Proposition Q


  You're right that this has become discussion, better suited for the LPSF-Discuss list than the LPSF-Activists list. I've copied my reply to the Discuss list, and encourage further replies along the lines of general discussion there.
  On the narrower topic of LPSF action though (and feel free to respond to this part of the message only on LPSF-activists), I urge you, Les, Francoise, and Aubrey to recognize that your positions on this particular issue are not libertarian, because you want to initiate force against people, and not block the LPSF as an organization from taking the libertarian position on Prop. Q.
  Please do not take offense in my pointing out that your support for criminalizing tents on public sidewalks is not libertarian. I have some un-libertarian positions myself. For instance, I do not want anyone to be able to own nuclear weapons – neither governments nor individuals. I see them as a clear and present danger to all of us, and feel that the objective of a planet free of these weapons is so important that it justifies initiating force, if necessary, to achieve it. However I do not advocate that the Libertarian Party adopt my position on this issue, because my position is not libertarian. I think the Libertarian Party should consistently stand for what is libertarian.

  The solution, as I see it, involves civil disobedience. In a libertarian society, those like myself who want to keep people from owning nuclear weapons would need to violate the law and face the legal penalties (providing restitution to the victims) for initiating force by taking those weapons away from their owners and destroying them. The law should not be on my side. Likewise I think the law should not be on your side in seeking to remove tents from public sidewalks. If you and/or your neighbors demonstrate a consistent willingness to face the legal consequences for initiating force by turning hoses on people and their tents, or whatever, word will get around and most homeless people will generally prefer to avoid the area.

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild

Les was a bit blunt, but totally correct when he referred to some of the arguments in this discussion as rubbish. I would like to add that the arguments are bordering on bullying.

I do not view myself as a final authority on what is libertarian or is not, and neither should any of us here.

Finally, I do not find it appropriate for LPF to take a position when its activists cannot agree on what that position should be.

And my position on the matter will not change, including my view that this discussion has become unproductive.


Thanks Marcy….it seems the discussion about what is “rubbish” is not over. Waiting to hear Les’s reply (or anyone else’s) to Michael Edelstein’s message below.

By the way, it seems values and morals of the Libertarian party are not “living documents” or “situational”. They are universal and therefore quantifiable. That means there should be a reasonably good standard of what is Libertarian or not. If there is no standard of what is Libertarian or not, there’s no reason for the party to exist. There may be differences of opinion about the best way to move the world of politics in the direction of Libertarian principles. But there should be limited uncertainties about what the principles are.

1) Reducing the power and scope of government
2) Supporting the “Non-Aggression Principle”

There are probably more….

Voting in favor of laws that criminalize non-violent persona; behavior of the poor on public property seems to run contrary to Libertarian values. How do you think that supporting this position advances essential Libertarian values listed above? How is that position different from a traditional “Conservative” or dare I even say “Republican” position? Why should the LPSF support such a position on a Personal Freedom issue like this? It’s makes sense we would support Financial Freedom issues as we already do. But we are supposed to be different from these others in the area of Personal Freedom.

Just some thoughts. But looking forward. Personally, it seems this conversation has just begun. And because it is a matter of Proposition Q, it definitely seems appropriate for the Activist List. And I strongly request we keep it here. There are many important people to the LPSF who are not on the Discuss List. It seems this issue needs a thorough discussion from some of the LPSF’s most involved and experienced participants.


  Are you saying my arguments in the messages below are bullying? How? I'm not even trying to get you to say you are wrong. I'm only asking for your agreement on what the LPSF position should be, not on what your own view should be, or what actions you personally should take.

  Michael Edelstein opened my eyes with a very insightful point a while back when he said that the most libertarian solution is not always the best solution. I feel that my approach to nukes is the best solution on that issue, but concede it is not the most libertarian solution. Can't you make a similar acknowledgement about your views toward the homeless and tents? They seem so obviously more conservative than libertarian. I do agree there are grey areas in which the most faithful application of the Non-Aggression Principle can be reasonably debated (e.g. abortion, when violent resistance to government is justified, etc.), I just don't think initiating force against people for having tents on city sidewalks is one of them. Pointing that out doesn't feel to me like claiming any special authority, just stating a plain fact.

Love & Liberty,
                                ((( starchild )))


  I'm not suggesting any of us who have an unlibertarian position on some issue ought to resign our positions in the party. If I were, then I would have to resign my own positions at the national and state levels. All I'm suggesting is that we should let the Libertarian Party be libertarian and not try to block the group from taking libertarian positions we personally disagree with.

  My claim that your position in support of Prop. Q is unlibertarian is based on a very straightforward analysis of the application of the Non-Aggression Principle: Demanding under threat of violence that people move their tents from shared property, even when no other co-owner of that shared property has any immediate competing desire to use the space, is initiating force against them.

