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Could 1787 Be A Worthwhile New Political Party?

Back in June, our writer Jim noted the emergence of a shadow of a new political party in the USA. It calls itself 1787, and has declared that it will run a candidate for President of the United States in 2016.

The Democratic Party has proven to be an untrustworthy ally for liberal Americans, and the Green Party has been both ineffective and just plain odd. The Libertarian Party promotes dangerous schemes that would concentrate power even more densely in the hands of corporations and the wealthy. The Republican Party is occupied by a combination of furious bigots and arrogant economic elitists.

1787 political partySo, when a new political party comes along, I’m willing to seriously consider it. Serious consideration means looking beneath the superficial gloss, though. In fact, 1787 is encouraging critical scrutiny of its plans, writing to the FEC, “We encourage every American to work hard to prove us wrong, because that is the best way to find the best solutions.”

Taking 1787 up on its offer, I find some troubling pieces of information.

  • Jim has already pointed out that the bylaws of 1787 allow for Board of Directors to control the way the political party operates, without any democratic input from the membership. That’s a serious problem that caused Unity08 and Americans Elect, other recent attempts at creating new political parties, to lose credibility and fall apart.
  • 1787’s political philosophy is extremely vague, amounting to a new version of Ross Perot plan to govern by getting smart people together to come up with intelligent policies. 1787 writes to the FEC, “1787 has one goal: to find intelligent and sustainable solutions for our national challenges. Every policy is grounded in extensive research and common sense. There is no preconceived agenda, no inflexible platform, and no misplaced loyalty to special interest groups.” What is there to 1787, then? Intelligence and sustainability aren’t really differentiating points. Every political party has intelligent members, among the not-so-intelligent members. Every political party seeks to sustain its policies. What does “common sense” mean, to 1787’s leadership? Squinting at a problem and seeing what feels right?
  • That squint and see what feels right has been employed by 1787’s founder and Chairman, Emily Mathews. To help promote 1787, Mathews has written a thin book entitled The Butterfly Effect. In that book, Mathews argues vigorously against funding Head Start education for preschool children. She wants to see Head Start completely thrown out, because, she concludes, Head Start has failed. Mathews bases this conclusion, however, on a single study which was profoundly flawed. The study purported to compare children who went to Head Start programs with children who did not, but many of the children who were recorded as going to Head Start actually stopped attending the program early on during the study. Furthermore, many children in the control group actually went to other preschool programs, rather than not attending preschool at all, which is what would happen if, as Mathews recommends, Head Start is completely dismantled.
  • How could Emily Mathews support the destruction of Head Start education programs, on the basis of one flawed study? Well, she’s a Texas Republican. Mathews ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in 2004 – but was soundly defeated by her rivals. Mathews received only 2.72 percent of the vote in the Republican primary.
  • The Texas shines through in 1787 again as the new political party proposes using “fossil fuel as a bridge” between fossil fuels and environmentally responsible fuels. That’s like proposing Manhattan as a bridge between Manhattan and Long Island.
  • 1787 has so far completely failed to address the NSA spying scandal. Both on the party’s web site and in The Butterfly Effect there is no discussion at all of the massive electronic surveillance system created by National Security Agency, or of the laws that have enabled the construction and maintenance of that system: The FISA Amendments Act and the Patriot Act. The complete failure of 1787 to address this issue suggests that the party’s leadership doesn’t have a particularly strong regard for the Bill of Rights.
  • Though 1787 sometimes claims to be completely open in its politics to whatever its members want it to be, at other times, 1787 promotes very specific political ideas. For example, in financial policy, 1787 promotes “New standards for credit ratings and nationally recognized statistical rating organizations,” but then states that “Our policies will be fluid as our national conditions change or when we discover a better way – a perpetual work in progress.” In the area of civil liberties, 1787 has no specific policies at all – only vague assurances that freedom is important.
  • 1787 claims to have “no misplaced loyalty to special interest groups,” but it has no mechanisms for preventing such corrupt connections from forming. It places no special campaign finance restrictions on its candidates, and, although it promises to have an independent audit, 1787 doesn’t say anything about whether the results of that audit will be shared, or will merely be shredded on receipt.

