individual liberty

Rules for Liberty

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff

Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s the philosophy of liberty in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats.

To me, the values of liberty just seem like a commonsense way to think about political philosophy. The rules are easily understood, our aspirations for government are modest and practical, and our designs on the lives and behavior of other people are unpresumptuous, even humble. The rules are pretty straightforward because they treat everyone just like everyone else: simply; they are blindly applied like Lady Justice would; across the board. No assembly required.

I am not a moral philosopher and I don’t particularly aspire to be one. That said, I have stayed at more than one Holiday Inn Express. That makes me at least smart enough to know what I don’t know. So the rules that follow represent my not-so-humble attempt to boil down and mash up all the best thinking in all of human history on individualism and civil society, the entire canon of Judeo-Christian teachings, the spontaneous evolution of common law, hundreds of years of English Whig, Scottish Enlightenment, and classical liberal political philosophy, lots of Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, a smattering of karma, and, like any morally relevant updating of a time-tested ethos, at least a few hat tips to The Big Lebowski. All of this in six convenient “Rules for Liberty.”

On Allies and Enemies

The recent discussion on Jim DeMint got me to thinking.  I can’t help but look around at libertarianism, and how far we’ve come in just a few short years.  We have become more a part of the political landscape than I thought we would be.  We have seen more and more activism for libertarian causes and candidates than I ever thought I would see.

And yet, we still manage to shoot ourselves in the foot.  Part of that stems from our choices of enemies and allies, and the idea that someone must be one or the other.

Take, for example, Jim DeMint.  Yes, he seems to say he likes libertarians.  He generally seems to like fiscal responsibility.  He generally seems like he wants small government.  We libertarians should love him…

…but a lot of us don’t.

You see, DeMint is not a fan of gay marriage.  He is a fan of the Defense of Marriage Act.  He also famously said that he didn’t see how you could be a fiscal conservative and not a social conservative.

Yeah, a lot of libertarians don’t like the guy.  Others, however, do.  Either is really fine with me.  I honestly don’t have an opinion on DeMint, though I have opinions on his positions. Maybe, that’s the way libertarians need to start viewing politicians from other parties.

Even though you may not like the guy, can’t we stand with him as an ally on shrinking the national debt?  We can then side with someone else on gay marriage.  We’re talking politics here, not a long-term romantic relationship.  There’s no need to be “faithful” to anyone here.

Can Libertarians And Social Conservatives Be Allies?

There has been an interesting back and forth over the past couple days between Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner and Walter Olson and David Boaz of the Cato Institute. Carney started the exchange by writing a piece about this weekend’s protests against the Obama HHS birth control mandate. In the piece he said:

This truth needs to get out there. The media need to figure out who is imposing morality on whom. Libertarians need to reassess their allegiances on social matters. And cultural conservatives need to understand that government is inherently their enemy.

This brought a response first by Walter Olson who said after mostly touching on a recent case from New Mexico where a photographer was forced to photograph a gay marriage against their will:

As I understand it, the libertarian position is to prize religious liberty, while also disapproving the use of government as an instrument of culture war. That’s no contradiction. It’s the American way.

David Boaz then responded by illustrating how social conservatives have been recently trying to expand the state:

But what about conservatives? Are conservatives really the defenders of freedom? Carney seems to want us to think so, and to line up with conservatives “on social matters.” But the real record of conservatives on personal and social freedom is not very good. Consider:

Individualism and the Individual Mandate: Two Incompatible Concepts

For the last few days the Supreme Court has listened to a case in which they have been asked to decide the constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

This case is not about health care. It’s not about lowering premiums or rectifying the problem of the uninsured shifting healthcare costs to the insured, it’s not about increasing access to health care. It is simply a debate between whether or not the federal government is adhering more to the principles of individualism or collectivism.

