Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Libertarian Manifesto for Delaware and the United States

Look, quite frankly I’m tired of people who are carefully calculated about their views, and who will not stand up and talk about exactly what they’d like to see happen.

I’m also trying to clarify exactly what I do believe, thinking of myself as I do as a Pragmatic Libertarian.

So while I could probably never be a winning candidate even for dog-catcher with this agenda, and while it conflicts in many places with the National Libertarian Party’s Platform (or, I think it will, once they get their heads out of their asses and adopt one), this is my work in progress.

Feel free to criticize, add, suggest, laugh, vomit. . . . .

As for you Libertarians, ask yourselves where Bob Barr or Mike Gravel stand on most of these issues....

National Issues

Foreign and Military Policy:

1. Repudiate the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war. Our country survived the Cold War, with a nuclear arsenal aimed at us that was large enough to incinerate 100,000,000 Americans in a single evening, and we did not sink to the adoption of pre-emptive or aggressive war. We need at least as much moral courage now as we demonstrated then.

2. Commit to a strategy of no unilateral military intervention (direct or through surrogates) in the internal affairs of other nations. Diplomacy, trade, humanitarian relief, and—if necessary—economic sanctions represent a wide selection of tactics to use in effecting positive change throughout the world. When such interventions are sanctioned by the international community (as in the case of combating genocide), then such interventions should be organized through true multi-lateral organizations.

3. Reduce America’s empire of military bases on foreign soil to those necessary for (a) direct support of our permanent allies and (b) keeping open our major nautical trade lanes.

4. Remove all tax breaks and government sponsorship for American companies trading arms abroad.

5. Pass legislation that defines and outlaws the participation of American citizens as mercenary combatants, and which release our government from any responsibility to represent, repatriate, or otherwise intervene on behalf of Americans who willingly participate in foreign combat as mercenaries.

Energy Policy:

1. Eliminate all subsidies for ethanol production and allow the world food market to recover its natural equilibrium.

2. Revise excessively restrictive regulations to allow for the construction and development of additional nuclear plants.

3. Provide direct tax credits to all individuals and organizations that return power back into the national grid.

Health Care

1. Remove all Federal barriers to the States passing legislation to legalize medical marijuana.

2. Overhaul Federal and State restrictions on internet pharmacies to allow American citizens to take full advantage of low-cost medicine with adequate knowledge of the risks and performance of the providers.

3. Change licensing requirements to allow nurse practitioners, alternative practitioners, osteopaths and others to have more free rein to offer treatment in non-traditional and low-cost settings.

4. Allow all out-of-pocket medical expenses to count as tax credits; when medical assistance is necessary for the poor, provide medical vouchers comparable to food stamps, and allow people to select their own treatment.

Taxation

1. Immediately eliminate all income taxes (State and Federal) and all payroll taxes for the working poor.

2. Phase out the Federal income tax over a ten-year period by reducing government expenditures and replacing such tax revenues as are critical with consumption taxes.

3. Convert tax deductions for charitable contributions into tax credits; remove all ceilings for such donations.

4. Convert tax deductions for medical expenses into tax credits; remove all ceilings for such expenses.

5. Require that all wars be funded through a special war tax; exempt all active-duty and reserve-component service members and their immediate families from this tax.

6. Eliminate all corporate subsidies and tax-breaks currently provided by the Federal government.

Environment

1. Pass legislation that allows private land trusts and non-profit conservation foundations to purchase Federal land.

2. Require all industrial plants that discharge water into rivers and streams to place the intake for all water used within that plant (either for industrial processes or drinking) to be placed downstream from the plant’s discharge.

3. Revise corporate liability laws to allow unlimited liability on the part of majority stockholders, key bloc stockholders, and members of the board of directors for significant environmental damage.

Bureaucracy

1. Pass a “plain language” amendment to the US Constitution that allows any citizen to challenge the constitutionality of a law if it cannot be read or understood by the average literate individual.

2. Prohibit the practice of the Federal government withholding funds otherwise due to the States unless the States pass certain pieces of legislation.

3. Eliminate all retirements systems for Federal employees (including all elected or appointed officials) except Social Security.

Education

1. Restructure the Federal Department of Education as an information gathering and research clearing-house organization.

2. Require direct Federal funding of extreme special needs students whose educational expenditures rise above five times the State/local per-pupil average.

3. Provide all other direct Federal education funding in the form of unrestricted education block grants to the States.

Homeland Security

1. Repeal the Patriot Act and associated legislation that allows for unwarranted intrusion into the civil liberties of American citizens.

2. Eliminate the Department of Homeland Security, transferring key functions back to the FBI, CIA, and other related agencies, while eliminating bureaucratic barriers to intelligence sharing between them.

3. Eliminate the Transportation Security Administration; turn over responsibility for airline security to collaboration between State and Local law enforcement and the commercial carriers themselves.

4. Replace the national intelligence clearinghouse with a series of regional intelligence fusion centers jointly funded by State and Federal law enforcement authorities and employing “bottom up” intelligence collection and analysis procedures.

5. Decentralize incident-management training offered by the Office for Domestic Preparedness to State, City, and local emergency response and civil government officials.

