Tag: personal liberty

Grading President Trump’s Libertarianism: Personal Liberty

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address marks the midway point of his first term. This is the first of four articles to analyze his policies and how well they relate to the Libertarian Party’s platform and libertarianism in general.

The four points to be analyzed are:

  • Personal Liberty
  • Economic Liberty
  • Securing Liberty
  • Overall Liberty

The Presidents policies will be analyzed with regards to how well I believe they correlate with the LP’s platform.

Self-Ownership, Expression and Communication, Privacy

President Trump’s appointment of two anti-marijuana legalizations Attorney Generals (Jeff Sessions, William Barr) and his expansion of the Drug War, most especially concerning opioids and the wall, are attacks on self-ownership. When it comes to substance use, he favors an authoritarian approach to substance use.

Self-Ownership Grade: D

His attacks on NFL players for kneeling to highlight the need for criminal justice reform, as well as to support immigrants from Muslim-dominant countries, are violations of freedom of self-expression. At the same time, he created a special class of citizens for law enforcement officers and public employees in which crimes against them would be legally treated as hate crime. However, he has not taken much legal action to stifle expression which means the government is not growing in this area.

Expression and Communication Grade: C

President Trump hasn’t ended the NSA/DHS spying on American citizens, despite complaining about being bugged by President Obama. Our President has demonized Edward Snowden but praised Wikileaks. Basically, he only supports whistleblowers when it helps him. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court despite his anti-Fourth Amendment writings. Many credit Kavanaugh’s legal writings for building justification for the surveillance state.

Privacy Grade: D

Personal Relationships, Abortion, and Parental Rights

President Trump has not made an issue out of defining marriage. If he continues the hands-off approach on government involvement in marriage, that would aid his score. Removing government from personal relationships is the preference. However, he has been antagonistic toward transgender persons regarding bathroom usage and has banned them from military service. I see this as the all too familiar republican story of only being for small government when personal beliefs coincide.

Personal Relationships: C

Early in his administration, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, which keeps Federal funding from being used to pay for international abortions. Later, he authorized State governments to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Both moves reduced the amount of State involvement in the abortion issue. However, he does advocate for legislation to ban various forms of abortion, which re-engages the State on the issue. Many are concerned that he has stacked the Supreme Court with Justices who will overturn legal precedent on the issue.

Abortion Grade: C

President Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, signaling a commitment to end Federal involvement in our education. In this capacity, DeVos has worked to eliminate Federal involvement while promoting private and home-schooling options. Additionally, our President signed an Executive Order aimed at curtailing the amount of Federal involvement allowed in education.

Education Grade: A

Crime and Justice, Death Penalty, Self-Defense

The First Step Act is a great opening salvo at a larger and more comprehensive criminal justice reform. Trump has talked about going further on this issue. Yet, his expansion of the Drug War that criminalizes victim-less crimes and his State-centered approach on sex-trafficking contradicts a libertarian stance on crime and justice.

Crime and Justice Grade: B

President Trump is in favor of the administration of the death penalty by the State.

Death Penalty Grade: F

Our President portrays himself a champion of gun ownership rights. He has opposed various attempts at gun control on the Federal level. However, he banned bump stocks and advocates for enhanced background checks.  He also supports red flag laws. He has also expressed support for Senator Feinstein to pass Assault Weapon Bans. In terms of immigration, private property owners deserve the right to enforce their property boundaries, even on our international border with Mexico, however they see fit. Immigration reform should address that reality.

Self-Defense Grade: B

Rating Trump on personal liberty, I give him a C (2.0). He could really harm his score if he continues promoting State-centered solutions at the expense of individual rights. I am truly rooting for him to improve that score.

Stay tuned for the next article in which I will grade Trump’s policies on Economic Liberty.


71 Republic prides itself on distinctly independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon. We appreciate your support.

Featured Image Source

Advertisements

Although Beneficial, Vaccination Should Be Entirely Voluntary

indri Schaelicke | United States

Undoubtedly one of the greatest medical innovations in human history is the invention of the vaccine. The science of vaccination was first seriously pioneered by Edward Jenner in 1796, when he noticed that milkmaids who had caught cowpox before became immune to smallpox later. To test his theory that humans could develop immunity, Jenner took pus from a milkmaid with cowpox and put it into a cut in the arm of an 8-year-old boy. Six weeks later, he inoculated the same boy with smallpox, observing that he did not catch smallpox. Based on his findings, he was able to develop the first vaccines.

Are vaccines actually safe?

