TCS Daily

Request for Ideological Comment

By Arnold Kling - February 1, 2007 12:00 AM

"As in a church, everyone has an opinion how things ought to run. Internet users express their opinions through meetings of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF is another volunteer organization... [Requests for Comment] RFCs are the documents that define the Internet. They talk about how it works, how to use it, and where it is going."
-- Ed Krol, The Whole Internet User's Guide & Catalog, first edition, p. 14 and p.317

I admire the governance structure of the Internet. I believe that libertarian conservatives, under siege from so many directions, could draw inspiration from this open, voluntary, do-it-yourself, just-in-time approach.

I invite readers to participate in an Ideological Affirmation Task Force (IATF). The first Request for Comment (RFC) is given below. It is a draft document that attempts to articulate a set of principles for contemporary libertarian conservatives. To comment on these principles on your blog, write a post that includes the phrase "IATF RFC." I will use that phrase to search for comments. Please elaborate on the wording that most appeals to you and the wording that needs the most improvement. There are certain to be revisions, and comments themselves are an important part of the conversation.

IATF RFC Number 1, version 0.2: Who We Are

Economic Principles

1. We weave a thread of self-reliance into a sturdy fabric of interdependence. By respecting the law, we reinforce impersonal justice. By competing intensely and fairly in an impersonal global market, we raise our standard of living through specialization and innovation. By upholding Constitutional principles for limited government, we sustain our individual freedom.

2. We are creative and pro-active in helping one another. We do not have the patience to wait for government, nor do we want to be lulled into passivity by the promise of government. Instead, to solve those problems that require collective action, we form voluntary associations, including civic groups, corporations, clubs, standards-setting bodies, consumer information services, and charitable foundations.

3. Government must be kept in its place. We hold government officials to high standards of competence, honesty, and fairness. However, we do not confuse government with family. We do not confuse government with religion. We do not confuse government with business. We are conscious that any expansion of government responsibility, however well-intended, crowds out those institutions that are the true bulwark of our society.

4. We celebrate the successes of others. We are glad when an entrepreneur becomes wealthy by finding a way to fill a customer need. We are glad when an immigrant family climbs the ladder of success. We are glad when people living in other countries make economic progress and spur us to innovate and improve.

Ethical Principles

5. Government cannot legislate morality, but it does mess with the incentives. Those incentives should never be tilted against the institution of the family whose mission is to raise children to be fine, upstanding citizens.

6. We maintain an ongoing conversation about morality and ethics. This conversation is informed by the Ten Commandments and Biblical scripture. It is informed by the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. It is vital to continue the conversation, even when consensus is difficult.

7. Like new businesses, new moral ideals can revitalize our society, even though many of them fail. For example, we recognize that we are a better people without racial segregation or barriers to the education and career opportunities for women. However, we judge some social experiments to be failures, including eugenics, Communism, and nihilistic cultural relativism.

International Principles

8. Our ideology does not have to be sustained by military suppression. Although it can inspire people to fight against tyranny, ultimately our ideology allows us to live in peace.

9. We believe that people all over the world yearn for liberty, and for them we stand as a beacon and a champion. But we recognize that freedom is not ours to give when community leaders are not ready to seize the opportunity that it offers.

10. When foreign leaders issue threats against us, we take them at their word and act accordingly.

The Need for Affirmation

The goal of articulating these principles is to fill what appears to be a need for affirmation. This need arises for a number of reasons.

Since 9/11, we have become aware that we are in an ideological war. We seem to lack tools to fight that war. Anti-Americanism is reportedly high and rising, and we are puzzled, because in our hearts we know that we stand for what is good. To the extent that a set of principles serves to clarify who we are, it can be a tool in the ideological war. Our principles can be used to connect with our friends in other English-speaking countries, but they could also be translated into every language and posted on street corners around the world.

The unsuccessful nation-building exercise in Iraq has debilitated our spirit. It would be wonderful if the new strategy in Iraq succeeds, so that the President's enemies, foreign and domestic, are confounded. But I question whether the various religious and secular leaders in Iraq have what it takes to live in an open society. In any case, I would like to see this issue raised before we undertake nation-building exercises in the future.

Meanwhile, we have fallen back into a pre-9/11 feckless timidity in the face of threats from Iran and North Korea. We need an ideological affirmation so that we do not lose sight of the need to confront dangerous foreign leaders.

On economic policy, many libertarian conservatives feel that our supposed allies among Republican elected officials went astray over the past six years. They made government larger, more inept, more intrusive, and more corrupt. We need to express the idea of limited government clearly and with moral force.

When it comes to limited government, our political opponents constantly seek to define us by impugning our motives. With an ideological affirmation, we can discuss our principles with open-minded citizens and thereby counteract the demonization tactics.

Within the conservative movement, concerns about immigration or homosexuality can veer into hatred. If Hispanics want to come to our country to earn an honest living, then that is a good thing, even though it is impractical to accomodate all of them. If homosexuals want to attempt to form families in order to raise children to be fine, upstanding citizens, then their intentions are good, even though we may be profoundly skeptical that such arrangements will not backfire on the institution of the family. We need an ideological affirmation in order to make sure that legitimate concerns with immigration or moral issues are expressed in a context of optimism and understanding, not fear.



IATF RFC - We also resolve to
use the expression Agogs (Agents of Governments) or Govags (Government Agents) or some such acronym or abbreviation to refer to Government, so as NEVER to forget that Government is NOT a disembodied machine but is a group of flesh and blood mortals whose decisions and actions have consequences.

