Liberty 101

(By Frank Rossa, Developer of the LP 101 Class)

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party both in the State of Indiana and the United States.  We stand for limited government, individual rights, free markets, and an end to foreign interventions and wars.

Terms left or right, liberal or conservative, are heard constantly in political discourse.  Though, everyone does not fit neatly into one of these labels.  Those on the left generally favor increased government intervention in economic affairs and less government intervention in personal affairs.  Those on the right generally favor increased government intervention in personal affairs and less government intervention in economic affairs.

Many of our elected officials claim one of these labels.  In reality, most of our elected officials fall into the category of big government Statist.  These are people who want more government intervention and control in all aspects of our lives.  Opposite of Statists you will find Libertarians.  Libertarians want less government intervention in all aspects of our lives, both economic and personal.

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.  Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”  These are the words of George Washington, one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.  Government is force.  This concept is very important, and is the driving force of Libertarianism.  Government accomplishes it goals through the use of force or the coercive threat of force upon a person or his property.  If one advocates a government solution to a problem, then they advocate the use of force or the threat of force in resolution of that problem.

It is one thing to advocate the use of force against those who willfully or through negligence commit acts of violence, such as rapists and murderers, or people who, lie, cheat and steal, like those who commit fraud or theft.  It is quite another thing to advocate the use of force against those whose behavior you simply find offensive or detrimental in your eyes.  The only legitimate use of force is in defense of the individual rights of life, liberty, and property.

You know best how to lead your own life.  You have the right to run your business, spend your money, and to dispose of your own property in whatever manner you believe will best support your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  You own your body, and you have the right to do with your body whatever you like.  You have the right to spend your time however you choose.  Libertarians recognize each individual’s right to engage in any peaceful and honest activity, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal rights of others.

Our constitution defines a limited and proper role of government.  Government derives its authority from the people.  If an act committed by the people is wrong or illegal, then the same is true if done by the government or its agents.  Most would not challenge the natural right of a person to forcibly defend their life, liberty, or property, thus these are the proper and original roles of government.  In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government.”

There is one problem with liberty; with liberty comes personal responsibility.  Many today would rather abdicate their personal responsibility in their daily lives to the government, but with that goes their liberties and everyone else’s.  A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away from you everything you have.

Government does not produce anything.  It takes and consumes, but it never generates any wealth.  The government can never give you anything that it did not already take from someone else.  It is not the role of government to confiscate someone’s wealth or property and redistribute it to a perceived political need.  The same is true from the under privileged classes to the largest corporation.  The government should not be in the redistribution business, corporate or otherwise.

What if I told you I know about a family down the road that has trouble paying their bills and putting food on the table?  Many would feel sympathetic and have the urge to help.  Then I tell you that you have a responsibility to these people.  I tell you I want to be fair about this, and you should give me 20% of whatever cash you have right now to help them.  While speaking to you I have my hand on a gun, and I draw it if you do not comply.  That is what forcible redistribution looks like, and it is the same when the government does it though a tax collector instead of a mugger.

We hear a lot of talk about special interest groups.  They have become dirty words in politics for most people today.  That is until you talk about their special interest, then suddenly it becomes the right thing to do.  The only way special interests will ever be checked in this country is to place limits on what the government can do.  If the government is prohibited from giving handouts and favors to special interests, then those special interests have no incentive to be involved in the political process.  On the other hand, the more we expect government to do and the more we allow government to do, the more control special interest groups will gain.

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground,” said Thomas Jefferson.  Every year the government grows.  This is why our founders tried to restrain the government with the constitution, but it is a document we largely ignore today.  It does not require a college degree or a bunch of old men in black robes to understand the constitution.  It is really quite simple compared to the behemoth laws we pass today that are thousands of pages long in which every paragraph caters to some special interest.  This country was founded by people who came here to escape a place where your success was based upon who you knew, but sadly we are becoming that place.

We do not presume to have all the answers, but we do know that the results will always be best when you leave the people free to make their own choices.  Freedom is a powerful thing.

Frank Rossa, Chairman

Libertarian Party of Johnson County