Richmond High Political Fair [2 Attachments]

Good point about implicit contracts, Chris, though I know I've had that
debate with some (not sure if they're on this list) libertarians who claim
that there is no such thing as a contract if it isn't explicit. I think for
them, it's a reaction to the "social contract" that they say they never
signed and therefore do not agree to things like shared national defense,

I wish I could attend and provide my perspective to the students, but I'll
be flying back from NYC to SF on Tuesday.


Hi Michael A. and All,

This is not about the LPSF, this is about supporting the efforts of the kids who invited us. For the formal part of the presentation, they have provided us with a tight schedule, via which we will have the opportunity to communicate to them basic Libertarian positions on the topics they have chosen. The debate will not be among us LPSF'rs, but among the one representative from each political party who will be on stage behind a podium.

Yes, there will probably be opportunity for Q&A, and I am hoping that we will handle that situation as we do when we table at the Pride Festival, for example, where we put aside our differences and focus on our common beliefs, so that we use our opportunities wisely, and not confuse our audience with internal bickering.

The reason I asked Starchild, who volunteered to be our representative, to post a brief summary of his responses to the official questions provided by the students, was to make sure Starchild was aware of the questions/format and came to the event prepared!

I have seen Starchild in formal political candidate debates, and he is very aware of the format, and he is very good at giving good responses. This event follows the same general setting. During such debates that I have attended, I have always assumed that we in the audience were there to support our candidate/representative who was on stage. And our representative on stage was trusted by us to give to the general public a basic idea of what we Libertarians stand for.

I am looking forward to this event! It promises to be a fun day.


Thanks for the friendly reminder, Marcy. I think Starchild is the perfect ambassador for this venue. Indeed, for any venue, he is eloquent, well informed, good-natured, and fair-minded. Thanks to all of you who will be there.


  You wrote (in part):

We don't have a ready construct in law for poly marriages (in a two-person marriage, if the spouse is incapacitated, the other spouse has 100% decision making ability -- in a poly marriage, if a spouse is incapacitated, and the other spouses are split 50-50 on what to do, how is the decision made?), so my main argument in legalizing same sex marriage immediately and saving poly marriage for the future is one of expediency. Same sex marriage can happen just as easily as interracial marriage happened, in terms of contract law, so there's no good legal reason not to allow it in terms of complexity, as is unfortunately the case with poly marriage.

  I think expediency is a very weak reason for denying people their right to marry the persons of their choice. If two parents have a child for whom medical decisions must be made, and they are not in agreement on what to do, this poses the same problem as would be the case in a poly relationship where the other spouses were split 50-50, so no, I don't see that as some unprecedented legal difficulty. It also seems highly dubious to argue that spousal rights of gay couples fall under the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment, but those of spouses in a poly marriage do not. I don't think we need a 14th Amendment argument to show that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional anyway -- the Constitution simply does not authorize the federal government to get involved in marriage law, so Congress had no legal authority to pass DOMA.

And I don't believe 13-year olds can consent to contracts. I wouldn't mind the arbitrary age of 18 changing, but I think there needs to be an arbitrary age, again for the sake of legal expediency. Such bright line distinctions in law cut out a lot of the legal mischief that the trial lawyers would love to engage in. :slight_smile:

  Suggesting that anyone over some arbitrary age is capable of consent while anyone under some arbitrary age is not, all else being equal, is not "an assertion grounded in reality", to use your term. Age of consent law seem to me an excellent opportunity to apply your wisdom cautioning libertarians about talking in absolutes because "the real world is far more complicated".

  I do think your point that "if the government is forcing (a hospital) to discharge a patient to a spouse whose rights they don't recognize, then it's still the government forcing the hospital to recognize a marriage they don't agree with", is a good one. I don't see any viable alternative to requiring hospitals to recognize relationship contracts in cases where a patient can't speak for him or herself.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Perhaps this thread is getting beaten to death, but I do believe this is
an important point for libertarians.

Too many people rely, for instance, on the First Amendment for free
speech and press protection, or the Second Amendment for gun rights.
Does anyone really think that, if we called a new Constitutional
Convention today, that the right to keep and bear arms would survive?
Would that then make RKBA irrelevant?