IATF RFC - We recognize that
Agogs or Govags are needed to ONLY punish Rights' violators - and to compensate the victims from the violators' funds only - and not to confer ANY kind of benefits on ANYBODY (or group of bodies, no matter how large is their number and how desperate is their need) for ANY duration of time for ANY reason what so ever.

IATF RFC - New Heading & Section
You need a new section focusing specifically on the moral issues justifying limited govrnment

Dignity & Accountability; Human Nature

A. Every man is entitled to the dignity of personal accountability, that is, the dignity of enjoying his successes and suffering his failures, of enhancing his strengths and mitigating his weaknesses, of bearing the burdens he chooses while refusing those burdens denying his dignity.

B. Man is not equal to the ideal creature the dominant political ideologies describe. Yet when man endows his government with the power to refashion him after some ideal image, man as he truly is becomes enslaved to man as he ought to be, with government as his master.

To avoid this, man must never become an object of government to be hewn, chipped and blasted with violent force into some ideal image. Instead, government must become subject to man, to be limited, bound and circumscribed by its own power so that man is free to develop according to his own nature.

RFC referees to technical documents on Intenret protocolls
You are treading on other peoples achronims. You just end up confusing people.

This is tech blog, so be mindfull please.

Legislating Morality. Worse When Government Legislates Non-Moral Aspects of Life
"Government cannot legislate morality."

I'm sorry, but thats a slogan, not a statement of policy and its does not comport with reality. Government passing and enforcing laws that have no moral basis are in fact the most arbitrary and capricious.

What does this mean? The government regularly passes and enforces laws that have a moral basis, for example criminal statutes agsinst homicide. We all understand that killing somebody is an abridgement of their right to life,
even if we don't accept it to be contrary to the Decalogue,although there are those that quibble with who gets legal recognition. "Ethicist" Peter Singer wouldn't provide protection for infants, for example.

I submit the government is most instrusive when it gets into things that aren't "malum per se" (evil in itself) but "malum per prohibitum" (evil because we say so).

How much expansion of instrusive and irrational government has occurred because its "evil" to not wear a seatbelt (and are you tired of seeing those preachy click-it or ticket ads you pay for), to drive with more than .08 BAC (but .07 is fine as is getting in the car after those prescription meds), to drive faster than 65 (even though driving ability varies wildly with age, experience, vehicle, etc) or to have a post-1996? car that puffs out a few more ppm of carbon oxides than the magic number (even though that '86 Chevy Celebrity you passed this morning is blowing through a quart of oil ever 500 miles and pumping out huge clouds of carbon oxides and particulate matter to boot). This doesn't even to address the abject idiocy that shows up regularly in government economic regulation and price manipulation.

Now, California wants to ban ALL corporal punishment and incandescent lightbulbs. Yes the very same state that would have a collective coronary if SCOTUS decided its reasoning in the Texas Sodomy case was deeply flawed.

No, govertnment cannot legislate every individual comply with morality, no matter how commonly accepted a particular proscription might be-there'll always be criminals. People regularly express their refusal to allow others to keep breathing or to respect others property rights. We can however, remove people from society when they break this law, if the breach is serious enough, done with free will and full knowledge and indicates a continuing danger.

"Government cannot legislate morality" is a vacant slogan used by people who want some justification to continue their particular vice, whether it be the relatively innocuous act of the isolated and infrequent puff on a joint or the noxious slime of NAMBLA wqanting to diddle little kids and call it "love".

You need a new section focusing specifically on the moral issues justifying limited government. - rb

That's exactly what was missing.

King used the concept "moral" in a very limited sense. He used it for "private morality" and left that unspecified. The advocacy of liberty itself should be on moral grounds. The ethics that underwrites liberty should be emphasized. Where are the concepts of “self-ownership” “individual autonomy” “individual rights” “self-reliance” “self-responsibility” etc.

IATF RFC - Too Complicated and Ideological
The moral and ethical sections are more complicated than they need to be. Most true libertarians believe in Natural Law which if stated as simply as possible would be:

Never harm another for benefit or pleasure,
And only expect the same of others.

The Libertarian party is already very strong on ideology but very weak on actual government proposals. I feel that this is why the Libertarian party has never made much headway at the ballot box. Most voters are not interested in a party's ideology because the other party's never abide by their own. The Libertarians need to concentrate on a simple set of legislative proposals that would alter the government to conform with the libertarian ideology and then work towards that goal.

The average worker, who lives his own life and expects to take care of his own needs and the needs of his family, is the target audience. The representative of the worker is the congressman so a platform needs to be developed for a US Congressional campaign that is based on very simple principles that the average person can understand and identify with.

I would propose the following:

- Locally Designed Laws and Law Enforcement based on the principle stated above.

- Simple Taxation that treats every individual equally based on single rate Individual Consumption Tax for all revenue to the State and Federal governments and a Property Tax on the Un-Improved Value of Land for all revenue to the Local Government.

- Equal Distribution of State and Federal Revenue to each Congressional district based on population, with Local control of spending of one half of that revenue.

Make simple proposals that most people can understand and agree with and the votes will follow.

I am considering a campaign based on these goals, does anyone think it could work?



benefit or pleasure
So I can harm someone else, but only so long as I don't benefit or enjoy it?

Your equal distribution rule would require the Feds to put an army/navy/air force base in every district.


Unless the thinking has changed in recent years, libertarian philosophy boils down to the principle of self ownership.

IE, I own my body. (If I don't, who does?)

So, just as I can't wander onto your property and chop down your favorite cherry tree, I also can't walk over to you and punch you in the nose. In both cases, I am damaging your property without your permision.