The individual mandate is based upon the principle of collectivism which is the opposite of the principle of individualism,which the federal government was originally founded upon. But over the course of the last 225 years after the Constitution was ratified more and more laws have been passed that were based upon the ideas of collectivism and most have been upheld as “constitutional” by the Supreme Court.

Ayn Rand wrote in her awesome essay, Textbook of Americanisms, that “Individualism holds that man has unalienable rights which can not be taken away from him by any other man, nor by any number, group or collective of men. Therefore each man exists for his own sake and not for the sake of the group.”

On the other hand the Individual Mandate which forces every American to purchase a product is based upon the ideas of collectivism because it’s the majority who are using the force of Government to coerce individuals to act in a certain way.

In Textbook of Americanisms, Ayn Rand explained what the principle of collectivism really boils down to:

Decline of American Power – Is that a bad thing?

A lot of conservatives lament the decline of “American Power” around the World. Just this week Bill O’Reilly had a rant about that. But to those who love Liberty, American Power is just another phrase for Government Power, and the less Government there is at home and abroad the better the lives of all individuals around the world will be.

Thoreau had a great quote about that:

“I heartily accept the motto,—“That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have”.

I look forward to the day when men are prepared for a government that governs none at all. But until then the Leviathan that is the State with its Coercive Power will be with us. Our job for those who love liberty is to educate ourselves and others about the True Nature of the State and the Blessings of Liberty.

Franz Oppenheimer made it crystal clear the difference between how the State acquires what it desires and the way free individuals voluntarily trade to gain what they desire:

The Bill of Rights: Birthday or Funeral?

This week marked the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights. Many Americans today would be surprised to learn that the Bill of Rights was adamantly opposed by some of the Founding Fathers, including Alexander Hamilton. Why? Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 84, declaring “I…affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous…For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” This alluded to the rule of “inclusio unius est exclusion alterius” (the inclusion of one thing necessarily excludes all others), whereby the very enumeration of certain rights as being free from regulation implied that all others were subject to the general legislative powers of the Congress.

Hamilton understood that the Constitution strictly limited the powers of the federal government, and feared a bill of rights would open the door for expansion of congressional power. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”, agreed there was not necessarily a need for the Bill of Rights, but was also not opposed to one. As he explained in an October 1788 letter to Thomas Jefferson, “My own opinion has always been in favor of a bill of rights; provided that it be so framed as not to imply powers not meant to be included in the enumeration. At the same time I have never thought the omission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment, for any other reason than that it is anxiously desired by others. I have favored it because I suppose it might be of use, and if properly executed could not be of disservice.”

A Small, Overdue Victory for Liberty: Blue Laws Shot Down in Georgia

On Tuesday, November 8th, Liberty scored a victory as voters in the surrounding areas of Atlanta, GA were given the right to get government out of the decision as to whether or not they could purchase alcohol on Sunday. In overwhelming fashion, the voters spoke on behalf of freedom.

With a few exceptions, that is (Forest Park, part of Clayton County, Georgia voted the measure down). The Atlanta Journal Constitution captures the story:

Georgia’s age-old, all-out ban on buying beer, wine and liquor at shops on Sunday has met its end.

Early poll results had voters in most of the 51 metro Atlanta jurisdictions giving a resounding yes Tuesday to seven days of package sales in referendums, continuing the slow dissolution of a blue law dating to the late 1800s, one of the last restraints on Sunday consumption.

But at least one city said no — Clayton County’s Forest Park. Mayor Corine Deyton said it was the right choice.

“That’s the Lord’s day, in my opinion,” said Deyton, a Sunday school teacher whose son is a Baptist music minister. “If you can’t do without alcohol one day a week, there’s something bad wrong with you.”

While I understand and respect Mayor Deyton’s opinion pertaining to herself and her family whom she can directly influence, I have to take a strong exception here.

Assessing Monetary Collapse: Exposing Agenda 21 and Understanding Freedom

What if the Federal Reserve dollar falls – hard? How is the globalist blueprint known as Sustainable Development Agenda 21 designed to make humans into livestock? Why liberty must be understood by this generation of Americans lest it be lost for a very long time.

