Libertarian Party Platform Committee Adopts Report

Brian Holtz reports at Libertarian Intelligence

The Libertarian Party Platform Committee met in December in Las Vegas. It adopted 16 proposals, two of which include “pending amendments”. (A pending amendment is subject to an initial majority vote by the convention delegates before the proposal it amends receives its usual up-or-down 2/3 vote.)

Holtz, who is a member of that committee as well as a writer for IPR, goes on to detail the proposed changes to the platform adopted by the committee, the votes for and against passage among committee members, his opinion of each proposed change, and his assessment of the chances the delegates will pass each of the proposals. This assessment is based on his previous experience in serving on this committee in past years and seeing how the delegates have responded to what was passed.

Since the original article at Libertarian Intelligence contains first person editorial content, Brian asked that someone else post this story for him at IPR.

From the article:

My personal agenda for this platform cycle is to minimize platform language churn while trying to fix the top five vulnerabilities that the platform leaves for our candidates. […] PlatCom’s proposals address all five problems, although not always with the precise language I offered. […] I voted against 4 of the 6 other plank rewrites, as they tended to churn (and sometimes weaken) the platform language without actually provided extra defense or guidance to our candidates. I cast all five of the solitary nays, and was among the nays or abstentions whenever there were any.

Read the whole thing, and, as always, comments are welcome here at IPR.

68 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Platform Committee Adopts Report

  1. Michael H. Wilson

    I clicked on this link “This wiki page” hoping to find “ how the PlatCom proposals would change the platform” only to find this “We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system.”

    The whole section reads “2.9. Health Care
    We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines. [12-0-0]”

    That would be a pretty good trick since we have never had a free market in health care. Expecting the candidates to defend such nonsense is foolish.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

  2. George Phillies

    In the 19th century, there was pretty much a free market; however, calling the products and methods of the time “medicine” is a bit enthusiastic. The working pharmacopeia largely included citrus juice (vitamin C; bean sprouts and pickled cabbage also work), quinine, willow bark (later, aspirin), opiates, and (ignoring dosage issues) digitalis.

  3. Michael H. Wilson

    Prior to the Civil War very few blacks were free and the remainder who were slaves could not set up shop as doctors or any other medical provider without permission from someone else.

    In his book The Negro in Reconstruction Robert Cruden mentions that a number of black doctors, some who had served in the Union army, were denied a license to practice in Washington D.D. because of the color of their skin. See page 52.

    I suggest people read Paul Starr’s book The Social Transformation of American Medicine , Judy Litoff’s book American Midwives 1860 to Present and Of Foxes and Hen Houses by Stanley J. Gross.

    People might also examine the role that corporate practice of medicine laws played in limiting alternative services in the 1800s and early 1900s especially those provided by the mutual aid societies, or fraternal organizations at that time. See http://libertariananswers.com/could-non-profit-co-ops-and-mutual-aid-societies-help-make-basic-health-care-available-for-all/ ”For example, the AMA condemned doctors that worked for a flat fee for these societies. Since the AMA controlled the licensing boards, physicians didn’t want to incur their wrath.”

  4. Brian Holtz

    PlatCom’s 2 recommendation for the abortion plank are:

    1.4. Abortion

    Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration. We welcome both pro-life and pro-choice members into the Libertarian Party. [9-4-0] Taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions. [13-0-0]

    A draft minority report would make it this:

    1.4. Procreation

    Recognizing that when human rights begin is a sensitive issue on which Libertarians can disagree in good faith, we believe that government should not restrict, subsidize, or dictate the decision to begin or end one’s pregnancy.

  5. Robert Capozzi

    4 bh, nice adds to the platform. Good work!

    3 mhw, were women allowed to be MDs in that timeframe?

  6. Brian Holtz

    Government should also not be involved in birth control, fertility treatments, sperm and egg donations, surrogate motherhood, prenatal testing, stem cell therapies, cloning, and germline engineering.

  7. Darryl W. Perry

    If I’m able to attend the LP Convention, I will once again propose the entire platform be replaced with the following:
    “Libertarians believe that each of us has a natural right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property; and that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else. And that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to individual liberty, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

  8. Brian Holtz

    Hmm. Are there any other X for which you think the LP should oppose the right to advocate X?

    Advocacy is not initiation of force. By demanding that a particular kind of advocacy be disallowed, you seem to be advocating initiation of force — which you say nobody has the right to do.

  9. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert women were allowed to be MDs at that time, but they had a hard time getting into medical school. There seems to be a bit of disagreement amongst the academic historians over this issue.

