Freedom, Responsibility, and Justice


          The Politics page of MICHAELSWOLF.COM contains writings and commentary of Michael S. Wolf ("MSW").  It will eventually contain links and references to other online, institutional, and publication resources and authorities on libertarianism, also known as classical liberalism and constitutional conservatism.  The main purposes of the Politics page are to demonstrate the superiority of libertarian policies in law and government, to advocate the adoption of such policies, and to provide the public with information and intellectual tools with which to join in the work of putting those policies into effect.  Occasional commentary by Michael Wolf will be posted here, with older comments being archived onsite.  Following any relatively recent commentary published below, there is a set of writings by Wolf illustrating his views on  libertarianism. and questions of public policy.



A Season of Madness and Dis-ease

From the perspective of September, 2020, in the media environment of the U.S. and south Louisiana, it is as fascinating as ever to observe the multi-ring circus of political and social conflict swirling around our turning planet.  It's a fertile field for serious observers of our species to explore.  Widespread madness, neurosis, and desperation keep pushing mankind to ever greater depths of folly, while opportunistic politicians and troubled voters angle for ways to make sense of things and better their own prospects.

The presidential election is only about five weeks away.  Early voting has already begun in some states.  The coronavirus pandemic is still raging around the world, with deaths and hospitalizations increasing in some parts of the U.S. and holding steady or decreasing in others.  Unprecedented wildfires have been burning vast areas of the West Coast.  Hurricanes and tropical storms have been ravaging the Caribbean and southeastern regions of the country.

The meteorological challenges seem to be matched by disturbances in the political atmosphere.  The presidential election is driving passions through the air and forcing minds into electoral choices that are stressful and confusing to many.  The job of picking public officials is distasteful to many Americans, to the point that many of them don't even bother voting.  Others are willing to vote but do so lazily and carelessly, more or less giving their votes away to the candidates their friends prefer, without having very clear ideas about why they should vote for any particular candidate.  Then there is a large group of voters who have reasons coherent to them for choosing one candidate over others.  Finally, there are voters who have objectively reasonable grounds for their election choices; but among these, opinions and judgments differ widely.

A social scientist analyzing American voting practices could conclude that election results are largely random, sort of like the weather.  The electorate haphazardly chooses a particular party or candidate one year and another one in a different year, with episodic but impermanent patterns or regularities in voting behavior appearing from time to time.  Serious citizens trying to produce beneficial government policies often find themselves with few if any alternatives likely to generate desired changes.  The tyranny of the status quo prevails.

Our Past, Our Present, and Our Possible Futures

The election of Donald Trump in 2016, followed by his obnoxious, inept presidency has shown how dysfunctional and suicidal a democratic society can become.  Americans were faced with very poor nominees from the major parties in 2016.  Trump won because electoral majorities in enough states chose him over Hillary Clinton.  That Gary Johnson and Bill Weld would have made a far better presidential team than Trump and Pence or Clinton and Kaine didn't matter to voters who knew the next President would be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump and therefore felt they had to choose one of them to defeat the other.

The Libertarian Party exists to change that lesser-of-two-evils calculus.  Many of the defects in the American political system can be traced to the domination of our political institutions by the Democratic and Republican parties.  Such practices as partisan gerrymandering, election laws denying fair ballot access to third parties and independent candidates, and partisan judicial appointments combine to confine laws and policies to the service of the often corrupt and unconstitutional projects contrived by the competing demagogues of the major parties.

In spite of the fundamental corruption of the so-called two-party system, some improvements in laws and policies have been made by Democrats and Republicans in recent years.  The abominable Drug War is slowly cooling down in many parts of the country.  Equality of legal rights has finally been extended to homosexuals.  More and more Americans are realizing that the U.S. cannot rule the whole world and must cooperate with other nations and not just dictate to them.  

But the solid adherence of the Democrats and the Republicans to grossly irresponsible fiscal and monetary policies indicates that we will likely suffer the consequences of their economic mismanagement for untold generations to come.  Many American Democrats and Republicans staunchly continue to insist that legislative majorities can freely choose to criminalize any private behavior of which they disapprove.  And of course it was ultimately the voters of America who decided that the main candidates for president in 2016 would be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  

It seems likely to me at this point that in the long run Americans will not prove capable of preserving our republican democracy.  Rather, we appear to be condemned by civic sloth to a gradual degeneration into mass poverty and some form of oligarchical socialism.  We may be able to foresee the future of the United States in the tragic, chaotic histories of the basket-case countries of Latin America.     

So Libertarians and other constitutional conservatives or classical liberals committed to the creation of a free, just, and prosperous society in the United States may well be fighting a rearguard action against more powerful forces.  The inertia of ignorance is extremely powerful, as recent history confirms.  While the digital revolution has produced powerful tools for education, democratic participation, and personal liberation, it has also produced powerful tools for the dissemination of misinformation and fantasy, and for enslaving individuals ever more tightly into cages of ignorance and prejudice.  We have all witnessed the transformation of journalism into entertainment and the devaluation of learning and critical thinking.  Governmental and educational organizations of many kinds openly endorse the limiting of political participation and debate to the supporters and agendas of the Republocrat cartel.  Although there are far more independents (broadly defined as voters not affiliated with either the Democratic or the Republican party) in the U.S. than there are Republicans, the official Commission on Presidential Debates will in effect not allow an independent candidate to participate, and most states have created substantial obstacles to ballot access for independent and third-party candidates.

The major media outlets, print and broadcasting, also for the most part ignore independents and third parties, yet automatically bestow credibility on Democrat and Republican candidates.  Following the lead of public institutions and the media, "low-information voters" usually limit their narrow range of attention to the nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties.  In states like Louisiana that use nominally nonpartisan primaries for many of their elections, the deeply  conditioned voters usually won't consider voting for anyone but a Democrat or a Republican.

The Libertarian Party has long claimed to be the Party of Principle, and at its best it always has been.  We know we are bucking widespread trends when we call for restoring the Constitution, free markets, personal responsibility, international peace, and sound economic policies.  It may well be that the voters will ultimately reject such enlightened policies and decide in the majority that they prefer lives of equal slavery, crying for handouts from the public overlords they have chosen to rule them and think for them.  But that grim possibility won't keep us from continuing the struggle to educate ourselves and our companions to the principles of liberty and intelligent social cooperation, for we have learned enough of the lessons of history to know that only free societies can prosper on all the dimensions of human progress, material, intellectual, and spiritual.  

We have learned that when dark ages or regimes based on violence and state domination smother liberty and the blessings of civilization, those regimes will eventually crumble because they will not be able to satisfy the legitimate demands of thinking citizens or destroy the fundamental core of the individual human spirit.  Authoritarian societies will not be able to endure forever unless they reverse course and allow the natural human spirit to assume its own natural functions, express its own values, and make its own personal decisions.  However much they may be outnumbered by crowds of confused, uninformed, and suggestible citizens, there will always be some individuals with working minds and consciences who will raise the lights of reason among their families, friends, and neighbors and keep the tried and true principles of human liberty alive until they can be rediscovered by the voters and the leaders of the land.  

The Presidential Election

I fervently hope for the defeat of Donald Trump in November.  I consider Trump to be psychopathic, incompetent, and morally and intellectually unfit to be president.  By his extraordinary dishonesty Trump has singlehandedly destroyed the credibility of his office and severely damaged the foreign relations of the United States.  I believe his election marks a nadir in American political history that indicates the degeneration of our political system and the gross neglect of serious responsibilities by the Republican Party, the news media, the educational establishment, the entertainment industry, the political financiers, and all the voters of America who contributed to making that shameless clown President of the United States.  

If it weren't for the legal and institutional rigidities of our two-party system -- and the resulting refusal of most voters to vote for anyone but Democrats and Republicans -- we would not have been faced with the awful choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton four years ago.  That's water under the bridge now, but it points out the fundamental flaws in our election system that produced such a bad result.

Many years of observing American politics convinces me that, although reform of election laws in such areas as redistricting, ballot access, campaign finance, fair public debates, and ranked choice voting may radically change the two-party landscape, until such reforms are put into practice, the only thing that is likely to influence a Democrat or Republican to change his mind on the kinds of persons to nominate for office is losing elections.  

In many of the battleground states in 2016 Libertarian or other third-party candidates got more votes than the spread between votes for Trump and votes for Clinton.  Third-party voters in tight races such as those in 2016 and this year must always confront the the possibility that by voting their actual preference for president, say for Gary Johnson, they might help either Trump or Clinton to win.  Far from a wasted vote, a third-party vote in such circumstances is a very powerful vote.  Especially if the vote is for a party or candidate whose policy preferences are clear and known, such a vote tells the losing parties and candidates exactly what kinds of program changes are needed to gain the voter's support.  

Even if only 5% of the electorate votes for an independent candidate with clear policy preferences, it will tell competing parties why they lost those votes and motivate them more than anything else could to appeal to those voters in the next election. 

The Libertarian candidate for president this year is Dr. Jo Jorgensen, a psychology instructor at Clemson University in South Carolina.  In 1996 she was the Libertarian vice-presidential nominee, serving as the running mate for Harry Browne.  She also ran for Congress as a Libertarian in 1992.  Jorgensen's running mate this year is Jeremy "Spike" Cohen, also of South Carolina.  Jorgensen and Cohen will be on the ballot in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories.  Achieving 100% ballot access in the United States is always a major accomplishment for any political party other than the Republicans and the Democrats because the major parties in most states manipulate the ballot access laws to make it extremely difficult for candidates of  other parties to qualify for elections.  Louisiana is exceptional in that it now allows third-party and independent candidates fair access to all election ballots.  