  To say as you do that putting up a tent in the commons even when no one else is seeking to use the space in question is itself an initiation of violence, is to say that every time someone goes backpacking in the wilderness and sets up a tent, every time someone goes to the beach or Golden Gate Park and sets out a blanket or some folding chairs, every time someone parks their car in the commons (and that is clearly a big one, because often they are parking where others do want to use the same space!), they are also initiating violence! If setting up a tent on the sidewalk is "appropriating the commons for (one's) own personal use", then so are all these other uses.

  You're right that I'm unsatisfied with the analogy of corporate shareholders as a rationale for restricting peaceful use of the commons. However I acknowledge it is an interesting argument that bears further consideration. If shares are sold as representing a stake in the ownership of the entire company, and not just a right to a portion of its profits, perhaps those shareholders should have some rights regarding corporate property.

  But I disagree that my position implies we must choose between unlimited government and no government at all, or that there can never be any commons or public property managed by elected bodies – only that the ability of those officials to impose rules on the populace must be carefully circumscribed. The U.S. Constitution recognizes, for example, rights to freedom of speech and public assembly in the commons which cannot be abridged. (The U.S. Supreme Court has subsequently allowed government officials to restrict the "time, place and manner" of such usages, but such authority is not found in the document itself and thus amounts to an unauthorized power grab.)

  Basically, government controls over the commons should be limited to ensuring that people are not violating each other's rights in the space. I don't think a right exists to set up a permanent, stationary structure in the commons and have it left alone, but my examples above show that people set up temporary mobile structures all the time (hiking tents, cars, folding chairs, chairs and tables put out on the sidewalk by restaurants and bars, etc.), and government cannot rightly discriminate among these various similar uses in the name of enforcing the tastes, preferences, or norms of a majority, any more than government can rightly prevent people from carrying certain objects (e.g. guns) in the commons just because a majority in some area (e.g. San Francisco, or anywhere in the world that lacks a Second Amendment, if you want to fall back on a legalistic argument) may not like it.

  If you say that government can legitimately undertake such infringements in the name of a majority, then it is you who are essentially saying that the commons do not really exist; that they are just property owned by government on which individuals have only such rights as a majority is willing to allow them.

  I do see a legitimate role for government in arbitrating disputes however, as well as setting up rules designed to facilitate fair and equal access to areas that are desired for competing uses. If you go to the tennis courts at Dolores Park, for instance, you will find posted rules limiting length of play when others are waiting. Similarly I think it is reasonable to have rules allowing the reservation of picnic tables in Golden Gate Park, the use of the steps of City Hall for demonstrations, etc., in order to avoid conflict over people seeking to use the same space at the same time. But not to prejudice some uses over others based on social popularity. I can't imagine a standard that sets up a clean definition of "appropriating the commons for their own personal use" which does what you want it to do without crossing that line. But if you think you can come up with one, I'm all ears.

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

Someone sent a response to this, but I mistakenly deleted it before reading. I thought I was deleting a response, but I deleted the actual message.

If you want me to read it, you will have to send again or forward to me.


I don't agree with your analysis, but I don't know what more to say about it.

Apparently no one is going to convince the other so there is no point in continuing.


Les…have you decided to not reply to Michael Edelstein’s invitation to discuss the issue of government “rights”.

Just curious.


Why do I need to do that?

Is this not an open in which anyone can join in to post thoughts.

If he has an argument which he will be persuasive he should post it.

If he chooses not to do that, so be it.

Since neither you nor Starchild has been able to change my mind, I cannot imagine what he is going to say that will do so.


For the record Marcy...Michael asked Les to respond specifically to his comment. “Rubbish” is not a thoughtful reply. And Michael E was not even necessarily disagreeing with some of what Les was saying.


No, I don’t believe so Les. You said “I believe I was responding to his (Michael E’s) statements which cited your (Mike D’s) email”. When you said that, you may have been referring to your “thoughtful statement”. But there was a lack of clarity in that statement about the differentiation between my points and Michael E’s. To which Michael E replied “Les, I’d be happy to respond to your thoughts about my statements in my email. Please cite those, not Mike’s”. There doesn’t seem to be a reply to that statement.

As a refresher, here is Michael E’s email below.


For the libertarian, the argument hinges on one’s view of the legitimacy of the State. Is the State a legitimate organization, capable of owning property? Or is it a band of thieves surviving off of theft (taxation)?

If the former, then it’s within its authority to ban tents on its property. If the latter, then it has no business doing so.

I’m of the second conviction. How about you?

Les, I might be able to put words in your mouth in the form of a reply…but it would be better to hear it from you. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Please forgive if you feel you are repeating yourself.

Thank you

Michael D.