Ownership of property comes from the theory of comingling of labor. In the beginning, raw materials were owned by no one, they were just laying around. However, once I collect those raw materials, and apply to it my labor (which I own, because I own my body), the raw material becomes mine. Obviously, once something becomes owned, ownership can't change just because someone else steps up and does work on it. That's because, once it's mine, nobody else can do something to it without my permision.

Once I have property, I can trade that property with others for things that they have possesion of. I can also trade my labor for things.

That's it in a very small nutshell. If anyone cares, I can go into more depth.

This is **Not** How the IETF Works
Dr. Kling--

The reason the IETF is so robust is because it assigns problems to subject matter experts (in the IETF they're called "working groups"), who then perform real-world experiments prior to standardizing protocols. The path from internet-draft status to RFC requires extensive testing, analysis, and improvement. In other words, internet standards usually start out as proprietary commercial protocols long before they reach RFC.

What you're proposing in this post is harmless, but you've actually inadvertently become part of the problem. The IETF is much more than just a committee. Its methodology is rigorously grounded in experiment, which is why the internet works better than, say, the tax code.

Your "IATF" is fine way for people to vent. Please don't confuse this as a mechanism that could actually produce a platform, let alone policy.

split on Iraq
Libertarians are split on Iraq, so it is not accurate to sneak in your leaning. Regarding the motivation, many libertarians believe that law and individual freedom are important enough that, when other people ask, we should step up to fight beside them. Regarding the outcome, many would say the jury is still out. Hussein is dead, Al Qaeda is pulverized, and civic participation is high.

If you want to try and describe the libertarian take on foreign affairs, then you would do best to describe the split. If anything, I would think *conservative* libertarians think the moral thing to do is to fight for freedom wherever that fight arises.

An eye for an eye
I think so, too. The fact that convincingly misconstruing Rand's work is so facile for the left, even in light of their reliance on emotion rather than reason, exposes our own reliance on a hyper-rationalism that discounts emotion, foregoing its force. So what's needed on our side are arguments that strike at the heart with the same force they strike at the head.

One of history's most viscerally appealing claims regarding the nature of law and state power (violent force) is: "An eye for an eye." Progressive legal theorists and political scientists have labeled this the ancient root of the primitive concept of "proportional justice", dismissing it as modernly irrelevant on the assumption that human history always progresses beyond and overcomes every old idea, no matter how sage.

But upon taking a closer look at "an eye for an eye", one discovers that because value is the axel it turns on (if an eye is unlawfully taken, the law may morally require no more than the value of an eye from the wrongdoer), it's also a jurisdictional statement. What I mean is that the law has no moral authority to act, no jurisdiction within which to rightfully exert its force, where the value of what it takes and restores was not first taken unlawfully or in violation of some noble moral principle above the law of which it is but an abased reflection.

This brings us to wealth redistribution. If wealth's initial distribution violates some noble moral principle or the laws of property and contract, then by all means it ought to be redistributed. But where this is not true, then the law has no jurisdiction to rightfully exert its force, taking from some to give to others.

This argument may exert real power on the average guy, for by the same rules he earns his living, the rich earn fortunes. If this is so, then the cause of the difference lies not in the rules, but in human nature.

So, does human nature award the law and the state the authority to remodel humanity according to some abstract ideal? Not at all, for human nature demands that individuals be afforded the dignity to freely choose their own burdens in proportion to the benefits to be won by bearing them. On this most can agree.

Close but...
I think the bullet points you have there are too broad. What I'd like to see is something like this every two years.

One or more politicians pick a small set of accomplishable (is that a word?) goals where success or failure to accomplish them is easy to understand. For example lets say the goals are:

At the end of the next two years we will accomplish:
1) Total federal spending will not increase in dollars for the next two years.
2) Any illegal immigrant that is convicted of a felony will be a)deported immediately, b)deported immediately after serving a sentence handed down by a judge, c)executed in accordance with the law.
3) Federal school dollars will be apportioned by student with no federal requirements as to their spending.

Outside that you can blow hot air about all the wonderful things you want to do, but anybody signing on to that platform (much like the 'Contract with America') would be judge critically on the accomplishment of those goals.

Each set of goals should be able to be accomplished in two years, and each two years a new set of goals should be agreed upon.

Just what I'd like to see. Don't know about anybody else.

I have a lot of problems with this, primarily because it should start with fundamentals and build to a set of principles.
Beyond that, I'm going to do some nitpicking.
1. Competition, in and of itself, is unimportant. Production is the root value, leading to trade and use.
6. Please read the Ten Commandments sentence by sentence, word by word. Write a detailed analysis of what each one of these means, including possible bad effects. If you still think they are a good basis for morality, I will protect myself by never dealing with you.
7. Look up eugenics in a dictionary. Briefly, it means "beneficially controlled heredity". Do you think it means "forced mating" or some similar abomination?

IATF RTC - Let's not kid ourselves
Libertarians believe in limited government. None of their political rivals do. When election time rolls around, the guy who takes limited government to heart finds himself armed with a knife in the gunfight of campaining. Until Libertarians accept the concept of an organization big enough to win some elections, no other beliefs matter. Preach as loud as you want; nobody who's not already in the choir is listening.

good comment
I supported the war in Iraq, but I never could support engaging in "the fight for freedom wherever that fight arises."

What I saw leading up to Iraq was a UN resolution designed to force Saddam's regime to be transparent concerning WMD's, Saddam defying the resolution, and then we needed to bring transparency by force.