Donald Trump is such a terrible president that many people who sympathize with the Libertarian Party and other independent groups or candidates argue that this year voters must pick the lesser evil and vote for Joe Biden.  I recognize the weight of that argument and would not criticize any voter in a competitive state who decides to vote for Biden.  But at least in Louisiana, where it appears that Trump will receive an overwhelming majority of votes, anyone can vote for Jo Jorgensen and be assured that it will not cause Trump to win or Biden to lose Louisiana's eight electoral votes.

So my advice on the presidential election is: Vote for Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate.  If the Trump-Biden contest is just too close for that in your state or in your heart, hold your nose and vote for Biden.

Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked choice voting eliminates the so-called spoiler effect of independent candidates by redistributing votes for losing candidates to the second or third choices of the voters in an "instant runoff."  Voters can thus express their political preferences and still add their votes to the ultimate contest between the two most popular candidates.  

Maine recently passed a ranked choice voting law for federal elections.  On September 22, 2020 the Supreme Court of Maine rejected challenges to the new voting law and ruled that the new law will be used for the presidential election this year.  It thus appears certain that the voters of Maine will become the first Americans to use ranked choice voting in the selection of their presidential electors.  

It will be interesting to see if Jo Jorgensen and other third-party or independent candidates for president do any better in Maine than they do in other states.  Because Jorgensen will not be allowed to participate in the presidential debates, because she will have far less means of advertising than the Republocrats, and because of the intense interest in either defeating or supporting President Trump, this year's  presidential election will probably not be a very good indicator of the potential that ranked choice voting has for weakening the two-party cartel in the future.  
Maine used ranked choice voting for congressional elections in 2018, and it caused a Republican who got the highest number of first choice votes to lose to a Democrat who got more total votes after the counting of second choice votes of voters whose first choice candidates were eliminated in the first round of counting.  Ranked choice voting is used for local elections in more than twenty U.S. cities, including Cambridge (MA), San Francisco, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Santa Fe, and Portland (OR).

Louisiana, which since 2004 has been a leading example of liberal ballot access for third parties, should consider adoption of ranked choice voting to realize even more of the benefits of open elections and to avoid more of the disadvantages of blind two-party voting. 

The National Debt

One of the greatest failures of the Republocrat cartel has been its ruinous mismanagement of the U.S. economy.  "Mismanagement" is a questionable term because it implies that a national economy can be managed in the way a business firm can be managed.  But a national economy has vastly more components and processes at work than does a single business firm, and they are in no way susceptible to coordination from a central point.  Decisions are made at an infinity of points throughout the system.  The knowledge necessary to make all those decisions is dispersed throughout the system.  It does not exist in any one place and cannot be centrally managed.  What's more, the national economy functions in the environment of an international, global economy whose processes have enormous impacts on the national economy.

In spite of the overall unmanageability of the national economy, certain matters are subject to government control.  Every year the U.S. government decides how much to spend, how much to borrow, and how much to raise in revenues, through taxation or sales of assets and services.  Through the operations of the Federal Reserve System (the Fed), the U.S. central bank, the federal government determines the primary money supply of the United States, which in turn determines the purchasing power of  U.S. currency, the value of the dollar.  A major responsibility of Fed officials is to preserve the value of the dollar for American consumers, savers, and investors.  Reckoning only from 1950, the Democrats and Republicans have failed miserably in maintaining the purchasing power of U.S. money.

There is nothing more injurious to the prosperity of American citizens than the continuing devaluation of our money.  A basic measure of the failure of the presidential and congressional leadership of our country in the field of economic affairs is the amount of debt the U.S. government accumulates.  More and more the federal deficits are now being financed by the Fed through the direct creation of money loaned to the Treasury rather than through borrowing by the Treasury on the open financial markets.  Accordingly, the size of the federal deficits is a good rough measure of the weakness of our monetary constitution.

For fiscal 2019 the federal deficit was approximately $984 billion, about 4.6% of GDP.  At the end of 2019 the net U.S. debt totaled $16.8 trillion, 79% of GDP.  For fiscal 2020, which closes at the end of September, the national deficit is expected to be $3.3 trillion, 16% of GDP; and the net debt is projected to reach $20.9 trillion, about 98% of GDP.

These figures indicate the scale of failure by which the Democrats and Republicans have damaged the economy of the United States.  Excessive federal spending produces endless problems such as waste and graft as people and businesses scramble for government money and contrive expensive programs and uses for public funds.  Financing deficits leads to money printing by the Fed.  The excessive money creation leads to investment bubbles and distortion of capital markets as money is poured into financial gimmicks instead of efficient businesses that give value to consumers.  It is a shameful legacy and a shameful reality.

In the U.S. today the Libertarian Party is the only political party willing to balance budgets, stop the fiscal gravy train, and give Americans sound money of stable value.  

If you would like to help correct the the egregious economic mismanagement of the Democrats and Republicans in this country, I have two simple suggestions:

1.  Ask all candidates for Congress or President what they propose to do to end the deficits,      pay the debt, and stabilize prices in the U.S.; and  

2.   Vote only for Libertarians or other candidates who are committed to balanced budgets         and sound money.

Political Rhetoric and Terminology

The major parties and the media continually add to the dumbing-down of the electorate and the deterioration of reasoned political debate by their fallacious and deceptive labeling of political ideas, policies, and programs of all kinds. The words "liberal," "conservative," "progressive," and even "libertarian" mean different things to different people in different contexts.  The freedom philosophy, consistently championed politically in the U.S. today only by the Libertarian Party, is also known as classical liberalism, reflecting its development in the 18th and 19th centuries when democracy supplanted monarchy in the Western World and objective economic analysis demonstrated the necessity for private enterprise and free markets for both national prosperity and political freedom. 

Because the principles of economic and political freedom are embedded in the American constitutional tradition, particularly as reformed after the Civil War to abolish slavery and guarantee fundamental rights against violation by state governments, the classical liberal tradition is also sometimes referred to as constitutional conservatism (to be distinguished from other forms of conservatism, such as social or religious conservatism).  

Since the so-called "progressive era" in American history, and especially after American conservatives succeeded in smearing the term "liberal" in the last quarter of the 20th century, academic and journalistic writers and commentators have taken to calling "progressive" any policies or proposals that extend government responsibility for securing the personal needs of individuals at public expense, including all policies theretofore labeled "socialist."  I wish we could end this misuse of a loaded ideological label.  Regardless of what professors, reporters, or politicians may say, SOCIALISM IS NOT PROGRESSIVE!  It is regressive and generally productive of diminished welfare and prosperity the more it is implemented anywhere.

Obviously, liberal (democratic) communities may choose to provide various public goods and services at public expense if they so choose, subject to constitutional limits.  But to automatically term any such programs "progressive" so as to imply that they always improve the overall welfare of the citizens or the country is a plain mistake that misleads both proponents and opponents of socialism, as well as those uninformed citizens who are trying to figure out what values and candidates to vote for in elections.  

Just as the Democrats and Republicans are often un-democratic and un-republican, people who consider themselves Libertarian are sometimes un-libertarian in important ways.  In American politics, candidates and voters often fly under false flags.  Political parties and organizations that consistently stand for identifiable political principles can be helpful in accurately informing voters about the beliefs and records of the candidates; but they can also be very misleading if they inaccurately describe political actors and misuse ideological labels.

Examples of the misuse of ideological labels that we see too often in Louisiana occur when people registered to vote as Libertarians or even running for office as Libertarians advocate the prohibition of abortion or the absolute elimination of taxation.  Some people claim to be both anarchist and libertarian, or even "libertarian socialists."  While people are obviously free to describe their views any way they wish, they do not advance the true cause of liberty by misrepresenting statist or anarchist views as libertarian.  

The Abortion Issue

It's hard to imagine a more personal decision than whether to terminate a pregnancy or, on the other hand, to have a child.  It is not only the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court that currently upholds the right of American women to decide for themselves their reproductive choices.  Preserving to individuals the prerogatives of making their own personal choices is the essence of the libertarian tradition from the beginning.  Whether of not governments or judges have always recognized it, reproductive freedom has always been a fundamental natural right of all persons.  Neither judges, legislators, nor even parents have the right to dictate the reproductive choices of others.  They can't insist that any other persons breed or reproduce on command, or that anyone must carry a pregnancy to term and be prohibited from voluntarily aborting an embryo or a fetus. 

Many people in the U.S. are led by religious convictions or personal opinions to assert that abortion is murder and therefore properly prohibited by law.  They claim that a human being with legal personality exists from the moment of biological conception, and they declare the dependent existence of an embryo or a fetus to be superior in rights to the fully-grown, autonomous woman in whose body the embryo or fetus is growing.  All libertarians respect the rights of abortion opponents to exhort women not to have abortions; but to use the coercive power of the state's criminal law to rob women of their natural rights to make their own personal bodily decisions is a flagrant and unconstitutional abuse of legislative or judicial authority that will be condemned by all genuine libertarians.

Here in Louisiana on Election Day, November 3, 2020, the voters will have to vote on several amendments to the Louisiana Constitution.  As usual, most of the amendments deal with matters that should be addressed by ordinary legislation and not locked into our overly lengthy and detailed state constitution.  Proposed Amendment No. 1, however, is far worse than unnecessary super-legislation.  It would add to our Constitution a sentence declaring that our Constitution shall never be construed "to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."  Many Libertarians object to state funding of abortion, as well as other forms of personal medical treatment; but to deny a constitutional right to have an abortion in Louisiana would be a gross violation of individual rights that should never be part of our State Constitution.  

If this amendment passes, it will be another unfortunate demonstration that the legislators and voters of Louisiana are unwilling to protect the fundamental rights of our citizens.  Louisiana would be turning its back on its own citizens and requiring them again to rely for protection of their rights on the federal government and the Constitution of the United States. 

Louisiana Elections

Besides the presidential election, voters in Louisiana in November will be electing congressmen, local officials, judges, and prosecutors throughout the state.  The Libertarian Party of Louisiana will have candidates in a number of races.  Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen will be our presidential ticket, of course.  Heading our slate of Louisiana candidates will be Dr. Aaron Sigler, a neurosurgeon from Hammond, who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Dr. Bill Cassidy.

