KSU CL: What Is Libertarianism?

1. In the words of economist Ludwig von Mises:

“Classical liberalism is no religion, no world view, no party of special interests.

“It is no religion because it demands neither faith nor devotion, because there is nothing mystical about it, and because it has no dogmas.

“It is no world view because it does not try to explain the cosmos and because it says nothing and does not seek to say anything about the meaning and purpose of human existence.

“It is no party of special interests because it does not provide or seek to provide any special advantage whatsoever to any individual or any group.

“It is something entirely different. It is an ideology, a doctrine of the mutual relationship among the members of society and, at the same time, the application of this doctrine to the conduct of men in actual society. It promises nothing that exceeds what can be accomplished in society and through society. It seeks to give men only one thing, the peaceful, undisturbed development of material well-being for all, in order thereby to shield them from the external causes of pain and suffering as far as it lies within the power of social institutions to do so at all. To diminish suffering, to increase happiness: that is its aim.

“No sect and no political party has believed that it could afford to forgo advancing its cause by appealing to men’s senses. Rhetorical bombast, music and song resound, banners wave, flowers and colors serve as symbols, and the leaders seek to attach their followers to their own person. Liberalism has nothing to do with all this. It has no party flower and no party color, no party song and no party idols, no symbols and no slogans. It has the substance and the arguments.”


2. To stress this important point again, libertarianism has nothing to do with pressure group politics. It concerns itself, on the contrary, with the general interest, the common good, which, it holds, is not only not incompatible with but rather is attainable only through individual freedom and minimal, at the most, night-watchman government.


3. Libertarianism, sometimes called classical liberalism or true liberalism, then is an ideology, a set of political doctrines which result from the use of social sciences, such as economics and political philosophy, to provide a vision of how a particular society, for example, the United States, functions best. “While praxeology, and therefore economics too,” Mises goes on, “uses the terms happiness and removal of uneasiness in a purely formal sense, liberalism attaches to them a concrete meaning. It presupposes that people prefer life to death, health to sickness, nourishment to starvation, abundance to poverty. It teaches man how to act in accordance with these valuations.”

In other words, liberty, while possessing great value in itself (even animals revolt against artificial constraints), is also essential for prosperity and high civilization. Neither the left nor the right understands that. The left, for instance, still dreams of tying the world up with a straitjacket of utterly unworkable socialism (e.g., in health care) or, failing that, crippling the free market by giving the government enormous and arbitrary powers in domestic affairs, e.g., to arbitrate “disputes” between the alleged “oppressed” groups and the “oppressor” groups. The right, on the other hand, has of late expressed the desire to blow certain unlucky countries up through nuclear war and to “invade the world,” in Murray Rothbard’s memorable phrase. They fail to grasp that liberty is the mother not the daughter of order. Society is self-organizing in ways which no central planner can predict.

Note that, as Mises points out, “This collaboration of collectivist creeds in their attempts to destroy freedom has brought about the mistaken belief that the issue in present-day political antagonisms is individualism versus collectivism. In fact it is a struggle between individualism on the one hand and a multitude of collectivist sects on the other hand whose mutual hatred and hostility is no less ferocious than their abomination of the liberal system.” E.g., in the US the red-state fascists hate the blue-state socialists and vice versa, though both loathe libertarianism.


4. To that end, libertarianism extols freedom of the individual, private property rights, and peace. It seeks to minimize the role of government in our lives. It seeks, in short, irrelevance of politics and a vibrant civil society, in which the ruler-subject hegemonic bond is replaced by contractual bonds among equals in dignity. It embraces laissez-faire capitalism, free markets, and trade unencumbered by sanctions, tariffs, quotas, and other barriers. It loves commerce and its globalization and celebrates the crucial role of the entrepreneur. As Mises argues:

The rich, the owners of the already operating plants, have no particular class interest in the maintenance of free competition. They are opposed to confiscation and expropriation of their fortunes, but their vested interests are rather in favor of measures preventing newcomers from challenging their position.

Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and whose ingenuity will make the life of coming generations more agreeable. They want the way left open to further economic improvements.

Libertarianism abhors protectionism, subsidies to private corporations, state-run enterprises, coercive labor unionism, and state-mandated professional licensing intended to reduce supply and raise prices. It does not look kindly on probably the vast majority of business regulations, including the regulatory schemes resembling “market socialism”; taxation on any level above, perhaps, local (the reason being that it could be argued that a city is the biggest “natural” human association); and fiat currencies, inflation, and fractional-reserve banking.

Libertarianism is mindful of the subsidiary principle, which counsels that problems should be solved by those closest to them, thereby stressing the value of private property, decentralization of political power, and the right to self-determination. It is not against secession, should it be properly authorized by the people of a seceding territory. (In fact, we regard the American Revolution and the War between the States as wars of secession, the former successful, the latter, not.) It knows of the value of competition among political entities for citizens and businesses, thus again justifying federalism and radical devolution of power to states and localities. Libertarianism heartily enjoys bourgeois culture and the virtues and faith that sustain it.


5. Libertarians are fully against war, however the ruling class justifies it. It is therefore boldly pro-peace and anti-interventionist. It believes that peace and friendship between nations are beneficial to both the stronger and the weaker countries. At the same time, again, to quote Mises:

What is needed to make peace durable, is neither international treaties and covenants nor international tribunals and organizations like the defunct League of Nations or its successor, the United Nations. If the principle of the market economy is universally accepted, such makeshifts are unnecessary; if it is not accepted, they are futile. …

The spirit of conquest cannot be smothered by red tape. What is needed is a radical change in ideologies and economic policies.

Indeed, if goods do not cross borders, then soldiers will, as Bastiat put it. It is also true that if the principle of the market economy is universally accepted, political liberty itself is unnecessary; if it is not accepted, it is futile. The second part of the statement is a reply to those who think we can abolish or restrict free enterprise and keep our civil rights and meaningful elections. What happens and has happened instead is the government becomes autonomous and authoritarian, and the people, morally corrupt. The first part is true simply because under laissez-faire lobbying the government and voting are unimportant. We no longer fight over who gets what share of the trillions of dollars of government loot. There prevails, on the free market, a harmony of “rightly understood” interests of all human beings.