The goal of putting a Constitutional regime in Saddam's place was a worthy one. In my judgment, the Iraqi leadership has betrayed us and, more importantly, betrayed the Iraqi people. I don't think there is a group of leaders there that is worth fighting for.

Too Complicated, too vegetarian
I agree that the IATC RFC is far too complicated but it's also too light on red meat. I read it and it meant exactly nothing to me. It's a lot of fine sounding principles but all I got was a bunch of flashbacks to Vision and Mission statements. I need concrete examples of how these principles will translate into policy.

In other words, if you want folks to vote Libertarian you need to talk policy as Kevin suggests. The problem though, is that the only policy I ever hear about is abolishing the War on Drugs.

As for policy principles:

I agree Mark's "I own me and the results of my labor". (compare that to the current situation where we work for 4-5 months for the Feds)

I'd support Milton Friedman's notion of "what the government does for one citizen it must do for all citizens" thus killing most, if not all, pork. It would also destroy most the tax code.

The Fair Tax (unless the above fixes most of the egregious problems)

The Government is not a charity. Why, exactly, does the Federal Government compete with charities? Other than to give my money to causes that I don't support?

I don't mind legalizing drugs (any drugs, all drugs) since I'm free to destroy my body and my life if desired. However, your destroying your life can't create a demand on my resources.

Open and transparent governance. Abolish all campaign contribution limits but require immediate disclose (immediate being 48 hours).

By and large I would try to return governance back to the local levels. The feds should stick to national defense, true interstate issues, and border control. Most everything else should belong at the local or personal level.

In a lot of ways I see Libertarianism as tough love. You're responsible for you, you're responsible for your family, you succeed or fail based on what you do or don't do. If you fail and need help then you have to get that help from those around you - people you know and who know you. There will be local charities and locally administered national charities but they likely won't support people who sponge off others for very long.

It seems to me that the standard Federal response should be "go ahead, it's your money". Want a tropical biosphere? Fine, build it, it's your money. Want a levee around your city? Fine, build it, it's your money. Want a new sports stadium? Fine, build it, it's your money. Currently we seem to have large numbers of people who focus on how to spend "other people's money" on the stuff that they want (and then complain that the money was slow in coming, that it wasn't enough, that they weren't shown proper gratitude for taking the money).

As for one of your particular suggestions:

"- Equal Distribution of State and Federal Revenue to each Congressional district based on population, with Local control of spending of one half of that revenue."

Besides Mark's point, why would we do this? What is the point of gathering money from me and my neighbors, sending it to Washington (or the State Capital first then Washington if gathered in a Sales Tax scheme), having the wonks in Washington massage it, and then sending the money back to me and my neighbors with a bunch of restrictions and rules attached? This is exactly the problem with the Dept of Education, they take local money and then grudgingly give it back if we agree to all sorts of guidelines that have demonstrably failed. I don't think this is the same as "what the government does for one citizen it must do for all citizens" that I listed above but maybe the intent is. The only money the Feds should ever get is money that is specifically for Federal level projects. The Federal budget should drop from the current +/- $2.8 trillion to less than $1.0 trillion. I think most of the money you're talking about should never get to the Feds in the first place.

I have the nagging concern that this entire effort is to create DemocraticLite or RepublicanLite. It will only succeed if it's truly visionary.

Perfect! (Idiotic)
The bible-beating, angelic pseudo libertarian who mistakes writing-exercises as intellectual activity. Nary a scarier or more pathetic example of search for Ideological ideology have ever been seen.

Except Saddam _didn't_ defy the resolution
He admitted the inspectors and was cooperating in satisfactory - not perfect, but in the opinion of the inspectors acceptable fashion. the inspector in charge of nuclear weapons programs was able to determine, unambigously, that the Iraq a-bomb program was long-shuttered, and reported this in February. Cheney said he was "mistaken."

If Saddam had been defying the resolution, the place to make the point was at the Security Council, whose resolution it was. Bush promised to go to the council for a vote -- 'no matter what the whip count" were his words for a declaration this was so. Without explanation, he dropped the move in the Security Council and instead invaded.

Note this wasn't because of possible vetos by Russia and France - he said even if they did veto, he would seek the vote, to put everyone on the record. He did not; but instead launched an invasion.

As for the current crop of leaders - surely pre-invasion was the time to think through what government would replace Saddam.


#2 states: 2. We are creative and pro-active in helping one another.

I would expand this to incorporate the concept that we support one another "...who are helping themselves, or who are unable to help themselves."

"Ethical Principles

5. Government cannot legislate morality, but it does mess with the incentives. Those incentives should never be tilted against the institution of the family whose mission is to raise children to be fine,..."

I take exception to the use of the word "fine." How about "responsible" or "productive"

Under "International Principles" how about including a statement that we are a nation of Laws, and demand of those with whom we deal respect our laws in their interactions with America.

EU as a neo-collectivist project

A couple of comments
"The unsuccessful nation-building exercise in Iraq" is a difficult statement. Our Revolution began officially in 1776, but actually began in 1775 and one could argue earlier. Some could argue that it wasn't really over until 1865 at the end of the Civil War, but let's go with 1789 or fourteen years, when the Constitution was ratified. Remember our heritage did have democratic roots, that is what started the debate. Our forefathers thought they were citizens and should be represented in Parliament.

Iraq, neither geographically nor its people historically, has ever known democracy or anything close to it. Look at Russia, a similar problem.

Remember Churchill description of democracy: "----Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Folks, democracy ain't easy! So Iraq has had what less than three years and we have already grown inpatient.

Just maybe "remaining patient" should be added somewhere.