    1787 proposes having a National Convention in September next year, in Philadelphia, to sort out issues like these. Perhaps it will, and perhaps the result will be a political party worth supporting. At present, however, 1787 looks like a poorly conceived mess.

  • 35 comments to Could 1787 Be A Worthwhile New Political Party?

    • J Clifford- I like your point of view every time I read it.

      1787 appears to be a group of people (mainly the ex GOP candidate in Texas) who is putting together a “party” to go for the Ron Paul populist voter donations. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I find Ms. Mathews’ letter to the FEC extremely vague and unambiguous. Strong, yet far too compromising to hold any weight.

      She may have written it this way because the letter was addressed to the FEC, rather than having no backbone. It appears to be a start and I have been there myself. The Constitution Party began out of a loose nit group of US Tax Payer Parties across the state. I was crucial in the Arizona Tax Payer Party changing the name to (my idea) Provisional Constitution Committee (or party), but the acronym was too close to the CCCP and that was just as the cold war was winding down. Eventually the Constitution Party was given a name by a grandstanding goof ball in front of the Liberty Bell and they allowed members to vote away the original intent of the group.

      I believe this is why the 1787 group will not allow the party standards to be voted on whereby it may very well turn into am extremely fringe group of infighting members. The example of the CP is proof. The party is not Constitutionally backed and varies on subject matter to suit the majority of members who are usually extreme right wing leaning groupies. Much like the Green party is very far left wing groupies.

      I am not going to hold my breath on 1787, but if they allow ballot access in any states and will allow the one leader on a federal level who has “clean hands” in the elected official realm, then the ballot access should be used. The IAP is doing just that, but they are more or less a very right leaning group except they have full use of their faculties.

      My personal use of ballot access through Americans Elect of Arizona is just that. Ballot access. No party. No ties. No one to force my vote for the party. This is one point the IAP and I agree upon, but I don’t see it with 1787.

    • Americans Elect was criticized on a variety of other grounds. Garrett Quinn of Boston.com wrote, “This $35 million operation was doomed to fail from the beginning. How can you run a serious political organization aimed at winning elections without any kind of guiding ideology or real local organization? You can’t. These guys, like so many compassless folks in politics, seriously misread the American electorate and recent third party history. Third parties do not work without a guiding ideology, be it left, right, libertarian, statist, whatever. These guys stood for something a thousand times worse than the bitter hyperpartisanship they whined about: a wish-washy just do something attitude towards governance rooted in the pipe dreams of ‘radical centrists.'”[70]

      Any party without a clear ideology is doomed to failure.

      • Stephen and anyone else who wants to throw in their two cents,
        As I mentioned above, I am using the AE of AZ ballot access as an Independent here in Arizona’s 2014 gubernatorial race.
        So far, as a candidate with plans, etc., I have a decent chance.

        Do you believe the D’s and R’s will try to use the AE confusion and connect it to me? I have so much ‘dirt’ and unethical, Anti-Constitutional behavior on every other candidate that if they decide to throw a 100 pounds of rocks at me, I can throw a mountain back at them… But public perception in the “party” can be an issue **Even though in Arizona AE is ONLY ballot access and not a true party until I take it over and rename it after two elections.

        Honest opinions. Well… Except for that cranky old guy!

    • Also, I find the assessment of the two major parties and the big three third parties to be biased and uses deceptive language.

      The non-aggression principle (NAP)—also called the non-aggression axiom, the zero aggression principle (ZAP), the anti-coercion principle, or the non-initiation of force—is a moral stance which asserts that aggression is inherently illegitimate. NAP and property rights are closely linked, since what aggression is depends on what a person’s rights are.[1] Aggression, for the purposes of NAP, is defined as the initiation or threatening of violence against a person or legitimately owned property of another. Specifically, any unsolicited actions of others that physically affect an individual’s property or person, no matter if the result of those actions is damaging, beneficial, or neutral to the owner, are considered violent or aggressive when they are against the owner’s free will and interfere with his right to self-determination and the principle of self-ownership.
      Supporters of the NAP often appeal to it in order to explain the immorality of theft, vandalism, assault, and fraud. In contrast to nonviolence, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violence used in self-defense or defense of others.[2] Many supporters argue that NAP opposes such policies as victimless crime laws, taxation, and military drafts. NAP is the foundation of most present-day libertarian philosophies.[3][4][5]

      That is one clarification point. How can any group (including corporations and wealthy people) consolidate power in a world abiding by the non aggression principle? Another liberal deceptive use of language like saying your taking money when you’re just not giving (ie caling spending cuts taking money from people) and giving money when you’re just not taking (ie caling tax breaks subsidies).

