any other response, including not resisting at all (24.7% injury rate). Libertarians would repeal waiting periods, concealed carry laws, and other restrictions that make it difficult for victims to defend themselves, and end the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense.
Step 5. Address the Root Causes of Crime
Any society that lets kids grow up dependent on government welfare, attending government schools that fail to teach, and entering an economy where government policy has crushed opportunity, will be a society that breeds criminals. No permanent solution to crime will be found until we address these root causes of crime.
The Libertarian Party would increase employment opportunities by slashing taxes and government red tape. We would also end the welfare system with its culture of dependence and hopelessness. Most important of all, we would promote low-cost private alternatives to the failed government school system.
One reason a person becomes a Libertarian is that they recognize how government has enabled the destruction of the environment through cronyism. Governments are the biggest polluters of the environment worldwide. From war, their militaries and the creation of the corporation. The invention of the corporation was to politically protect individuals from legal action for their neglectful decisions towards the environment along with other issues. This creates a moral hazard when individuals are not held accountable but a mythical creature called the corporation is. In the end the fine is paid for by the employees through less or lowered compensation. The executives are not hurt and the corporation will do all it can not to pass these costs onto the customer so it is the employees who bare this cost. Projected fines and penalties are actually apart of the cost analysis for many companies. Excessive pollution is actually a part of the plan. Thus companies are not incentivized to improve but instead they stagnate as long as the profits are protected by government intervention.
Why, how and when did all this get started? In very short this change in the protection of private property rights transitioned from the individual to the public good sometime from 1830’s – 1890’s. Individuals where able to bring lawsuits against polluting companies and the vast majority won those cases and were given compensation for damages and injunctions against these polluting behaviors. Eventually the courts starting citing that it was for the public good to allow companies to pollute and the courts started siding with companies.
Solutions would be as follows but not limited to:
- Recognizing and respecting private property rights again.
- End corporate hood and the political protections it provides irresponsible people.
- Free the market. Example – End government protections such as caps on liability if a disaster happens. If oil rig cannot get insured to drill on the free market then that activity does not happen. If a pipeline cannot be laid by the company negotiating with private property owners then it does not get laid. Governments using imminent domain for financial gains is a coercive behavior to enrich the politically favored groups at the expense of private property owners and potentially the environment. The Great Northern Railroad is a great example of free market solutions to issues like these.
- Eliminate or reform the patent system. The patent system has become a system of corporate protection against competition as patents are bought by the rich and locked away. As patents can be worded so vaguely that years of lawsuits and or threat of lawsuit from patent trolls stifles new businesses, new innovations and the economy.
- There where will be times when externalities come into the equation and property rights just cannot solve the issue. It is in these cases government intervention maybe appropriate. The more local the government intervention the better.
In his first inaugural address, President Thomas Jefferson cited the essence of a libertarian foreign policy, “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.” This echoed the advice of President George Washington that “the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”
The twin pillars of a sane foreign policy are:
- Building positive relationships, with an emphasis on free trade, and
- Avoiding negative relationships, with an emphasis on military non-intervention.
The military budget of the United States, conservatively measured at around $700 billion (but probably closer to $1 trillion once all security measures and veteran benefits are considered), is approximately equal to all of the military budgets of all other countries combined. If the US military budget were cut in half, it would still be the largest in the world. Then, if it were cut in half again, it would STILL be the largest in the world. Then, if it were cut in half a third time, reduced to only one-eighth its current size, it would STILL be the largest in the world. And that’s using the conservative measure.
Whatever motivates this enormous budget, it is certainly not for the defense of American soil. Indeed, when the Department of Homeland Security was created, this was a virtual admission that the Department of Defense had goals other than homeland security. No foreign army has the slightest capacity to invade the United States, and as North Korea has demonstrated, even the possession of a single nuclear weapon is enough to deter invasion.
The best form of anti-terrorism insurance is to remove all troops from the Middle East, stop attempts to either preserve or change their current governments, and end all government-to-government aid.