At least Bush finally decided that freedom and liberty were rights that all humans should have the opportunity to at least try. It is far, far better than promoting another nasty dictator or oligarchy just because we can buy the friendship of a country's leaders. We tried that for much of the 20th Century and are still cleaning up our mistakes.

Remember that we are having this discussion is relatively unique, certainly in history, but also in the world. Even Socrates was not allowed the our freedom of speech and association many take for granted.

Re: Benefit or Pleasure
Mark (the Cynic),

This is to exclude all harm except self defense. If you did harm someone and you didn't do for benefit or pleasure, why did you do it? If you say "just because" then you did it for your pleasure.

"Your equal distribution rule would require the Feds to put an army/navy/air force base in every district."

You have given this comment before and it doesn't fully make sense because your alternative is impossible. A military base brings with it money in the form of paychecks that are then spent in the Local community so the community does benefit just as Farm subsidies benefit the farm community and social security benefits are spent on food and housing, etc. and again benefit the local community and bring money into it. These should all count as revenue spent in the district.

The purpose of the military base is the protection of the nation and therefore provides benefit to the entire country no matter where it is located. Federal revenue is spent on Federal needs and domestic needs. The domestic needs make up about 60% of the Federal budget and each community should recieve an equal share of that domestic spending and should also have an equal voice in determining how the Federal monies are spent. By equalizing distribution and then giving the Local community 50% spending authority (via the congressman) accomplishes both of these goals.

I agree with you on your comments on property and the harm or theft of that property.

Try to be more positive and recommend solutions instead of criticism.



Foreign Policy
As we certainly cannot control the minds and cultural affinities of other states, our only response to direct military threats should be to render the threat harmless using whatever means are necessary to that end. We are not good at nation building and that should not be our responsibilities. There is a saying - if you break it, you own it - or must repair it. I take the position that threats to our welfare will be met with overwhelming force and let those who threaten us deal with the results.

Legislating Morality vs Legislating Righteousness
Seems to me there ought to be explicit language addressing:
-- 1. Euthanasia - self-inflicted or medically assisted in cases of extremely painful and/or debilitating circumstances -- Is this a private matter for individuals and their immediate families and their physicians, or is it a matter for Govt to meddle in -- 2. Abortion - person choice or government meddling
-- 3. Sexual orientation and relationships - gay "marriage?" or other gay-friendly arrangements - personal choice or govt prohibited; what about adopting children or custody retention in divorce matters

Seems to me that govt meddling in matters of pure personal conduct and matters of pained personal conduct are not areas for govt to meddle. For example, in end-of-life matters, I do not think it is right for govt to hold somebody hostage to somebody else's belief in miracles or other forms of devine intervention. For me this is part of the libertarian creed. To me, the "social conservatives" who would advocate govt meddling in these matters are theocratic fascists - no better than the taliban.

Moral Legislation
When an individual - because of age or infirmity - cannot understand or defend themselves against the consequences of actions by others upon their welfare, government must "legislate morality". It, then, may become a question of culturally accepted standards and therefore subject to state's rights as defined in the Constitution. The premise that a person ought to be able to do to themselves anything they want as long as it hurts no one else should be a role of libertarian phylosophy.

Re: Equal Distribution
Please see response to Mark's comment.

I agree with you on most of your points and in reponse to :

"- Equal Distribution of State and Federal Revenue to each Congressional district based on population, with Local control of spending of one half of that revenue."

Besides Mark's point, why would we do this?

There are two primary reasons:

The first is that the transistion of spending control must be revenue neutral on day one. Spending would remain the same but control of that spending would shift to the Congressman in cooperation with the other Local Representatives. From then on they could work towards the per capita equal spending goal and shift resources as they see fit.

I think we would all agree that too much money never makes it back out of DC and DC does not have a one size fits all solution that is best for every community. If all of the money was transferred at once it would be too much of a shock and it would never work.

The second reason is that the equalized Federal revenue distribution along with the Individual Consumption tax proposal would result in the fairest form of revenue redistribution that is possible. Communities that consume more (richer communities)than the average community would pay more but recieve the same per capita as other communities. Communities that consume less (poorer communities) would pay less but recieve the same per capita as other communities. I never agreed with income redistribution as promoted by the Democrats but this plan seems fair.



The issue of Iraq, Iran and terror in general certainly is ideological. It's simply not possible to act against living human-beings with out serious errors in ones fundamental ideological founding.

The issue boils down to the contrary principles presented as reason Vs religion. Reason requires that individuals look at reality and themselves to determine what proper human acts are. Religion requires that individuals look at nothing and themselves to determine what proper human acts are.

Since reality exists then a reason based ideology will describe acts which respect individuals who live there. But since nothing does not exist then since religion is based on nothing then religion cannot describe proper human acts.

Under a reason based plan of action individuals act to achieve and create the values their life requires to stay in reality. But under a religious based plan of action individuals are encouraged to act in ways which will turn themselves and others into "nothing."

To resolve the dichotomy between reason and religion one must become a thinker. Notice how the fundamentally religious consider human thinking a blasphemous act. But yet the future of human species is dependent on people who think in terms of where they live and how that determines how they ought to be acting.

Under a reason based society people act only when they know the consequences will benefit their life. Under a religious based society people act as they are told by their chosen intellectual superiors and then pray everything turns out okay.

Of course they hate the USA and its people. We know what we are doing and why we are doing it. And that scares the hell out of them! We are not going to win an ideological war with bombs – it’s just not possible to kill all of them. We need to present them with facts of where they are and what that demands of them.