      • J Clifford

        Stephen, the libertarians want to remove the protections that prevent serious harm to the people as a whole. They want to strip environmental regulations away, and then tell us that we don’t need to worry, because if big corporations or wealthy individuals poison us with their pollution, we can simply file a lawsuit to get the financial compensation that we’re due.

        This libertarian suit-based system of protections ignores the fact that:

        1. There has to be a damage before behavior is stopped, so people have to be poisoned before they can seek restitution in the courts.
        2. The courts don’t offer an even playing field. If the water I drink or the air I breathe is fouled by a corporation, I’d have to pay for scientists to gather evidence, and then pay for a lawyer to represent me in court. If I’m sick from being poisoned, it’s likely I can’t work, and so, I can’t pay for these services. Even if I can, with a lawyer hoping for a cut of the financial restitution gathered in court, I’m not at all likely to have a legal team with even 10% of the resources that the corporation’s legal team will have.

        Libertarians completely ignore the reality that their proposals would overwhelmingly benefit wealthy individuals and corporations, while hurting working Americans, depriving them of the real ability to protect their legal rights. In action, libertarianism = property rights for the powerful and no rights at all for those without power.

        • That’s the common leftist spin versus the actual facts. Leftists always talk on and on about how big government allegedly protects people.

          1. Bureacrats are currently overprotective and bans safe stuff in the name of safety as well.
          More points to come but busy with other stuff.

    • J Clifford

      Stephen, you say I’m wrong, but you don’t actually contradict what I’m saying with facts.

      Do you disagree with the banning of lead additive in gasoline? Is that an example of bureaucrats being overprotective? Would you allow that to come back, in the name of corporate liberty? What about lead in paint? How about thalidomide? Are you opposed to the government’s food safety work, too, or are E. coli and listeria on our vegetables actually “safe stuff”?

      Libertarians have been trying to get liberals to join their political camp for years, and for years they’ve been failing. Reflective minds might stop to consider why that is.

      • Interesting note, the FDA is going to ban trans fat. It also might ban menthol flavored cigarettes. They ban all other flavors as well on tobacco. You assume that big government is what protect people from being harmed, but other societies which are either libertarian or close to libertarian like Hong Kong or Singapore don’t have people dieing from poision or pollution. To add icing to the cake, that does happen in Communist China despite all the big government there.

        • Tor

          Singapore?! What the hell are you smoking there Stephen? Singapore is hardly a “free society”. The ruling party there has tampered and rigged the elections for the past 50 years, jailed political dissenters, executed people even just carrying drugs (how’s that for a “war on drugs”? Don’t Libertarians profess to have a huge problem with that?), and for that matter, the government is deeply involved into the economy and other aspects of people’s lives, such as telling people where they can live. Hong Kong is much closer to a valid example to use, but it’s worth noting their existence is heavily subsidized by the “Communist” beast you just mentioned, that, and Hong Kong isn’t really that nice of a place to live, unless you’re rich.

          • Tor

            Oh yeah, how did I forget this. Homosexuality is BANNED in Singapore, and can result in imprisonment. Any media that has homosexual relationships, is generally banned from being sold in Singapore as well. Very libertarian.

            • Bill

              And lest we forget: chewing gum is also banned in Singapore.

              My work has taken me to Singapore many times. It’s a lovely, very enjoyable place…if you’ve got plenty of money. Otherwise, yer pretty much f*cked.

              Ahhh, libertarian heaven.

    • http://libertarianmajority.net/

      It’s a good resource with articles on various topics. J, you should probably read all the articles under economic liberty first.

