Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I’m a libertarian — a bona fide voluntarist, individualist, capitalist libertarian. That means I don’t approve of either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for president of the United States, and I don’t think there is a lesser of two evils between them. To find out which of the two clowns is less evil, one would have to draft a flowchart the size of five football fields, and even then the accuracy of the results could probably be easily contested. But you’ll be glad to know that I’m not American, and therefore I can’t vote, so I won’t spoil the party for either one of them.
That being said, I don’t think Americans are getting a fair shake from the current candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties. They babble on and on about abortion and binders full of women, but there are some issues that affect the well-being of every American — and every citizen of the world — that are not even being touched upon by any of them. We are getting screwed in the deal, so here’s what we should demand our public figures talk about:
1. The War On Drugs
There’s absolutely no measure by which you can say the federal drug war is a success, or that it’s even worth fighting anymore. Insisting on pursuing it by this point is not so much beating a dead horse as it is beating the vacant patch of dirt where a dead horse used to be long ago, but has since decomposed and is now one with Mother Earth again.
The problems created by the War on Drugs vastly outweigh the ones it’s meant to prevent. For one thing, if drug prohibition hadn’t driven the costs of cocaine so high, we probably wouldn’t have crack or meth nowadays, since both were created in the 1980s as a cheaper alternative to more expensive narcotics. It’s also common knowledge that criminal penalties for possession unfairly targets blacks and Latinos, even if there are as many white hopheads as anyone else. It breaks apart communities and families, and the violence escalates forever.
Both candidates have been woefully mum on the issue, and, taking into account that to end the war they’d have to dismantle the Drug Enforcement Administration and all that, it’s no surprise.
2. Private Property Rights
The Constitution of the United States of America is a very cool document, but it has its quirks. When it was drafted, Alexander Hamilton, brewsky in hand and sideways cap on head, suggested that it would be totally boss if government could seize property from anyone whenever it wanted to. Attempts to boot him out of the party for killing a good flow were unfruitful by that point, so a compromise was reached in the Fifth Amendment: Government could take anything it wanted as long as it paid you a “fair” price for it. It’s called eminent domain.
Now, the problems with this are obvious, and there’s been a recent trend of flagrant abuse of eminent domain going strong. And there’s no sign that it will let up. It would be good if the candidates could ensure that, at least from the federal government, there would be no grief to anyone who wants to be secure in their property.
Private property also addresses several seemingly unrelated issues, such as pollution, when you consider it from a philosophical point of view. If you accept that your body is your property and you own it, then anything that compromises your health is therefore property damage and a crime. That means that if there’s a factory churning toxics in the air you breathe or on the water you drink, you should have the right to sue the metaphorical (and literal, if you are so inclined) pants off of them. That would make pollutants such as oil a financial liability and force the energy industry to come up with better solutions.
For all his talk about “clean energy,” someone should tell Obama that there’s no better way to reduce oil reliance than to let people own themselves.
3. Internet Freedom
We love the internet, don’t we? I know I do. Every time I don’t know what something is, there’s Wikipedia by my side to lay it out for me. Every time I’m lonely or depressed I can watch some of Seinfeld’s classic moments on YouTube, or some Seinfeld-themed porn on porntube (it exists, I swear). I can even read about Seinfeld porn on wikipedia! It’s the miracle of the 21st century.
There is, however, the constant looming threat of thinly-veiled censorship coming from above. Last year it was SOPA, a bill that was ostensibly about killing internet piracy — in the same way that the weird guy with the combover next to the van parked outside the school is ostensibly about giving free candy to the kids. Now it is CISPA, and just when we thought we were in the clear with that after it failed to pass the senate, here comes Obama announcing he would pass it by executive order if necessary — a political maneuver best know as taking my goddamn ball and going goddamn home.
Because, you know, he loves internet freedom so much.
Yes, both candidates pay a good lip service to the webz, but their positions are vague at best and wouldn’t stand trial. Americans should demand clearer assurances from them.
4. Freedom of Speech
That one seems like a no-brainer. Most people regard the U.S. as being healthy in terms of free speech and, for the most part, that’s true. But there are chinks in that armor.
About a month ago, a girl named Leah Lynn-Plante — who, I might add, is way cute — had her house raided by police and was summoned to testify before a Grand Jury in Oregon regarding her political activities. That’s because she’s an anarchist, and may or may not know some black bloc hooligans who smashed a couple of windows over in Seattle. The point is that the “evidence” gathered on her house was mostly Kropotkin books and whatnot, and she was eventually sent to prison and stayed there in solitary confinement without charges because she refused to cooperate with the grand jury.
Okay, first off, what do these people think, that we’re in like 1902? Leon Czolgosz has been dead for more than a hundred years now, and he was the last anarchist who managed to do any harm to anyone in the US. Maybe those cops want to dig up Emma Goldman from her grave and make her a material witness too. Joseph Conrad would be having a field day.
And second: Yes, you can be legally imprisoned for that. It’s a loophole they managed to poke in the fifth amendment, where they grant you “immunity” from prosecution after you testify, and thus you would not be putting yourself in jeopardy by doing so, making your “right to remain silent” theoretically unnecessary.
This is not going to jail for talking, it’s even worse: it’s going to jail for not talking. She would have stayed there for more than a year, too, if she hadn’t attracted so much media attention.
Two of her colleagues, however, are still caged, for the exact same reason she was.
That’s not to mention all the business with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. The Espionage Act, the same law that convicted a guy for distributing pamphlets against the draft in Yiddish on the streets of New York, is still used to this day to stifle whistleblowing and to keep the government as “un-transparent” as possible.
Obama promised in 2007 that his would be the most transparent presidency of all time. I mean, LOL, right?
5. Monetary Policy
Duck a L’Orange may be a delicacy, but if you eat one every day, it stops being so special. For the same reason, money is great, but it seizes being so great if there’s more and more of it being thrown into the market. Every time the Fed prints money, the dough in your pocket loses a fraction of its value, and that’s important, because right now, value is really important to those 8% (or, more accurately, around 20%) of unemployed Americans.
It’s incredible to me that Mitt Romney can condemn China for manipulating its currency while obliviously ignoring the fact that QE3 is underway.
And that’s not all: If you’re bummed with the dollar and want to switch to something more reliable, well, guess what? You can’t! Government is a jealous spouse, and he won’t let you divorce him for greener pastures. You can’t create a competing currency to the dollar — as Bernard Von NotHaus will gladly testify — and you can’t buy some gold and use it as a currency either. You have to stick with what you got, even if what you got is increasingly lame.
Hey, government, what’s your problem, huh? If the dollar is so great, then a competing currency wouldn’t be a problem, because no one would choose to use it anyway!
Don’t expect any one of the candidates to be talking about this.