We cannot be afraid to demonize their religion – or our own. It is why they are acting the way they do. If one adheres to any religious principles at all that one is not significantly different from the ones who are blowing themselves up “for good reasons.” They are simply more committed.

plain ol' vanilla Libertarianism
The proposed IATF explicitly favors the family, for example, so you're thing about not conferring benefits to anyone doesn't fit. But you are highlighting the difference between conservative libertarians and plain ol' vanilla libertarians. Remember the conservative embrace of the phrase, "social engineering," to dismiss liberal social policies during the 1980's? It seems to me that social engineering (as in favoring families) is as much a conservative interest as a liberal one.

Ideological Comment
I suggest you incorporate the late 18th and early 19th century liberalism ideals expounded by Milton Freidman on page 5 of the introduction to his book, "Capitalism and Freedom."

Ideological Comment
"We are creative and pro-active in helping one another. We do not have the patience to wait for government, nor do we want to be lulled into passivity by the promise of government."

"Pro-active" is such a trite word. Why label ourselves as being impatient? After all, we're willing to wait until hell freezes over before we get the nerve to discard the socialist system we live in. We don't allow the government to dictate how to help, or whether we should help, or when to start helping. We reject government's attempts to limit our freedom to determine our community service. We do not accept the premise that government is really trying to help anyone other than themselves, that every government action is based, not on benefiting the community, but on enhancing their power and expanding their domain.

Is this some kind of early April fools joke?
“We maintain an ongoing conversation about morality and ethics. This conversation is informed by the Ten Commandments and Biblical scripture.”

So does that mean you have to be a Christian to be a conservative wanna be anarchist (I mean libertarian).

“Anti-Americanism is reportedly high and rising, and we are puzzled, because in our hearts we know that we stand for what is good. To the extent that a set of principles serves to clarify who we are, it can be a tool in the ideological war. Our principles can be used to connect with our friends in other English-speaking countries, but they could also be translated into every language and posted on street corners around the world.”

This is the bit you guy’s always f**k up and this is no different. As the saying goes action speak louder then words. The US is not a team player, you don’t take critics well, can’t believe that there maybe validate perspectives other then through a US prism. You **** on what few real friends you have got whenever you get a chance. The US will continue to find Anti-Americanism if you look for it, invent it but more importantly while you want an audience not mates.

Maybe this article reflects what's wrong with the Libertarian Party
I could very well be way off base here but I keep thinking about the cart and the horse and keep wondering if this isn't a backwards exercise. Mr. Kling doesn't say why a draft document of conservative libertarian principles is desired but the obvious conclusion is that it's intended to help move the Libertarian Party past the "waste your vote on us" stage by creating a viable alternative to the Democratic and Republican Parties. Fine, I don't have a problem with that, except for the sheer lunacy of the effort.

I think you have to go the old fashioned route if you want to create a viable party. You have to start with an issue, then you create a movement to advocate your solution, and finally when you have captured some power you form a party to advance other issues. Granted, you need some overarching principles but, in my view, you don't need them in mind-numbing detail. The intent appears to have a viable Libertarian Party spring forth fully formed and functioning from the womb without first suffering the birthing pains. Again fine except that it will never work. It's like deciding to form a corporation before you've developed a product to sell. You can do it, but what's the point?

The problem with the old fashioned route is that it's slow and tedious, some might call it a long hard slog. The problem with this effort, if my interpretation of the intent is correct, is that people don't vote for a set of principles, they vote issues and they're not going to leave the old "tried and true" because the Libertarians have the best PowerPoint slides. In order to get enough defections from the two major parties (or new voters) you have to show that you matter, that you can win.

If the Libertarians want to be something other than fringe players they need to select one issue and own that issue. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will willingly relinquish power. If you want to beat them then you can't give them any easy way to change the topic, if you try to do too much too soon they will reduce you to a bowl of quivering Jell-O with the help of the MSM. Remember the MSM? Yeah, they like the system the way it is and they'll gladly destroy anybody who might change the dynamic.

I know, you're saying there's already a Libertarian Party and we're just tweaking the party platform. I'm saying that the Libertarian Party doesn't exist as a viable political party which is unfortunate since the vast majority of Americans are Libertarians. It's a shame that this country is center-right but is "served" by a political class from the center-left (at least that's my opinion). However, that won't change with articulated principles, it will only change with election wins.

What single issue do most Americans care about the most? My guess would be taxes followed by what's on Oprah. So maybe the single issue is the Fair Tax or some variant, on everything else the local candidate would co-opt the Democratic or Republican position that he/she can best articulate.

I think that the Libertarian Party has been floundering and wandering in the wilderness because it's tried to do to much. The general trend is to start small and grow big, it's really tough to start big and grow bigger. Unfortunately, I see this as more of a start big and grow even smaller exercise. It's almost as if somebody woke up this morning and said "you know, if we had an articulated set of principles we could capture the Presidency and both Houses of Congress in 2008". Trust me, that's not going to happen. Baby steps and all that.

My 2 pixels anyway.

Which of the Ten Commandments don't you like?
And what version are you reading?

My two cents:

1. I suggest you define "competing market". Some believe this means forcing others to enforce US standards in their countries.

5. I would add something to the effect that government should not protect stupid people.

6. I think this could be easily summed up as treat others as you would want to be treated (as long as you are not a masochist.)

7. Not really needed if the Golden Rule is applied and the government cannot force others to violate that Rule.

I would also reinforce the concept that individuals are born free and sovereign over themselves and can never abdicate that sovereignty over themselves. One implication is they can never force another to kill them (euthanasia). These individual sovereigns voluntarily join together ... (Item #2).