Two centuries later, and vaccine technology has advanced incredibly. Vaccines are much safer than during Edward Jenner’s time when patients were deliberately cut and treated with the disease using potentially unclean equipment. There are many standards doctors are held to when administering a vaccine that did not exist 200 years ago. Immediate allergic reactions that can be treated with common medications occur in fewer than one in a million cases. So just why do people believe that vaccines are dangerous and may even cause Autism?

Misinformation makes it very difficult for parents to separate fact from fiction. Sites such as vaclib.orgageofautism.com, sanevax.org, among others, peddle their anti-vaccine propaganda, often riddled with scientifically inaccuracies and falsities to uninformed parents in an effort to push their agenda. These organizations take advantage of parents’ innate desire to do what is best for their children.

A common fear among parents is that vaccination increases the risk of autism. The idea became popular after a 1997 study by British Surgeon Andrew Wakefield was published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. The study suggested that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine was at fault for the increasing rates of autism in British children. After careful examination by peers and experts, the study has been discredited for the multitude of serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Wakefield lost his medical license and the study was retracted from the publication.

Despite the glaring issues with the study, the hypothesis was taken seriously. Several other major studies were conducted, seeking to verify the conclusion he had drawn. None of these follow up studies found a correlation between any vaccine and the increased likelihood of developing autism. While the true cause of autism remains unknown, recent research provides evidence that autism develops before a baby is even born and can receive vaccinations. Several studies have observed symptoms of autism in children before they have even received the MMR vaccine. The conclusions drawn by these studies overwhelmingly indicates that vaccination and autism disorders have little to no causation relationship.

Based on the reasoning that vaccination carries a very low risk of seriously harmful side effects, many pro-vaccine advocates argue that vaccination should not be mandatory. However, there is no greater threat to personal liberty than a government mandate that certain substances be consumed.

Freedom means choice

It is crucial to realize that every law is enforced at the threat of violence. The branches of government work together to create and enforce the law- the legislative branch, with the consultation of the massive government bureaucracy, crafts the laws that govern the nation. However, laws are no more than words on a piece of paper until they are backed by force. The executive branch of any government is tasked with executing the law, meaning that when it is broken, the police will initiate force and arrest the person.

If refusing to receive a vaccination is a criminal offense, it authorizes the use of violence against those who are simply choosing to preserve their own bodily autonomy. Can freedom really exist if choosing not to ingest a substance is met with aggression by government?

While vaccination should not be made a legal obligation, businesses and school districts should be able to require being vaccinated of their students and employees. In this way, a sort of contract is created between the two parties. In the business example, the company is allowing the employee to work for compensation, so long as they are vaccinated. If the employee does not agree to these terms, they are voluntarily forgoing the opportunity to earn income. In a world where government mandates did not dictate how we are allowed to use our bodies, voluntary interactions would ensure that the natural rights possessed by every individual, including the right to bodily autonomy and individual sovereignty would be respected.


Get awesome merchandise. Help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy. Donate today to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

Agency is Libertarian. Marijuana and Alcohol Aren’t.

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

The time is ten past three, and John Doe is enjoying himself. A college student, some older friends invited him to a massive party for the first time. However, John is not likely to remember many of the events of the night, for at that party, he consumed a rather unsafe amount of alcohol. He also ingested some edibles and, without realizing a thing, fought his best friend.

A fictional character, of course, John represents the loss of agency that a mind-altering substance commonly brings. Too many in the real world fall victim to John’s same situations, whether at parties, at a formal social gathering, or crying alone at night. The many Johns of the world are victims of lost agency.

Naturally, agency in this sense of the word is considerably different than its common use. Essentially, agency is the capacity of an actor to act consciously in a certain situation. In other words, agency is a form of personal responsibility, a trait essential to libertarianism. Drugs and other mind-altering substances, on the other hand, are antithetical to the same doctrine. As they rob people of their sense of agency, they are detriments to a free society.

Commonly, supporters of libertarianism state that the movement is about doing what so ever makes you happy. They often attack the state, saying that it robs that people of their right to live freely. In a broad sense, they are not wrong. However, they miss what is perhaps the most essential part of this message, the thing that makes freedom a sustainable goal: agency.

A world without agency will quickly dissolve into pure chaos, and there is no denying this. In modern society, the vast majority of people know that it is wrong to kill and steal from others. Also, they recognize the various social norms that we as a world adopt. These range from things as simple as wearing proper clothing, to situations as complex as how to behave in a romantic relationship. All such cases require a clear head and a sense of responsibility.

When people abandon this sense, they are often no longer aware of their own actions. In a sense, they are acting on the terms of something else besides themselves. Without a doubt, society condemns forced action between individuals. When one person holds a lethal weapon to the head of another and says to act, we know that is wrong, as it robs someone of their agency, and ability to freely act on their own terms.