      On the Nolan Chart Note:Various versions of this chart list various issues for the categories
      Libertarian Party (100,100) 200
      Ron Paul (90,100) 190
      Constitution Party (40,75) 115
      America’s Status Quo (55,35) 90
      Republican Party (15,65) 80
      Democratic Party (55,15) 70
      Green Party (60,0) 60
      Communist Party (30,0) 30
      Nazi Party (5,0) 5

      Now focus only on the social/personal issues
      Libertarian Party 100
      Ron Paul 90
      Green Party 60
      America’s Status Quo 55
      Democratic Party 55
      Constitution Party 40
      Communist Party 30
      Republican Party 15
      Nazi Party 5

      Now focus only on the economic/fiscal issues
      Libertarian Party 100
      Ron Paul 100
      Constitution Party 75
      Republican Party 65
      America’s Status Quo 35
      Democratic Party 15
      Green Party 0
      Communist Party 0
      Nazi Party 0

      Also, congratulations for being listed as a news source of the Independent Political Report.

      CONTRIBUTORS’ BLOGS

      California Libertarian Report
      Conservative Heritage Times
      Free Virginia
      Green Party Watch
      Hammer of Truth
      Kn@ppster
      Liberty Daily
      Liberty Point
      On The Wilder Side
      Saturn’s Repository
      The Lesiak Report
      Uncovered Politics

      NEWS SOURCES

      Ballot Access News
      Free And Equal
      Green Party Watch
      Irregular Times (here you are)
      Liberty For All

      OTHER BLOGS

      Lew Rockwell
      Libertarian Solution
      Mass Greens
      Reason Hit & Run
      Socialist Webzine
      The Punk Patriot
      The Think3 Institute

      OTHER WEBSITES

      Krzysztof Lesiak YouTube Channel
      Libertarian Majority
      Liberty Candidates
      Politics1
      US Election Atlas

      PARTY WEBSITES

      Constitution Party
      Green Party of the US
      Independence Party of Minn.
      Independent American Party
      Libertarian Party
      Moderate Party of RI
      Modern Whig Party
      New Hampshire Liberty Party
      New York Conservative Party
      Party for Socialism and Liberation
      Peace and Freedom Party
      Reform Party
      Socialist Party USA
      Vermont Progressive Party

      READERS’ BLOGS

      Ballot Access News
      Bludgeon and Skewer
      Delaware Libertarian
      Free Press Publications
      Gold USA Group
      Least of All Evils
      Proportional Representation Party

    • J. Clifford

      Stephen, your libertarian web site has just a single paragraph on environmental issues:

      “Governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. We realize that our planet’s climate is constantly changing, but environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.”

      I don’t understand how anyone can read this without either laughing out loud or crying.

      Private businesses have a great track record on environmental protection?!??!? Seriously?

      Free markets stimulate behavioral changes to protect ecosystems?!?

      You wonder why liberals don’t join the libertarians, and then you point to stuff like this.

    • J. Clifford

      On education, libertarians have even less to say.

      How about this gem, Stephen?

      “Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.”

      So, under the libertarian plan, the children of the working poor get little or no education. After all, the corporations that, under libertarian plans, have no minimum wage that they must provide, pay as little as the free market will allow.

      Brilliant. Libertarians are willing to embrace ignorance for huge numbers of children. Love it. Gee, why didn’t I register with the Libertarian Party before?

      • Banks give out loans for education, well currently colledge is the only ones known but loans for all education could be possible. Also, non-profit organizations rather than government could also provide free education like for example the People’s University is one such example.

        • J. Clifford

          So, your plan is to have working poor parents, who are paid a pittance by their completely unregulated corporate masters, take out interest-bearing loans to pay for their children to even go to Kindergarten? You want them to do this for 12 years, and THEN pay for their kids to go to college?

          In your libertarian heaven, what corporation on earth is going to pay enough of a wage for anybody to afford that?

          There will be no minimum wage! You’ll have children working in factories en masse, because their parents can’t afford to go to school.

          And then, what happens to those children when they grow up? What will the free market do with the little ignoramuses then?