The key speaking point for libertarians (and Americans in general) is
that the Constitution *protects* certain rights; it does not *grant*
them. Even if the Constitution or the Bill of Rights did not exist, we
would still have these rights, even if the government trampled upon them

I would not bring these minutiæ up, except for the upcoming high school
presentation, where these questions often lead off into the weeds.
Another important speaking point: get out of the weeds as quickly as
possible and back to the main points.


Starchild, you have a good point about the two parents disagreeing on a
child's medical treatment. I may have to reconsider my opinion on the
near-term feasibility of poly marriage law, but I hope you still understand
that it's more complicated (even if not sufficiently more complicated to
avoid altogether) than simply changing "husband" and "wife" on a marriage
form to "spouse," as Massachusetts did. There is, as you point out, a
construct in family law that we could use as a guide, but given how
complicated family law is, I feel justified in asking that same-sex marriage
be considered for legalization first, and then poly marriage considered
second, as the easier one to implement shouldn't have to wait until the
details have been worked out on the more difficult one. (Similar argument
to why I think legalizing marijuana ought to be a separate vote from
legalizing heroin, as one is clearly easier to pass and shouldn't have to
wait for the other.)

As for Constitutionality, when you consider that the word "regulate" meant
"make regular" when the Constitution was written, the Constitution
absolutely does call for Congress to "regulate" -- or make regular --
contract law between the states, such as marriage contracts. But the intent
was to make sure that contracts were portable between the states, not to
make such contract portability impossible, as DOMA does. Unfortunately,
much as the word "welfare" has changed in its definition in the past two and
a quarter centuries, so has the word "regulate," and so we're stuck with
limited government advocates today opposing "regulation" when limited
government advocates amongst the Founders were absolutely in favor of
"regulation," due to the difference in meaning over the centuries.

Sorry to report my meeting was moved to Wednesday so I can't attend tomorrow. But I must compliment everyone on a most thorough and interesting discussion about DOMA. As Michael Acree commented...very civil and seemingly very productive for everyone.


star child,

Might I suggest that the best of this debate be posted on and the students advised to check it out.


  Here are some responses on the Richmond High School students' questions. I like a lot of what Les said as well. For anyone with suggested changes/revisions, I encourage you to add them to my responses below, editing as necessary, so that the response reads smoothly and makes sense.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Defense and Military
First of all, Now that Osama Bin Laden has been killed and is no longer in the picture, does your party believe that the War in Afghanistan should continue, why or why not?

  I assume by this question you don't really mean to ask whether or not we think the war in Afghanistan should continue, but rather whether or not the U.S. government should continue to be involved in that war. The Libertarian Party's position is that the U.S. government should not be involved in that war, because its involvement is not defensive in nature, and Congress has not properly declared war as required by the U.S. Constitution so the involvement is arguably unconstitutional. We do not support the Taliban or Al Qaeda, but the fact that these groups are doing immoral and harmful things does not make it right for the U.S. government to steal money from taxpayers in order to stop them.

And, more generally, In terms of the fight against Islamist terrorism, what do you think the best approach is?

  We must realize that there is no option that will provide perfect safety, and there is no point in pretending otherwise. Terrorism is simply a risk we must live with. Surrendering essential civil liberties, like the right to travel without being searched by government agents, in order to try to make ourselves safer, is the action of cowards. Instead of treating ordinary people like criminal suspects, governments should enlist ordinary people as allies in the fight against terrorism by allowing and encouraging people to be prepared to protect ourselves anywhere a terrorist incident might occur, starting with respecting our Constitutional right to own and carry guns. Benjamin Franklin warned that those who trade liberty for security will wind up with neither liberty nor security.

  The strongest weapons against terrorism are cultural and economic, not military. Governments should be pressured to reduce their censorship of the Internet and popular culture. If more young people in the Middle East were exposed to the pleasures of video games, amusement parks, music concerts, social network sites, and shopping malls, they would probably be much less likely to become terrorists, since these things seem to work quite well in making young Americans apathetic about politics!