It is time for American troops to come home, not just from the Middle East but from Europe, the Pacific, and everywhere else. At the same time, let’s drop all barriers to trade and travel and turn enemies into friends. Polls have long indicated that the rest of the world likes Americans far more than they like the US Government and admires America’s reputation as a land of opportunity and productivity. We have a great opportunity now to bring both peace and prosperity to our country and the world by restoring that reputation.
The Libertarian Party acknowledges that the 2nd Amendment forbids the Federal Government from infringing on the right of the People to keep and bare arms. Along with the constitutional right to this, there is a higher Natural right of the individual to protect his or herself and loved ones from the initiation of force by others. We reject any and all claims that the government knows better, is better able to decide, or has a moral or legal claim to be able to limit the manner in which law abiding American citizens defend themselves.
Libertarians, like other Americans, want to be able to walk city streets safely and be secure in their homes. We also want our Constitutional rights protected, to guard against the erosion of our civil liberties. In particular, Libertarians want to see all people treated equally under the law, as our Constitution requires. America’s millions of gun owners are people too.
Law-abiding, responsible citizens do not and should not need to ask anyone’s permission or approval to engage in a peaceful activity. Gun ownership, by itself, harms no other person and cannot morally justify criminal penalties.
The primary victim of these misguided efforts is the honest citizen whose civil rights are trampled as frustrated legislators and police tighten the screws.
Banning guns will make guns more expensive and give organized crime a great opportunity to make profits in a new black market for weapons. Street violence will increase in new turf wars. Criminals will not give up their guns. But, many law abiding citizens will, leaving them defenseless against armed bandits.
Libertarians agree with the majority of Americans who believe they have the right to decide how best to protect themselves, their families and their property. Millions of Americans have guns in their homes and sleep more comfortably because of it. Studies show that where gun ownership is illegal, residential burglaries are higher. A man with a gun in his home is no threat to you if you aren’t breaking into it.
The police do not provide security in your home, your business or the street. They show up after the crime to take reports and do detective work. The poorer the neighborhood, the riskier it is for peaceful residents.
Only an armed citizenry can be present in sufficient numbers to prevent or deter violent crime before it starts, or to reduce its spread. Interviews with convicted felons indicate that fear of the armed citizen significantly deters crime. A criminal is more likely to be driven off from a particular crime by an armed victim than to be convicted and imprisoned for it. Thus, widespread gun ownership will make neighborhoods safer.
Foolish politicians and police now seek to ban semi-automatic “assault rifles”. They ignore the fact that only honest citizens will comply; criminals will still have them. Such a ban will only increase the criminals’ ability to victimize the innocent.
Libertarians are committed to pursuing health-care reforms that improve health outcomes while reducing costs.
As recently as the 1960s, low-cost health insurance was available to virtually everyone in America – including people with existing medical problems. Doctors made house calls. A hospital stay cost only a few days’ pay. Charity hospitals were available to take care of families who could not afford to pay for healthcare.
Since then the federal government has increasingly intervened through Medicare, Medicaid, the HMO Act and tens of thousands of regulations on doctors, hospitals and health-insurance companies.
Today, more than 50 percent of all healthcare dollars are spent by the government. We need to do a major rethink of healthcare policy in the United States and in Utah if we are ever going to solve the problem of exploding health-care costs as well as draw on the strength of the free market.
We need to fight any further federalization of health-care policy. Federal policies are a major source of the pathologies in our health-care system. Federal laws increase many of the problems they were meant to address, they produce a host of new problems, and they render states powerless to fix anything. The Affordable Care Act is only moving us further in the wrong direction. Our experience with health care is proof that centralized planning by politicians and bureaucrats simply doesn’t work.
Libertarians favor returning health-care regulation to the states. In addition to eliminating many of the laws, regulations, and tax rules that wreak havoc on the incentives faced by businesses and employees, we also need policy freedom at the state level with regard to public spending on health-care for the poor and elderly.