We have candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in three congressional districts:

Howard Kearney of Mandeville is running in the 1st District against incumbent Steve Scalise. 

Brandon Leleux of Lake Charles is running in the 3rd District against incumbent Clay Higgins.

Shannon Sloan of Denham Springs is running in the 6th District against incumbent Garret Graves. 

Local Libertarian candidates in Louisiana this year include:

Everett Baudean, candidate for the Baton Rouge Metro Council , District 7, running against incumbent LaMont Cole;

Guy Lemoine, candidate for the Board of Aldermen of Plaucheville;

Jacquelin ("Jackie") Hankins, candidate for the Board of Aldermen, District 5, in Newellton;

Patrick Redmon, candidate for City Court Judge in Bunkie, running against incumbent Derrick Earles;

Kevin Carroll, candidate for Justice of the Peace, Ward 8, in Franklin Parish;

Martin Wade, the incumbent since 10/14/17, candidate for re-election as Justice of the Peace, Ward 4, in Lafourche Parish; and

Andrew Poland, candidate for Constable, Ward B, in St. Bernard Parish.

May all American voters take their civic responsibilities seriously and cast their votes after thoughtful consideration for the candidates they conscientiously believe to be the best choices for the offices in question.  Good luck to everyone.



Summertime, 2016 

          The 2016 U.S. presidential election has become a bizarre spectacle.  Like an enormous storm, it is shaking up heaven and earth and exposing to universal view the dysfunction and tragedy of the contemporary American political system.  Blessed with boundless resources, an enterprising population, and an unprecedented republican constitution that produced two centuries of expanding wealth and personal prosperity, the United States is now floundering in a course of self-generated deterioration that is as remarkable as its previous ascent.
          Having combined a libertarian constitution, crucially re-forged through civil war, with a free economy preserving the fruits of private enterprise and voluntary cooperation for all, the U.S. built a progressive society of great industrial strength, military power, and civilian prosperity.  On that promising foundation, the Americans of today have changed course.  Over roughly the last fifty years they have largely abandoned their constitutional heritage and transformed American government into a set of outrageously corrupt institutions dedicated no longer to the cultivation of justice and personal responsibility, but devoted instead to the sordid interests of political entrepreneurs and demagogues devoted to nothing more than their personal enrichment and the subjugation of the great mass of the citizens to the misguided whims of their political masters.
          The most fundamental failure of American society since World War II has been the abandonment of intelligence and educational ideals by the socio-economic elites of this country.  This unfortunate phenomenon was apparently catalyzed by the post-war prosperity, which seems to have led many people to reject belief in the values of hard work, self-sacrifice, and ordinary prudence.  Finding it easier and easier to make a comfortable living with only moderate effort, Americans have gradually gotten more and more lazy and self-satisfied.
 Another dimension of degeneration involves political consciousness.  Perhaps influenced by the confidence engendered by winning World War II, becoming the dominant military power in the world, and experiencing several generations of economic prosperity, Americans developed a kind of arrogance in which they’ve felt entitled to boss around the world and demand conformity to the prejudices of their political majorities by everyone else.  Marching always under the banner of “Might Makes Right,” the ruling elites of the U.S. have luxuriated in suppressing the individualism of their neighbors and punishing every form of conscientious dissent against prevailing values and the interests of the politically powerful.
          One of the most significant productions of this malign causal chain has been the insidious cartel known as the Two-Party System.  Like other powerful social institutions, the Two-Party System has enforced conformity to its expectations by imposing restrictions on all citizens through manipulation of laws and social rewards, relying always on the endless conformism of the American public, especially on the supreme acquiescence of that most servile, sycophantic, and deleterious segment of the population known as “the mass media,” “the press,” or “journalists.”  (Of course there are exceptions to all generalizations.)  The persistence of this wretched Two-Party System in the United States in the 21st century is a prime example of the intellectual collapse of American culture that I call the Default of the Intellectuals.
          The Default of the Intellectuals is very evident in the 2016 elections.  Donald Trump, an egomaniacal real estate developer hurled into the limelight by the entertainment industry, has captured the Republican Party nomination in a series of primary elections in which he championed a very brash kind of ignorance that appealed to large parts of the Republican electorate.  Though he isn’t a philosophical conservative in any coherent sense, Trump prevailed in the primaries by expounding xenophobia, protectionism, and other simplistic nostrums to the “angry white males” and females who responded to his demagogic appeals.  Trump depicts the world as threatening and too competitive for the U.S.   His solutions, never analytically demonstrated, always consist of raw predictions that when he is in charge, everything will be better.  He insists that the U.S. cannot compete with Asia, Africa, and other developing economies, and that we must be protected against such fearsome competition.
          Domestically, Trump expresses a similar fear of natural markets.  He champions a paternalistic state that will coddle the economically needy of all sorts and compel everyone under pain of imprisonment to follow the senseless moral demands of his ilk.  He pledges to torture terrorist suspects.  Judging from his statements about judicial appointments, Trump seems committed to the appointment of judges who would allow state legislatures or the Congress to ban abortion and subordinate many constitutional rights to the dubious judgments of legislative majorities.  He wants to prolong the War on Drugs and encourages the police to dominate the people in their private activities.  In short, Donald Trump is a reckless, foolish demagogue who is being pushed along by the corrupt American political system to become one of the two shameful finalists, one of whom, we are told, must be elected president.  (And this finalist status is based on his nomination by a party representing no more than 25% of the national electorate.)
          Hillary Clinton is only marginally less objectionable than Trump.  Less overtly fascist than Trump, she is nonetheless an extremely authoritarian politician totally committed to socialist and statist “solutions” to perceived social and economic problems.  She has always been an eager Drug Warrior.  She supported the Iraq War and has been a habitual proponent of ill-advised foreign military interventions, with little or no apparent constitutional scruples about “presidential war.”  She and her husband, Bill Clinton, have been poster children for crony capitalism and corporate bailouts – just as much as were the last Republican administrations, as was the Obama administration, and as always have been the great majority of U.S. senators and representatives of both the Republican and the Democratic parties.
          Clearly neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump would come close to satisfying the political preferences of constitutional conservatives or classical liberals, that is to say, the large group of thoughtful citizens whose views are essentially libertarian.  No presidential election in recent memory has more clearly shown the evils of the Two-Party System and the crying need to replace the Republocrat cartel with an open, competitive multi-party system that allows political independents and adherents of any political parties, however new or small, to participate fairly in all American elections.
          As bad as both Clinton and Trump are, their political differences are no greater than, say, those between George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  As always, the Democrats and Republicans are more alike than different.  And their greatest unity is naturally the Two-Party System, which allows them to monopolize most of the governmental activity in the U.S. – legislation, administration, and adjudication – with the sorry consequences all of the citizens are forced to endure.
          Thanks be to God for the Libertarian Party of the United States!  Its presidential ticket this year, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts governor William Weld, is the strongest the LP has ever fielded.  Current polling shows Johnson and Weld attracting about 10% of the popular vote.  Of course the Democrats and the Republicans are determined to keep them out of the official presidential debates.  The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a theoretically nonpartisan and independent educational organization, sponsors the general election presidential debates.  The CPD requires a participating presidential candidate to have received the support of at least 15% of the voters polled in five national polls conducted shortly before the debates.
          It is deeply to be hoped that Gary Johnson will have achieved the necessary level of polled support by September 26, 2016, the date set for the first presidential debate.  A debate among the vice-presidential running mates of all presidential candidates polling at 15% is set for October 4.  There will be two more presidential debates, scheduled for October 9 and October 19.
          A catch-22 with which Gary Johnson has had to contend is that most pollsters have simply not included his name in their polls.  Like most of the so-called news organizations of the mass media, these pseudo-professionals find it much easier and more satisfying to only have to consider two choices when conducting and discussing their polls.  Even when third party or independent candidates are included in polls, many news outlets simply distribute their “votes” among the two leading candidates and report only the polling results of the two front-runners.  More generally, most news organizations studiously ignore all candidates other than the major-party nominees from start to finish of the election campaigns.  These kinds of practices tend to produce a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Hearing nothing about independent candidates in the news coverage and never hearing polling results for them reported, the public becomes less likely to investigate or consider such candidates.  They are driven by the news organizations to consider only the “either-or” option of a choice between the Democrat and the Republican nominees.
          Fortunately for the public this year, the high degree of dissatisfaction with “Clinton or Trump” as the only choice has caused more polling and news organizations to start reporting support for Gary Johnson and other independent or third party alternatives.
          Like the highly selective news coverage of the candidates and the polls, another pillar of the Two-Party System is the terrible structure of ballot access laws in force throughout the U.S.   With few exceptions (one of which is Louisiana), most states have erected burdensome obstacles to ballot access by independent and third party candidates, often requiring such candidates to complete very costly and difficult petition drives in order to be allowed onto the ballots.  Louisiana, in contrast, has long had relatively liberal ballot access rules for presidential candidates and for independent candidates in other races.  Since 2004, Louisiana has extended its sensible ballot access laws to new political parties, providing reasonable means by which candidates affiliated with small but growing political parties may gain access to ballots and have their party affiliations identified to the voters.
          It’s always refreshing to be able to point out any legal or political development in Louisiana that is truly progressive (in the sense of causing an objective improvement in actual conditions).  Louisiana citizens should be grateful that these reforms were enacted by their Legislature.  They should be grateful in particular to former State Representative William Daniel of Baton Rouge and former State Senator Jay Dardenne, who sponsored and advocated the improvements in 2004.
          Greater ballot access for third party and independent candidates is a necessary condition for better government, but not a sufficient one.  Unless wise and capable candidates will run for office as independents or nominees of other political parties, our country and our states will remain in the corrupting embrace of the Democrats and the Republicans.
          Please don’t “waste” your vote by casting it for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.  Most of the people voting for either one of them will be doing so primarily because they dislike the other candidate more than the one they’ve selected.  I call that a silent vote because it can’t be interpreted accurately.  Suppose in one place 1,000 voters vote for Clinton.  Looking at that result alone, you can’t tell if those 1,000 voters really liked Hillary Clinton or her policies, or just disliked Trump or his policies so much that they just wanted to vote against him.
          Votes for third parties and independent candidates whose views and principles are well known (perhaps because truly progressive journalists have reported them), on the other hand, can be interpreted accurately and thus are not silent, even if the candidate in question loses the election.  Knowing, for example, that 1,000 voters in an area voted for a Libertarian candidate  can support many reasonable inferences about the policy preferences of those voters.  Knowing such preferences can assist public officials and others in satisfying or changing them; and knowing the preferences of voting minorities allows other candidates and parties to attempt to meet the demands of those voters in future elections.
          I suppose we could all be thankful that the train wreck of remarkably bad candidates the Democrats and Republicans have given us in the presidential race this year illustrates starkly why third parties, independent candidates, and enlightened ballot access laws are so necessary today.
          To all those disenchanted with the Republocrat options this year, I urge consideration of a vote for Gary Johnson and William Weld.  Such a vote would be correctly interpreted by everyone as a rejection of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and as a statement of serious support for restoring the Constitution, bringing fiscal responsibility back to the federal government, ending the War on Drugs, and adopting cautious, vigilant, libertarian policies in foreign affairs and national defense.