  Osama bin Laden came from a wealthy background, but he didn't choose to blow *himself* up in a suicide bomb attack. It's my understanding that most terrorists who deliberately sacrifice their own lives to kill others are young, poor and unemployed. Allowing free markets to function in the Middle East so people there have more jobs and economic opportunity will help reduce terrorism. The U.S. government is currently supporting a lot of the regimes in that region that are denying people economic opportunity by criminalizing free market activity

  The recent Middle East uprisings started because one man, who was selling fruit in Tunisia, was being mistreated by a government employee who was enforcing regulations on fruit vendors. If people in these countries have more opportunity to earn an honest living without government interference, they will be less likely to become frustrated and violent.

Do we need to use so-called “enhanced interrogation” tactics and “rendition”?

  I assume that by "we" you mean the United States government. Libertarians strongly oppose torturing people or sending prisoners to other places where their basic rights will not be respected. We don't have the right to do these things as individuals, so governments don't have the right to do them either. All rights naturally belong to the people, and governments have only the authority that we properly give them. If something is wrong for us to do, it is also wrong for us to give an institution like government the power to do it.

How should the military budget be used to best advantage?

  I assume by "the military budget" you mean the military budget of the U.S. government. The true libertarian approach would be for all the money coercively taken from people via taxation to be returned to those who earned it. It should be your choice to decide which government programs you want to help fund with your money, if any. However short of returning the stolen money, which seems unlikely to happen soon, Libertarians would like to see the U.S. government's military budget spent defending the life, liberty, and property of people in the United States, not running an empire with hundreds of military bases around the world or maintaining a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction which have virtually no defensive use other than as a deterrent, and we question the morality of deterring aggression by threatening to kill large numbers of civilians.

Gay Rights
Where does your party stand on gay rights, specifically gay marriage? Please address where you think it falls: as a federal issue or a state issue: In other words, is it a constitutional rights matter under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause, or is it a power reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment?
IF it is a states matter, should all states be required to honor same sex marriage licenses that have been granted by another state due to the Full Faith and Credit clause in Article Four?

And finally, could you address whether your party thinks the “Defense of Marriage Act” enacted by the federal government under President Bush was constitutional, or whether it is a states’ rights matter?

  The Libertarian Party has supported gay rights and marriage equality since it first got on the ballot in 1972, longer than any other U.S. political party. We believe consenting persons have the right to get married, regardless of their genders or the number of people involved. Neither the federal government nor state governments have any moral right to interfere with voluntary relationship contracts between marriage partners. The U.S. Constitution lists the powers granted by the people to the federal government, and regulating marriages is not among the powers granted, so any marriage laws or regulations passed by the federal government are unconstitutional, regardless of whether the courts recognize this or not.


What is your position regarding the state of education today and how it could be better supported and improved? In your answer you may address:

            “No child left behind”
            “Race to the top”
            Charter schools
            Year-round schools
            The role of testing, and
            ELD programs

  Libertarians favor the Separation of School and State, just as we favor the Separation of Church and State. It is dangerous to allow government to be involved in telling people what to think and learn, especially children who are among the youngest and most impressionable members of society. We believe that people deserve choices in education just like they have choices in housing, food, clothing, and other goods and services in the marketplace. We also recognize that government-run schools provide worse quality education on average than community schools (sometimes called "private" schools, but if a school is open to members of the public it is a public school, whether it's run by government or not). Homeschooled students also do better on average than students in government schools. Students should be allowed to seek the best possible education they can get, but if they don't want to go to school they should not be treated as criminals. Mark Twain had some good advice for students -- he said "Never let your schooling interfere with your education." You can learn things without going to school. You can read books, visit museums, go on field trips, use the Internet, ask people questions, volunteer or take internships where you can learn on the job, travel, etc. The political debate over education often falsely assumes that the only way people can learn is by sitting in a classroom. That's nonsense.

  Individual schools should be free to set their own policies, including what kind of language classes they want to offer, how much testing they want to have, whether they want to go year-round or not, etc. Students and parents should be able to choose which school they want to attend, and if they don't like what a particular school is offering, to either take their money and go somewhere else, or to work with others to convince the school to change its policies. Most Libertarians support reforms such as vouchers that would allow more educational choice, but we do not want governments having more control over non-government community schools that accept the vouchers.

And secondly, what is the responsibility of California to fund state college and universities?