    After the Revolution women saw their roles in society shifted to the home whereas before the Revolution they had a broader function in society.

    Men dominated in science and women were not so much discriminated against legally, but culturally.

    It was the late 1840 that the first medical school for women open in Boston. Prior to that they found it difficult to get into the schools and mainly practiced where male doctors were not available.

    I believe that you will find that after the Civil War when licensing became the norm women were not licensed because the could not gain acceptance to the medical schools dominated by men.

    Then in the early 1900s we get the Flexner report which ended up closing many of the medical schools.

    The opportunities for women were limited to say the least.

    I don’t think we can say that it was specifically laws that made it difficult. Culture certainly played a big role.

  10. Here's a radical idea

    Too bad it doesn’t at least address late-term abortion. It is the most horrible thing I have ever seen (video) horrible. The little baby is small but is clearly a human. Agree, that abortion (except late-term) can not be banned or it sets up back-rooms in pool halls, once again. Plus trips to Canada. Yes, the mother could find a way to get a late-term. Three areas where most people on both sides would agree are : No government funding, at least get the Federal GOvernment out of it, and finally no late-term.

  11. Darryl W. Perry

    @BH – if I said “someone should assault Brian Holtz” and someone did because I advocated it; should I or should I not be held partially responsible for the assault?

    It is a shame that Libertarians must debate the meaning of the non-aggression principle and some Libertarians do not even support the NAP.

  12. William Saturn

    Darryl,

    I am new to this so please forgive me for misunderstanding, but are you suggesting that it is not a natural right to freely express one’s opinion?

    Isn’t the prosecution of someone advocating something (be it violence), the prosecution of “thought crimes”?

  13. Darryl W. Perry

    @William, I’m not saying that one should not be allowed to express their opinion. What I am saying is that if someone expresses an opinion that another person should aggress against a third person, then that person should be held responsible for his/her speech/actions.

    I suggest reading the following articles by Walter Block and J. Neil Schulman on the subject
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block26.html
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/block1.html
    http://www.rationalreview.com/rationalreviewold/archive/guestcolumnists/jneilschulman102902.html

  14. Brian Holtz

    if I said “someone should assault Brian Holtz” and someone did because I advocated it; should I or should I not be held partially responsible for the assault?

    If “because I advocated it” means that you engaged in mind control or conspiracy or criminal solicitation, then yes. Otherwise, no. Isn’t this Common Law 101?

    I’m quite confident you cannot quote any prominent libertarian theorist saying that advocating aggression constitutes aggression. I confirmed that Block certainly doesn’t do so in either of your first two links.

  15. Wesley T. Feinstein

    Darryl,

    If you said “someone should assault Brian Holtz” and no one did anything, did you violate anyone’s rights in any way?

    I tend to think that a person carrying out an assault should be held responsible, regardless of what anyone did or did not say.

    And a person advocating something is just engaging in free speech, even if the thing they are advocating would violate someone’s rights if someone actually did it.

    For example, we all know that neo-nazis want to violate people’s rights on a massive scale, just as German nazis did when they were in power. From this, can we conclude that nazis should not have the right to advocate their beliefs? I don’t believe that is a correct conclusion.

  16. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian I thought you were going to delete the section of the platform that readWe favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system?

    Did I misunderstand?

  17. Brian Holtz

    Darryl, can you quote L. Neil Smith saying that advocating aggression constitutes aggression?

    Michael, that fix was among many proposals that the committee didn’t have time to get to. However, our report fixes most of the top 5 holes in the platform and 2 of its 3 main semantic bugs, so it’s likely that this would be among my top priorities for 2014.

    A survey on the PlatCom report will be issued soon. I encourage all who have such concerns about problems in the Platform to voice them in the survey comments. Previous survey results were invoked several times at December’s meeting.

  18. Pingback: Libertarian Party Platform Committee Adopts Report | ThirdPartyPolitics.us

  19. Brian Holtz

    The first link quotes Smith: “A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor will a libertarian advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else. ”

    This does not say that advocating aggression constitutes aggression.

    Michael, the Platform can only be changed in convention, and the PlatCom report can only be changed at a PlatCom meeting. What can be done between now and convention week is that you can lobby LP members to bring up this issue in PlatCom survey comments.

  20. Darryl W. Perry

    PS
    I’m not suggesting that advocating violence be a crime deserving of imprisonment nor do I believe that is what Smith is suggesting; rather I believe such would be handled in civil court.