Springtime in the Clutches of the Republocrats 



          A quick look-around at the American political scene in the spring of 2013 presents a discouraging picture of true vice and profound ignorance combining to wreak severe injury on a huge society and very many individuals.  Adopting a forgiving interpretation of this vice, one can think of it as various forms of ignorance driving poor decisions and unintended consequences.  The prevailing policies of American government are so misguided and damaging in so many ways that an honest citizen trying to figure out how to vote is constantly confronted with the knave-or-fool dilemma. 


          The public officials responsible for the terrible policies generated in Washington and the state capitols are plainly guilty of gross incompetence and dereliction of duty.  Motives can be debated forever.  Undoubtedly some of the responsible parties are so confused about the issues or so beholden to the lobbyists who pull their strings that they may not perceive any viable alternatives to the current policies.  But those who have willingly taken control of the powers of government and who freely choose how those powers are to be used or abused owe serious duties of honesty and good judgment to those they represent and serve.  


          When public officials disregard obvious facts and elementary principles of justice and foresight in directing the actions of government, they can no longer enjoy any presumption of good faith.  When they deliberately suppress the true facts and spin sugar-coated fairy tales about what they are doing and what the consequences of their actions are likely to be, they cannot be excused as naive optimists or stubborn dreamers.  Misleading the public, violating their oaths of office, and misusing the powers of their offices to cheat and abuse their constituents are betrayals of trust that merit not merely disagreement, but the strongest moral condemnation from the long-suffering public constrained to endure the atrocious misconduct of their civic overlords.


          Let us gratefully admit that there are many conscientious public officials doing competent work administering public services at all levels of government.  But let us also acknowledge that many of those who have risen to high positions in American government routinely engage in the most dishonorable and corrupt malfeasance – even as they are applauded by ill-informed and often equally culpable supporters eager to pursue the reckless aims of the demagogues from their own motives of self-interest and prejudice.




           The malfeasance of which I accuse our public officials is easily seen in the crucial areas of economic policy, criminal “justice,” and election administration.  Six years into an economic collapse caused by reckless stimulative monetary policies and irresponsible risk-taking in the banking and real estate industries that was strongly encouraged by government policies, the political cartel that controls the federal government continues to engage in unprecedented monetary expansion, unprecedented accumulation of debt, and outrageous subsidies of favored enterprises, still including prominently banking and real estate interests.  People like Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke continue to tell us that our massive public debt doesn’t matter and that it will easily be paid down to “normal” levels when the economy turns around in a few more years.


          That is not only dreaming, it is deceit.


          The results of the reckless monetary and debt expansion in which the U.S. government has engaged for the last fifty years include the speculative bubbles and recessions we have experienced, and the inexorable decline in the purchasing power of U.S. money.  Nothing worsens the economic conditions of the poor more than monetary inflation, which keeps pushing the costs of all the goods and services they consume ever further out of their reach.  The relentless rise in the living costs of Americans is impoverishing them more and more every year.  Aware of this, the grand planners in Washington bend the numbers, changing the inflation indexes to mask the impact of their profligate policies.  But ordinary Americans know their living costs are not decreasing.  They know that the costs of food, fuel, housing, health care, clothes, education, transportation, and virtually everything else they consume are rising, and that their wages, salaries, and pensions are not rising proportionately.


          Of course it’s different for those in the favored industries, and those who get the first dollars from the government printing presses.  The essence of justice is equality of treatment for similarly situated individuals.  The influential people on high salaries will always be impacted less by price inflation than those of modest incomes, so one might expect them to be less concerned about the rising cost of living.  The equal treatment that justice demands rejects the arbitrary imposition of public burdens like taxation at different rates or terms on different persons.

          Unfortunately for most Americans confronting the ever-widening gap in living standards between our “haves” and our “have-nots,” the pernicious political cartel that dominates the country maintains an abominable scheme of taxation that taxes the profits from the sale of securities and real estate at about half the rate of taxation imposed on all other forms of commerce.  Taxing a man who sells furniture or televisions 30% on his income while taxing a man who sells companies or buildings 15% on his is inherently unjust, as well as destructive to social cohesion and cooperation.  The Democrats and Republicans say it’s necessary to subsidize the trafficking in productive assets to encourage industry and investment.  Anyone spouting such nonsense should be repudiated immediately.  But that is the kind of “bipartisan” policy consensus the Republocrats give us year-in and year-out, no matter which of their corrupt factions controls the presidency and the congressional chambers.


          Cutting taxes for the rich and subsidizing their financial speculations is mother’s milk for the Democrats and Republicans.  It helps keep the indispensable bribes and campaign contributions flowing into their pockets. 




          Persecuting the powerless for their private vices is another favorite bipartisan program of the ruling cartel.  Those who epitomize oppression, corruption, and the worst immorality – those whose magnificent salaries, fringe benefits, and government offices allow them to indulge heedlessly in every form of personal excess – not to mention the collective ability to casually order the killing of persons deemed threatening to “U.S. interests” at any place on Earth – these powerful officials delight in criminalizing the consumption of pain-killing herbs, powders, and chemicals that ordinary people use to reduce the pain and misery of their difficulties and enable them to carry on in seas of squalor and distress.  Like the rich patrons they serve the most, Republocrat officials relish the alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, and the antidepressants, tranquilizers, painkillers, mood stabilizers, and other pharmaceuticals they consume in prodigious quantities to enable them to meet the worldly demands of their positions.


          Cruelly different is the fate of those ordinary people whose more limited means lead them to self-medicate outside of the favored institutional channels.  They are hunted down, prosecuted, and jailed for “substance abuse.”  The Democrats and the Republicans agree that all persons choosing to consume cannabis, coca, opiates, psychedelic plants or chemicals, or any other kinds of mood-altering drugs without a doctor’s well-paid prescription are to be jailed and subjected to all manner of civil and criminal penalties for their “abuse of drugs.”  


          The absurd laws they have crafted to accomplish these absurd purposes make no distinction whatsoever between “use” and “abuse” of the offending “dangerous substances.”  Unlike the drugs approved for recreational and medicinal use by Democrat and Republican politicians, the prohibited drugs are declared to be unsusceptible of anything but abusive use.  This kind of irrationality is routine for Republocrat politicians.  No objective person would believe that the drugs banned in the United States are inherently any more dangerous than those permitted.  Indeed most of the prohibited drugs are allowed pursuant to proper authorization.


          For most of a century now, both cartel factions have supported the criminal prohibition of this selective sort of private vice and staunchly resisted efforts to moderate the severity of the prohibition laws.  A few generations ago their predecessors finally realized that prohibition of alcohol was causing more harm than good, but most of the Dems and Reps can’t grasp the parallel with the status quo today.  Nevertheless none of their contemporary office holders are calling for the criminalization of alcoholism or the jailing of drinkers. 


          It’s evident that having a constant, low-danger menace to combat offers many opportunities for profit to ambitious demagogues as well as to bureaucrats, police departments, correctional facilities, prosecutors, courts, and “treatment” providers, among other special beneficiaries of the prohibition.  But again, motives can be obscure.  Maybe some of these people are just neurotically scared of the world they inhabit – afraid they or their loved ones may be seduced by dangerous substances into losing their intelligence and common sense. 

          Are these prohibitionist zealots being fools or knaves -- or both?


          Ironically, our last two Democratic presidents have admitted to using marijuana at times even as they still refuse to advocate any moderation of the long-standing drug prohibitions  afflicting the U.S. and many, but not all, other countries.  It doesn’t augur well for our prospects of leading “the Free World” or conquering any part of  “the future” if we can’t trust ourselves to make up our own minds about consuming cannabis, mushrooms, or anything else without the brutal intervention of vice police and hypocritical politicians.




          When it comes to free elections, the two-party cartel running American government  pretends that our elections are models of democracy.  In fact, the bipartisans have successfully conspired for years to suppress the participation of other parties and independent candidates in American elections in order to ensure the election of Republocrats.  It is in the arena of elections, of course, that the cartel factions compete the most vigorously for control of government offices.  Their fraternal competition satisfies themselves that they are being democratic enough, but they rarely waiver in their joint resolve to keep other competitors off the ballots, out of the view of the voters, and definitely out of the winner’s column in any race. 