          • Some libertarians have supported a basic income as an alternative to the minimum wage. The Fair Tax which I support has one built into it as a prebate.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

            You can look at any libertarian or relatively libertarian society to disprove your predictions. Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Finland, Bahrain, Canada, Australia, Chile, United Kingdom, Jordan, Denmark, Taiwan, Estonia, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Peru, Qatar, Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Netherlands, etc. I do also like adding Costa Rica to the list at times. This is a wide net, but not all have minimum wages, but people do well there. I’m not sure on the education situatuion of each country, but I’m sure several of the countries listed prove my point.

            Back to basic income.

            Basic income has been promoted by people associated with political views that are generally opposed to the public provision of welfare services, such as libertarianism, economic liberalism, and anarcho-capitalism. These people support basic income as a strategy to reduce the amount of bureaucratic administration that is prevalent in many contemporary welfare systems, as well as acting as a form of compensation for fiat currency inflation. Notable libertarian-capitalist proponents of basic income include Milton Friedman (in the form of negative income tax),[51] Robert Anton Wilson,[52] Gary Johnson (In the form of the fair tax “prebate”) and Charles Murray.[53]

            It is clear, however, that Friedrich Hayek did not advocate that any modern nation act to implement a minimum income. This was a concept that he attributed to his “Great Society,” which was his Utopian liberal society, in the classical sense. Hayek emphasized a minimum income in the far future, and stated clearly that no wealthy countries such as the United States should guarantee any income not available to all around the world, as it would attract mass immigration and overwhelm the procedure:

            “It is obvious that for a long time to come it will be wholly impossible to secure an adequate and uniform minimum standard for all human beings everywhere, or at least that the wealthier countries would not be content to secure for their citizens no higher standards than can be secured for all men. But to confine to the citizens of particular countries provisions for a minimum standard higher than that universally applied makes it a privilege and necessitates certain limitations on the free movement of men across frontiers… we must face the fact that we here encounter a limit to the universal application of those liberal principles of policy which the existing facts of the present world make unavoidable.”[54]

            Many of the people mentioned above have united in the Basic Income Earth Network, which recognizes numerous national advocacy groups. Here is a breakdown of all partisans of basic income, listed by region or country.

            Geolibertarians seek to synthesize propertarian libertarianism and a geoist (or Georgist) philosophy of land as commonly and equally owned by all people, citing the classical distinction between unimproved land and private property. The rental value of land is produced by the labors of the community and, as such, rightly belongs to the community at large and not solely to the landholder. A land value tax (LVT) is levied as an annual fee for exclusive access to a section of earth, which is collected and redistributed to the community either through public goods, such as public security or a court system, or in the form of a basic guaranteed income called a citizen’s dividend. Geolibertarians view the LVT as a single tax to replace all other methods of taxation, which are deemed unjust violations of the non-aggression principle.

            On Land Value Tax, Australia, China (ROC), China (PRC), Estonia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Kenya, Namibia, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, etc. either have it or are debating it. Though I do prefer a Fair Tax over a Land Value Tax.

    • J. Clifford

      On Monopolies:

      NO policy to protect us from monopolies. Corporations can be formed in any way, under the libertarian plan. So, if a corporation gains such power that it controls the market to prevent the formation of rival businesses, there’s no law against that.

      Brilliant, Stephen. Brilliant. So long as we all do what’s in the interests of ACME Corporation, we’ll all be okay.

    • J. Clifford

      Oh, really. When has that happened?

      Name a case when a market has broken up a monopoly.

      • There were some examples in Mary Ruwart’s book. Utility companies got local governments to make them the only legal sellers in their areas (think Bell and AT&T). Later on those laws were repealed, and despite have huge market shares they went down due to other companies entering the market.

    • J Clifford

      Ma Bell was not broken up by a free market, Stephen.

    • Bill

      I’ve just checked in for the first time on this busy little thread, and want to thank J Clifford for fighting the good fight against Libertarianism…a term I’ve always detested, but it’s easier to say than Irresponsiblism, which would otherwise be more accurate. Libertarians differ from tea baggers in that the former generally have all their teeth and college educations and aren’t religious, but there the differences pretty much end. The inevitable end of Libertarianism is corporatism (i.e., the rule of the strong over the weak), so what’s all the fuss about? I mean, hey, we’re already there.