Let Utah take care of Utahns
We can succeed where federal programs have failed and achieve better health outcomes at much lower cost to taxpayers. Federal laws and regulations undermine competition and innovation in the health-care industry. State governments cannot undo these counter-productive policies, and in fact add their own to further undermine a well-functioning health-care market, resulting in increased costs without improved health outcomes. Moreover, political control of health care ends up siphoning money into whatever is politically popular, rather than what is most beneficial. Mental health consistently gets the short end of the stick.
Bring the power back to the state
Libertarians strongly advocate a return of health-care policy to the states, either directly, or through conversion of Medicaid into block grants to the states with policy freedom at the state level, or via waivers allowing Utah to redesign our programs more intelligently.
Removing state-level barriers to health-care service provision
As noted above, state governments often exacerbate the problems stemming from federal mis-regulation of health care. Utah is no different. State-level regulations have numerous damaging effects that reduce the availability of services, increase costs, and decrease competition and innovation. The over-regulation and mis-regulation of health-care professionals via increasingly onerous licensing requirements, restrictions on what those professionals can do, and centralized planning of the use of medical resources all work to harm patients, especially those suffering from mental-health issues. We must revisit our state-level laws and regulations, not just focus on federal policy and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The most common Libertarian position on immigration is open borders; however, this is a very complex issue when we factor in the variables of our times such as central banking, fiat currency and wealth distribution programs. Open borders will work if neighboring countries operate under free market conditions also. All countries would benefit from the freedom of economical mobility. All countries would economically benefit from free trade and mutual cooperation without government interventions.
Is open borders the answer or does the issue come down to private property rights? If I want to invite someone onto my property what right does another human have to prohibit that freedom of association?
Immigration can be a problem when a government incentivize unproductive behaviors and dangles “freebies” to people. The founders held a firm belief in free immigration. They had to as they did not have the means to close borders so they implemented a plan that worked wonders for the prosperity of all Americans. All that was offered was freedom, liberty, and the chance to work hard and make it. There was no free money to be had, no programs, and etc… Yet in the absent of this mutual aid societies and charities where set up to help immigrants assimilate, get medical help and many other good things. This happens because people care. Thus the incentive to immigrated mostly attracted hard workers and entrepreneurs. These type of people benefit the economics of country.
Today the federal government incentivizes humans to be unproductive from generation to generation and we can see this is not sustainable. In summary immigration will always appear to be a problem because the state and federal governments incentivize the unproductive behaviors. Then since the state and federal governments view every issue as a nail and there only tool is a hammer they institute more and more force thinking the same old reforms and solutions will give a different outcome.
Libertarians do not believe it is the government’s job to define marriage, however, as long the government is in the marriage business the law should not favor one group over another. Libertarians believe in marriage equality between consenting adults.
Marriage is a social and legal contract between consenting adults. We support the rights of individuals to enter freely into any mutually beneficial contract without government interference.
The Libertarian Party also supports equality before the law. To that end, neither race, sexual orientation, preference, gender, nor gender identity should have any impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. The 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.
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.
Marriage is a contract between consenting adults and should not include a gov’t employee as referee, cheerleader or judge. We support the rights of individuals to enter freely into any contract, as long as both consenting adults.
Politicians in Washington are stealing your future.
Every year, they take 12.4% of your income to prop up their failed Social Security system – a system that is heading toward bankruptcy.
If you are an American earning the median income of $31,695 per year, and were given the option of investing that same amount of money in a stock mutual fund, you would retire a millionaire – without winning the lottery or a TV game show.
That million dollars would provide you with a retirement income of over $100,000 per year – about five times what you could expect from Social Security.
Even a very conservative investment strategy would yield three times the benefits promised by Social Security.
Libertarians Want You to Control Your Own Money & Future!
Libertarians believe you should be able to opt out of Social Security and invest your money in your own personal retirement account. An account that you own and control – one that politicians can’t get their hands on.