          Maintaining the counter-constitutional fraud that is the American “Two-Party System” is a vast enterprise in which the private sector enthusiastically participates.  The foundation of the edifice is the gerrymandering of election districts by the state legislatures, designed to ensure that the state legislative races and all U.S. Representative elections will be won by either a Democrat or a Republican.  The legislators who design the outlandish voting districts usually aim to create districts so unbalanced in voter party affiliation that the candidates of the favored party in any district have no need to appeal to supporters of any other parties or candidates. 


          Approximately 40% of American voters are independents, belonging to neither Republocrat party.  The bipartisan schemes to elect only Democrats and Republicans amount to conspiracies not only to suppress and manipulate the political preferences of 40% of the citizens, but also to force public policy on all issues into the narrow set of alternatives corruptly determined by the Republocrat cartel.


          The next crucial step in assuring Republocrat rule is to deny ballot access to independent candidates and allow only the nominees of the Democrats and Republicans to run for office.  The bipartisans accomplish this with a catalog of ballot access requirements for non-cartel candidates, commonly involving very time-consuming and expensive petitioning processes, that are so hard to meet that in most states it is very rare for any independent or “third-party” candidates to compete in the most important elections.  While the independent candidates are subjected to the severely restrictive ballot access rules, the “major party” candidates are privileged to appear on the ballots at will with little or no difficulty. 


          The news media, appropriately dubbed the fourth branch of American government, eagerly blend both knavery and foolishness in “reporting” on politics to the American public.  Disregarding the traditional democratic responsibilities of conscientious journalists, they generally ignore the non-cartel candidates and give the voters minimal information about them.  Though media scolds often suppose that the lack of coverage given to independent candidates reflects media favoritism toward the campaigns that spend the most advertising money, there are  subtler forces at work.  


          The major broadcast, print, and internet news media today simply don’t care about the programs or ideas of the competing candidates.  All they care about is predicting who will win the elections.  To them, election news is nothing but tabloid entertainment focusing on the personalities of the most promising contenders.  It is usually a foregone conclusion that independent and third-party campaigns, usually very underfunded compared to cartel campaigns, are unlikely to be successful at the polls.  Accordingly the established media organs give them no serious coverage, thus rendering their reportorial prophecies about election outcomes somewhat self-fulfilling.  


          The American media are notorious for trading favorable coverage of cartel politicians for preferential access to public officials.  Naturally these media organizations see no such benefit from informing the public about candidates unlikely to be elected to office.  Publicizing dissident views on public policy issues has little value to most people in the U.S. news business.  It’s too hard to do well.  It requires good judgment and often painstaking analysis of complicated details.  


          With the help of public opinion polls, our news media generally have little trouble figuring out who the front-runners are in any election contest, and that is usually all they care to report.  If the amount of advertising by candidates does not directly buy the coverage they want, it may do so indirectly by indicating to reporters and editors which candidates, being the best funded, are most likely to succeed.


          Another disappointing aspect of elections in the U.S. that does much to secure the power of the two-party cartel is the practice of limiting public debates and candidate forums to the best funded cartel candidates.  Nothing would do more to open our political system to creative and promising new policy initiatives than to allow serious independent candidates to participate in the election debates along with the Republican and Democrat candidates.  The routine exclusion of independent candidates from the debates, usually on the pretext that inviting “minor” candidates to the debates would just waste time and confuse the voters, is obviously another convenient self-fulfilling way to make sure that the campaigns of the independents will never matter or deserve reporting.


          The exclusion of independents from consideration in American elections is most evident in the presidential election debates, held under the auspices of a Republocrat commission.  The Commission on Presidential Debates is solely a creation of the Republican and Democratic parties.  Since the inception of the Commission in 1987, only one presidential election, in 1992, saw the participation of anyone other than the two cartel candidates in the presidential debates.  In 1992 independent candidate Ross Perot participated in the debates with the Democrat and Republican candidates.  Perot’s 19% popular vote total that year is believed by many to have caused the Commission to change the rules for subsequent debates to deny participation by any but the two cartel nominees.


          The nationwide political combination of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is the real governing power in the United States.  This insidious, flag-wrapped cartel pursues and defends primarily the interests of the wealthy businesses and individuals who finance its election campaigns, many of whom hedge their bets by contributing to the campaigns of both cartel candidates in any given election.


          In recent years, internet fundraising has allowed huge sums of money to be raised from small contributors.  This may turn out to be a significant counterweight to the financial power of the rich and the corporate interests.  However that turns out, it remains the case that the ordinary voting citizens of America could change the direction of the national and state governments tomorrow if they would only choose to vote for libertarian-minded candidates who would keep their oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States and reverse the disastrous, unconstitutional, and ignorant policies established by the Republocrat cartel.


          The persistence of Republocrat control of elections in America helps to explain why, despite the destructive consequences of the cartel’s self-dealing, spendthrift economic policies, its fanatical, know-nothing Drug War, and all manner of other failed programs, our government policies almost never change.  Another reason for the persistence of bad policies is what Milton Friedman called “the tyranny of the status quo.”  Public officials, politicians, and voters alike find it difficult to conceive of doing things differently from how they have been done in the past.  The political influence of all the special interests that benefit from any particular government program or legislation, however wrongheaded or counter-productive it may be, is clearly a major factor shaping the outcome of Republocrat policy deliberations.



          These offhand ruminations might suggest that there is little hope for improvement in American government as long as the bipartisan cartel remains in power throughout the land.  I would like to close this vernal screed with a few observations indicating that significant reform might yet be possible despite the continuing reign of the Republocrats.


          To begin with, there are exceptions to every generalization, including all of those stated above.  The Republocrat cartel is not completely monolithic.  The Republican Party includes people like the recently retired Rep. Ron Paul of Texas who profess very libertarian beliefs and who have walked the walk of fighting tenaciously for constitutional government, world peace, and sensible monetary, fiscal, and defense policies.  There are cracks appearing in the Republican wing of the cartel, illustrated by the Tea Party movement as well as the Ron Paul phenomenon.  Some of the new Tea Party Republicans speak very passionately of their commitments to constitutional values.  If they embody their rhetoric in decisive actions to oppose their party’s usual support for corporatist bailouts, deficit spending, authoritarian vice wars, and military adventurism, for example, they will become agents of reform trying to change the nature of the Republican Party. 


          One piece of advice I’d have for the Repub reformers is to not let their zeal for tax reduction smother the enthusiasm they should have for civil justice and fiscal responsibility.


          The cartel united front against liberalization of our criminal vice laws has been cracking substantially lately, with more and more states legalizing the medical use of cannabis, decriminalizing it, or legalizing it entirely for personal use or cultivation, as Washington and Colorado recently did.  Hopefully those who appreciate the value of rekindling respect for federalism and states’ rights under our national Constitution will bring pressure on the leadership of both wings of the partisan cartel to alter the U.S. Controlled Dangerous Substances Act to accommodate the rightful prerogatives of the states. 


          A number of states and municipalities around the country have been making substantial progress in opening their elections to independent candidates and new parties.  In 2004, Louisiana, a state in many ways a poster child for dysfunctional Republocrat obtuseness, reformed its ballot access laws very sensibly to reduce discrimination against independent candidates.  Local governments in many parts of the U.S. have been experimenting with alternative voting systems like “instant runoff voting” that allow voters to rank alternative choices on their ballots, thereby encouraging competition from independent candidates.


          Arizona and other states are pursuing public funding of elections in order to reduce the dependence of candidates on financial contributors and encourage more diversity in election choices. 


          State creativity as well as the Republocrat demons were showcased in California’s recent action taking legislative districting away from the parties and the legislature, and assigning it to a supposedly independent commission charged with drawing rational election districts without consideration of partisan advantage.


          As important as any other exception to my statements above is that – thankfully! – there are some competent and conscientious journalists, editors, publishers, broadcasters, and webcasters, as well as other contributors to news dissemination, at work in the United States who believe in objective analysis, reasoned debate, and the value of an informed citizenry.  Thanks to them, libertarian ideas are spreading faster than they otherwise would.


          The growth of critical thinking and ethical commitment at any points in the mass media field appears to be a providential development for all of us.  It demonstrates again that the concerted work of social change is a cooperative endeavor and that it is a spontaneous response to an accumulation of motivating conditions experienced in common.  It’s as though an injury brings forth its healing.






A New Year

          The 2012 campaigns and ensuing public events have well confirmed my expectation that they would demonstrate conspicuously the advancing incompetence of our democracy. The political cartel in Washington is continuing to increase debt recklessly and mislead the population into believing that there is no need ever to reduce it or pay it. There is as little concern for simple justice and equity in the design of tax and spending programs as there ever was, never mind the total disregard of the macroeconomic consequences of fiscal and monetary recklessness. The rising cost of living (the devaluation of U.S. money) continues to be one of the greatest of material handicaps for ordinary American citizens. 




          The older materials provided for the first version of this page are the following:


1. Libertarianism in a Nutshell (2000)

2. Libertarianism in Three Paragraphs (1989)

3. Restoring the American Constitution (Congressional Campaign Speech, 2000)

4. The Lost Sheep of the Libertarian Party (2004)

5.  Platform of the Libertarian Party of Louisiana, 2003-2007


6.  Conceptual Opposites for Reflections on Public Policy (2003)


7.  The Evolution of the Slugs (2001)


8.  Draft Statement of Principles for the Jeffersonians (2008)

1.                                           LIBERTARIANISM IN A NUTSHELL

          Libertarianism holds that human happiness and prosperity are maximized to the extent that individuals are allowed to make their own decisions about how to live and what to believe.  Individuals should be free to follow their own consciences and inspirations, to choose their own values, and to decide for themselves as much as possible their occupations, undertakings, pastimes, and transactions.  People don’t need politicians and judges to tell them what to think.  Both morality and economic prosperity are based on freedom of choice, not government force.
          Libertarians contend that laws and governments are properly formed and administered only for the purposes of protecting the natural rights of individuals and ensuring a fair legal and economic framework within which individuals can freely and safely carry out their chosen pursuits.  Governments should not attempt to control the personal or economic choices of individuals or to coercively impose the demands of any person or group upon another, except as necessary to safeguard the genuine rights and liberties of all.