  21. Thomas L. Knapp

    DWP@29,

    Non sequitur. Just because Holtz points out that advocating for violence isn’t violence, that doesn’t mean that he wants to advocate for violence.

    Furthermore, while I could be wrong, I think that Holtz is correct at 28.

    Smith doesn’t say that advocating the initiation of force is the initiation of force; he just says that a libertarian is someone who, among other things, doesn’t advocate the initiation of force. There’s a difference.

    Now, as to said advocacy:

    If I stand in the middle of the forest, where there’s no one to hear me, and say “someone should kill Darryl W. Perry,” am I initiating force?

    What if I say it somewhere where there are people to hear me, but none of them give a damn what I say or have any inclination to act on what I say? Is that initiating force?

    What if I say it to an audience that does care what I say, but would not in the normal course of things take any action on my speech?

    In the aforementioned contexts, I don’t see any way that what I say can be construed as an initiation of force. I’m just talking.

    Now, if I say that in the presence of a group of people who have contracted to obey my orders, and they go out and kill you because I said someone should, I’d agree that I’ve initiated force. But not because I’ve “advocated” killing you. Rather because I’ve set up a force-initiating infrastructure which I’ve intentionally set into motion. The speech was not the crime; it was just an incidental instrument for triggering the crime.

  22. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian I know that! I did write about this problem a couple of years ago to you and spoke to Adam Mayer who was on the committee at the time about this also.

    I would have thought that it would have been one of the listed recommendations, but I guess being historically accurate is not one of the interest of the committee.

  23. Brian Holtz

    it seems to me you want to be able to advocate for violence while remaining unaccountable for your speech

    I’ve never said that speakers should be unaccountable for their speech. I’ve just said that advocacy is not force initiation if it doesn’t constitute conspiracy or criminal solicitation, and that these distinctions are well-settled in common law.

    No prominent libertarian theorist has ever categorically defined advocacy of force initiation as itself a species of force initiation. You are clearly misreading Smith.

  24. Darryl W. Perry

    Tom, I believe I’ve already answered that question in one way or another.
    I believe that a person should be held accountable for what they say – though that would be for a jury in a civil court to decide.

  25. Brian Holtz

    MW) I guess being historically accurate is not one of the interest of the committee (MW

    For that sentence, I’m more interested in terseness than alleged historical inaccuracy. If haranguing me is your strategy for changing that sentence, you should consider alternative strategies.

    Darryl, if Smith has used the language you advocate as a shorthand for his language I quote @28, then he has disqualified himself as either 1) a serious libertarian thinker or 2) a careful writer of English. I knew Smith was sloppy, but I didn’t know he was this sloppy.

    If you advocate (the possibility of even merely civil) legal penalties for the abstract advocacy of anything (even force initiation), then you yourself are advocating force initiation.

  26. Thomas L. Knapp

    DWP@34,

    “I believe I’ve already answered that question in one way or another.”

    Yes, you have — but since I don’t believe for a second that you are a freedom-hating fascist, I’m assuming that you’ll eventually revise your answers.

  27. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian the statement in question is neither terse nor historically accurate and if you think I have been haranguing you then maybe you are a little too sensitive for the job.

    This is a poor statement and asking Libertarian Party candidates to defend such statements is irresponsible.

  28. Darryl W. Perry

    To answer the question of saying something with no one around, it would be difficult, nay impossible, to convince a jury that any harm was done.
    Additionally, if someone says to do harm and no one acts on it, it would also be difficult to convince a jury of harm.

  29. Brian Holtz

    MW, removing the 3 offending words would make the sentence more terse. Of the 746 comments on the healthcare plank in the 2010 survey, only one objected to your three words. Good luck with your campaign to increase that 1/746 ratio in 2012.

    Darryl, freedom of speech is dead if speakers have to constantly worry that 12 random people might agree that a given statement is harmful/poisonous/hateful/etc. Please stop advocating that the courts be used to initiate force against people exercising free speech.

  30. Darryl W. Perry

    I am not advocating courts initiate force to stifle free speech. I am simply saying that if you advocate violence and someone does that act of violence because you gave them the idea, you should be held partially responsible in a civil court.
    I am not advocating any government agency moniter speech, nor am I advocating criminal courts be used. Only the victim or victims family (in cases of murder) would be allowed to bring about a civil suit.

  31. Darryl W. Perry

    An additional note: under current federal law, one can be charged with “making terrorist threats” for offhand comments with no intent to act. I do not support these types of laws & believe I have stated my position clearly.