While capitalism as a system of production can be channeled into supplying the war effort with stunning efficiency, in its essence it both requires and encourages peaceful relations between all the nations of the world. It requires peace, because without secure property rights and long-term planning by individuals and firms the market process cannot get off the ground. War introduces chaos and destruction. The very efficiency of capitalist production is used not to “diminish suffering, to increase happiness,” as stated above, but to increase suffering and to diminish happiness. The wartime taxes and inflation substitute government sovereignty for consumer sovereignty. The undertakers, the arms merchants, and the bureaucrats may benefit — in the short run; the larger society loses in every way. Capitalism encourages peace, because free trade under international division of labor makes the trading partners useful to each other. Since only individuals and companies trade, it is contrary to their interest to permit the governments of the nations in which they are located to attack one another.

For example, if America were now to go to war with Japan, American consumers would have to bear with using inferior and more expensive transport equipment, cars, semiconductors, electrical machinery, chemicals, electronics, and whatever else Japan exports to the US, or even do without them at all. The intricate structure of production within which the numerous US and Japanese companies and workers are now intertwined would be annihilated. Exporting and importing would come to an end; foreign-own enterprises would be expropriated; jobs will be lost. And the repercussions would be felt everywhere, not merely in the US and Japan. Wars tear societies apart instead of knitting them together into a planetary web of economic, scientific, and cultural production, cooperation, and exchange, thereby bringing prosperity and the fruits of civilization to everybody. The more advanced a society is, the greater the damage and disruption done by wars.

Libertarians hold that spreading “democracy” at gunpoint, “decapitating” foreign regimes the US government considers unworthy of existing, economic sanctions, and similar measures are absolutely inappropriate means of bringing about a freer world. Trying to prod a horseman of the apocalypse into doing works of mercy never seems to work. It is a fact that the state will use whatever values are held dearly by the populace, be they freedom, the rule of law, democracy, Christianity, whatever, and claim that its acts of aggression actually further and promote these values. In other words, the state wants a libertarian gloss on its depredations. It thus presents itself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing or a demon masquerading as an angel of light.

In condemning wars, libertarians are not being isolationist. On the contrary, they want to engage the entire world into social cooperation under division of labor. They want all barriers to trade and to free movement of capital and labor to disappear. They want international travel to be as hassle-free as possible. They support the gold standard, in order to further unify the world by making gold and/or silver the single international currency not subject to manipulation by political elites in every country in the world. It is our acts of war that isolate us and make the rest of the world hate us.


6. Libertarians believe that, at the most, the only legitimate function of the state is to secure life, liberty, and property, and even that task is often best offloaded to private agencies. Security, we think, is to a great extent a private economic good, such that no liberty need to be sacrificed for its attainment.

Libertarianism distrusts those in power and those in the pay of those in power. The state knows that its might and privileges are ultimately dependent upon the explicit or tacit consent of the governed. Hence the alliance between the state and its “court intellectuals” whose role is to persuade the public of the goodness, necessity, or inevitability of the rule of the current political elite. Our job is to counter that propaganda.

Libertarianism belongs to the citizens of the world and, though it is patriotic insofar as the love of liberty presupposes the love of the country in which that liberty is to flourish, it is ultimately concerned with the well-being of the people of the entire world. As Murray Rothbard put it, libertarianism favors “universal rights, locally enforced.”


7. Libertarianism condones the use of only defensive force, either in self-defense or as punishment. As a political doctrine it completely disavows aggressive violence against person and property. As such, it seeks to apply the moral laws which we obey in our private lives to government action. Thus, if murder is wrong, then so is murder amplified a thousand-fold called “war.” If kidnapping and slave labor are wicked, then so are the draft and the alleged jury duty. If theft is a crime, then so is taxation. If counterfeiting money is evil, then so is inflation. If torturing people is madness, then government madmen should, too, be brought to justice for their crimes. In short, government, in a system of liberty, is not to be exempt from the moral laws that apply to the rest of us.

One can get what one wants from another person in three ways: through charity, trade, or force or fraud. Leaving out charity for our purposes, we see that there are two means to acquiring wealth: trade or the “economic means to wealth,” and force and coercion which are termed the “political means to wealth,” according to Franz Oppenheimer’s classification. The former are peaceful appropriation of unowned resources, production, and exchange for mutual benefit. The latter are pillage and plunder, extortion, theft, and death to those who resist. Libertarians hold that the political means to wealth are completely illegitimate, whether perpetrated by private criminals or by public criminals in charge of the machinery of state. So, what we have is State practicing “politics” and Society practicing “economics” in pursuit of their aims, locked in an eternal struggle. Whenever the state power begins to assert itself, there is decay and degeneration; whenever social power is prevalent, there is the unleashing of human creative powers, prosperity, and a zest of continuous improvement.


8. To conclude this brief introduction, it should be noted that libertarianism is not at all interested in pleasing the “respectables” of this world, those who are comfortable with the status quo and who are horrified at any suggestion of radical reform. Libertarianism has always been, since Étienne de La Boétie and Locke, and remains now, a revolutionary doctrine. We hope that you, our gentle reader, will not begrudge us of a little (or a lot of) adult rebellion.

KSU CL: Foreign Policy

1) We opposed the start and oppose the continuation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  1. The war in Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of American soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, as well, as a direct result of the war, and millions have been driven from places where they have lived all their lives.

  2. The war was brought upon us by a lie: there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And even if there had been, that would have been no reason to attack it. (We can look at the Iraqi government’s keeping WMDs as a tort. But no one appointed the US, which has far more of these weapons than many of the nuclear counties combined, to “sue” Iraq for its (non-)possession of these weapons, let alone attack it.) There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the war, while there is al-Qaeda there now.

  3. The war has ruined the Iraqi economy, decimated its infrastructure, and destroyed numerous private and public properties.

  4. The war does not qualify as just according to the Christian just war theory. It is not against a country that was a threat to Americans; it was never formally declared by Congress; it was not the last resort; it is not winnable.

  5. This war and the sanctions preceding it have hurt the trade with Iraq in peaceful goods and therefore made us all poorer. The Iraq war is not in the interest of the common man, unless he delights in vicarious “glory” of mass murder unleashed by the state.

