Posts Tagged ‘liberty’
What is the best way for liberty-minded people to affect change within our political system?
This question will likely evoke strong, often differing, opinions from activists within the liberty movement. Some favor trying to work through the current two-party system by electing Republican or Democratic candidates who support free markets, individual responsibility, and a humble foreign policy. Others claim that the lost cause of party reform should be abandoned in favor of third party or independent candidates.
The obvious problem with the latter assertion stems from the incredibly small odds of success for third party candidates. Running for office without the blessing of the Republican or Democratic parties rarely results in election, due in large part to our “winner-take-all” electoral system that perpetuates the two-party charade.
Michael Lind’s column at Salon, “The best way to fight the two-party monopoly,” explores the possibility of adopting a European-style proportional representation (PR) electoral system that could diminish the incentives to choose between the “lesser of two evils” and could boost the chances of third party candidates.
“Voters list candidates in order of preference, and if no candidate receives a majority, the candidate who wins is the one who, in addition to first-choice votes, gets the most second- and, if necessary, third- and fourth-choice votes. This prevents a candidate who is despised by the majority from winning with a small plurality in a multi-candidate race.”
While such a system could make third parties a more viable option for the average voter, the barriers to implementing such a system are huge, since the two parties in power stand to lose the most from this kind of change. It is also worth noting that parties are notoriously corruptible entities that rarely stick to their principles. Who’s to say that a third party dedicated to liberty would not stray from their core platform just as the GOP and Democratic party have each supported massive market interventions and violations of civil liberties, respectively.
In the end, our surest bet is to educate our peers by vigorously defending individual liberty in the court of public opinion. With an educated electorate that understands the moral and practical rationale behind a philosophy of individual liberty and limited government, those ideals will be represented in our policy. As Judge Learned Hand famously remarked,
“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.“
James Robertson currently attends the University of Mississippi, where he plans to receive degrees in Political Science and English. He is the President of the Ole Miss Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently found a great podcast discussing the immoral and inefficient nature of the public school system in the United States. Brett Veinoitte gives the best description of government and its true negation of liberty I have ever heard. I have only gotten to episode 5 so far, but it already has me once again endulging in the vast ideology of liberty. Please visit the School Sucks Project website and download his podcast from Itunes. I promise you won’t be dissapointed.
How many times have we heard the mantra that the free market is incapable of regulating itself? This claim has been exposed as false many times, yet we still have people whipping up arguments that have been used for centuries to limit economic freedom and steal the power from the citizen and place it in the hands of the government.
What is most troubling is that history is always invoked as being on the side of the government. As if without Big Brother stepping in to save us from ourselves, the population would be in such a state of economic chaos we would certainly be unable to progress as a society. Of course, anybody willing to actually sift through the history will find that the main culprit in almost any economic, and especially social, catastrophe is the government itself. The same is true for the current economic downturn.
What do Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire all have in common? In the midst of such nationwide uproar, each of these states has passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage. Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire are not currently allowing it within their state, but they have passed legislation putting a date on when the marriages can legally begin to be performed. So what is Mississippi to do about the issue of same-sex marriage?
Well, we have a few options. Either we can repeat our hardened stance against allowing equal rights towards people who are perceived as different, or we can be the first southern state to allow the practice. Mississippi has some bad history when it comes to issues such as this. Our state was definitely a huge obstacle in the civil rights era. Our very own campus played a major role in the movement. Looking back on it now, aren’t we still ashamed of the violence shown towards a black man who simply wanted an education?
It has been nearly three months since the Obama Administration took control of the White House. He rode in high on promises of change. Admittedly, he has made a few positive steps. However, it seems for every step forward he makes, he is content with taking two steps backward. Seeing as how the American mainstream media will not do their job, I wanted to bring to light Obama’s actions on civil liberties, which are currently mirroring those of George W. Bush.
Let’s start off with Obama’s executive order to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. This was a positive step for human rights. Obama opposed the denial of rights to the prisoners kept at Guantanamo. He also supported the verdict of Boumediene v Bush, which stated the denial of Habeas Corpus rights to the prisoners at Guantanamo was unconstitutional. After this ruling dealt a blow to the Bush Administration, Bush still did not stop imprisoning people without charges. He simply began shipping them to our prison camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Bush asserted that the prisoners at Bagram had no rights of any kind.