Republicans and Democrats say it can’t be done – that your Social Security taxes are needed to pay benefits to today’s retirees. Instead of letting you invest in your own future, they want you to have faith that someone else will pay your benefits when it comes time for you to retire.
Although most won’t admit it publicly, their “solutions” to the Social Security crises all come down to some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts.
Libertarians know that there’s a better way.
Countries like Chile, Mexico, Britain, and Australia have successfully made the transition from their failed Social Security systems to healthy systems based on individual retirement accounts. In Chile, over 90% of workers have opted out of the government-run system. It’s time America did as well.
The federal government owns assets worth trillions of dollars – assets that it simply doesn’t need to perform its Constitutional functions. By selling those assets over time, we can keep the promises that were made to today’s retirees, and to those nearing retirement, while freeing the rest of America from a failed Social Security system.
Libertarians will introduce and support legislation to give you that choice, and put you in control of your own retirement future.
Taxes are one of the ways the Government takes in money to pay for everything it does; both good and bad. One way to limit the scope of the government is to limit the ability of it to collect money. The Libertarian Party is invested in finding ways to cut the taxes of every American and offset the balance sheet by applying the constitutional limits on the Federal Government, which would reduce the size and harm the government can do. It has been shown time and time again that the worst possible group of people to handle any issue are politicians.
Taxation is theft plain and simple
The government claims that it owns your property and that it will then grant you something to live on. Let us walk through the thought process.
- You enter into a voluntary agreement with someone who is willing to employ you.
- You trade your physical labor, the creativity of your mind, and or both in many cases for an hourly wage or salary.
- When you receive your paycheck the government has already claimed your property before you have received your pay. The deductions are right there on the check.
- That begs this question, “If 100% of your earnings are taken that means you are a slave. What if 24% of your earnings are taken, what does that mean?”
- What if you peacefully refuse to have the government take your earnings? What will happen to you?
- You will receive a letter stating you are in violation of a tax law.
- If you do not reply to that letter you will receive a court order to appear in court.
- If you do not show up to court what will happen next?
- Government officials will come to your home. What happens if you peacefully do not comply?
You may be arrested, you may receive bodily harm or you may pay the ultimate price with your life. Either way you, in the eyes of the government, are not entitled by your natural right to your property. Your earnings that never existed before your voluntary agreement with an employer, your property that you earned by supplying your body for labor and your mind for creativity is the governments in their eyes.
A Constitutional government, in proportionate size to its legal authority as outlined by the Constitution of the United States of America, would be very small. There are many creative ways to fund a small government and this country did just that for the first 150 years without any taxes on wages or salaries.
Under a small government, whose sole role is to protect the natural rights and liberties of the individual, if taxation was still to exist, the percentage would be so small people may not even notice, however, extorting payment from property owners would end and confiscation of people’s property would end i.e. taking a person’s wages and or salary.
Prior to 1913 taxing was rarely done and when done it was very brief because the citizens of the United States recognized taxation for what it is. Usually the tax situation involved a war. Thus citizens were adept to become war weary quickly. It was in 1913 – 1917 the government schemed, created the Federal Reserve, a privately owned bank cartel, and ever since the United States has been in one violent conflict after another. For when you can pay for wars with freshly created money or defer the debt to future generations the immediate impact is not felt and citizens do not complain. Fractional reserve banking is at the root to the vast majority of our problems in the United States and the world community for that matter.
It is time to start rolling back our tax burdens, along with the size of all governments.
War on Drugs
People have rights that governments may not violate. Thomas Jefferson defined them as the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When we are asked what libertarianism is, we often say that it is the idea that adult individuals have the right and the responsibility to make the important decisions about their own lives. More categorically, Libertarians would say that people have the right to live their lives in any way they choose so long as they don’t violate the equal rights of others.
What right could be more basic, more inherent in human nature, than the right to choose what substances to put in one’s own body? Whether we’re talking about alcohol, tobacco, herbal cures, saturated fat, or marijuana, this is a decision that should be made by the individual, not the government. If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us? What limits on government action are there?