I like it - but the Lib Party's a joke.
I agree completely with the ideas set forth. I also think marjon and MarkTheGreat have a lot to add. However, this should be pushed through an existing (viable) political party. These aren't new or radical ideas, they're common sense. The repubs could run with this framework, or it could be used to entice the Jacksonian wing of the Democrats (which would capture a large segment of Republicans who are Democrats at heart).

I am a realist, a retired Army officer with 27 years of experience in the U.S. and abroad. About 50% of my time in the Army was spent abroad, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South Asia.

I am a Vietnam veteran, served in the combat arms, Special Forces, Armor, parachutist, and as a Foreign Area Officer.

I agree with all the domestic issues exposed in the "Request for Ideological Comment." We are a society which believes in individual choice. That is a legacy left for us by our founding fathers, especially George Washington; the most politically neutral of the founders of this country.

That is the key to the success of our country over the last 2 centuries and a quarter.

The dream of exporting this experience, however, gives me pause.

Your appeal to the expectation of liberty, unfortunately rings hollow to many peoples around the world. There are evil people out there, such as Osama bin Laden, President Ahmadjinadad of Iran, the Ayotallah Khomeini (deceased), al Zarqawi (deceased), Saddam Hussein (deceased), and many others like Adolph Hitler (long deceased), Ho Ci Minh (deceased) and many others too numerous to list.

Then there are the uninformed, the populations of countries in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Russia who know little other than strong central control and few freedoms.

They are living in controlled societies which leave them little recourse to apply themselves to a libertarian discourse.

Therefore, I think your approach to the foreign policy arena is a bit naive. It needs some realism applied to the Republican Libertarian approach to foreign policy. After all, there are some bad actors out there, some deranged and some calculating!

Allan J. Fritz
COL, USA (Ret.)

I think you have a point. I have always avoided the party for the lack of electability. Rather than fielding candidates for high offices, the local level is a better start. State and City. Once the ideals are articlulated and well known the transition to larger audiences become possible. Until then the Republican party is the nearest thing to this ideal and I am afraid they have become nothing more than shills for the same socialist leftist ideology that prevails in the Democratic party. I for one am utterly disgusted with the Republicans and the direction the nations seems to be taking. When my choice of home lighting has become the item of state debate I have serious concerns about our future freedoms.

Request for Ideological Comment
Good, worthy thoughts! At first glance, I agree.

"Competition, in and of itself, is unimportant. Production is the root value, leading to trade and use." This statement is absurd. Competition is vital and is what driving force in the market. It moves products toward better value at lower prices. It is the regulating force behind the market. Production in and of itself has no purpose. Competiion and the product drive production. Production does not drive the market.

As to the Ten Commandements, well what can I say. They served as a basis of morality for at least 1900 years. Why they suddenly threaten you is beyond my comprehension. The first few deal directly with God. For a secularist this understandably might offer little, although offense I cannot imagine. But the last 6 are of consequence. Honor thy mother and father. Is this a problem? Does this need explaination? Remember, they have to honor you, not explicitely, but by raising you in a nurturing and loving home. Abusive parents do not deserve respect in this sense. Thou shall not kill. OK, point? This does not preclude war and self defense. It precludes murder among other things. Adultery, well what bad effects can come from not cheating on your spouse (unless you are the mayor of SF)? Thou shall not steal. You a thief? Thou shall not bear false witness. I cannot believe I am attempting to explain the obvious. Thou shall not covet. The supreme crux of liberalism, coveting. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. It means mine is mine and yours is yours. Leave me alone and I leave you alone in simple terms. There are bad effects from failure to covet? Coveting is the foundation of socialism. It is bred on the contempt for what one man achieves and the other can only envy. If this is not sound morality then what do you propose?

The thinking mans party
The problem I see with Libertarian ideals is that they require rational thinking men (and women) to support them. The core of the ideology is predicated on voters giving deeper thought to the issues and weighing this against the consequences of policy. This as opposed to "feeling". In reality, few think. The average person gives little thought to ideological doctrine and the selling of Libertarianism is a hard sell precisely because it offers really nothing in material terms. The public at large today has fallen prey to the mindspeak of the left. I see little hope than we can move the nation back towards individual freedom. If you take the average worker and offer him some benefit by the takings of another vs offering him nothing but the chance to succeed or fail, which we view as noble, then what do you suppose he will vote? Especially when the ignoble task of taking ones worth seem punative to those who covet that which they either cannot or will not obtain.

Don't you think liberty is the root value?
"Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." --Prof. John E. E. D. Acton

"Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself." -- Milton Friedman

As far as the basis of morality goes, it is human life, enabled in community settings by The Golden Rule. Some may claim it comes from religion, and that may well be persuasive to primitive folks, but quite frankly, anyone who has risen above the perceptual level of consciousness to the conceptual level can easily grasp how it's necessary for people to live among and cooperate with one another, you have to treat others as you want to be treated. So it comes from REALITY (as well as religion).

Eugenics. What can I say? It's only folks who believe rights come from government who confuse government with society, and who believe in institutionalized, even unlimited compulsion, who would even CONSIDER placing the CONTROLLING of heredity in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. Give a good man great powers and crooks will grab his job every time. You know the founders wanted us to have a LIMITED government because they knew centralized power attracts the power-mad and the criminal.

Other than that, how've you been? And how's Buffy?

What is lacking is packaging
The Libertarian party has good policies. Take a look at this (Harry Browne's article on why we need to scrap Income Tax).

What the Libertarian Party needs is a good PR machine.

And of course, as you suggested, it is better to start oof small.