  6. Democracy is a political instrument, used to replace the reigning politicians peacefully, without violent revolutions, according to the will of the majority. (In the long run, there are no unpopular governments.) Yet in order to create democracy in Iraq we violently deposed its ruler. And the present government, such as it is, is more repressive than Saddam Hussein’s ever was. For example, religious freedom has all but disappeared in Iraq.

  7. There is now talk of permanent occupation of Iraq.

  8. The Iraq war has nothing to do with crime-fighting or bringing criminals to justice.

  9. War always ratchets up domestic violations of liberty. Despotism at home is a corollary of foreign wars, and vice versa. Libertarianism has nothing to do with the political schizophrenia of those who advocate socialism and peace or capitalism and war.

  10. Occupation by a foreign regime is the worst kind of tyranny, and we are guilty of precisely that in Iraq.

  11. In short, foreign interventionism has always brought about results opposite to those the supporters of any war claim they want to achieve.

2) We support an immediate pull-out of troops from Iraq.

  1. Middle Eastern politics has always been volatile and irrational. We have no business interfering with what we cannot understand.

  2. Pulling out will give the warring parties in the Middle East, including Israel, an incentive to solve their own problems.

  3. The civil war in Iraq consists of armed groups trying to gain control over the central government. American troops should not favor one such group of bandits over another.

  4. No more dead soldiers.

  5. The presence of US troops is entirely useless; after 5 years of war, the US “controls” less than one third of a single city. (Some might say, “Thank goodness!”)

  6. The purpose of the US military is to protect America, not to protect Iraq.

  7. The war has resulted in thousands of new recruits for terrorist organizations; this aid and comfort to these criminals must stop.

  8. The costs of war are astronomical, to the extent of $10 billion/month.

  9. It may be objected that having ruined Iraq, we have a moral obligation to rebuild it. But Iraq can only be rebuilt through freedom, peace, and free markets. No amount of welfare will help. Nor can the soldiers act as entrepreneurs. Furthermore, it is not the collective “we” who are at fault but the particular men inside the US federal government. Let them pay for their crimes, such as by being enslaved to labor to reconstruct Iraq.

  10. It may be further argued that if the US troops pull out, there will be a bloodbath or, at least, a greater bloodbath than is already there. We find this conclusion to be pure speculation; on the contrary, an end to foreign occupation of the Iraqi capital city may bring sanity to the warring factions.

3) We support peaceful relations with Russia, China, and all the countries which conservatives have tried to portray as our new enemies since the end of the Cold War.

In particular, we oppose any attempt to extend a US missile shield to Eastern Europe.

  1. Social cooperation and trade with these nations will only intensify. These countries are our benefactors, as we are theirs, producing all manner of goods and services for us to trade. The greater the extent of economic interdependence, the less plausible the case for hostilities becomes.

  2. Neither Russia nor China nor any other country wants to antagonize the US, especially given the climate of paranoia and right-wing fascism in the country.

  3. Putting up a missile shield only seems defensive, but it is, in fact, an equivalent of a gangster’s putting on body armor the better to assault others.

4) We oppose the policy of preemptive strikes against any country which is not about to declare war on America. That means exactly all countries in the world right now and in the foreseeable future.

  1. This policy is fueled by paranoia and hatred of the other, all pitiful and disgraceful vices.

  2. The idea that Iran (for example) can or is willing to harm the US is quite absurd on the face of it. This is because

    1) Iran has no WMDs;
    2) Iran has never attacked the US since the later 80s when the US supported Iraq in its war with Iran;
    3) Iran has never threatened the US;
    4) the last thing Iran wants is to be associated with terrorism, either in Iraq or the US or anywhere else. It knows that it is at the mercy of the US government, if the latter is successful at securing public support for yet another war.


5) We reject the current habit of the political class to call nation-against-nation wars “wars against terror.”

  1. Terrorism is a tactic used for achieving political aims; it is not a country.

  2. Americans are not hated for their freedoms (those that are still left, we suppose), their version of “democracy,” or whatever virtues remain in its public life. In fact, Americans are generally admired and respected. It is the US federal government that is hated for its constant meddling in Middle Eastern affairs which are none of our concern. And just as the military belonging to that federal government does not discriminate all too well between the guilty and the innocent, neither are the terrorists discriminating. Thus, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade and Financial Centers, a blowback and an evilly collectivist retaliation for real or perceived offenses.

    Further,

    Another common error has to do with the much derided “moral equivalence”. How many times have we seen the slogan “God bless America!”? But God’s blessings are as a rule bestowed on those nations that are unwavering in their adherence to the natural law. Should they disobey, their past achievements will not save them from disaster.

    It is not worth pointing out, for example, that the people who died in the 9/11 attack did not deserve to be murdered. However, because most Americans failed even to try to restrain the state whose wild ambitions include managing the world with utter disregard for the laws of both social cooperation and conscience, they may not feign righteousness. They are utterly indifferent to their duty as citizens continuously to force the state to respect economic freedom at home and peace and self-determination of nations abroad and then become outraged when people around them die violent deaths.

    But maintaining a free, peaceful, and prosperous society requires keen minds and constant struggle, lest it degenerates into a ruthless welfare-warfare state with countless enemies. That struggle entails a conscious commitment to the correct ideology and a willingness to act on it. The fault, as always, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

    This analysis is offered not, obviously, to excuse or justify terrorism but to understand it, something that the political class and the opinion-molders, in pandering to the bloodthirsty, have been refusing to do.

  3. Bombing and otherwise devastating sovereign nations tend to make terrorists out of their citizens.

  4. US military strategies and tactics are ineffective in 4th-generation warfare.

6) We support complete elimination of all US military bases around the globe.

  1. These bases serve no legitimate purpose (extending the reach of the US empire’s military is hardly that), and the soldiers occupying them are usually despised by the locals.

  2. The bases are cesspools of crime, vice, and debt.

  3. The personnel on these bases should protect America rather than threaten their host countries.

7) We support unilateral disarmament of nuclear weapons.

  1. Nuclear arms are weapons of mass destruction. Unlike guns, they cannot be pinpointed against an enemy and instead kill everyone, whether guilty or innocent, friend or foe, as well as destroy property within many miles, whether that property is used for fighting or for peaceful purposes. It follows that nuclear arms cannot be used defensively and have only evil applications.

