Individuals For Jeff Daiell
15213 Southwest Freeway
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Thank you for inviting me to speak today.
If Harry Browne, the 2000 Libertarian presidential nominee, had won last Election Day, you wouldn’t have known about it until the next morning, possibly the next evening. I’ll explain why later in my presentation.
The fundamental premise of The Libertarian Party, and of the libertarian philosophy, is the basic idea on which America was founded: the dignity and worth of the individual, the belief that Human life and Human rights are of surpassing value, and that because of this, our rights by definition include an obligation to respect the rights of others. Libertarians therefore utterly reject the amoral philosophy that the ends justify the means.
This ideal bears repeating after last Tuesday ’s [11 September 2001] act of barbarism. It has been said that Osama bin Laden, who had been allied with the United States in supporting the Afghan resistance to the Soviet invasion, made the United States his enemies because Washington did not fulfill its promise to withdraw military forces from Saudi Arabia once Iraq had been expelled from Kuwait.
But no grievance, no matter how valid, justifies the mass murder of innocent individuals —or the murder of even one innocent individual. Nor does it justify theft; nor does it justify fraud. Violating the rights of the innocent, in any form, is always wrong; no goal excuses it; no cause makes it right.
Where Libertarians differ from all other political parties is that we apply this philosophy to all situations, and we contend that it applies to groups, and governments, as well as to individuals. Unlike the other parties, we contend that having a noble or humanitarian purpose is negated if the methods are unethical or criminal, and that an action that is wrong for you or me is just as wrong for government officials.
Because of this, Libertarians favor restricting government at all levels to protecting the rights of the individuals in its jurisdiction.
This would mean, at the local level, a police force to prevent or investigate acts of violence, theft, and fraud; a prosecutor ’s office; a criminal court system to judge criminal charges; and a civil court system to settle disputes among individuals, with the city council or county commission responsible for ensuring that these agencies do not themselves violate individual rights. At the State level, government would settle disputes between local governments and safeguard against abuses by them. The Federal government would be limited to providing defense against foreign aggression and protecting natural and Constitutional rights against infringement by State or local governments.
Obviously, this would mean ending many of the functions those governments at all levels now have. Included would be many that were undertaken, at least officially, with noble goals or purposes. But even in those cases, pursuing the goals or purposes has meant violating the rights of some or all of the citizens of the government performing those functions. It is not a lack of compassion for the ostensible beneficiaries of these activities, but rather compassion for those whose rights are violated when government instead of private individuals or agencies assumes those functions, that moves Libertarians to call for minimal government and maximum freedom and personal responsibility.
One example, in the early 1980’s, the price of milk fell, and the Federal government used taxpayer monies to slaughter over a million dairy cows. This might be considered an act of kindness toward dairy farmers, but it was no kindness to those lower-income families for whom milk then became less affordable, nor to those taxpayers who were forced by law to subsidize the slaughter, nor to the cattle ranchers who saw their own prices fall as some of the beef from the dairy cows found its way onto the market.
A far grimmer example, and I thank Milton Friedman for calling attention to it, in each State, the Board of Medical Examiners restricts the umber of individuals allowed to practice medicine. This may show compassion for the physicians who are thus protected against free competition, but it shows callousness toward those Americans for whom the policy makes health care and health insurance unaffordable.
So what would life be like in America were our various levels of government limited to safeguarding our rights? What sort of society would we have if we adhered to the principle of personal responsibility?
The most obvious change would be greater public safety. If those law enforcement resources now devoted to “victimless crimes ” were concentrated instead on crimes of violence, theft, and fraud, those who contemplate rape, mugging, burglary, child molestation, and other crimes would be far more certain that their transgressions would result in arrest. Also, those arrests would result in higher rates of imprisonment, and more time spent behind bars, because currently so many prison spaces are used for those convicted of peaceful use of “controlled substances ”and other victimless crimes that far too often serious crimes result in probation or short sentences. I know this from personal experience, as members of my family were victimized by it.
Another consequence of limiting government would be greater prosperity, including less unemployment and more upward mobility.
Although the minimum wage is presented as benefiting lower-income Americans, it has in fact over the years destroyed millions of jobs, and prevented the creation of untold new ones. It has also forced many small businesses to close. But the victims of the minimum wage are ’t just those who lose their job or their businesses. Victims also include lower-income workers whose wages are kept low because of the additional competition from those who have lost their jobs due to the minimum wage. It also includes consumers, who pay higher prices because of reduced competition, as only those large corporations, which can afford the higher minimum wages, increase their market share.
In fact, the result of virtually all government regulation of business and the economy is to damage small business and increase the market share of the large corporations who, through Political Action Committees and personal contributions from their officers, contribute so much of the campaign treasuries of politicians at all levels.
This is why some 80%of the money donated by these mega-businesses to “think tanks ” goes to those favoring more regulation, not less.
Another improvement would be in seen in our schools. Taking the politics out of education by taking education away from politicians and bureaucrats would mean schools that would be motivated to succeed and whose success would depend on that of their students. We don ’t trust politicians with our oil wells; we shouldn’t trust them with the minds of our children.
The list could go on, but the underlying principle remains the same, the ends do not justify the means, and our rights include a responsibility to respect the rights of others. The Libertarian Party acknowledges this, so much so that one cannot even become a member of The Libertarian Party without signing a pledge to fulfill this obligation; our competitors constantly use the alleged nobility behind their proposals as an excuse to ignore that responsibility.
In an effort to bring Texas closer to the day when this principle is instead accepted and implemented, I have become a candidate for Governor of Texas, hoping to join the over 450 Libertarian Party members currently in public office and those who have held public office before them.
I have already campaigned in several cities, from Austin to Dallas to Pasadena to East Bernard to Houston, and I intend to visit many others before next year’s vote. The campaign will also use television advertising to spread Libertarian values.
It may well be that 2002 is too early to expect a Libertarian Party candidate to be elected Governor. In fact, the obstacles are enormous, including an antipathy by the major news media so strong that even our vote totals go unreported on Election Night, as I hinted at earlier.
In fact, in 1988, our Presidential candidate, U.S.Representative Ron Paul, was told by the director of the company formed by the major networks, CNN, and the Associated Press to report election results, that, not only would votes for so-called “third parties ”be ignored, but that his firm would falsify the percentages for the Democrats and Republicans to equal 100.When Dr.Paul gave an example of Bush and Dukakis each drawing 45%, and Dr.Paul receiving 10%, he was told that the results would be reported as the tax-subsidized candidates each receiving 50%. But, even if I cannot overcome the obstacles, every vote I receive, every dollar contributed to my campaign, ever hour volunteered to bring this message to more Texans, will in fact bring closer the triumph of the American credo of the dignity and worth of the individual.
Rotarians and guests, your ancestors named your city for Liberty. Will you join me next year in voting for Liberty? Thank you again. Are there any questions?