RE: [OutrightSF] Re: AB 205

(I'm cc'ing this to the lpsf-discuss list, since it raises some general issues of libertarian politics.)

Conceivably I might take the lead on a press release, perhaps with help from Celine and Lisa. But we should probably carry the discussion a little further. Re 205 I'm thinking of a title something like "Bay Area Libertarians 'Endorse with Concern' AB 205"--or "Endorse with Ambivalence," or "Endorse Half-Heartedly," or "Endorse with a Malediction," or whatever. It seems important to acknowledge the minority view among us.

As for AB 17, I think I would support it for similar reasons, having to do with public perception of the Party. It's true that we don't want government dictating policies of private companies. But this bill is evidently restricted to companies who want to do business with the government. Suppose the government currently had a policy of awarding contracts only to all-white companies. Wouldn't we (shouldn't we) oppose that? We agree that government itself should not discriminate. And, ideally, government would not be awarding contracts to anybody. But, given that it does, should its nondiscrimination policy not be extended to contractors? Perhaps we could say that nondiscrimination implies that government would award contracts regardless of whether companies were racist/heterosexist or not. Is that really any better? Given that the issue of government contracts is one we wouldn't be dealing with in a libertarian society, I view the issue as one more of appearance than substance, and I have preferences about which side we align ourselves with here.

Practical politics often presents us with these kinds of dilemmas. Libertarians have often said that, if elected, they should support any measure which reduces taxes. But the classic challenge is, "Would you support a tax cut for white people?" To me, the answer has to be unambiguously no. Does anyone want to argue otherwise?

The different stances on 205 and 17 reflect some different assessments of historical change. One view sees 205 as bringing us closer to our goal and therefore obviously a good thing. The opposing view worries that getting halfway there will make us complacent and we will stop there, having made less progress in the long run. This certainly seems an empirical question, and I'm not sure all issues would turn out the same way. In the case of 205, I will acknowledge further that legalization of gay marriage is really carrying us in the wrong direction, if what we want is to get government out of our lives. Michael Kinsley has a very nice article ( arguing for getting government out of marriage, period--this from a liberal! I strongly agree with Kinsley; but, as an interim measure, I favor equal treatment, for the public posture reasons.

I'm offline till Monday. And my network has a tomato filter.