  2. There is no longer the Cold War, such that “mutually assured destruction” could be defended as a sane doctrine.

  3. The use of nuclear weapons creates monstrous aftereffects that go far beyond the immediate devastation. For example, radiation causes illness, birth defects, and suchlike long after the nuclear exchange is over.

  4. As the only nation that has actually used these weapons, America should repent of its crime and set an example for everyone else to follow.

8) We support elimination of the standing army in the United States.

  1. See Our Military Myth.

  2. Who could possibly invade the US and why? (It is obvious that the “3rd generation” warfare is a thing of the past for every country in the world except one: the only credible invader left is the US.)

  3. The standing army has since the end of the American Revolution been used exclusively for offense rather than defense. We must put an end to the temptation of the ruling class (to which they eagerly give in) to continue this sordid “tradition.”

  4. Defense is best produced by means of state militias and widespread private gun ownership.

9) We oppose the idea that foreign policy made by the state is necessary or legitimate.

  1. Just as freedom is not a government “policy” but the absence of it, neither should our relationships with citizens of other countries depend on the will of one man in Washington, D.C. The question is, who should plan our policies with foreign citizens, the state or the individuals? Freedom means: let the each American decide for himself how he should act with respect to the French, the Iraqis, and the Japanese.

  2. We need to destroy the government’s ability to decide for all of us what our attitudes and relations with non-Americans should be. In other words, there should be no such thing as US “foreign policy.”

  3. The foreign policy, such as it is, should consist of fully free trade, reasonable open borders for those immigrants and workers who will not use the welfare system of US (itself to abolished; see the Domestic Policy section), and free movement of capital and labor. There must be no sanctions nor blockades imposed upon any country whatsoever. “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” And that, in essence, is exactly as if the state had no foreign policy at all.

KSU CL: Domestic Policy, I

1) We oppose all federal taxation.

  1. Taxation redirects resources from productive to mostly non-productive uses.

  2. Taxation distorts the structure of production away from the structure favored by the consumers.

  3. Certain forms of taxation, such as the taxation of inheritances, are particularly destructive.

  4. In the final analysis, taxation is extortion and robbery, what Bastiat called “legal plunder.” For example, the “ability to pay” principle in progressive taxation represents the law of the highwayman who robs his victims as much as they are “able to pay.” The sales tax is essentially payment for the permission to live, since none of us can survive without exchanging goods and services. And so on.

  5. Taxation transfers sovereignty from the individual to the state. The state arrogates to itself the right to tax everything, and exactly how much is taxed is left to expediency and prudence of the robber of how much he can get away with stealing (fans of the Laffer curve can weigh in at this point). Where before property was inviolable and property rights sacred, now it is up to the government to decide how much should be left in the hands of the citizen. States, localities, businesses, and individuals are reduced from proud independence to seeking the state’s patronage, in other words, its loot.

  6. Taxation is a form of indentured servitude. It is possible to divide a year (or a month, etc.) into the (very long nowadays) time period during which a person works for the government as a serf, without compensation, and the time during which he works for himself. We find this state of affairs to be utterly unworthy of free individuals.

  7. Since taxes cannot be lowered or eliminated without a reduction or elimination of government spending, we support the latter both as a holy end in itself and as the necessary means to or condition of the former.

2) We oppose all taxation in the state of Ohio.

  1. For the same reasons.

3) We support the gold standard, abolition of legal tender laws, legalization of privately minted money, and we oppose central banking and reject the ideology of inflationism and easy money that sustains the present system.

  1. See Our Money Madness.

  2. As Mises writes:

    Inflationism, however, is not an isolated phenomenon. It is only one piece in the total framework of politico-economic and socio-philosophical ideas of our time.

    Just as the sound money policy of gold standard advocates went hand in hand with liberalism, free trade, capitalism and peace, so is inflationism part and parcel of imperialism, militarism, protectionism, statism and socialism.


4) We support retiring the federal debt by means of selling the assets held by the federal government. (E.g., in 2005 interest on the debt consumed $178 billion.)

  1. The federal government owns nearly 650 million acres of land — almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States.

  2. Also the Post Office (to be privatized, see below) and other government-run enterprises are to be sold off.

5) We support a policy of zero trade barriers, regardless of the policies of the nations with which we are trading.

Despite this, we oppose any and all wars designed to get the opposing country to lower its trade barriers.

  1. Any trade makes both parties better off, so far as they see it at the moment of the exchange. To put hurdles in the way of commerce is to make people less happy than they would be otherwise.

  2. There can be no justification for tariffs except to raise revenue for the government. Protection of industries is not a justification.

  3. Free trade eliminates most economic reasons for war.

  4. If free trade is good between the states composing the United States, it is equally good between all countries.

  5. Free trade does not require official trade agreements, treaties, negotiations between states, or anything of that nature. To further the cause of free trade and to make the American consumers richer, all that is needed is unilateral elimination of all US government-erected obstacles to trade.

  6. Free trade is a type of technology: the most efficient way for American farmers to get Japanese cars is to grow wheat, and the most efficient way for Japanese car-makers to get wheat is to make cars. And similarly for millions of other goods and services. All trade barriers lower the efficiency of this technology, making everyone poorer.

  7. Example: Suppose that as a result of freer trade some industry will relocate oversees. It seems that jobs will be lost in the US. Not so: due to greater efficiency of production, imports will cost less, thereby leaving more money in the hand of the consumers. This will increase demand for domestic goods which will cause other domestic industries to grow, and new jobs will be created. It need not be true that more people will be employed, but the new jobs will be better for the employees in terms of real wages as a result of the more efficient division of labor and lower prices.

6) We oppose the coercive inter-generational wealth transfers, viz., Social Security.

We oppose any mandatory savings scheme, such as have been proposed to “save” Social Security.

We support permitting any person to opt out of paying FICA taxes at the cost of not receiving the benefits upon retirement and saving, investing, or consuming their own money as they see fit.

  1. Social Security is not insurance nor is it involuntary saving but rather a pay-as-you-go scheme in which at any given time the young are compelled to support the old. There is no such thing as the SS “trust fund.”