A Visitor From the Past
by Thelen Paulk
I had a dream the other night, I didn’t understand.
A figure walking through the mist, with flintlock in his hand.
His clothes were torn and dirty, as he stood there by the bed,
He took off his three-cornered hat, and speaking low, he said:
“We fought a revolution, to secure our liberty.
We wrote the Constitution, as a shield from tyranny,
For future generations, this legacy we gave,
In this, the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“The freedom we secured for you, we hoped you’d always keep.
But tyrants labored endlessly, while your parents were asleep.
Your freedom gone, your courage lost, you’re no more
than a slave,
In this, the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“You buy permits to travel, and permits to own a gun,
Permits to start a business, or to build a place for one.
On land that you believe you own you pay a yearly rent,
Although you have no voice in choosing how the money’s spent.”
“Your children must attend a school that doesn’t educate.
Your Christian values can’t be taught, according to the state.
You read about the current news in a regulated press.
You pay a tax you do not owe, to please the I.R.S.”
“Your money is no longer made of silver or of gold.
You trade your wealth for paper, so your life can be controlled.
You pay for crimes that make our nation turn from God in shame,
You’ve taken Satan’s number, as you’ve traded in your name.”
“You’ve given government control to those who do you harm,
So they can padlock churches, and steal the family farm,
And keep the country deep in debt, put men of God in jail,
Harass your fellow countrymen, while corrupted courts prevail.”
“Your public servants don’t uphold the solemn oath they’ve sworn.
Your daughters visit doctors so their children won’t be born.
Your leaders ship artillery and guns to foreign shores,
And send your sons to slaughter, fighting other people’s wars.”
“Can you regain freedom for which we fought and died?
Or don’t you have the courage or the faith to stand with pride?
Are there no more values for which you’ll fight to save?
Or do you wish your children to live in fear and be a slave?”
“Sons of the Republic, arise and take a stand!
Defend the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land!
Preserve our great republic and each God-given right,
And pray to God to keep the torch of freedom burning bright!”
As I awoke he vanished, in the mist from which he came.
His words were true, we are not free. We have ourselves to blame.
For even now as tyrants trample each God-given right,
We only watch and tremble, too afraid to stand and fight.
If he stood by your bedside, in a dream while you’re asleep,
And wondered what remains of our rights he fought to keep,
What would be your answer, if he called out from the grave?
Is this still the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?
This talk was delivered on June 1, 2007, at the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Conference on “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Affairs and Civil Liberties.” By Lew Rockwell, Jr of lewrockwell.com. http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/conflict-or-cooperation.html
There are two clear and present dangers to liberty in America. One is known as the left, and the other is known as the right. They are dangerous because they seek to use government to mold society into a form they seek, rather than the form that liberty achieves if society is left on its own.
I’m going to assume that the left and the right come to their views sincerely, that their passion for using government is driven by some fear that the absence of government would yield catastrophe. So the burden of my talk today will be to identify and explain the common thread that connects the worldview of the left and the right, and suggest that they are both wrong about the capacity of society, whether it is defined locally or internationally, to manage itself.
Perhaps the most thoroughly American word is “liberty.” Since the revolution, Americans from all points on the political spectrum have claimed that their particular agenda would lead to greater liberty. Regardless of the particular issue, virtually all interest groups use the language of freedom to justify their pet projects.
So what about the UM Constitutionalists? We call for radical tax cuts, an end to the American empire, phasing out the welfare state, immediately abolishing all forms of Big Government-Big Business-Big Bank incest, and restoring our civil liberties lost in the name of fighting terrorism. We claim, and of course we believe we’re right, that only our libertarian agenda truly protects the liberty of the American people.
But what exactly is liberty? We realize, of course, that one short blog entry cannot provide a complete discussion of liberty. We hope that this will simply be the beginning of an important dialogue.