          In a nutshell, libertarianism is self-determination.  It is thinking for yourself.

                                                                                                      Michael S. Wolf

2.                                      LIBERTARIANISM IN THREE PARAGRAPHS

          Libertarianism is the political and moral philosophy which holds that human happiness and prosperity are maximized to the extent that individuals are allowed to make their own decisions about how to live and what to believe.  Libertarians recognize that all morality and creativity originate in the intelligence and free will of individuals.  To permit this intelligence and creativity to operate – for the greater benefit of the whole human race – individuals must be free to follow their own consciences and inspirations, to choose their own values, and to decide for themselves as much as possible their occupations, undertakings, pastimes, and transactions.

          Libertarians contend that laws and governments are properly formed and administered only for the purposes of protecting the natural rights of individuals and ensuring a fair legal and economic framework within which individuals can freely and safely carry out their chosen pursuits.  In general, it is not proper or beneficial for governments to attempt to control the personal or economic choices of individuals or to coercively impose the demands of any person or group upon another, except as necessary to safeguard the genuine rights and liberties of all.

          Although government is appropriately used to provide certain basic requirements for a peaceful and prosperous society, such as public law enforcement, an effective judicial system, a sound currency, and a clean natural environment, it should not be the responsibility of government to create morality, organize society, distribute wealth, or guarantee prosperity or happiness to anyone.  Efforts of politicians and bureaucrats to accomplish such goals through state action usually fail to improve on the spontaneous, cooperative, and providential accomplishments of free individuals acting purposefully in free societies.

                                                                                                                      Michael S. Wolf

3.                                   RESTORING THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION

    The American Revolution brought the world something never seen before, libertarian government.  The new law declared by the Founding Fathers proclaimed the natural liberty of all citizens.  No longer were their lives subject to the authoritarian dictates of kings and aristocrats.  The American Revolution established self-government as the natural law of political organization.

    All citizens were to be free to make their own personal and economic decisions.  They were to be free to use their natural abilities in any enterprise or effort, free to work, to learn, to acquire property, and to keep the wealth they earned.

    Taxes were low and government officials were few.  The Constitution of the United States created a small national government whose powers were strictly limited to essential national functions.  It had no general power to enact laws on any subject whatever, or to regulate the daily lives of American citizens.  General legislative authority was given only to the separate states, which were sovereign governments free to experiment, to differ, and to craft their own laws as they saw fit.

    The Civil War Amendments to the U.S. Constitution ended the evil of slavery, extended the rights of citizenship to all Americans, and prohibited the States from violating the fundamental rights of any person.  

    Since the Civil War, a new slavery has been forced on the American people.  The libertarian Constitution of the Founders and the reformers of the 19th century was forgotten during the 20th century.

    The technological progress and wealth created by the free American economy combined with a new political philosophy – socialism – to change the nature of American government.

    The libertarian philosophy of limited government was gradually replaced with the authoritarian philosophy of the Welfare State.  The politicians controlling the federal and state governments adopted the view that they and their government offices should control the personal and economic decisions of the people.  They came to believe that government planning was better than the spontaneous order of the free market.

    Taxes increased dramatically to the point that today almost half of all the wealth generated by the U.S. economy is consumed by national, state, and local governments.  Despite their rhetoric to the contrary, the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties, who control government in the U.S. today, want to regulate virtually all activity of American citizens by federal laws and bureaucratic programs.  Intoxicated with power, they believe tragically that the only way to produce a good society is for the national government to confiscate the income of Americans through a massive tax system and then dole out to the people the necessities of life, such as food, shelter, education, employment, and medical care, according to the plans of the rulers.

    Even worse, the Democrat and Republican politicians have prostituted and corrupted themselves and our laws by selling government favors to the highest bidders.  The leviathan tax system is used with an equally enormous system of business subsidies and giveaways to give financial rewards to the business interests who determine the outcome of elections.

    The corruption and debasement of our Constitution have gone so far that it is only with great exaggeration that our elections can even be called democratic.  With the power of federal law and the U.S. Treasury behind them, the Republican and Democratic parties have eliminated almost all competition for public office.  They have re-written election laws to deny participation by independent candidates and members of other political parties.  They bestow hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds on their own parties to permit them to buy elections with mass advertising and propaganda.  They control the federal courts by patronage appointments from their ranks.  They have created a system of virtual one-party rule.  They have created a political cartel with two nearly indistinguishable factions used to produce the illusion of real competition.  The power of this cartel is almost as total as that of the one-party regimes of Mexico, the Soviet Union, and the authoritarian states of Asia and the Third World.  

    In short, the elected rulers of America have destroyed American democracy and the American constitutional system.  They have replaced American liberty and free enterprise with slavish dependence on the government and control of our lives by officials, judges, and police.  Worst of all, they have destroyed in most Americans the will to be free, to think for themselves, and to make their own decisions.

    These so-called leaders have elevated demagoguery and propaganda to the rank of law and high principle.  They have reduced intelligence and critical thinking to ignorance, mediocrity, and cheap entertainment.  They despise free thought and glorify mindless crowd-following.  They worship power and money, their only values; and their delusion and vice have carried them so far that they have made their greatest enemy, the target they now wish most to destroy, the independent, self-reliant man or woman who can think and act for himself.  It is this free individual that the corrupt, authoritarian legislators administering the mass bribery that American government has become would finally enslave with chains more binding than those worn by our ancestors on Southern plantations.

    The know-it-all power brokers of the ruling parties will have accomplished the most complete enslavement of the American people when they have convinced them that they are incapable of thinking for themselves, of working out their own salvation or personal prosperity.  Our new government masters would have us believe that it is only they, with the billions they have extorted from us and our neighbors, who can decide what is best for us and how we should live our lives and spend what we have earned.

    To resist this enslavement I call for a new patriotism that will restore our American Constitution and abolish the corrupt laws with which it has been bound.  I call on all people of good sense and good will in Louisiana to join me in reclaiming our birthright of liberty and justice.  We will take responsibility before almighty God and our own divine consciences for ourselves, our children, and our communities.  We will not be enslaved by slick-talking politicians promising to make us rich with stolen money.  We will rebuild a free country of proud and free men and women humble enough to trust the natural order of hard work and mutual cooperation, and wise and just enough not to demand to live at the expense of our neighbors, or to force them to live as we wish rather than as they freely choose.  We know that a peaceful and prosperous society depends on tolerance and respect for the individuality and free initiative of all persons.  It is to restore the dignity of freedom and the power of self-determination to all of our citizens that we are committing ourselves to resurrect the American Constitution.

    We will no longer sell our liberty or our votes.  We don’t care how many Hollywood stars or millionaires you parade in front of us.  We will vote only for men and women we believe to be committed like us to the restoration of limited government, free markets, and personal responsibility in the United States.  We will teach this to our children and friends.  We will no longer be enslaved by the two-party monopoly and all its false propaganda.  We invite all citizens to join us in this effort.  We have learned, in the words of our forefathers, that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” and that “people cannot remain both ignorant and free”.  We are willing to pay that price and to educate ourselves continually in order that we may once again live in free communities where honest effort is rewarded, where graft and violence are condemned, and where people are expected to think for themselves and to be good neighbors to one another.

    If we fail in this effort, if American civilization sinks ever deeper into a slime of greed, violence, moral corruption, dependency, and intellectual slavery, then at least we will have done everything we could to prevent it, and to leave our unfortunate descendants with the mental tools to regain liberty, prosperity, and morality at some future time when the shifting of opinion and circumstances will have once again made a free society a living possibility.
                                                                                        Michael S. Wolf
                                                                                        September, 2000

    The above speech was delivered to the Downtown Kiwanis Club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on November 2, 2000.  It was filmed and televised in Baton Rouge by WBTR-TV. 

4.  The Lost Sheep of the Libertarian Party  

      In 2004 Michael Wolf was engaged in a broad debate within the Libertarian Party of the United States about the nature of the Party's national platform.  After the national convention that year, there were active discussions in several internet forums about the platform provisions.  Wolf had long been criticizing what he called anarchist, fundamentalist, and isolationist tendencies in the LP that were very noticeable in the national platform.  In the course of these discussions, Wolf was offended by the patronizing attitudes with which anarchists and "tax-thefters" belittled reasonable libertarians who argued for such things as moderate taxation, public services, and international citizenship.  The following essay was directed to those anarchist types who arrogantly insisted that only they were true libertarians. 

                                 THE LOST SHEEP OF THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY

    There is an element of unreasonable enthusiasts in the Libertarian Party who are crippling our party by insisting loudly on simplistic, ill-considered policy proposals which serve only to advertise the ignorance of our adherents and discourage intelligent voters and opinion leaders from supporting or even respecting us.  

    It is characteristic of these difficult Libertarians that while they are misrepresenting our philosophy and damaging the electoral prospects of our candidates, they contend that they are the hard-core purists of the party, the keepers of the flame of Libertarian orthodoxy.  They commit themselves in extravagant and patronizing tones to resist the watering-down of the national platform, while their ignorance and naivety function to undermine every activity of the party.

    The libertarian movement did not begin with Ayn Rand, John Hospers, or David Nolan.  Despite the provocative titles of his books, the confused anarchist Murray Rothbard did not define the libertarian point of view.