  2. SS has put enmity between generations, as young people are forced to give money to the old with whom they have no relations. Family and personal responsibilities have been replaced with government welfare, to the detriment of the former.

  3. Investing SS money into the stock market is an awful idea, as the government is a very poor entrepreneur. And what will happen if the stocks the government chooses will go down? Further, corruption will flourish as donations to politicians will poor in to influence stock choices. This plan will also essentially nationalize most major corporations.

  4. The idea of private savings accounts is equally absurd. First, why should people be forced by the state to save for their retirement? Is the government a better money manager than private individuals? Of course not. And what if a citizen prefers to spend his income or wealth? Who is the state to tell him that he is doing something wrong? Moreover, the immense variety of investment options with hundreds of banks, investment firms, mutual funds, etc. makes government concerns look quaint. Finally, the transition costs to private accounts will be enormous (in fact, new taxes will be created alongside the old FICA taxes) and will make the plan impossible to implement.

7) We support unhampered free market in health care.

  1. The present health care system is an unstable and irrational cross between free market and government interventionist approaches. It is a general rule that even a single intervention can not only distort the workings of the market to such an extent as to make it very inefficient, but also generate a case for further interventions. In other words, there is a dynamics in the system such that the initial intervention produces results contrary to the common good and to the publicly stated aims of its very supporters; people clamor for something to be done; and the result is either a repeal of the intervention and a return to the unhampered market or a passage of further interventionist legislation. All the alleged peculiarities of health care that are claimed to support interventionism are, in fact, the results of other, unmentioned interventionist measures. If only the free market existed in its full actuality, the general welfare would be served far more efficiently than it is now under a “third way” or, for that matter, under a fully socialist system of health care provision.

  2. As Ron Paul points out:

    For decades, the U.S. healthcare system was the envy of the entire world. Not coincidentally, there was far less government involvement in medicine during this time.

    America had the finest doctors and hospitals, patients enjoyed high-quality, affordable medical care, and thousands of private charities provided health services for the poor. Doctors focused on treating patients, without the red tape and threat of lawsuits that plague the profession today.

    Most Americans paid cash for basic services, and had insurance only for major illnesses and accidents. This meant both doctors and patients had an incentive to keep costs down, as the patient was directly responsible for payment, rather than an HMO or government program.

  3. The influence of the American Medical Association on policy is utterly pernicious and harms patients. Supply is artificially restricted and costs of getting treatments are increased. Practitioners of alternative medicine are hounded. Therefore, all government regulations on the practice or teaching of medicine must end and be replaced by privately provided quality control. Indeed, licensure is the doctors’ attempt to cartelize the industry in order to receive above-market wages.

  4. Because of the high prices of the licensed doctors, many people are priced out of the market. They consequently elect politicians who promise to subsidize health care, that is, to steal from Peter to pay for Paul. This, in turn, causes overconsumption. Costs skyrocket. People begin to demand that health care be rationed. The government responds again by trying to contain the costs. We end up with a market hobbled in a variety of creative yet absurd ways and with society spending much more on health care than is optimal. In short, consumers can make discriminating medical care choices, just as they make discriminating choices in every other market. What we suggest, again, is therefore not an abolition of quality controls for doctors but their privatization. The market solutions are far superior to government ones.

    Indeed, one of the freest industries in the US is the computer industry, and many computer companies, such as Microsoft, Sun, and Cisco offer numerous private certifications that individuals can acquire to enhance their reputation and therefore chances of being hired and their salary. We need the same kind of system in health care.

  5. As Lew Rockwell explains:

    The risk of getting sick combines random and nonrandom variables. Catastrophic illnesses can be randomly distributed and thus insured against. But routine maintenance follows many predictable lines that must be reflected in premiums.

    The most cost-effective way to pay for medical care is the same way car maintenance is paid for: a fee for service. In a free market, this would be the dominant way medical care is funded.

    Prices would be aboveboard and competitive, and there would be a range of quality available for everyone. There would be no moral hazard. This was largely the system before the Blues, of course.

    What is called private insurance in the US is actually pre-paid consumption. Instead of insuring catastrophic illnesses, people are insured even for simple visits to the doctor. This is absurd. Routine health care is a commodity like any other; it should be paid for in cash.

  6. Hans-Hermann Hoppe writes:

    The first interventionist act brought about a big mess — insurance premiums always go up because insurers are no longer allowed to discriminate correctly and are even forced to include uninsurable risks. So now the problem arises of more and more people dropping out. For those who remain insured, premiums have to be raised to adjust for the fact that so many are dropping out.

    The next step, which we in the United States are on the verge of taking, is to make health insurance compulsory. No More Dropping Out! If this step is taken — compulsory health insurance, with all the other mandates remaining in place — then of course premiums will skyrocket even more than they have in the past.

    What then will be the next step? This too can easily be predicted: there must be cost controls imposed. There will be a rebellion on the part of the public, who will say, “The price is out of control! The government has to do something!” But all the government can do is engage in price controls. What happens with price controls? We get tremendous shortages of certain services, as in places like Canada where you can’t get certain treatments and there are one- or two-year waits for others.

    All healthcare provision will become increasingly politicized: the government will design lists of good diseases for which you do get treatment (such as AIDS, I’m sure) and bad diseases, such as those you get from smoking too much. Those with the bad diseases the government will let die.

    Where does all this lead then? Intervention in the insurance market creates an ever-increasing loss of individual responsibility, creates shortsightedness, and creates hazardous risks.

  7. The provision of health insurance by employers is arbitrary and senseless. Should socks and cereals and vacuum cleaners, too, be included in the “benefits” package when one is hired for a job?

8) We support elimination of Medicare and Medicaid.

  1. For the same reasons.

9) We support complete privatization of schooling.

At the same time we oppose any voucher scheme to subsidize private schooling.

We support repeal of all compulsory schooling laws.

  1. The wretched inefficiency of government schools is legendary, and so is their propensity for indulging in worthless propaganda and for corrupting the morals of the young.

  2. It is impossible to foretell the shape that a completely privatized education industry will take, but it may well be very different from what is presently the status quo. The discovery of the best system of education must be left to entrepreneurs and capital owners servicing the consumers: the children and their parents.