Drug-related crime (which is over 85% of all crime) is caused not by drugs but by drug laws that make the stuff expensive and a monopoly of criminals. This stance isn’t “approving” of drugs; it’s just realism, prohibition doesn’t work. In addition to the significant financial strain, the very worst hazard of the drug war may be the expansion of police powers through confiscation laws, “no-knock” warrants and other “anti-drug” measures. These tactics can’t stop the drug trade, but they are making a mockery of our supposed Constitutional freedoms.
Libertarians would leave in place laws against actions which directly endanger the physical safety of others, like driving under the influence of drugs, or carrying a firearm under the influence.
Make Marijuana Legal
Over a million and a half Americans were arrested last year on drug charges, and nearly 40% of those arrests were for marijuana possession alone. Does this make sense?
A recent Gallup poll reports that 58% of Americans now agree that marijuana should be legalized, a dramatic increase in support that reflects Americans’ increased knowledge and understanding of the issue. Proposals to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol have been considered in several states, and the Libertarian Party has supported those efforts; Libertarians believes the federal government should end its prohibition mandate and allow each state to pursue its own desired policy.
Before we can get serious about reducing the harms associated with drugs, we have to accept that there will never be a drug-free society.The 2012 Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Governor Gary Johnson said “it will never be legal for a person to smoke marijuana, become impaired, and get behind the wheel of a car or otherwise do harm to others, and it will never be legal for kids to smoke marijuana. But we have to understand that marijuana is our nation’s #1 cash crop despite the prohibition; it will always be available to those who really wish to use it.”
When polled, high school kids say marijuana is easier to get than alcohol. Is this perhaps because they buy from black market dealers who do not ask for ID? Legalization of marijuana would instantly and dramatically improve conditions on our southern border. Marijuana is Mexico’s #1 illegal export; legalizing it would result in dramatically reducing the power and wealth of the drug lords, and instantly helping to restore stability in a nation whose stability and sustainability is truly vital to our economic and national security interests. If we truly wish to reduce border violence, take the profit out of it.
To create a drug-free society, we’d have to build a police apparatus so intrusive that all Americans would have to be under surveillance 24 hours a day… presumably for their own good. Should citizens of the “land of the free” ever stand for that? Abuse of hard drugs is a health problem that should be dealt with by health experts, not a problem that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons with addicts. Instead of continuing to arrest and incarcerate drug users, we should seriously consider the examples of countries such as Portugal, the Netherlands, and Uganda, and we should ultimately choose to adopt policies which aim to reduce death, disease, violence, and crime associated with dangerous drugs. Honest, effective education will be key to succeeding with this transition. America has cut teen cigarette use in half, not by criminalizing possession and use, but through a combination of honest education and sensible regulation. We can never totally eliminate drug addiction and drug abuse. We can, however, minimize these harms and reduce the negative effects they have on society by making sure drug abusers are able to access effective treatment options (jail is not an effective treatment option).
Before we can get serious about reducing the harms associated with drugs, we have to accept that there will never be a drug-free society. To create a drug-free society, we’d have to build a police apparatus so intrusive that all Americans would have to be under surveillance 24 hours a day… presumably for their own good. Would citizens of the “land of the free” ever stand for that?
Abuse of hard drugs is a health problem that should be dealt with by health experts, not a problem that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons with addicts. Instead of continuing to arrest and incarcerate drug users, we should seriously consider the examples of countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands, and we should ultimately choose to adopt policies which aim to reduce death, disease, violence, and crime associated with dangerous drugs.
Honest, effective education will be key to succeeding with this transition. America has cut teen cigarette use in half, not by criminalizing possession and use, but through a combination of honest education and sensible regulation.
We can never totally eliminate drug addiction and drug abuse. We can, however, minimize these harms and reduce the negative effects they have on society by making sure drug abusers are able to access effective treatment options (jail is not an effective treatment option).