Yet, we seldom are able to apply this logic beyond the confines of humans. Simply put, a human is not the only thing capable of robbing someone of their agency. An alcoholic or drug addict has little more say over their actions than does the person with a gun to his or her head. In fact, the situations are, in many ways, nearly identical.

When someone is addicted to a drug, it of course is quite hard to quit. The hardships range from physical to mental, and both can be viciously strong. Many people hooked on hard drugs need them to live their normal, day to day lives. By giving in to this power, they lose their sense of agency. Mental struggles can be nearly as difficult. Though no physical addiction exists for some drugs, such as marijuana, this does not mean a mental dependency cannot form. When it does, it can be incredibly difficult to break.

As a result, people using these substances often act much differently than they otherwise would. It is no secret that alcohol, for example, can cause severe anger. All addictions cause a compulsion to continue feeding them. In many cases, this leads to lying, sneaking, or even stealing to continue the path. Stealing does not occur in a truly free world.

Now, some may argue that these actions are extreme measures, and that moderation is the key in order to avoid them. While one can safely use in moderation, the fact of the matter is that most people simply will not do so. Yes, one can wisely stick to a drink or two and preserve agency.

However, it is better to say that none at all is the best approach, rather than condoning small amounts. With the latter, it is inevitable that people with different levels of will and tolerance will become addicted. Obviously, substance abuse has caused the destruction of countless families and lives. But, it is still important to note that a lack of agency, rather than the drugs themselves, are the real issues. Just as some can safely use in moderation, others can dangerously become addicted to other things besides drugs or alcohol.

Society should not draw the line at alcohol or marijuana or hard drugs. Instead, it should focus on eradicating addiction through recovery programs. All such programs should make clear that a clean life involves living with proper agency.

Thus, it is imperative that we recognize agency as a central tenet of freedom. Without it, freedom has little meaning, and will not last. Without legal pressure, another force must exist to maintain order in society. That force is agency. With it, we can truly set up a model of lasting freedom.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source.

Victimless Crime Laws Have No Place in a Free Society

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

When our great founding fathers fought to create this great nation, they envisioned a land where every man, woman, and child would be free to pursue whatever path in life they wished. They had just rid themselves of a tyrant in King George III, and many settlers who emigrated out of Europe saw the beautiful young nation of America as a bastion of personal liberty.

People of all backgrounds traveled thousands of miles across open ocean to flee persecution of all sorts because they knew that the newly established country was a safe haven for the oppressed. The first settlers of the New World would be very disappointed to find out that less than 250 years after it was founded, America has become the same type of nation that they left those many years ago. We, much like the 18th Century Brits, are clear victims of victimless crime laws.

Countless people are convicted of victimless crimes each day, at the local, state, and federal level. Taxpayers spend millions of dollars each year to imprison those who have done something that the state has deemed wrong, yet has not directly violated anyone’s rights or harmed them in any way.

Beyond being simply not pragmatic, victimless crime laws are immoral. They suggest that the State has supreme knowledge and jurisdiction over our bodies. This is most clearly seen in laws regarding the personal, small scale possession and use of drugs. When the state controls what substances we are permitted to consume, it assumes the role of “nanny” and pretends to know what is best for us. The use of a harmful substance is a personal decision, and one that, unless it becomes an extreme addiction, is unlikely to affect others in the user’s life.

In fact, incarcerating someone for a non violent drug offence introduces them to a world of crime. Once incarcerated, new prisoners are encouraged to join gangs by other inmates and are often pushed to commit worse crimes upon their release. They are eventually caught and sentenced to even longer in prison, continuing the cycle on indefinitely. Between 2005-2010, about two-thirds (67.8%) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years, and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years. Cutting down on the many victimless crime laws will ensure that those convicted on minor charges are not thrust into a cycle of incarceration.

Government only has three legitimate roles- to protect life, liberty, and property. Rather than restrict the actions of citizens via legislation, the State should prosecute people once they have infringed on any of the aforementioned three characteristics of our lives. Instead of posting a speed limit and preventing me from driving at whatever speed I feel that I possess the skill to drive at and be safe, government should prosecute those whose unsafe speed caused damage to someone’s property or resulted in the loss of life or liberty. This approach allows for the maximum amount of liberty to be ensured to each individual, while punishing those who cause harm to others and their livelihoods.

Although much more free than other countries, America and her citizens have not had a taste of true personal freedom in over 100 years. Victimless crime laws are a severe infringement upon liberty and in order for the US to be considered truly free once again, must be eliminated. Government must return to protecting only Life, Liberty, and Property, and letting its citizens live life as they please.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source.