Essentially, two understandings of liberty have been voiced. Negative liberty holds that a negative relationship exists between government and liberty, so an increase in government power by definition results in a decrease in liberty. Every time the government expands its power, that much of the people’s freedom disappears; it is a zero sum game. Liberty, therefore, connotes freedom from government. Government may still be necessary, of course, but because it endangers the rights of the people, its powers should be as limited as possible. George Washington once said that government is like fire, a useful tool if controlled, but a fearsome danger if not. The negative liberty view is quite simple: More government, less liberty.
While the ideals of the revolution and constitution rested on a healthy distrust of strong government, negative liberty today commands few adherents. Since 1900, increasing numbers of Americans have turned to the opposite view, positive liberty. According to this perspective, government does not necessarily threaten liberty. Rather, government action can actually maximize liberty by protecting the individual from himself. Those who accept this view reject the knee-jerk fear of government because, in their view, government action could lead to positive outcomes.
Take the example of seatbelt laws. The state of Mississippi has decreed that all passengers in cars will wear a seatbelt. The issue is not whether doing so promotes safety, but whether the state of Mississippi can force its will on the people. The negative liberty view is simple: No. Free individuals are masters over themselves and by right are free to make choices for their own lives, even if those choices are foolish. So long as the individual poses no threat to others, he can pose a threat to himself. Since he owns himself, the choices and repercussions of unwise decisions belong to him, not the government.
In contrast, the positive liberty view impatiently ignores the individual’s freedom from government coercion. Seatbelt laws can save the life of the individual, so government force has generated positive results. Positive liberty emphasizes the safe outcome, not the individual’s choice. Note that seatbelt laws are designed to protect the individual driver, not innocent bystanders that the driver may threaten. Positive liberty assumes that government action plays a legitimate and necessary role in forcing us to make wise decisions. Government laws that coerce us to do what the government thinks is appropriate can lead to safer, happier lives. Strong government, then, is not by itself a threat, but rather a necessary companion to liberty.
The UM Constitutionalists fully embrace negative liberty. Only this view of liberty champions self-ownership and calls for the liberation of individuals from all undue coercion. Positive liberty is truly frightening because it has no logical endpoint. If the government presumes to know how to live our lives better than we know how to live them ourselves, where will government expansion stop? Though unintentional, positive liberty carries totalitarian implications.
As stated above, this one entry cannot provide an exhaustive explanation of liberty. It is time, though, for Americans to seriously ponder the nature of freedom, for much is at stake. We urge everyone to understand, as previous generations once did, that an expansion of government threatens individual liberty. We demand the emancipation of all citizens from government slavery because they have the right and capacity to enjoy their lives without a Big Mama government to monitor them. Let the ruling classes tremble at a libertarian revolution. We slaves have nothing to lose but our chains. We have our liberty to win. Citizens of America, unite!
One of my friends on myspace is a very serious Liberty supporter. He recently forwarded me an email that he sent to Congressman Childers (who voted for the recent stimulus). I thought I would share what he wrote.
Congressman Childers, I have read your statements on why you voted on the stimulus package. I’d like to point out that you and many of your colleagues are ignoring the fact that using inflation as a means to prop up government spending is not only irresponsible, it’s also highly unethical. You are forcing people to accept the burden of your actions by further deliberate devaluation of their money. If you are concerned with the well-being of our state, why saddle us with the detrimental effects of inflationary monetary policy? The new administration is repeating the mistakes of Hoover and Roosevelt, and seeking government intervention as a means to alleviate our economic woes. Keep in mind that the crash of 1919 was handled much differently (no government intervention) and the economy was back on track in no time. It was this sort of intervention that prolonged the Great Depression. We are being led into the fire by Keynesian economists, who are just as wrong today, as they were in that time. The economists who truly understand this crisis come from the Austrian school of economic thought (Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek). President Obama is not an economist. He gets bad advice from Keynesians and he is repeating the mistakes of the Great Depression. If you care about the well being of Mississippians, please take a few moments to look into the Austrian theory of the business cycle and the wisdom of these economists, before it’s too late. If you discover truth in those writings, you can contact one of your colleagues in the House if you want to learn more– Dr. Ron Paul of Texas.