      • J Clifford

        Thanks, Bill.

        I do want to make it clear, though, that there are a few things I respect about libertarians. One, which you’ve implied Bill, is that they tend to think about their political identity. I don’t agree with the conclusion of all their thoughts, but admire at least their aesthetic of rigor. Secondly, libertarians tend to be respectful of the diversity of human needs, and reject the effort to force everybody into a single mold. Third, libertarians are critical resisters of government power, and that is an important task. We liberals don’t agree with the extent of libertarians’ resistance, but we aren’t really in favor of many aspects of government power either. The difference is that we seek balance, and more of a nuanced tuning of government power so that it serves people’s needs without impinging on their liberty.

        So, Stephen, though I’m vigorously rejecting many libertarian methods, I congratulate you on your goals and consistency of vision.

    • Bill

      I think you’ve put your finger on my fundamental concern, J: “Libertarians tend to be respectful of the diversity of human needs.” True, as far as it goes, but the libertarian’s respect for the diversity of human needs is a lot like the right-to-lifer’s respect for life, which of course has a hard stop at the instant of birth.

      The libertarian genuinely respects human needs, but feels no responsibility to actually help insure and maintain a system in which they might actually be satisfied. With its single-minded reverence for the supremacy of philosophy over actuality, libertarianism simply waves off such concerns by assuring us all that if only nasty old government would get out of the way then ‘free markets’ and ‘individual initiative’ would best assure the individual’s ability to meet his own needs. Alas, this is a just-so story that purposely ignores ten thousand years of history.

      The concept of ‘government’ arose precisely to secure free markets…because no market can be anything like free if the guy who can marshal the most swords is free to march into it and wantonly strip all its merchants of their wares, or the guy with the most capital can corner it and have his way, free of competition. Similarly, the concept of ‘law’ assures something at least vaguely like a level playing field, in which the weak aren’t automatically subjugated by the strong.

      Is it perfect at this? Of course not. But libertarians look at government’s and law’s imperfections and conclude that the only rational response is to devolve back to a mythical Eden of lawlessness, in which, we’re just sure, everything will work out just fine…because Liberty! And Adam Smith! It’s b*llshit, and it’s educated willful ignorance. Today, at least in the leading economies of the Western world, markets and individuals have never been more free, thanks to a history of at least marginally good governance. The fact that the results aren’t yet perfect…indeed, remain far from perfect…doesn’t argue for abandoning what has proven to work; rather, it argues for continuing to improve what clearly works better than anything else. Any jack*ss (even a sophomoric philosopher) can kick down a barn, but it still takes a carpenter to build one.

    • Interesting discussion. I think both of you miss some stuff on what Libertarians have been doing. Libertarians led the way in…

      1) Legalizing the right to sue for environmental pollution. This includes not only after the fact but evident threats.

      2) Helped found the Green Parties and the EPA to set initial guidelines for suits that have since raised awareness worldwide, leading anti-lead campaigns for example

      3) Libertarians are correct in pointing out current regulation still exempts polluters ( such as the US Government, the EPA itself, and many crony corporations) and in pushing for strict liability and class action status in all such cases: that means you don’t have to prove harm, merely tresspass.

      4) Have set a goal of environmental purity by voluntary means of pre-industrial or better levels.

      Considering we were headed for an environmental apocalypse in 1969 when you couldn’t sue or set up voluntary ecological zones, they’ve done a lot.

      I think Mr. Clifford overestimates what regulations are supposed to do or how they actually work. Curent courts use regulations as guidelines. You can certainly make leaded gas, you can’t use it where it will effect other’s property, precisely the Libertarian point. I think he misunderstands the current system: You may sue for any potential threat except where government regulators prohibit it, and as I said under strict liability you just prove trespass a change the courts are starting to accept in some places but obviously a ways to go. It’s unfair to attack Libertarians for what they’re trying to correct.

      Mr. Gray is unaware that Libertarianism is based on the rights respect pledge, the so-called NAP isn’t recognized by any Libertarian group except directional ones.

      My 2 cents.

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