    All believers in liberty and justice today must appreciate the efforts of Rand, Hospers, Nolan, and Rothbard to defend individual rights and design a political paradigm to counter the statist frenzy of the 20th century.  While respecting those efforts, however, we betray the underlying principles if we allow the half-baked, misanthropic fantasies of some contemporary activists, drawn from simplistic hatred of government and blindered allegiance to invalid, simplistic starting assumptions, to transform the imperfect vision of the Libertarian Party’s founders into a mindless straitjacket foreclosing ever after improvements to our ideas and our strategy.

    Long before David Nolan and his collaborators founded the Libertarian Party, people like Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Smith, Voltaire, Franklin, Paine, Jefferson, Madison, Mill, Spencer, Mises, Hayek, Friedman, Goldwater, and Buchanan put their shoulders to the task of founding a social order of liberty and justice.  Both the Statement of Principles and the Platform of the Libertarian Party of the United States are seriously flawed documents very likely to cause at least as much misunderstanding as intelligent comprehension of libertarian principles.  It is preposterously wrong and self-defeating for the Libertarians of the 21st century to overlook the great ocean of libertarian scholarship and social philosophy that has accumulated since at least the European Renaissance and pretend that all political wisdom and value has been distilled into the crackpot rhetorical effusions of Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard.  

    I’ll get specific.  Many Libertarians, having been led to believe in the self-sufficiency and superior value of every individual, misunderstand these concepts to mean that all ideas are equal, that every man‘s notions are suitable for universal rules, and that there is no need for law, community, or civilization.  These perversions of libertarian philosophy are most evident today in the enthusiasms of various self-proclaimed “purists” for the phony ideals of anarchism, fundamentalism, and/or isolationism.  These irksome ideological simpletons indulge their hatred for their neighbors and their governments to the point of rhetorically rejecting all community or cooperative action.  They refuse to recognize any limitations on the whims of the individual or any obligations to neighbors or community.  In their reaction against the collectivist excesses of the last century, they throw out the baby with the bathwater and declare that the community has never any right to restrain or compel the actions of any individual.  They say: “Taxation is theft;” “Government is evil;” “Private property rights are absolute;” “I own myself;” and “Force is immoral.”  They pretend that these kinds of simplistic slogans constitute the libertarian philosophy.

    When they get really unbridled and start to feel like philosopher-kings, they sometimes turn their speculation to metaphysics and “theology.”  Abandoning in these moods the skepticism of their historical role models, they enjoy playing God.  They scratch their heads and decide such things as: “Human life begins at conception;” “God is the ruler of the universe, and he speaks to me;” “Your freedom cannot compete with God’s commands;” “Follow my God or die.”  With such kinds of nonsense they say that human liberty must conform to their screwball religious or metaphysical notions.  They do not believe in freedom for the human intellect.  They get off on crowds of worshipers chanting the sophistries and fairy tales that they enjoy.

    Nowhere do the simplistic would-be “purists” confuse themselves and misunderstand sensible libertarian philosophy more than in the field of international relations.  They are so xenophobic and fearful of foreign domination that they proclaim the most ignorant isolationism.  They are against international cooperation of any kind: war, genocide, defense treaties, trade agreements, disaster relief, nuclear terrorism, epidemics – nothing matters to them.  They hate the United Nations and all other international institutions and organizations.  They ignorantly demand that the government of the United States take no extraterritorial action of any kind.  Paranoid about a specter of “world government” and dreaming that the 18th century can be recreated today, they have taken up the cause of the John Birch Society to “Get U.S. out of the U.N.”  In a futile effort to reverse hundreds of years of progress in international cooperation, they disparage and deny international law and practices accepted universally throughout the civilized world.

    With the simple-minded arrogance of the very ignorant, they contend that our country should never consult or cooperate with foreign governments but should instead conduct foreign relations unilaterally, insisting that our country is entitled to disregard the rest of the human race in pursuing self-interested goals.  

    In apparent total ignorance of the terms of the United Nations Charter and other international agreements, these foolish xenophobes insist that all international institutions threaten our sovereignty and constitute the tentacles of “world government.”  Their brainless foreign policy is to pretend that the rest of the world does not exist and cannot affect us.

    These phony “purists” have never understood libertarianism.  With the stubbornness and the hubris of adolescent “true believers,” they think they know everything.  Never having made any competent study of law, economics, or history, they pontificate on all these subjects.  Not appreciating the most elementary reality of dispersed knowledge, they delude themselves into believing they are experts in everything.  

    Here are some of their essential errors and the correcting concepts:

    1.  Seizing simplistically on some conception of individual value, they exalt solipsism and selfishness over all other values.  They fail to see that human life is both individualistic and communal or social – that all individuals and all countries are interdependent – that all human values and experiences are shared and interactive: they don’t exist in a vacuum as purely solitary experiences.  They exist in society, on a common Earth, in an infinitely complex but existentially inexorable living environment of acting beings, whose actions reverberate far and wide beyond any political boundaries and beyond the means of any individual to cancel or escape them.

    As Henry Hazlitt so cogently demonstrated in The Foundations of Morality, the guiding principle of all morality is the facilitation of social cooperation.

    2.  Ownership and private property, though extremely important concepts, are not metaphysical absolutes.  They do not exhaust the realms of thought or law.  They are conditional, relative, and subjective concepts like all others.  Despite the prevalence of the facile notion of “self-ownership,” no one owns himself the way he owns a car.  As against other men, one may indeed have inviolable rights according to libertarian philosophy or law, but no one can totally command his thinking, feeling, and involuntary actions.  No one can undo his biological fate.  No one can by his puny will compel the world to do his bidding.  And, unlike owners of property, no one can alienate or abandon his humanity or his responsibility for willful actions.  

    3.  The essence of libertarian political philosophy is the paramount value of human freedom, but that freedom is never absolute or unlimited.  The historical experience that drives the libertarian movement is the evolution of legal systems that preserve the prerogatives of human liberty in a crowded world.  This process can be summarized as “liberty under law.”  The most cursory review of any of the greatest libertarian philosophers, such as Locke, Smith, Mises, or Hayek, immediately reveals that a legal “constitution of liberty” is prerequisite for the existence of political and economic freedom on Earth.  Freedom depends on law and institutions capable of preserving and articulating that law.  

    Examples of such institutions are Magna Carta, the United States Constitution, the United States of America, one’s town and neighborhood, and the whole world community in its network of customary relations, moral traditions, and various legal systems extant throughout the civil communities of the world.

    4.  People have every right to take collective action through their civil institutions (governments) to meet their material and moral needs.  The very essence of citizenship is enlightened communal action for common purposes.  Governments never have and never will exist only to protect individual rights, though that is certainly their most important purpose, and political writing often reduces attention to this crucial function so long ignored throughout history.  

    There is no need for Libertarians to anguish so much over the theoretical limits of government activity.  Certainly national, state, and local governments should abide by their constitutions, laws, and prudent practices, and preserve the natural rights of all persons.  But within those legal and practical limits, citizens are always free to take appropriate actions for their own protection and the improvement of their communities.

    Those so-called “libertarians” who deny the validity of communal or civic property; of public goods; of public easements and servitudes; of public institutions for transportation, navigation, commerce, power supply, sanitation, education, health care, law enforcement, civil defense, border protection, and countless other legitimate areas of civic action – regardless of all compliance with constitutions, laws, prudence, and morals – are simply and hopelessly wrong.  To pretend, for example, that anything in the U.S. Constitution or libertarian principles forbids a state, a county, or a town to establish streets, sewers, bridges, canals, museums, schools, hospitals, airports, parks, power plants, or other public facilities, directly or contractually, if the citizens of the relevant community decide to provide such facilities, and to fund such facilities out of general taxation – is wholly and simply absurd.

    It may not be wise for a governmental entity to provide some of such services rather than have them supplied by private enterprise, but under the sound libertarian constitutional tradition of the United States of America, the citizens of state and local communities are free to decide for themselves, subject to due process of law, whether to engage in any such activities for the public good.

    5.  Taxation per se is most definitely and obviously not necessarily “theft,” as most self-anointed “purists” contend.  Moderate, equitable, and lawful taxation is clearly an acceptable constitutional function of civil societies.  Whether democratic political communities should choose to fund their proper expenditures through fair and reasonable taxation, user fees, civic donations, entrepreneurial activities, or any other just means is simply up to the citizens of those communities.  The categorical hatred of taxation exhibited by many Libertarians, while plainly indicative of their incompetence at civic persuasion or constitutional enforcement, does not invalidate the reasonable imposition of fair taxes lawfully enacted by any self-governing community.

    The wildly impractical, dreaming “purists” who fancy a world without neighbors, without communities, without collective action or goods of any kind, indeed without laws, courts, or public officials – are quite simply off their rockers.  Their stupid rantings are of no use to the LP or any other individual or organization trying to create a better world based on limited government, free markets, and personal responsibility.

    The real libertarian tradition is not the foolish musings of anarchists, misanthropes, and social delinquents.  It is the supremely practical and realistic tradition of liberty under law, in which all the resources, private and public, of every political community are brought to the service of all of its individuals in conformity to the laws of economics, human nature, and civil justice, according to the limiting constitutional legal principles that the collective libertarian wisdom of our world civilization has produced.

    If any anarchist, fundamentalist, or isolationist “purist” cannot find enough good  work to do in the intellectual, economic, or political realms of action within that broad libertarian paradigm, but rather persists in shaking his fist at history, reason, and society in bitter enmity and defiant contempt against the rest of the world, then, sadly and tragically, that frustrated fanatic is doomed never to experience the real power of mankind’s diversity or the consummate benefit of its enduring community.  Such a stubborn renegade against society should open his mind, question carefully his philosophical premises, and turn all his attention, in both rest and effort, toward seeing in the chaos of his ringing conceptions the ubiquitous paths patiently beckoning him back to the real world.