Economic Principles
1. 1. We weave a thread of self-reliance into a sturdy fabric of interdependence?

No, independence comes first. Perceiving, identifying and integrating reality is done only on an individual basis, and unlike most animals, we have to LEARN how to do all that. It's only AFTER you develop this sturdy framework of indpendence can you THEN weave a thread of interdependence into it (AFTER you perceive, identify and integrate the need for THE GOLDEN RULE and the ability of OTHERS as well as yourself, to abide by it in a given setting).

3. We do not confuse government with SOCIETY.
"Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins ... Society is in every state a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." -- Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. ... We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state
religion. Then the socialists say that we want no
religion at all. We object to a state-enforced
equality. Then they say that we are against
equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the
socialists were to accuse us of not wanting people
to eat because we do not want the state to raise the
-- Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1849

"The State is the coldest of all cold monsters, and
coldly it tells lies, and this lie drones on from its
mouth: 'I, the State, am the people'." -- Friedrich
Nietzsche, Thus spoke Zarathustra, 1883

YES; plain ol' vanilla Libertarianism
See my post titled "What is lacking is packaging", below.

People no longer buy plain old stuff. It has to be embellished. That is the reality.

Item 10
Doubtless everyone will have their preferred key points. I can say that I have moved from non-partisan to small L and on the verge of going further. TCS/Kling have helped a lot. The major libertarian turn-offs have always been hearing the pro-MJ crowd chatter. Although I can get around that now because I understand the broader principles, others won't take the energy to get that far.

Key issues that I think Libertarianism can exploit are especially (1) Runaway national debt that will haunt all of our children and grandchildren in the near future, and (2) Item 10 on your list. In a hightened threat environment 10 makes supreme sense. More than that, it will appeal to several almost-libertarians because, like libertarianism in virtually all of its other points, it just makes supremely good sense. One of the reasons you still want to have a government is to defend the citizenry from foreign threats. True, a dramatically more realized libertarian state would be less of a target by a lot, but that is a long way off.

BTW, I am clergy but the moral items don't do anything for me one way or another.

'Facilitator' vs 'Provider' model of government
I'm not into this whole ideology thing, but what I as a citizen would like to see is the government in the role of 'facilitator' (think IRA/401k) rather than in the role of 'provider' (ie, Social Security).

The underlying assumption behind the 'facilitator' model of government is that citizens are basically moral and competent, and that they only need the government to help them help themselves.

The underlying assumption behind the 'provider' model of government is the reverse; that citizens are basically incompetent and/or immoral, and must be treated as dependents by some enlightened governing elite (ie, so-called liberals).

Don't believe it? Ask yourself what assumption about ordinary citizens animates the 'liberal' position on gun control and affirmative action.

Life, Liberty and Happiness
The Declaration of Independence gives us a position outline:

Life - Economic Freedom
Liberty - Political Freedom
Happiness - Personal Freedom

What always fails with libertarians and conservatives is being non-specific in what you support plus basing your support on polls. Be specific in these areas and the polls will follow.

Federalism and Agreeing to Disagree
I don't find much to disagree with in the IATF RFC Number 1, but I think that it needs to include some statement supporting federalism. I believe that I have a better chance of seeing actual libertarian conservative government if the national government has a more limited role and geographic areas that want to buy extra government are free to choose this option. As an example, end both the federal gasoline tax and federal highway funds. I don't object to the citizens of Massachusetts chosing representatives that vote for high taxes on gasoline so they can subsidize public transportation, bike racks, etc. as long as I don't have to pay for it at the gas pump here in Texas. People in different states should be able to agree to disagree about the size and role of government.

legislating morality
I'm in general agreement with Grant E, that the government does legislate morality (homicide, larceny, racial justice,etc.). Arguing about which moral principles (and to what extent) will be enacted into legislation is what politics is all about. It's not pleasant, but it can't be avoided.

Purely personal?..Real fascists
There is nothing that is purely personal. Your examples aren't even primarily personal, your reasoning is illogical and incoherent.

1.) The homosexual "marriage" movement is an attempt to redefine and appropriate a PUBLIC franchise, always understood as involving men and women and usually interpreted as one man and one woman in attempt to FORCE PUBLIC acceptance of homosexuality and to obtain certain economic benefits derived from marriage, such as insurance and testamentary bequests. These are the truer fascists-operating to change the law through judicial intervention-in some cases have courts ordering legislatures to act.

(Why this doesn't raise more qwuestions on the troubling disregard for separation of powers, is telling) Having unaccountable tribunals summarily issue "writs of mandamus" without regard to any limits, even stare decisis is the very essence of fascism. You will notice, none of the courts involved has bothered to consider that the "rights" they wish to create should maturally be extended to polygamists, for example-IF one wishes to make marriage purely contractarian.

2.) No matter what one thinks about the potential of occupational licensure to be abused as market entry device-the following fact is simple. The practice of medicine is a PUBLIC franchise and the PUBLIC acts through its legislatures to create bodies that define what constitutes the acceptable limits of the profession, not personal emotional arguments, or the private gain that would inure to "physicians" violating the hippocratic oath (first, do no harm).

This is exactly why I stood at the station while the libertarian train left. While I have heard powerfully reasoned arguments for LIBERTY from some quarters, Cato, FRiedman, etc, I've also heard a significant contingent of so-called libertarians who are little more than moral anarchists who have poorly reasoned arguments that rest on a single premise-I shouled be allowed to do whatever I want to do. That's not enlightened public policy, its emotional immaturity. Libertarians would do well to get the loons from their midst.

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