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.
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
The role of testing, and
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.
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.