Why I Am a Libertarian

I am a Libertarian because I believe in the principles espoused by present day Libertarians and the founders of our country. I believe that government should be limited and should be the slave of the people rather than to treat people as its slaves. If government is limited, taxes can be low and markets can operate freely. Free markets have been shown to be the best way for people to obtain what they want at the lowest possible cost (see my statement as to why "profits are good"). The adoption of the rule of law, individual property rights, and free market principles by our nation's founders explains why the U.S. economy has flourished ever since our nation was founded. I also believe that people should have the maximum amount of individual freedom to live their lives as they wish without government interference so long as they do not harm, cheat, or defraud other people. Free people can live their lives so as to obtain their greatest individual welfare , since each individual  knows better than the government what he or she  may want or need, In addition, if people are responsible for their own actions, there is less need for government interference in their lives and an expensive government infrastructure (funded, ultimately, with high taxes)  to regulate peoples' actions and lives.

I became a Libertarian after I wrote a book on social security and after I traveled in Europe. When I wrote my book on social security, I realized that it was essential for the solvency of social security for our nation to have a productive economy. Future workers would have to be well-educated and productive and both present and future workers and investors could not have their incentives to be productive squashed by high tax rates. In addition, present resources could not be wasted frivolously on government spending projects that had little or no value. At the time I wrote the book, in 1998, I was a Republican, but that was the year that the Republican congress emulated the Democrats and passed a pork-laden highway bill that wasted valuable national resources on projects that even the states did not want, just so the Congressmen could obtain short-term political gains. At that point, I realized that the Republicans had become like the pigs in George Orwell's book, Animal Farm--who became like their former oppressors (the humans in Animal Farm and the Democrats in Congress) once they had wrested power away from their former overloads. At that point, I felt that only a third party dedicated to preserving the limited government, minimal taxes, free markets, rule of law, private property rights, and individual liberty philosophy expounded by our nation's founders could keep our nation from sliding into an economic funk characterized by high taxes and government repression of individual liberties.

    I traveled in Europe extensively when my daughter and son in law lived in Oxford England and after I retired from teaching. When in Oxford, I read a book on the history of the British monarchy and became aware of all of the horrible abuses of the citizenry that had been carried out by English royalty under their presumed "divine right of kings." I also walked past Oxford University on numerous occasions and observed a horrifying statue outside its entrance that depicted three clerics being burned at the stake in the early 1500's when English monarchs swung back and forth between the Catholic and Protestant religions--with the result that religious leaders on the outs were burned at the stake. In addition, my daughter and son in law took my wife and I on many tours around England. When we visited Warrick Castle I found it strange that the dungeons were deep down but the torture chamber was above ground with windows that overlooked the town. Then I realized that the owners of the castle didn't care if people heard moans from the dungeons, but they wanted the townspeople to hear and be intimidated by the screams from the torture chambers. The purpose of the window was to intimidate the townspeople and local serfs so they would be more willing to accommodate the demands of the overloads. At that point, I realized that those activities had occurred in a past that was not too distant form the memories of our nation's founders, who even at the time of founding, were being oppressed by a British King. I also realized that that is why our nation's founders wrote so many protections into our Constitution, to divide and limit governmental power over its citizens, to separate church power from state power, and to preserve freedom of speech and religion and to prevent people from being forced to testify against themselves (possibly because of torture) and to prevent cruel and unusual punishments. All the words placed in our succinctly written U.S. Constitution began to make more sense when I observed and thought about the conditions of governance and freedom that had existed in Europe only shortly before our nation was founded.

    In a later trip to Europe, my wife and I visited Venice, and learned that it had been possibly the most powerful city in Europe during much of the 1500's. While there, we took an audio tour of the Doge's Palace (which was the home of the leader of the city--who was appointed for life by the Senate). In that Palace, we learned of policies designed to try to eliminate voting fraud. We also observed the Court area dominated by the "Council of Ten." The Council of Ten was a court with 10 members who judged and sentenced people accused of crimes. Many of the crimes were things such as religious heresy. Accusers could submit their accusations through a hole in the chambers, and the accused could not confront their accusers, or even know who they were. At first, the court might have worked well, but over time, the court fell victim to Lord Acton's dictum, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Hapless people who had been accused could be sentenced to tortuous sentences or even death based only on hearsay. Then they would be taken across the bridge of tears to be incarcerated, tortured or executed. Eventually, the Council of Ten became feared and disrespected across Europe. It is almost certain that our founding fathers were aware of its abuses, so we have constitutional protections so people can confront their accusers, and have a trial by a jury of their peers and to have a right to not be forced to testify against themselves. These protections are made explicit in our Constitution's Bill of Rights, along with many other important protections. 

    Unfortunately, starting about 100 years ago, the "progressive movement" in the U.S. has tried to limit our constitutional protections and to expand government powers over the people. While the Democrats have been most aggressive in this process, many Republicans have advocated and promoted similar policies. Thus, having witnessed the sites described above and having thought about why our nation's founders wrote such explicit protections into our Constitution and tried so hard to limit Federal government powers, I became convinced that the Libertarian Party was on the right track in trying to limit Federal government power and to preserve all the individual liberties guaranteed in our Constitution's Bill of Rights. That is why I am a Libertarian. 


Email Chip with any questions.

Richard Peterson Campaign, Richard Peterson treasurer