Civil Issues

 

 

Civil Liberties

Champions of civil liberties and staunch protectors of your privacy

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. We will:

  • Protect freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly.
  • Reverse the militarization of law-enforcement agencies.
  • 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.
  • We believe an important part of restoring civil liberties is ending the drug war. Voluntary treatment vs. mandatory incarceration is a winning strategy.
 

 

Crime and Violence

An approach to criminal justice and crime control that is smart, compassionate, and tough. An approach that will make our streets safe again.

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. In short if there is NO VICTIM, there is NO CRIME.

The Libertarian Party’s anti-crime plan would:

  • Respect the victim’s rights and make criminals pay full restitution.
  • Hold all criminals responsible for their actions.
  • Double the police resources available for crime prevention without any additional government spending.
  • Reduce the number of criminals at large on our streets.
  • Defend the most effective crime deterrent available, the private ownership of guns.
  • Create jobs, end welfare dependence, and improve education.

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.

 

 

Education

Libertarians believe competition in education between private and public organizations will lead to a better education system along with more parental influence in their children’s education

In order to achieve the best possible opportunity of education we advocate bringing the positive benefits of competition to the monopolistic government schools. Therefore we call for the privatization and deregulation of schools. Also we call for the repeal of compulsory education laws, truancy laws, school and teacher certification and licensing laws, and taxpayer financing of education. As an interim measure we advocate tax credits for any individual or business sponsoring a person’s education, equal to the amount of that assistance.

On principle, Libertarians call for the eventual complete separation of government and education, and call for an immediate end to state mandated curricula, including but not limited to: the Profile of Learning, Goals 2000, and School to Work.

 

 

Environment

Ensure full liability for individuals and corporations; private property rights as a protector of the environment

Pollution of other people’s property is wrong. Strict liability, not government agencies and arbitrary standards, should regulate pollution. We advocate repeal of the laws that prevent full ownership of the air and water above and below land, thus denying individuals protection under the law against polluters. Private property rights must replace public property. We further advocate repeal of corporate limited liability laws protecting the individuals who own or manage corporations from the personal liability of pollution. We further advocate the repeal of sovereign immunity laws, which protect those in charge of government property, utilities and military installations from the personal liability of pollution.

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. 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. Projected fines and penalties associated with the pollution are actually apart of the cost analysis for many companies. Thus companies are not incentivized to be stewards of the environment but instead are able to stagnate as long as the profits are protected by limited liability laws.

Solutions to a clean environment:

  • 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 an oil rig cannot get insured to drill 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 eminent domain for financial gains is a coercive behavior to enrich the politically favored groups at the expense of private property owners and potentially putting the environment at risk.
  • 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 will be times when externalities come into the equation and property rights alone cannot solve the issue. It is in these cases government intervention may be appropriate.
 

 

Gun Rights

Libertarians support the 2nd amendment

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 Prohibition Lesson

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.

The Right of Self Defense

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.

Personal Responsibility

Let us put the responsibility where it belongs, on the owner and user of the gun. If he or she acts responsibly, without attacking others or causing injury negligently, no crime or harm has been done. Leave them in peace. But, if a person commits a crime with a gun, then impose the severest penalties for the injuries done to the victim. Similarly, hold the negligent gun user fully liable for all harm his negligence does to others.

 

 

Healthcare

Making Healthcare Safe and Affordable

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.

Health insurance costs are skyrocketing. Government health programs are heading for bankruptcy. Politicians continue to pile on the regulations. The Libertarian Party knows the only healthcare reforms that will make a real difference are those that draw on the strength of the free market.

The Libertarian Party will work towards the following:

1. Establish Medical Saving Accounts

Under this program, you could deposit tax-free money into a Medical Savings Account (MSA). Whenever you need the money to pay medical bills, you will be able to withdraw it. For individuals without an MSA, the Libertarian Party will work to make all healthcare expenditures 100 percent tax deductible.

