What Libertarians Think About Government
by Anthony Gregory
(A speech originally given on behalf of the Cal Libertarians on October 1, 2002, on the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley)


The libertarian view of government stems directly from a more general principle, the principle of liberty.

Liberty is the right to live your life in the way you choose, so long as you do not initiate force upon any other individual. This is called by many of us the non-aggression principle. All other rights are derived from this right of self-ownership and self-determination.

Along with liberty comes the personal responsibility to face the consequences of your actions. This respect for individual choices optimizes the incentive for people to succeed and make correct choices, and opens the door to a diversity that only freedom brings.

So we believe that government’s only legitimate role is to protect individual rights to life, liberty and property, and not abrogate these rights. It is right to have laws against murder, assault, rape and theft, but actions that do not intrude on the rights of others should not be restricted.

We must remember what government is: institutionalized force. The power and politics of government makes it arrogant, inefficient, corrupt and dangerous. Because of this inherent nature of government, government programs almost always fail to do what they were supposed to. And expanding government power to do what you think it should ensures that future politicians will use it in ways you think they shouldn’t.

Our view of government’s role and its government’s historical propensity to overstep that role leads libertarians to believe in strict limitations on government, such as in the Bill of Rights.

So what would libertarians do to change America’s government today?

We would cut all taxes drastically, freeing up resources to create jobs and charity much more efficiently and humanely than the government possibly can. We would repeal the Federal Income Tax and get welfare, education, business regulations, Social Security and health care out of the hands of the Federal Government–which has no constitutional authority in these areas–and back into the hands of the states and the people.

We would restore a free market economy of abundance and prosperity. A free market economy for us would mean no corporate welfare or farm subsidies or trade restrictions on Cuba.

Most pollution is caused by the government, so we would make politicians and bureaucrats liable for the damage they do. Pollution caused by private entities should be treated as crimes of trespass, not as regulatory matters that will necessarily lead to corruption and more pollution.

We would restore civil liberties and reduce violent crime by repealing America’s 25,000 gun control laws that infringe on the right to self-defense without doing a thing to disarm violent criminals.

We would also restore civil liberties and reduce violent crime by finally ending America’s insane, draconian, inhumane, and unconstitutional War on Drugs. The Drug War has made America’s drug problem much worse and has led to a terrible wave of violent crime and police state measures. We would release the million non-violent prisoners of this terrible war and declare drug peace.

And we would repeal all other victimless crime laws, and enforce the entire Bill of Rights, a document whose enforcement would eliminate almost all of the government abuses of today. We would bring back the jury to its proper function in justice. This of course would mean that the Patriot Act would have to go.

To combat terrorism, a great threat to our liberty, we would restore America’s foreign policy of nonintervention, peace and free trade. Nonintervention means not tampering with other nations’ elections, and not propping up foreign dictators with tax dollars. Peace means no more bombing of innocent civilians because of the actions of a few belligerents. And free trade means withdrawing our support from the IMF and ending that inhumane and stupid sanction on Iraq.

Our military’s only function should be to defend the United States. Anything more would be contributing to and encouraging terrorism at home and abroad, so we should bring our troops home.

Some would call these views of ours on government moderate. Some would say we’re ultra-conservative. Others might call us anarchists. Come to our meetings on Wednesday evenings, and you can decide. That’s what liberty is all about, after all.


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