  32. Thomas L. Knapp

    DWP,

    “I am not advocating courts initiate force to stifle free speech. I am simply saying that if you advocate violence and someone does that act of violence because you gave them the idea, you should be held partially responsible in a civil court.”

    And I am simply saying not only no, but fuck no.

    Unless there is agency of some kind involved — I’m paying them to act on what I said, or there’s an existing authority relationship through which I am compelling them to act on what I said — then I and what I said are not responsible, even partially, for what they did.

  33. Brian Holtz

    does that act of violence because you gave them the idea

    Either you are 1) trying (inadequately) to restate and endorse the common law about conspiracy/accessory/solicitation, or 2) you are going beyond the common law to advocate that government power be used to enforce judgements of government courts against people who might merely be advocating abstract ideas about force initiation.

    I can understand if you wish to be evasive about this distinction, but I’m curious whether you have any other citations of Neil Smith choosing the patently-unlibertarian option (2).

  34. Darryl W. Perry

    To suggest that I support an expansion of government is disengenuous(sp?) at best and an outright lie at worst.

    I will give a fuller response when I am online via my laptop instead of my phone.

  35. Brian Holtz

    Here’s what the government currently says is its policy on speech advocating force initiation:

    Federal courts consistently have applied the Brandenburg test to find speech that advocates, teaches, or justifies lawless action in an abstract way is fully protected under the First Amendment, so long as the speech is not directed to inciting imminent lawless action, and such protection endures even if it can be demonstrated that the speaker hopes that someday such lawlessness may occur.

    It sure sounds to me like you want to expand that government power so that the abstract advocacy of force initiation can be censored via civil judgement any time 12 jurors can be convinced that the speech “caused” a harm.

  36. Darryl W. Perry

    Brian, how many times must I say that I do not want to expand government power before you believe me?
    And I’ve also said repeatedly that it should be a civil issue, not a criminal issue!
    Again, I’m giving my opinion of word written by another man. You may wish to ask L. Neil Smith what he meant!

  37. Brian Holtz

    I certainly believe that you do not want to think of yourself as expanding government power. Unfortunately, such an expansion is built into the words that you proposed @9 to be the LP Platform.

    The inclusion of advocacy @9 is superfluous anyway. Ordering or soliciting a particular initiation of force is itself an initiation of force, and using others as agents doesn’t require an extra clause when stating the NAP. What’s missing in your formulation is not advocacy, but fraud.

  38. Wurtzel Thelonius Finch

    Darryl

    So by your standard, anyone advocating a non-libertarian political system would be held liable in a court and forced to pay someone?

    Wow, I did not know libertarian fascism was logically possible! That is a new one.

  39. Brian Holtz

    WTF, he says they’d only be held liable if 12 jurors believed that the accused’s speech acts were hateful enough to cause a plaintiff harm.

    And we all know that no 12 jurors would ever conclude that about advocacy that libertarians would defend as free speech.

  40. Darryl W. Perry

    I promised a fuller reply, here it is:

    Brian, you asked for citation the variation of the NAP I used can be found with the same wording at http://kentforliberty.com/zap.html
    “The Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP), or the Non-Aggression Principle, is the defining rule of peaceful coexistance. This version was composed by L. Neil Smith, who says: “A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim.” ”
    and http://libertarianism.com/content/definitions-of-libertarianism/
    “A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim.” – author L. Neil Smith
    and http://www.libertarians.net/
    “A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim.”
    L. Neil Smith, science fiction writer, 1987

    Additionally, Lee Wrights uses the same wording here.
    And a Google search of “no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation.” produces 11,000+ results. I do not have the time to go to each page listed.

    Regarding your question in #46; I believe that Smith is attempting “to restate and endorse the common law about conspiracy/accessory/solicitation” Or at least that is my interpretation of what he wrote. Again, I’m giving my opinion of word written by another man. You may wish to ask L. Neil Smith what he meant.

  41. Brian Holtz

    “No right to advocate force initiation” is pretty clear. If people saying that don’t intend what those words mean, then the burden is on them to explain themselves.

    Thank you for the news that Wrights is on record against freedom of speech for at least some speech he disagrees with.

    Maybe we need a caucus within the LP of “libertarians” who oppose the right to advocate force initiation. It would be helpful to know who they all are, and whether there are any other abstract political ideas whose advocacy they believe should not be included in freedom of speech.

  42. Darryl W. Perry

    I’ve already explained myself on what I believe that statement means (and limiting free speech is not among the meaning). You will need to ask Lee or anyone else what they believe that statement means. I can only assume they share a similar view.

