Re: Gingrich, Moynihan step down

Hal Finney (
Mon, 9 Nov 1998 11:54:26 -0800

Josh Glasstetter, <>, asks:
> I'm really confused as to what extropians mean by libertarianism.

No doubt it means different things to different people. I would prefer to call the philosophy "individualism", the belief that to the maximum extent possible, people should be free to make their own individual decisions about how they live their lives.

Where I disagree with the left is in the question of whether businesses are also to be considered as having this right. It seems to me that since businesses are composed of people working together in a common enterprise, that their individual rights to make decisions do not vanish. It is the same for one man who wants to cut down a tree in his back yard as for a million who want to form a company to cut down a forest they own. In neither case do I have the right to make them stop. I can try to persuade them to stop, I can join together with others who value trees so that we can buy them ourselves, but I can't come and tie the hands of the people holding the axes.

Josh also posts R.U. Sirius' Revolution Party platform.

Many aspects of the platform are attractively libertarian. Broadly, the reduce government interference and give individuals more freedom to live their lives in the manner they see fit:

> We will repeal five times as many laws as we pass. We need to simplify
> and clarify the rules of the game. We will do a better job of enforcing
> and obeying a few reasonable rules than thousands upon thousands of
> incomprehensible statutes.

> End all corporate welfare. Let allegedly free-enterprise stand on its
> own two feet.

> Legalize most pleasure drugs, prostitution, and gambling. Institute a
> 'sin tax,' taxing these activities at 100% to make up for some of the
> funds lost as the result of #3. Use part of this tax income to make
> counseling and rehabilitation easily available in all locales.

> No Federal Personal Income Taxes for individuals with incomes of less
> than $100,000. Encourage states and counties to also end taxation of
> middle-class and poor individuals. Institute a flat tax on income over
> $100,000.

These may not be exactly what I would want to see, but they are a step in the right direction.

In other areas, the platform calls for increased government power and interference in private decisions:

> Put environmental concerns before profits and jobs. On the other hand, put
> scientific consensus and reason ahead of emotion-based environmentalism.

I read this as asking for the power to force people to treat their property according to the wishes of others, as in the tree cutting example above.

> Open federally-funded birth control clinics all across the country,
> guaranteeing women in every locale reasonable access to her legal right
> to abortion and other forms of birth control.

It is morally repugnant to take taxes from people who view birth control as a sin and abortion as murder, and use their taxes to fund these very activities. I don't agree with these views, but I respect the right of people to hold them. To the maximum extent possible, we should try to structure society to respect all such views. The religious right should not be able to stop people from having abortions, but by the same token they should not be forced to fund them, either. This is an obvious compromise, and it is frustrating that both sides are so blind to it.

> Re-establish social services at pre-Reagan levels, for starters.

This is an interesting one because I don't know whether this calls for an increase or a decrease! The document straddles libertarian and leftist views so I don't know how to interpret it.

On the libertarian side, this could be an acknowledgement that much of the vaunted Reagan "shrinkage of government" was mere rhetoric, that government grew under Reagan and has continued to grow since. Shrinking social services to 1980 levels would be in keeping with other aspects of the platform which call for reducing the size and power of government.

On the leftist side this could represent an acceptance of the image of Reagan as a cruel, insensitive slasher of needed government programs, and a call to return to an attitude of government as a last-resort protector from cradle to grave.

The last few platform elements, the call to make money "consistent with actual value" and to fund a "Manhattan Project towards Utopia", are vague and confusing. I doubt much would come of them.