More Americans, an accelerating percentage of ordinary citizens, have come to understand the nature of “fiat” monetary system – that is money created out of thin air. The contemporary fiat system came to the United States in 1913 with the congressional creation of the privately owned United States Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve legislation violated Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution by the issuance of legal tender and brought once again the influence/control of the globalist banking cartel to the U.S.

Today’s global monetary system was originally authorized by the British Parliament. Its purpose was to form the central bank of England as the Bank of England, which is the equivalent to our Federal Reserve, to control a nation’s money.

“Issuing money” means controlling fiat (phony) money creation through the operation of a printing press or computer entry. This results in the regular increase in the money supply which ultimately expresses itself as price inflation.

Newly issued money is infused into the money supply via the creation of debt. Much of this debt is held by the federal government. More money equals more debt. ‘The harder I work’, says the average American, ‘the deeper in debt the nation becomes.’

Growing debt cedes the ultimate exercise of control to the creditor, particularly as the system breaks down under its own largesse. A “new” system is being designed by the same forces who designed today’s fiat system and who now have America close to the brink of dollar destruction. It is the replacement system that we must be wary of if we are to exercise a wise defense and restoration of freedom.

Chris Christie, NOOOOO!

Fudgeknuckles. You can never be happy with politicians as a libertarian—just when they look like they’re on the path to true limited government, free markets, and individual liberty, they come out with something stupid like this:

“I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman,” Christie said. “I wouldn’t sign a bill like the one that was in New York.”

That sound you are hearing is my head slamming into my desk at Warp Six.

I admit, I was becoming a fan of Chris Christie. The way he was socking it to the parasitical public unions in New Jersey was inspiring. Sure, he was not perfect—he probably could have cut back more in some areas—but considering political inertia, he was doing a tremendous job.

Naturally, while I’m feeling really great about this guy, he throws a social conservative curveball just to keep me a grumbling libertarian.

The article does state that he will push for civil unions in New Jersey, as if, “Well, he’s not so bad.” But it is, in fact, horrific: what Christie is saying is that he supports discrimination based on sexual orientation, a boundary that says “You are not like us, you cannot be like us, you cannot have the same rights and privileges as us.” That’s a very disturbing thought. What I don’t understand is how it meshes with the small government ethos of most conservatives. Let’s end regulation and meddling in the economy, let’s make government smaller, cheaper, and more efficient—but then try and wedge it into the bedroom?

The right to own property is fundamental

Property rights seem like such a simple matter.  It’s rather binary after all.  You either own it, or you don’t.  There’s not a lot of middle ground on this issue.  However, it’s often a matter of discussion as to whether property rights actually exist and, if they do exist, what do they mean.

To be honest, property rights don’t mean a whole heck of a lot anymore.  Once upon a time, a man’s property was sacred.  It was something that another man dared not touch without permission.  It was the foundation for a free society, each man working together to protect his own patch of heaven from the Mongol hordes waiting to tear it all apart.  Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever.

Following the Supreme Court’s controversial Kelo decision, property rights obviously mean little to the federal government.  However, property means so much more than just the patch of dirt where your house is located.  Understanding that is understanding why the Kelo decision is so evil, though I don’t accuse those who made it of such a malicious thing.

You see, some people don’t think property rights exist, that it’s not truly a natural right.  They argue that it’s a construct of the human mind and therefore has no place in society.  However, I believe something very different.  I believe that the right to own property is encoded in our essence.  Property, you see, is part of being human.

Small children, unable to speak or even understand human language will lash out when a favorite toy is taken away from them.  At this primitive level, they understand the wrongness of seizing someone else’s property.  They lash out as children do, because they haven’t been told that they are being forced to give up for the greater good.  Some grow up and accept that.  Others grow up and see it as nothing more than a rationale for seizing that which is rightfully ours.


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