Tag: self-ownership

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

Nobody Truly Understands Natural Human Rights

By Andrew Lepore | United States

The idea of natural human rights, inherent to the lives of every individual, is not a new one. The various forms of human rights have evolved and been expanded upon throughout the thousands of years of human existence. From the Cyrus Cylinder to the Magna Carta, to the Bill of Rights, the debate over what is a human right has taken many forms. Today the debate still rages on, and with the UN declaration of human rights, has taken on new aspects.

The Libertarian idea of human rights is derived from two foundational principles, self-ownership, and individual responsibility. Every individual enjoys complete self-ownership, and every individual is directly responsible for the consequences of his actions. Those principles create the foundation for the libertarian values of voluntarism and the non-aggression principle.

In libertarian philosophy, human rights can be boiled down to the protections of the Non-Aggression Principle, or NAP. The NAP Means all individuals have the right not to be coerced into involuntary relationships, or have force initiated against them. Conversely, all individuals have the legal and moral obligation to not initiate force, or coerce other individuals.

Before I continue, I must make the distinction between the initiation of force, and the use or response of force. The initiation of force simply is the initial violation of life, liberty, or property of another (For example, murder, assault, theft, fraud, or trespassing). In other words the initial use of force on another peaceable individual.  But the coercive threat of violence is also a violation of the NAP. For example, somebody is walking down the street and another person runs up with a firearm brandished and says “give me your wallet or I’m going to shoot”. Now the mugger hasn’t actually initiated physical force, but threatening the individual to comply with the threat of physical violence is coercion (Which is why taxation is theft).

The NAP applies to everybody without exception, if one individual is coercing another, it doesn’t matter if the aggressor has a badge on his chest or a gang tattoo. The traditional state, being a single group with a territorial monopoly on the initiation of force, is in direct violation of the NAP. For a state to be able to fall in line with the NAP, they must abolish all “victimless crimes”, and its only legitimate role would be enforcing the NAP itself (catching thieves, murderers, rapists and other real criminals). Also, coercive taxation would be required to be made voluntary, which would either result in market forces replacing many state functions or collective funding of formerly involuntary government programs.

Generally, there are two classifications of human rights, positive and negative. Positive rights require others to provide you with something at their own expense (the “right” to healthcare, food, housing, any involuntarily funded government program etc). A negative right, on the other hand, only requires others to abstain from interfering with your actions (The right to keep and bear arms is The right not to have the state interfere with your ability to get a firearm, and the right to free speech which is the right not to have the state interfere with your ability to speak freely).

For example, most people would agree you have the right to life. Somebody viewing that right through a negative rights paradigm would say that you simply have the right not to be killed by another individual. Somebody viewing that right through a positive rights paradigm would say since you have the right to live, it’s incumbent on the government to force individuals to contribute their own capital to pay for those who were unable to obtain their own. Each individual has their own opinion on what rights should be. Some believe you should simply have the right to be left to your liberties, others believe you have a right to a part of what others own.

Under the universal application of the NAP in libertarian philosophy, positive rights cannot be enforced by law  It would be impossible to grant every person everything that they supposedly have a right to due to the scarcity of resources and the need for somebody’s capital to be used to produce anything, but it would also be immoral. Nobody has a legitimate claim to anything they didn’t purchase, produce, or inherent, Forcing people to provide for others is coercion.  

The same goes for all involuntarily funded government programs, It is a blatant violation of the Non-aggression principle to say, “give me a certain percentage of your income so I can redistribute it to others, or we will send armed men to your house to kidnap you at gunpoint, and kill you if you resist”.

On the other hand, protection of negative rights is necessary for a truly free society. There are endless amounts of negative rights in a society governed by the NAP.  You have the negative right to do anything you wish without another individual forcefully preventing you from doing so, up until you infringe on the liberties or property rights of another. Just as positive rights cannot morally exist in a free society, negative rights must exist in a free society. Liberty itself is a negative right, as it is your rights to live freely without coercive interference from others.

The protection of negative rights and the lack of legally enforced positive rights are the factors that are required in a truly free society. In libertarian philosophy, human rights can be boiled down to the protections awarded in the non-aggression principle. The only legally enforceable right you have is the right not be aggressed upon nor defrauded.