Libertarians On the Editorial Page ?by Doug Mataconis
The Richmond Times-Dispatch published an editorial today outlining the principles on which it stands that sounds remarkably libertarian:
We believe in freedom — in liberty, the ultimate cause. As the Founders stated in the Declaration of Independence, all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights — among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Individuals have the right to self-determination: to do as they wish, up to the point at which they infringe on the rights of another. Government’s primary purpose is to protect individual rights against aggression; that is why individuals cede to government a monopoly on the legitimate initiation of force, though they always retain the right to use force in self-defense.
We believe in the right to property. Individuals are granted a limited time on Earth, and they spend much of that time in arduous toil. They offer their labor in consensual exchange for money, which they then offer in consensual exchange for goods. To divest them of their money and property without profound justification is to rob them of their labor — and hence a portion of their lives. Science-fiction writer Frank Herbert may have put it best: “Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference of degree. You have done violence to him, consumed his energy. Elaborate euphemisms may conceal your intent to kill, but behind any use of power over another the ultimate assumption remains: ‘I feed on your energy.'”
We believe in free enterprise. There is no such thing as the capitalist “system” — capitalism is but the sum of the economic interactions occurring naturally among individuals who are free to pursue their own prosperity. A system of laws and regulations is necessary to safeguard the innocent from the depredations of the wicked, but government should not interfere in the free and honest exchange of goods and services.
We believe in limited government. Because it relies at bottom on the threat of coercion, government should perform only those functions society cannot perform through any other means.
We believe in fiscal conservatism. Because taxes confiscate the labor of the people, public officials have a solemn responsibility not to waste the proceeds on frivolous or foolish programs or projects. Taxation itself is not theft, but incontinent prodigality with the proceeds of the taxpayers’ labor is.
Sounds good to me.