2. Deregulate the healthcare industry

We should repeal all government policies that increase health costs and decrease the availability of medical services. For example, every state has laws that mandate coverage of specific disabilities and diseases. These laws reduce consumer choice and increase the cost of health insurance. By making insurance more expensive, mandated benefits increase the number of uninsured American workers.

3. Remove barriers to safe, affordable medicines

We should replace harmful government agencies like the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with more agile, free-market alternatives. The mission of the FDA is to protect us from unsafe medicines. In fact, the FDA has driven up healthcare costs and deprived millions of Americans of much-needed treatments. For example, during a 10-year delay in approving Propanolol (a heart medication for treating angina and hypertension), approximately 100,000 people died who could have been treated with this lifesaving drug. Bureaucratic roadblocks kill sick Americans.

 

 

Poverty and Welfare

Libertarians support individual choice to provide private charity

From across the political and ideological spectrum, there is now almost universal acknowledgement that the American social welfare system has been a failure.

Since the start of the “war on poverty” in 1965, the United States has spent more than $5 trillion trying to ease the plight of the poor. What we have received for this massive investment is — primarily — more poverty.

Our welfare system is unfair to everyone: to taxpayers who must pick up the bill for failed programs; to society, whose mediating institutions of community, church and family are increasingly pushed aside; and most of all to the poor themselves, who are trapped in a system that destroys opportunity for themselves and hope for their children.

The Libertarian Party believes it is time for a new approach to fighting poverty. It is a program based on opportunity, work, and individual responsibility.

1. End Welfare

None of the proposals currently being advanced by either conservatives or liberals is likely to fix the fundamental problems with our welfare system. Current proposals for welfare reform, including block grants, job training, and “workfare” represent mere tinkering with a failed system.

It is time to recognize that welfare cannot be reformed: it should be ended.

We should eliminate the entire social welfare system. This includes eliminating food stamps, subsidized housing, and all the rest. Individuals who are unable to fully support themselves and their families through the job market must, once again, learn to rely on supportive family, church, community, or private charity to bridge the gap.

2. Establish a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private charity

If the federal government’s attempt at charity has been a dismal failure, private efforts have been much more successful. America is the most generous nation on earth. We already contribute more than $125 billion annually to charity. However, as we phase out inefficient government welfare, private charities must be able to step up and fill the void.

To help facilitate this transfer of responsibility from government welfare to private charity, the federal government should offer a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private charities that provide social-welfare services. That is to say, if an individual gives a dollar to charity, he should be able to reduce his tax liability by a dollar.

3. Tear down barriers to entrepreneurship and economic growth

Almost everyone agrees that a job is better than any welfare program. Yet for years this country has pursued tax and regulatory policies that seem perversely designed to discourage economic growth and reduce entrepreneurial opportunities. Someone starting a business today needs a battery of lawyers just to comply with the myriad of government regulations from a virtual alphabet soup of government agencies: OSHA, EPA, FTC, CPSC, etc. Zoning and occupational licensing laws are particularly damaging to the type of small businesses that may help people work their way out of poverty.

In addition, government regulations such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits drive up the cost of employing additional workers. We call for the repeal of government regulations and taxes that are steadily cutting the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.

4. Reform education

There can be no serious attempt to solve the problem of poverty in America without addressing our failed government-run school system. Nearly forty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, America’s schools are becoming increasingly segregated, not on the basis of race, but on income. Wealthy and middle class parents are able to send their children to private schools, or at least move to a district with better public schools. Poor families are trapped — forced to send their children to a public school system that fails to educate.

It is time to break up the public education monopoly and give all parents the right to decide what school their children will attend. It is essential to restore choice and the discipline of the marketplace to education. Only a free market in education will provide the improvement in education necessary to enable millions of Americans to escape poverty.

Summary

We should not pretend that reforming our welfare system will be easy or painless. In particular it will be difficult for those people who currently use welfare the way it was intended — as a temporary support mechanism during hard times. However, these people remain on welfare for short periods of time. A compassionate society will find other ways to help people who need temporary assistance. But our current government-run welfare system is costly to taxpayers and cruel to the children born into a cycle of welfare dependency and hopelessness.