  43. Brian Holtz

    If you assert that “no right to advocate [political principle X]” does not imply “limiting free speech”, I’m happy to let that statement be the last word on the matter.

  44. Darryl W. Perry

    @BH – you are now changing what was said by removing the words “initiation of force” and replacing it with “[political principle X]”.
    And as I’ve attempted to explain at least half a dozen times, there would need to be a victim AND the victim would be required to show that actual harm was done because of such advocation of initiation of force.

    would you prefer the words “nor advocate the initiation of force” be removed from my proposed platform?

    Thus it now reads: “Libertarians believe that each of us has a natural right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property; and that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; or delegate it to anyone else. And that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to individual liberty, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

  45. Catholic Trotskyist

    Only a few dozen people read party platforms anyway. Abolish the Platform committee.

  46. Brian Holtz

    Initiation of force IS a political principle, so you’re arguing against Algebra.

    Yes, as I said above, drop the advocacy reference, or better yet replace it with a fraud reference.

  47. Darryl W. Perry

    Brian, is this more to your liking?

    “Libertarians believe that each of us has a natural right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property; and that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force or fraud against another human being for any reason whatever; or delegate it to anyone else. And that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to individual liberty, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

  48. Brian Holtz

    That fixes the freedom-of-speech bug. For clarity and style, I’d change it to something like:

    “Libertarians believe that each of us has a natural right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property; and that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to commit fraud or initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever, or to delegate such a right to anyone else. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to individual liberty, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

    I still prefer the preamble of the Free Earth Manifesto because it also covers natural resources, homesteading, creation of property, and the purpose and powers of governments.

  49. Brian Holtz

    The alternative abortion language mentioned @4 above now has sufficient PlatCom endorsers to be offered to the delegates as a minority report. I give it a 50% chance of winning the heads-up floor vote against the “welcome both pro-life and pro-choice” majority recommendation, at which point it would be very likely to win the 2/3 vote for final adoption.

    1.4. Procreation

    Recognizing that when human rights begin is a sensitive issue on which Libertarians can disagree in good faith, we believe that government should not restrict, subsidize, or dictate the decision to begin or end one’s pregnancy.

  50. Robert Capozzi

    62, I think this minority report language is a step backwards. I read it as accepting very late term abortions. Acck. What next? Reinserting the private nukes clause?

  51. Common Tater

    I like the minority report language @62

    @63 Where does it mention late term abortion?

  52. Brian Holtz

    The current language (“government should be kept out of the matter”) allows late-term abortions. The minority language (“government should not restrict the decision to end one’s pregnancy”) leaves a little room for an evictionist position (like that of anarcholibertarian Prof. Walter Block). Wikipedia describes that position as: a woman may legally abort if (a) the fetus is not viable outside the womb; or (b) the woman has announced to the world her abandonment of the right to custody of the fetus, and (c) no one else has “homesteaded” that right by offering to care for the fetus.

  53. Robert Capozzi

    65 bh, I meant vs. the majority report. While it too “allows” late-term abortions, I like the other language, which has the effect of softening the absolutism of the LP’s position, e.g., “we believe that government should be kept out of the matter.”

    I stipulate that this is probably not solvable, but I’d still prefer something like:

    Abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides. We welcome both pro-life and pro-choice members into the Libertarian Party. Taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions.

    While I am pro-choice, I recognize that many pro-choice Ls feel the need to say more than what I suggest. I think they’re mistaken

    Since pro-lifers consider abortion murder, this reflects the loopy notion of “government, when instituted” idea. This can force an L to defend the reasonable question: Do you Ls favor laws against murder? And then the conversation spins off into construct land.

    A political party that uses as its thinking that fetuses can be “homesteaded” is a political party that is not interested in near-term social change. If, for ex., GJ mentions homesteading fetuses on this next MSNBC interview, I just may go Phillies on him. 😉

    64 ct, it doesn’t specify “late term abortions” because it doesn’t have to. Keeping the government out of the matter is unqualified, up to and including 8 months and 29 days. Eeeew.

  54. Brian Holtz

    Nobody said anything about fetuses being homesteaded. Block’s position is that guardianship can be homesteaded. Nobody is trying to put such a notion into the platform. This language obviously doesn’t. What it does do is make room for a distinction between ending pregnancy and killing the fetus.

    What I like about the minority language is that it focuses on the mother’s right to control her body. When you say the right thing, you don’t need to worry about “softening”.

  55. Pingback: Libertarian Platform Committee Tweaks Its Report | Independent Political Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *