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Archive for the ‘Civil Libertarianism’ Category

It seems to me that there are two vehicles driving toward the goal of limited government.

One is the Libertarian movement, and the other is the Tea Party movement.

The Libertarians advocate true liberty in the most consistent sense: maximized civil and economic liberty.  They advocate laissez faire economics and Classical Liberalism.  They have fewer ties to the political Left and Right, but rather they are their own entity.

The Tea Party Movement also advocates liberty.  However, it is often difficult to see which kinds they advocate.  They undoubtedly advocate the fiscal conservatism that the Libertarians advocate.  However, to me it seems that their stance on civil liberties is murky.  Unlike the Libertarian movement, the Tea Party appears to be a wing of the political Right, rather than being its own entity.  Therefore, the Tea Party might be a movement within the Right Wing to economically liberalize.  I am undoubtedly for that economic liberalization, though I may not agree with their stance on civil liberties.

I think it would help the Tea Party to become more organized rather than being a political guerrilla group.  Though the Tea Party seems to prefer the disorganization, I think it makes them look less than legitimate.  Like the Libertarians, they should advocate various ideologies that suit them rather than dressing as Founding Fathers.  Also, I think they should attempt to distance themselves from the far political Right and more toward the more moderate Libertarians, or else they will probably never be elected to political office.

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I am currently reading The Age of Abundance by Brink Lindsey, a fellow of the Cato Institute.  The book is about how capitalism has made Americans more libertarian.

Reading the book made me think differently about the beginning of the civil rights movement as he describes in chapter 3.  It made me think of the movement in a more economic way.  Dr. King and the other leaders of the Montgomery bus boycott used the powers of the Invisible Hand to achieve social change.  If a person is displeased with a service, that person has the right not consume it and look elsewhere for a substitute.

African-Americans in Montgomery did just that.  They simply stopped riding the bus; they walked, organized carpools, founded underground cab companies, among other things.

And it was the White Segregationists that opposed free markets.  They wanted to deny the African Americans the right to choose what service to use.  According to Lindsey’s book, law enforcement would abuse their power to try to hinder people advocating the boycott by imposing bogus fines and making wrongful arrests.

In the end, Dr. King, the boycotters, and the free market won.

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I can never understand the feelings of loss of those affected by the attacks of September 11, 2001.  I, however, can understand their feelings toward a Mosque being built on or near Ground Zero.  Of course, they would be hostile to a religion whose adherents carried out the horrible act that changed their lives forever.

However, I believe that it was only adherents of a religion, not a religion itself.  I would also believe that many Muslims were directly or indirectly affected by the attacks of September 11; not to mention the public scrutiny of being a Muslim.

To deny non-extremist Muslims the right take the right legal measures to build a house of worship would be to deny that they are even Americans at all.  I do not know for sure what the motivation of those seeking to build the Mosque, but I think the move could be out of solidarity with the more native majority of Americans who were directly attacked.  Maybe the Mosque is a sign that they are allying with America rather than with Al Qaeda.  Remember, Osama bin Laden and other such fundamentalist extremists hate American Muslims as much as they hate other non-Muslim Americans.

What bothers me is that history is repeating itself.  My paternal grandmother’s family was in America since colonial times.  However, the rest of my family had immigrated from Ireland (paternal grandfather’s family) and Slovakia (all maternal great-grandparents).  Irishmen were looked on by Nativists as lesser men, and those from Eastern Europe were treated the same way.  Now that these groups have made their mark in our country, I feel like the same thing is happening.  I think the children of immigrants should welcome other immigrants if they want to pledge their allegiance to America.

With all that being said, I want to firmly state that I am a firm believer in our Constitution, and for that reason I am a staunch civil libertarian.  To deny these people freedom of worship would be blatantly un-Constitutional because they are seeking this right through proper channels of the law.  However angry it makes native New Yorkers, the Constitution must not broken.

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While watching the show Weeds, I had a thought about the effects that prohibition have on the nature of the substances that are prohibited.

During Prohibition in the 1920s, the quality of alcohol was often very low because production was forced underground.  Moonshine was distilled in rural locales and was often very dangerous to consume.  Now, people can buy liquors in stores without worrying about going blind.  Microbreweries across our country brew very unique, complex beers.  Society benefits from all the choices.  During Prohibition, beer production was probably non existent because of the facilities required for brewing beer.

In the same way, before abortions were made legal, they were very dangerous because they could be performed in sterile facilities by qualified professionals (b.n. Whether or not abortion is ethical is an entirely different issue).

What if marijuana were legalized, and marijuana began to have their own versions of microbreweries?  Like with microbreweries, users could have greater access to much more diverse products.  They would benefit because of higher quality goods, as well as knowing that their marijuana is safe (like drinkers know their liquor does not contain poison because they bought it from a liquor store).  Furthermore, as alcohol is regulated, marijuana would be regulated, and therefore would be safer.

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I just got done reading an article by The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/16591136), and it got me thinking.

The article was about legalizing or simply decriminalizing marijuana consumption in California.

It was interesting to me because of how it could affect the economy.  In the article, the RAND Corporation predicted that the retail price of an ounce of marijuana would decrease by 80%.  This decrease can mean many different things.  It would be very bad for business for dealers and distributors because of the loss of revenues.  I recently started watching the Showtime show Weeds, and this point was further reinforced when Nancy’s distributor Heylia expressed disdain for legalization or decriminalization.

Another less obvious point that comes from this decrease in retail price is the ability of governments to tax purchases of marijuana.  If the retail prices does in fact decrease by 80%, then that is all the room government has to tax the marijuana without distorting consumer behaviors.  Furthermore, they would still have the room to levy a tax that would still make the price lower than when it was illegal, which could increase consumption, and thereby increasing tax revenues.

I am not an expert on tax policy, but these points are definitely something for policymakers to consider when dealing with near bankrupt state governments.

Of course, as many economists and analysts have stated before, legalization could decrease crime because of the elimination of marijuana’s black market.  Furthermore, cost to government to incarcerate “criminals” would decrease.

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I recently participated in a Twitter debate (http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23wdys), and the topic was whether or not governments DNA fingerprint their citizens.

I, like many others in the debate, disagree with governments doing this.  One point was made in clarifying the topic was if you have nothing to hide, then you should have nothing to fear.  Although I understand the rationale behind this, I strongly disagree.  Doing something solely because it leads to an end does not justify the action.  If everyone subscribed to the “if you nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” logic, then government could expand rapidly into every facet of our lives, and we might become enslaved by the government.  People arguing for big government intervention are thinking idealistically; believing that government is benevolent and would have to reason to abuse their power.  However, I am thinking realistically; government is made up of people, and everyone is pursuing their own self interest.

One point I made against DNA fingerprinting was that government has a plethora of ways to identify people (i.e. drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, social security numbers, passports, etc).  If government used something as invasive as keeping records of everyone’s DNA, then they might as well go another step further and force people to allow government officials to install some type of tracking chip in everyone’s person.  With DNA fingerprinting, government severely reduces any anonymity among its citizens.

Another, more idealistic, point made by http://twitter.com/ender227 was that freedoms are seldom recovered after they are taken away.  I strongly agree with this.  Look at the growth of the American Federal government.  It has grown rapidly since after WWII, and is always difficult to scale back.  I am not saying that growth of government in this case is necessarily a usurpation of popular freedom, but the same idea holds.

In my opinion, the role of government is to solely protect the unalienable rights and freedoms of its populace, and I can see how it moves to that end when keeping records of all citizens’ DNA.

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