  3. A fully-functioning free market in schooling will be efficient and affordable to all. There will be a variety of schools which will teach using different methods; thus, there will be plenty of choice and constant innovation. Poor businessmen will fail, while those who satisfy their customers will prosper, just as it is supposed to be.

  4. Subsidies to private schools will eventually cause them to be controlled by the state. Given the current politically correct climate of opinion, decent schools will be unable to protect themselves by choosing their own students, which will essentially ensure their destruction.

  5. Compulsory schooling violates the liberty of parents and children. It also prevents students from deciding for themselves whether to proceed with their studies or, for example, to get a job. Indeed, the best education is very often obtained through job experience.

10) We oppose government subsidies of grants and loans to university students.

  1. These subsidies cause vast over-consumption of university services. Probably the majority of current students are not supposed to be enrolled. They are wasting their most productive years studying things which, again, can be of use only to future PhDs and professors.

  2. As Mises writes:

    In order to succeed in business a man does not need a degree from a school of business administration. These schools train the subalterns for routine jobs. They certainly do not train entrepreneurs.

    An entrepreneur cannot be trained. A man becomes an entrepreneur in seizing an opportunity and filling the gap. No special education is required for such a display of keen judgment, foresight, and energy.

    The most successful businessmen were often uneducated when measured by the scholastic standards of the teaching profession. But they were equal to their social function of adjusting production to the most urgent demand. Because of these merits the consumers chose them for business leadership.


11) We oppose all coercive price controls, including the minimum wage.

  1. Minimum wage laws create what is known as institutional unemployment among low-wage workers by lopping off a range of bargains. They constitute a form of price control and establish a price ceiling which causes a surplus of labor and the market to fail to clear.

  2. Not only must many mostly unskilled workers endure involuntary unemployment, but the businesses that would have hired them absent the minimum wage laws, fail to benefit from their work, as well, which lowers both the rate of economic growth and real wages.

  3. A first job, even at a low wage, is the beginning of one’s career not its end. No young person is supposed to support a wife and three children by working at a fast-food store. But he is supposed to master the basic skills of employment, such as conscientiousness, precision such that not a single customer is wronged, punctuality, cheerful service, going beyond the call of duty. The money earned will, with the family’s help, be used to buy more specific training. These combine to make the worker upwardly mobile. Minimum wage takes away this crucial stepping-stone to career advancement.

  4. MW laws violate the human right to voluntarily contract for a job by an employer and an applicant at whatever price the market will bear.

  5. MW laws are often made at the behest of unions (which are little more than vehicles for organized anti-consumer thuggery) who want to secure above-market wages at the expense of the people who must remain unemployed. And, surely, receiving no wages is much worse than for union members to receive merely slightly lower wages.

  6. The absurdity of minimum wage legislation becomes evident as soon as we ask why the minimum wage is not raised to, say, $100/hour. If that is crazy, why isn’t any other clearly arbitrary amount of minimum wage crazy, as well?

12) We oppose all regulation of business by the federal government, including but not limited to:

  1. Antitrust laws whose main effect is punishment of successful and protection of unsuccessful companies. It is no wonder that the vast majority of antitrust suits are filed not by the Justice Department but by the competitors of the accused firm.

  2. Indiscriminate use of the Commerce Clause: “The Congress shall have Power To… regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes” (US Constitution, I, 8). The meaning of “regulate” here is “to make regular,” “promote,” by enforcing free trade between the states. It is not a license to interfere with voluntary business transactions.

  3. The treatment of private business property as a “commercial accommodation” as opposed to personal property for which the owner has a full complement of rights. From anti-discrimination laws to the Americans with Disabilities Act, government invasions cripple the businesses’ service to the consumers and impoverish society.

  4. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

  5. The activities of the FDA, the EPA, the FCC, and the rest of the federal alphabet soup. The damage done by them is varied and plentiful.

13) We oppose all coercive “welfare” wealth transfers to the poor.

  1. As Mises writes:

    We may fully endorse the religious and ethical precepts that declare it to be man’s duty to assist his unlucky brethren whom nature has doomed.

    But the recognition of this duty does not answer the question concerning what methods should be resorted to for its performance. It does not enjoin the choice of methods which would endanger society and curtail the productivity of human effort.

    Neither the able-bodied nor the incapacitated would derive any benefit from a drop in the quantity of goods available.

    The problems involved are not of a praxeological character, and economics is not called upon to provide the best possible solution for them. They concern pathology and psychology.

    They refer to the biological fact that the fear of penury and of the degrading consequences of being supported by charity are important factors in the preservation of man’s physiological equilibrium. They impel a man to keep fit, to avoid sickness and accidents, and to recover as soon as possible from injuries suffered.

    The experience of the social security system, especially that of the oldest and most complete scheme, the German, has clearly shown the undesirable effects resulting from the elimination of these incentives. No civilized community has callously allowed the incapacitated to perish. But the substitution of a legally enforceable claim to support or sustenance for charitable relief does not seem to agree with human nature as it is. Not metaphysical prepossessions, but considerations of practical expediency make it inadvisable to promulgate an actionable right to sustenance.

    It is, moreover, an illusion to believe that the enactment of such laws could free the indigent from the degrading features inherent in receiving alms. The more openhanded these laws are, the more punctilious must their application become. The discretion of bureaucrats is substituted for the discretion of people whom an inner voice drives to acts of charity. Whether this change renders the lot of those incapacitated any easier, is hard to say.

  2. Unlike private works of mercy, government welfare is indiscriminate: it cannot easily take into account the nature of the recipient or his circumstances due to lack of proper incentives of the bureaucrats; therefore it cannot distinguish between deserving and undeserving poor; therefore it subsidizes sloth.

  3. Objection 1. Rights of the poor to sustenance permit restricting the right of the rich to use their wealth for luxury.

    Reply: First, “luxury” is an entirely arbitrary term which means “a good which only few members of a given society have.” It is used pejoratively to condemn the rich in envy of them. Second, in a capitalist society there is continuous economic progress, and what is luxury today is necessity tomorrow. The rich are pioneers who try out new goods and services before everyone else as “experiments in living,” ignite a desire for them among the masses, and encourage initial production of these goods. They thus serve an important social function.