    An excellent though unfinished document presenting a very comprehensive statement of realistic, practical, effective libertarian political philosophy as well as a convincing immediate political program is the new state platform of the Libertarian Party of Louisiana.  For the last couple of years the Louisiana Libertarians have been rewriting their platform with the goal of producing an intelligent statement of the Libertarian program that is completely valid and realistic, that doesn’t dodge any important contemporary issues, and that is really useful in demonstrating the nature of libertarianism and assisting candidates in the design of their own campaign platforms.  

    The portions of the new Louisiana platform that have been formally adopted can be found online at .  The latest drafts in the economic section can be obtained from Michael Wolf, Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Louisiana and Chairman of the LPL Platform Committee, P.O. Box 3094, Baton Rouge, LA 70821, 225-923-0499, fax 225-923-0906, , the writer of this diatribe.

    Your comments and suggestions will be appreciated (probably).   

    I believe the party David Nolan created is the best hope for civil liberty on Earth.  I hope we don’t blow it and ruin the message of libertarian law before the real barbarians emerge again.
                                                                                                         Michael S. Wolf
                                                                                                         June 29, 2004

5.  Platform of the Libertarian Party of Louisiana, 2003-2007


6.  Conceptual Opposites for Reflections on Public Policy


       REASON                          PREJUDICE 
       KNOWLEDGE                  IGNORANCE
       WHOLE                            PART
       OPENNESS                      CLOSEDNESS
       FACT                                BELIEF 
       OBJECTIVITY                   SUBJECTIVITY
       HONESTY                        DISHONESTY
       INSIGHT                           CONFUSION
       REALITY                           FANTASY
       LIBERTY                           BONDAGE  
       FREEDOM                        COERCION
       COMMUNITY                     ISOLATION
       DIVERSITY                        UNIFORMITY
       TOLERANCE                     FEAR
       CHOICE                             FORCE
       COOPERATION                 CONFLICT
       SYMPATHY                        SELFISHNESS
       LOVE                                 HATRED
       KINDNESS                         CRUELTY
       COMPASSION                    AGGRESSION
       SECURITY                          INSECURITY
       PEACE                                WAR
       CONSTRUCTION                DESTRUCTION
       EFFORT                             INDOLENCE
       STRENGTH                        WEAKNESS
       CONFIDENCE                    ANXIETY
       HEALTH                             ILLNESS
       INDEPENDENCE               DEPENDENCY
       IMPARTIALITY                    FAVORITISM
       JUSTICE                            INJUSTICE
       LAW                                   TYRANNY
       PROGRESS                       DECAY
       SUCCESS                          FAILURE
       PROSPERITY                     MISERY
       WISDOM                             FOLLY

       Suggested by Michael Wolf
       Libertarian Party of Louisiana Convention
       August 16, 2003


7.                                  THE EVOLUTION OF THE  SLUGS

    Those pseudo-intellectuals who abuse their powers to persecute and tyrannize their peaceful neighbors are not worthy of the citizenship they abuse.  Their attitudes and behavior are fascist.  To call them ignorant authoritarians, while wholly accurate, does not carry sufficient connotation of their perfidy and brutality.  To call them pinks or dinosaurs, while meaningful to some, does not convey the extent of their evil to the uninitiated.  “Thugs in suits” or “dressed thugs” convey core features of these despotic hypocrites.  Since they rule by collusion and corruption of our institutions, they well merit the characterization “gangsters” or “mobsters”.  They are certainly “constitutional criminals”.  “Educated thugs” conveys part of their distinction.  They are certainly moral cowards, but that term does not reveal their mean cruelty and aggressive predation.  Their smug joy in punishing delinquent innocents suggests nothing so much as vicious sadism; yet their sanctimony and delusive righteousness add a flavor of insouciant ignorance to their wickedness, making them more reminiscent of the Puritans who burned Indians and “witches” than of the Nazis who tortured Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals.

    Plainly our modern puritans stand squarely in the tradition of Torquemada and the inglorious Inquisition of the Catholic Church.  Certain of their righteousness, they inflict scourge after scourge upon the hapless victims of their faith-based wrath.  Ask how Hitler’s bourgeois functionaries administered their genocide, how the soldiers of Hirohito annihilated Nanking, how the followers of Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin coolly murdered millions, and you will find clues to the behavior of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Rangel, Gingrich, and Rostenkowski, and of all the hordes of well dressed, church-going, hypocritical thugs who dominated the United States in the second half of the 20th century.  It is not only Germans, Italians, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Cambodians, Indonesians, Latin Americans, Spaniards, Portuguese, French, British, and savage Arabs and Africans who have delighted in the murder and persecution of ethnic, religious, and political minority groups. 

    The modern American inquisitors who carry on this murderous tradition – in brazen contempt of the principles enshrined in our venerable Constitution – know well how to wrap themselves in the flag of patriotism and exploit the ignorant fears and loyalties of the unschooled masses.  We must suppress vice, they say.  The compassionate Christ would have us jail sinners, preferably for life without parole.  We must protect society from free thinkers and individualists.  The law that 50% of our representatives have declared is sacred and authorizes us to destroy all dissent.  People can’t be allowed to think for themselves, to make their own personal decisions.  If Mao, Pol Pot, the Pope, and the Taliban can declare what will be permitted in society, then, by God, so can we.  And God damn you if you defy us.  We will crush you.  We are the Law!

    What do we call these people?  These people so arrogant and dictatorial, so proud and self-satisfied?  Thugs they surely are – brutes, tyrants, scoundrels ... They are easily compared to pigs, beasts, monsters, and devils.  Obviously they are fools, frauds, cheats, and charlatans.  Of course they will intensify their conviction in the face of attack.  They will rationalize their pogroms, demonize their innocent victims.  What do we call these monstrosities?

    Clearly they are like snakes and roaches.  They insinuate themselves into everything and poison it with their corruption.  They buy and defile every treasure.

    Beings cannot be limited to any description.  But monsters are monstrous.  The most monstrous of human characteristics is willful ignorance – not the noble ignorance of the humble who welcome enlightenment, but the deliberate stupidity of those who wish not to learn the truth, who are so satisfied with their brutish assumptions that they refuse to consider anything else.  Those who indulge fantasy and superstition in matters personal and harmless to others injure no one by their ignorance.  But those in power, citizens who vote, and institutional leaders who shape the lives of many, when they refuse to open their intelligence to what is beating them on the head, and choose freely and eagerly to torture and hurt innocents for malicious delight – these deserve the enmity and condemnation of all. 

    Insulting as the comparison may be to the innocent mollusks, these social and moral deviants who are squeezing sanity, justice, and intelligence out of our society resemble slugs to me.  They are often fat and slimy, and always lazy and slow in moral consciousness.  They are unctuous before power.  They are self-absorbed and over-indulged.  They can live insouciantly while choking their neighbors.  Conscience does not exist for them.  Their defining characteristic is sloth.  They will not be disturbed in their ease and self-absorption.  Let mankind be slaughtered at their doorstep on the most frivolous of whims, they will burp and admire themselves.

    Indeed these are slugs.  Their thought is the thought of slugs, their passion the passion of slugs, and their morals the morals of slugs.  The spinelessness and cowardice they radiate proclaims their flaccid, degenerate nature.  These are not human men and women, people who think and feel with openness and vigor, they are slothful slobs who abandon their minds to whomever feeds and pets them.  They grab the blinders of prejudice and press them to their faces.  They are terrified at the prospect of an unfamiliar truth.  Anything that might disturb their self-satisfaction is as unwelcome as salt to slugs.

    Perhaps here is a metaphor with some carrying power.  Behold, then, the Slugs!  The leaders of the world!  The royal family of Jabba the Hutt!  The rulers of the churches, the captains of the stock market, the darlings of Hollywood and Broadway, the paragons of the demanding age: the Slugs!  See them squirm in Republican delight!  See them gaggle in Democratic glamour!  See them waving from the society pages!  Here they are for all to know: the Slugs we have become!

                                                                                                           Michael S. Wolf
                                                                                                           June, 2001

8.  Draft Statement of Principles for the Jeffersonians

          The Committee for Jeffersonian Principles of Government, generally referred to as "the Jeffersonians," is a civic club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that has served as a forum for public affairs presentations for many years.  In 2008 the Jeffersonian leadership solicited ideas for use in drafting a statement of principles.  The following is a draft suggested by Mike Wolf.

DRAFT 10/22/08    

                                   Statement of Principles of the Jeffersonians

    The Committee for Jeffersonian Principles of Government defends the Constitution of the United States of America and encourages correct understanding and wise application of the great principles expressed in the founding documents of our country, especially as those principles were interpreted by Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence.

    The Jeffersonian understanding of the Constitution emphasizes the God-given natural rights of all persons and the fundamental reality that government exists to protect those rights and not to grant or limit them.  A central implication of this understanding is that, in general, government is best which governs least.

    It is not a proper purpose of government to control the personal or economic choices of citizens, or to coercively impose the demands of any group of persons on others, except as necessary to safeguard the genuine rights and liberties of all.  Although government should reasonably undertake to provide essential public services, subject to constitutional and prudential restraints, government should not attempt to organize society, redistribute wealth, or guarantee happiness or profit to anyone.

    It is the crucial responsibility of democratic government to protect the safety, the liberty, and the property of its citizens.  This principle grants all citizens equal rights to pursue their chosen lawful pursuits, but it does not confer upon them any entitlements to equal success or equal satisfaction of their personal desires.

    The true principles of the American Constitution mandate a free market economy in which all persons are free to pursue happiness and self-determination according to their own insights, but in which no persons are entitled to demand support or subsidy at the expense of the state, except as fair remuneration for public services constitutionally earned and administered.      

    As Jeffersonian citizens of our constitutional republic, we commit ourselves to adhere to these principles and, insofar as we are able, to take personal responsibility for ourselves, our families, and our communities -- to the end of realizing the vision of our Founding Fathers and building a truly prosperous and healthy society with liberty and justice for all.