  By "California" I assume you mean the government of California. Libertarians believe that the legitimate purpose of government, if it has any legitimate purpose, is to protect life, liberty, and property. In other words, to keep people from hurting each other or initiating force or fraud against others. So governments including the California government have the responsibility to set a good example, by not initiating force against other people. How can they have the moral authority to arrest people for stealing or kidnapping if they are doing this themselves, by taxing people without their consent, or forcing children to attend its educational institutions? The answer is they won't. We need to take responsibility for our own educations, not rely on government to take money from other people by force in order to pay for them, and then telling us what to learn and not giving us much choice about it.

Regarding the economic meltdown and the current recession, do you think Wall Street was at fault and do you think it was a right move to bail out these companies/ corporations, at the time?

  There is no institution called "Wall Street", so to say Wall Street was at fault is too vague. There are many different companies and individuals involved in banking and finance. Some of these individuals and companies have initiated force or fraud against others. Those who are suspected of doing this should be charged with crimes and brought to trial. Many other companies and individuals have done things which were not criminal, but were arguably unethical or bad for the economy. The way to address the problem of that happening is to make sure that the right rules are in place so that people will generally be *incentivized* to behave ethically and in ways that help, not hurt, the economy.

  Most of the economic problems that exist came about because government rules have incentivized people to do the wrong things. For instance, there has been a lot of phony deregulation. The federal government reduced the rules on what kinds of things financial institutions could do, but at the same time they still insured banks against failure. This encouraged banks to make risky investments, because if those investments went bad, the government would bail them out. Libertarians opposed all the bailouts of banks and auto companies, and we believe there should be no government bailout of any company. Companies that make bad decisions must be allowed to fail so that new companies that are better run can take their place, and so that companies are incentivized to make responsible decisions.

What, if anything, should be done to improve the economy and reduce the high unemployment rate?

  The burden of government should be reduced across the board. People should have the freedom to start businesses, or work as employees, without having to waste time getting government permits and license and pay all kinds of fees and taxes, not to mention all the paperwork that goes with them. Millions of hours each year are wasted by people in the United States just filling out government forms, preparing their taxes, and figuring out how to comply with government rules and regulations. If this time were spent doing something productive instead, it would be a huge boost to the economy. Businesses have to waste money on all kinds of lawyers, accountants, and consultants, which makes them less competitive with businesses in other countries that do not face the same level of regulation.

  The United States also has a larger percentage of its people incarcerated than any other country. All the people who are in jail for victimless crimes like using marijuana and other drugs or having sex for money, which is hundreds of thousands of people, should be released immediately. Keeping all those people in jail not only prevents them from contributing to the economy, but it costs taxpayers billions of dollars and is a massive drain on the economy. The amount it costs in California to keep just one person in prison for a year has been estimated to be over $40,000.

Due to the high percentage of immigrant students, in your opinion, what would be the benefits or consequences of enacting the Dream Act?
And also, what is your stance on undocumented immigrants and the creation of a path to citizenship?

  According to libertarian philosophy, everyone deserves equal protection under the law regardless of his or her gender, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or place of birth, so governments should not discriminate on the basis of nationality. The California Libertarian Party's platform plank on immigration states:

We hold that all human beings have rights, not merely the citizens of a particular country.
Although private owners have the right to restrict others from trespassing on their property,
government restrictions on the liberty of travel, residence, and employment, such as
immigration and emigration laws, mandatory identification papers, and work permits, are
violations of human rights, and we call for their abolition.
Therefore, we:

A. oppose mandatory reporting by employers of their employees' nationalities.
B. oppose fining employers who hire so-called illegal aliens.
C. oppose wholesale dragnets that round up immigrants and other people from their
homes or workplaces.
D. oppose any requirement that a first-time applicant for a driver license must show
proof of legal residency.
E. oppose any requirement that employers who hire so-called illegal aliens forfeit their
assets to the government.
F. oppose any requirement that all employees in California must carry an identification
G. oppose the use of the California National Guard or the U.S. military to control
California's border with Mexico.
H. oppose the construction of a fence or wall along the U. S. border.

We defend the rights of noncitizens of the U. S. to seek work, trade, and live within this
country, just as we defend current citizens when they wish to exercise these same rights. We
oppose attempts to violate the rights of so-called illegal aliens because they receive the benefit
of certain government programs. In any conflict between rights and programs, we support
abolition of the government program and affirmation of individual rights. Most people come
to this country to work, not to collect welfare; nevertheless, we oppose welfare payments to
them just as we oppose welfare payments to all other persons.
We uphold the right of private property owners to provide sanctuary to persons who face
arrest and deportation as aliens, and we applaud those who offer such sanctuary.