6. Enact nation-wide “right to carry” legislation and instant background checks for firearms purchases.

Gay Rights

1. Pass an amendment to the US Constitution that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

2. Pass an amendment to the US Constitution legalizing gay marriage.

Freedom of Conscience and Consciousness

1. Decriminalize the use of marijuana.

2. Decriminalize prostitution.

3. Decriminalize the possession of all forms of sexually oriented materials.

State Issues

Freedom of Information/Open Government

1. Require all elected and appointed State officials to disclose, on an annual basis, the employment or remuneration of themselves, spouses, and adult children by any State agency or any other employer that receives or disburses public funds.

2. Extent FOIA provisions to cover all agencies or organizations that receive or disburse public funds, including all state-supported or state-assisted universities.

3. Grant ballot access to all political parties capable in any five-year period of either (a) acquiring the signatures of 5,000 registered voters on a petition of recognition, or (b) achieving 2% of the popular vote for any state-wide elected office.

Education

1. Adopt cost-saving measures suggested in the SEED report, especially transportation and logistical consolidation and the elimination of prevailing wage requirements for school construction projects.

2. Distribute funds saved in item 1 above as block grants to the individual school districts.

3. Require all school districts to conduct their financial transactions in a transparent manner (on-line check registers, etc.).

4. Eliminate the DSTP; return control of graduation requirements to individual school districts.

5. Convert the Delaware Department of Education into a service and support organization.

6. Allow funding equity for all charter schools with an open enrollment policy that can demonstrate that they serve minority, disadvantaged, and special needs populations to the same extent that traditional schools within the same geographic district do. Allow two or more charter schools to “pool” their populations to meet this requirement.

Ninth and Tenth Amendments

1. Actively examine and seek the repeal of all Federal laws and statutes that conflict with the legitimate powers of the individual states; if unsuccessful in repeal, challenge such laws and statutes in the courts.

2. Pass an amendment to the US Constitution requiring that each section of Federal legislation specifically cite the enumerated power from which it draws its authority.

5 comments:

Brian Shields said...

It can't happen, it makes way too much sense. I agree on almost everything 100%. Not sure about the federal tax stuff, mainly through not knowing much about it. otherwise, i agree whole heartedly.

Brian said...

I would run on this platform. Regardless of whether one is elected or not, it is throwing the hat in the ring that counts. Get these ideas out there. Steve, I think you should have started the manifesto with the words "there is a specter haunting United States and its name is Liberty."

Shirley Vandever said...

Steve Newton for President !

You have my vote.

I imagine there could be some lively discussion and probably some general nitpicking around some of these, but the overall intent is clear. To the government: leave me alone and do your job. Two very simple concepts.

I have comments on two points.

“Decriminalizing the possession of all forms of sexually oriented materials”. While I believe that the possession of such material should not be criminal, I think that the manufacturing of certain porn, such as that involving children, should be illegal. So, if someone is found to have child porn in their possession we may want to find out where they got it.

“Pass an amendment to the Constitution legalizing gay marriage”. I support this, however I would also say that I don’t think “marriage” as an institution is religious, and the state/federal government should not even be involved in it. In essence, I believe all so-called “marriages”, no matter who the partners and no matter what church/synagogue/mosque/coven it took place in should be treated as civil unions in the eyes of the state. But I don’t think we can get past the word “marriage” for at least another couple of hundred years, so marriage it must be.

Steve Newton said...

Shirley
I'm giving a day or so to see what comments I collect, and then I will address the individual issues in a follow-up posts: porn and gay marriage on the list.

tom said...

National Issues:

Foreign and Military Policy:

1. "Pass legislation that defines and outlaws the participation of American citizens as mercenary combatants, ..."

I disagree with this. We have the freedom to travel, and the federal government has no business trying to legislate the behavior of civilian U.S. nationals in foreign nations. I do agree with the second part - our government should also not take any responsibility for their actions.

Health Care:

1. Remove all Federal barriers to the States passing legislation to legalize medical marijuana and other drugs.

3. There should not be any licensing regulations at the Federal level. Eliminate them completely. This is a power of the States.

Environment:

Repeal any laws or regulations prohibiting or interfering with the ability of individuals to sue any polluter, including the government.

Bureaucracy

Also pass Downsize DC's Read The Bills Act.

Education

Your three planks are inconsistent.
If the Ed. Dept. is merely an information gathering and research clearinghouse, in should not be taxing us to provide grant money for other purposes. It's only been around since the Carter administration and the most useful thing it has given us so far is the spork. Get rid of it completely.

Gay Rights

I object to amending the Constitution for this purpose; we do not have amendments prohibiting any other form of discrimination, and given the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment it seems that most people don't think it is appropriate. merely rpealing all discriminatory legislation, and and passing legislation along the lines of the Civil Rights Act should be enough.

Freedom of Conscience and Consciousness

1. Decriminalize the use of all recreational drugs. You will get the greatest reduction in drug-law related crime and violence by decriminalizing cocaine & heroin, and meth, not marijuana.

This comment is getting longer than I planned. I'll finish with the State issues in a later comment.