  4. Objection 2. The liberty to acquire property beyond one’s basic needs is not an unconditional right.

    Reply: Since when is the right to subsistent existence the only right enjoyed by individuals? In fact, in a libertarian society all people have the liberty to acquire wealth merely to sustain their lives or to have pleasures that go beyond mere subsistence. There is no conflict. One right does not take precedence over the other, because both can be exercised at the same time.

  5. Objection 3. Unless the poor are taken care of by the state, they will see the rich as the external physical constraint on their ability to survive.

    Reply: A declaration like that betrays scandalous ignorance of economics. In a capitalist society there prevails a harmony of rightly understood interests of all people. The rich do not maliciously hoard the resources that the poor also want for themselves. The rich, mostly, are producers who use the factors of production, viz., capital, labor, and land, to create consumer goods for the “poor” to buy. They serve the poor. They are benefactors of society, and their wealth is due to the revealed preference of the masses for their work.

  6. Objection 4. Excess wealth is a constraint on the liberty of the poor because there is scarcity of resources.

    Reply: Once more, one person’s getting richer does not imply another person’s getting poorer. This contention would make sense in the case of Vikings raiding English settlements but certainly not in a capitalist society. The market is voluntary exchange for mutual benefit of all parties involved in an exchange. When one pays $x for a widget, both the buyer and the seller benefit; both get richer. Private property and freedom of contract are the only rational ways of dealing with scarcity that permit progressive improvement in the standard of living for all members of society, as well as an economy as such, as opposed to socialist chaos.

  7. Objection 5. To starve to death is to be denied the right to life.

    Reply: The proper meaning of the term “right to life” is the right not to be killed by another man. It is not the right to have one’s life maintained forcibly at someone else’s expense. Judith Thompson writes:

    In some views, having a right to life includes having a right to be given at least the bare minimum one needs for continued life. But suppose that what in fact is the bare minimum a man needs for continued life is something he has no right at all to be given?

    If I am sick unto death, and the only thing that will save my life is the touch of Henry Fonda’s cool hand on my fevered brow, then all the same, I have no right to be given the touch of Henry Fonda’s cool hand on my fevered brow.

    It would be frightfully nice of him to fly in from the West Coast to provide it. … But I have no right at all against anybody that he should do this for me.

  8. Objection 6. There may not be voluntary charities in a free society.

    Reply:

    1. This is an empirical claim. What if there will be?

    2. Charity is the force that binds all things together and is the mother of all virtues: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-3) So it is to be expected that voluntary charities will exist.

    3. The argument from the alleged non-existence (or, perhaps, underproduction) of private charities under freedom implies that the rulers are benevolent and enlightened, while their subjects are hard of heart and evil, when the reality is most often the other way around.

    4. When the government is democratic, it is explicitly contrary to reason, because if the majority of the population has voted to tax themselves (and not just the rich) to provide welfare to the poor, then that very fact means that at least the majority is charitable enough to provide the same services privately.

    5. By accepting mercy with gratitude one allows other people to serve him and in so doing earn merit in the eyes of God. (Of course, one should help out of love and not to score points, but points are scored anyway.) This effect is prevented in forced charity both because giving is no longer freely chosen and because the recipients all too often take their benefits for granted and think of the taxpayers as suckers.

    6. Finally, it should be obvious that only private individuals can provide spiritual works of mercy (admonish sinners, comfort the sorrowful, forgive offenses, etc.); why is it assumed that they are incapable of doing corporal works of mercy?

    It might be argued that if the government does not take it upon itself to provide relief to the poor, then such relief will not be organized, that it will be haphazard. But this is just knee-jerk statism. It is equivalent to saying that if the government is not in charge of food provision, then everyone will starve, which is absurd. Even now, when so much of the resources in private hands is taxed away, charities thrive, compete with each other for donors, and serve their clients. Many successful foundations are very well-run and are “big business.” Further, economics teaches us that when taxes are lowered, spending on consumer goods is likely to go up. That includes charitable giving.

  9. Objection 7. The greed, selfishness, and drive of the rich to acquire excess wealth is not fundamental liberty.

    Reply: This is a complete misapprehension of reality.

    1. It is an unsubstantiated accusation that the rich are greedy and selfish. In fact, most people become wealthy not because they love themselves, but because they love their jobs as businessmen or highly paid workers and do them well.

    2. Greed and selfishness are certainly not limited to the rich, but are vices that affect everybody, rich or poor.

    3. You know how some people say that they “can’t afford to be moral”? Well, the rich can “afford” it more than the poor can. Hence we should expect a higher level of virtue among the wealthy.

    4. What about education? The richer one is, the more time and money one can spend on schooling for oneself or one’s children. Or is selflessness to be found among the ignorant?

    5. It is only the wealthy who have the means to display the rare virtue of magnificence.

    6. Technically, everyone is selfish, because everyone wills happiness to himself first, because everyone loves himself more than neighbor, being substantially united with and therefore closer to himself.

    7. The fact that a person is greedy and selfish says nothing about whether he should be forcibly parted with the property he covets so much. Is it OK to steal from bad people? If anything, the harm in terms of lowered utility done by theft to a greedy person is greater than that done to an altruistic person, because the former is more attached to his goods and will suffer more from seeing them confiscated.

    8. Suppose for the sake of argument that the rich are indeed wicked in their character. It is still the case that the poor benefit from the existence of the rich, because the rich possess their wealth only insofar as the consumers of the things they produce approve of their conduct.

      Capitalism is essentially mass production for the masses. The captains of industry, the owners of corporations are subject to the supremacy of the consumers. As Mises writes, the latter “patronize those shops in which they can buy what they want at the cheapest price. Their buying and their abstention from buying decide who should own and run the plants and the farms. They make poor people rich and rich people poor.”

      Entrepreneurs become rich because the masses, the “poor,” rush to outbid each other on the products offered to them for sale. Personal wealth in a free society is a consequence of previous success in serving consumers. The rich are thus “mandatories” of the consumers, destined to work to please them. If they fail to satisfy their (our) wants, they will forfeit their wealth and their vocation as entrepreneurs and be demoted into the rank of laborers.

      To condemn the rich is to condemn them for enriching society, and to loot them is to discourage production and promote poverty for all.

    Also, of course, there is no such thing as “excess wealth.” It is an arbitrary and meaningless term.

