Why Libertarians Should Vote: Threats to Liberty from the Left and the Right on the Colorado Ballot (Part 2 of 3)by Stephen Littau
What motivates these very nice people to be such tyrants? Some will vote in ignorance of the issue* and others out of a sense of ‘social justice.’ Very few will intentionally vote to take liberty or property from a fellow citizen; most will vote to do so out of a well intentioned but misguided sense of right and wrong.
The Colorado ballot contains 18 ballot measures, most of which are proposed amendments to the state’s constitution. About half of these measures would restrict liberty, increase taxes, or otherwise punish individuals for activities which ought not to be a crime in a free state or country.
Threats to Liberty from the Left
Union backed amendments 53, 55, 56, and 57 are all very hostile to business. Amendment 53 targets business executives for criminal liability (as if business executives are not already criminally liable for committing crimes), 55 would change Colorado from a “right to work state” to a “just cause state,” 56 requires employers with 20 employees or more to provide health coverage for employees and their dependants, and 57 would put employers at greater liability than the existing workman’s comp laws.
All of these amendments would make Colorado a less attractive place to do business and would likely mean fewer decent paying jobs. Like most populist proposals, the people who the advocates of these measures are trying to help would be hurt the most.
Amendments 51, 58, and 59 concern taxation. Amendment 51 would increase the sales tax to fund programs for the developmentally disabled, 58 directly taxes the oil and gas industry (Coloradans who wish to pay more for gas should support this measure), and 59 redirects funds which under current law are rebated to taxpayers under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) to an education savings fund.
Given governments’ track record of mismanaging taxpayer money (especially given what’s going on in Washington), I am in no mood to pay additional taxes or allow the government at any level to keep more no matter what the reason.
Threats to Liberty from the Right
While many of the ballot measures are economically on the Left, at least one is socially conservative. Amendment 48, the so-called “personhood” amendment would amend the Colorado Constitution to define all fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses as people complete with all legal rights associated with being a person. Clearly, this amendment is an attempt to ban abortion in the state of Colorado. Inevitably, if 48 is passed, there will be legal challenges which 48’s proponents hope would ultimately lead to overturning Roe v. Wade.
Amendment 48 makes no exceptions for rape** or incest. While there is an exception for abortion in the event that the life of the mother is threatened, opponents of 48 believe that doctors would put women at unnecessary mortal risk out of fear of being prosecuted for murdering the unborn. Because a fertilized egg would have the same legal rights as a person, a woman and her doctor could face life imprisonment and even the death penalty (someone explain to me how this is “pro-life”!).
Opponents of 48 also fear that doctors would be compelled to violate doctor/patient confidentiality as they may be required to report miscarriages to the authorities if s/he has the slightest suspicion that the miscarriage was caused intentionally***.
Giving fertilized eggs a definition of personhood would also:
- Ban commonly used birth control such as the birth control pill and the morning after pill
- Ban embryonic stem cell research (both public and private)
- Raise additional legal reproductive rights questions on issues with regard to artificial insemination
Despite what both pro-lifers and pro-choicers say, the abortion issue is very complex and there is plenty of room for debate on the merits of this issue among libertarians. What I would hope abortion foes would realize is that this measure has implications far beyond a legal prohibition of abortion.
*To be fair, some of the language found in some ballot measures is very difficult to understand for those who do not have a legal background. The campaigns which support and oppose these measures understand this and create misleading ads to appeal to the ignorance of the voters to vote with emotion rather than reason.
**Women who become pregnant as a result of rape should never, ever, be forced to give birth to the spawn of her attacker. Never.
***The tragedy of a miscarriage is horrible enough without being interrogated by the police.