  Unfortunately there is somewhat of a struggle going on in the Libertarian Party -- some people have been trying to push the party in a more conservative direction. So there are some LP members who favor more controls on immigration than this, but even these Libertarians are usually more supportive of peoples' rights than most Democrats and Republicans. We are still more supportive of freedom of movement than any other nationally organized political party in the United States.

Hi Phil,

  Interesting suggestion. Is there someone willing to edit and write it up? You could post the idea to the list. But I doubt many if any of the students are likely to do that kind of follow-up. There's plenty of libertarian stuff about marriage and gay rights online already on other sites -- if you can find some good ones, perhaps I can mention them tomorrow if there's discussion or questions on the topic.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild,

Thank you for all the work!! You will be coming to the event more than prepared! I am happy with your answers. However, I would caution you (or any of us) to be aware that we are addressing the general public, and some words we use among ourselves will only confuse "outsiders" when all you have is 3 minutes to make your case. For example, we understand among ourselves that taxation is "stealing"; but 15 year olds with a general knowledge of the Constitution will have no idea of what is meant by that. Also, we understand among ourselves the distinction between "we" as individuals and the government; but 15 year olds won't get the import of your comments at all. You would need weeks or months, not 3 minutes, to communicate to the general public, especially your folks, the underlying anti-government sentiment in words such as "stealing" or "force".

See you tomorrow!


Hi again Starchild,

Point of clarification: When I said the kids will not understand the import of your comments, I had in mind only and specifically your comments about "I assume you mean the government."


Moot as debate informed your answers u j just posted

Hi Starchild! I think you covered our philosophy extremely well, so I really
have nothing much to add. However, on the Gay Rights question, I would strike
the words "or the number of people involved," because I think that may get a
laugh or snicker from the kids and detract from the basic thought, which is
good. Personally, I don't care if 20 people want to get married, but at this
point in time, let's just work on two people, and we can worry about multiples
later on. Baby steps, as they say.

I just reread your answers again, and I think your response to the question
about the funding of state colleges and universities is just a pinch off
tangent. I think the last sentence is very good, but the previous sentences
don't answer the question. I will try to come up with a few sentences to fill
in before the last sentence, which I particularly like, if not before I go to
sleep, then in the morning.

Thanks for doing all this. It would have taken me 3 days to come up with your
responses. I also like the bit of humor in answer #1--a sense of humoris

I will come by around 11:15-11:30 tomorrow.

Many Thanks!

Hi Les! Don't worry about waiting at the corner--I'll find your place. I
haven't figured out who I'll pick up first or last, but I'm sure it won't be at
11 exactly, so no need to leave your house. Wow, what a debate today!


Hi Starchild! Final email of the day. Here's what I came up with for the
funding of the state colleges/universities: "Since we favor keeping the
government out of education, we do not believe it is the responsibility of the
taxpayers to fund higher education. Not everyone needs or wants to go to
college, and we do not believe that those who chose not to go should be forced
(through taxes) to pay for those who want to go. We do not believe in a free
ride." And then just add your last sentence. If it makes sense, then please
use this--otherwise just stick with what you have, and I'm sure it will be OK.

Also, I agree with Marcy--you could take out the "I assume..." words and your
arguments will still be very effective, maybe more so for this crowd.

Thanks Again!


Fantastic responses. It reads like a libertarian primer. I haven't
checked, but I hope your responses can be easily accessed on our web

One clarification: you say the LP supports "gay rights." This is
correct. However, I recommend they rethink their wording.

I don't support "gay rights" anymore than I support "Edelstein
rights." I support individual rights for both gays and Edelstein. The
problem I wish to avoid is the common use of "gay rights" to include
both negative and positive rights.

Warm regards, Michael

FWIW, I like Starchild’s original version better than the proposed edits—including the phrase about gender and number. The concept of “baby steps” as a way to fire the imagination of youth doesn’t cut it, for me.



Agreed….advertising statistics show they will never be more open to new and even radical ideas than they are now.