  10. Objection 8. A minimal state must perform the function of preventing the use of violence that could emerge from the anger, envy, or desperation of the poor. The situation could degenerate into chaos.

    Reply: There are many problems with this argument.

    1. It assumes the existence of a large mass of wretched poor in society. But under capitalism this is not the case. The desperately poor who truly cannot work are very few in number, most of them physically or mentally ill. Violence on their part will certainly not jeopardize society.

    2. Everyone ought to realize that society will become poorer if the rich are under constant threat of being robbed. The incentives to gain wealth by serving consumers will be gone. Economic education is the cure, not welfare.

    3. As a rule, the less wealthy majority does not revolt explicitly, but uses the government to enact legislation that will plunder the rich “legally.” We see no moral difference between legal and illegal plunder.

    4. There are ways to check one’s anger, envy, or desperation other than by handing out cash. The Church has been doing it for millennia by teaching virtue.

    5. Suppose for the sake of argument that the poor masses are, in fact, about to revolt. In that case it is in the interest of the rich to band together and donate to private charities in order to forestall the looting. Coercion by government need not be involved.

  11. Objection 9. To vote for a government in a liberal democracy is to consent to the majority’s desire to redistribute wealth.

    Reply: Suppose that the two candidates running for President of the United States have the following platforms.

    Candidate A says that once elected, he will kill you (for no reason at all).

    Candidate B says that once elected, he will put you in prison for life.

    Does voting for Candidate B imply consenting to his policy? Or consider a more direct example.

    Three gangsters hold you up at gunpoint. You object that what they are doing is wrong. They talk among themselves and tell you that you and they constitute a “society” with a need for democratic government. One of them runs for “President” on the spot. Two of the gangsters vote for him, and he wins. Now whatever the “President” does is legal, because, why, he is duly elected. He has the “mandate.” He immediately proceeds to demand your money or your life. If you give him your wallet, are you thereby consenting to being robbed?

    See Democracy or Who Made You King?


13) We support privatization of the Post Office and all other government-run enterprises and, should they prove not to be viable, their going out of business.

  1. See Can the Market Deliver Letters?

KSU CL: Domestic Policy, II

1) We support unrestricted private gun ownership.

  1. Self-defense and defense of those around a person are not only natural rights but natural duties, as well.

  2. More guns, especially with concealed carry, less crime.

  3. Owning and carrying weapons is protected by the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.

  4. Allowing pilots and passengers to carry guns on airplanes is a means to safe and secure flying experience, provided that the weapons are reasonably safe for innocent bystanders. (Perhaps frangible bullets are needed to prevent cabin decompression.) In other words, solutions to airplane safety are possible, even if we cannot know which particular solution will be chosen or invented by the relevant property owners.

  5. Government tyranny will be less likely, of course not because a single even well-armed person can resist a SWAT team, but because the government will be unwilling to make martyrs of those who force it to engage in a shoot-out.

2) We oppose government torture of suspects, suspension of habeas corpus, indefinite detainment of prisoners, and other due process violations, and extension of executive power as opposed to the authority of the Congress, the courts, and the several states.

  1. All of these things are unjust and are steps toward tyranny.

3) We support full financial and medical privacy; that is, we support preventing the government from spying on the people.

We oppose the national Id card and support the repeal of the Patriot Act.

  1. The government naturally wants to know everything about the citizens, the better to control them. Ideally, it wants to turn all people into informers who rat each other, including their family members, to the “organs” of the state. (Such a thing was reality in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.) This monstrous vision must not be allowed to become fact.

4) We oppose all special rights and privileges for “minorities,” including affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, quotas, and other government-enforced preferential treatment of minorities and women.

We support unrestricted freedom of association.

We support full protections of private property rights, including the rights of businessmen and employers, land- and building owners, and lending institutions, as opposed to socialistic “civil rights” of the official victim groups.

  1. Who are these people who in their pride or contempt for others imagine themselves to be excluded from the laws that apply to everyone else?

  2. These laws violate the right of people to make or avoid making contracts of their choice.

  3. Arbitrary discrimination by firms is already penalized in the marketplace with lower profits as able minorities find jobs elsewhere. And why would anybody want to work for a company where he is not wanted, anyway?

  4. The right to free association includes the right not to associate.

  5. Racial profiling by the police or private individuals is not always indefensible but can in fact be such that its benefits outweigh the costs.

  6. The older left held that the battle was between the capitalists and the proletarians; the more modern version proposes that the alleged fight is between numerous groups; pretty soon they’ll tell us that individual interests are all antagonistic. So instead of a free (and great) society with a harmony of interests, we have a war of all against all, and only a perfectly rigid hierarchy of total state in which human beings are reduced to machines can save us. Perhaps the left will self-destruct completely at that point.

5) We support repeal of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  1. See ADA Success? At What?

  2. See Bilked by Civil Rights.

6) We oppose the drug war and support complete legalization of all presently outlawed drugs.

  1. This means that decisions of which drugs to sell should be made by entrepreneurs and private property owners. If Walmart decides to sell heroin in 5-pound bags for $29.99, then so be it. (Though we would not necessarily recommend buying it.)

  2. The drug war is an abject failure.

  3. The drug war is absurdly paternalistic and punishes victimless crimes.

7) Although we share many concerns about pollution, we are deeply suspicious of the environmental movement. We find it to be misanthropic and thoroughly statist.

  1. See The Enviro-Skeptic’s Manifesto.

  2. Many environmental problems are due to poorly defined property rights. Privatize rivers, forests, federal land, plants and animals, and you will see truly effective conservation and care for the environment. The biggest polluter is, after all, the government, and socialist countries are the most polluted ones of all.

8) We support repeal of Roe v. Wade and devolution of the authority to make decisions regarding the legality of abortion to the states.

In particular, we oppose government subsidies to abortion providers. We further oppose government decrees forcing pharmacies to sell contraceptive devices.

  1. One libertarian opinion is that a fetus is inside its mother’s womb by her consent. If she no longer agrees to keep it there, the fetus becomes an illicit trespasser on her body which is her property, according to the libertarian doctrine of self-ownership, liable to be pushed out if she so chooses.

  2. Thus, abortion is not contrary to public justice, though it may be contrary to charity. However, charity is not to be enforced by law.