Libertarian Lessons: Property Rights

Borrowing heavily from the Whig philosopher John Locke (1632-1704), Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all of us have the right to our lives, to our liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. Less than a century earlier, Locke had offered a similar theme, with a slight difference: He stated that we have a right to our property. Jefferson’s alteration was not a rejection or diminution but rather an enhancement of Locke’s earlier proclamation, by subsuming property rights in the broader category of pursuing happiness. Private property is critical if individuals are...

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Libertarian Lessons: Conscription

Libertarian Lessons: Conscription

Authoritarians love conscription because it turns human beings into resources, for the factory or the battlefield. The idea receives support from across the political spectrum, either (a) to fight wars abroad, or (b) for the development of a “youth corps” providing “free” services at home. Neither excuse justifies enslaving young people to serve the interests of the political class. At the core of a free society must lie a belief in the value of each individual, and the right of everyone to shape his destiny without forceful interference from others. We are not the means to others’ ends; we...

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Libertarian Lessons: Immigration

Libertarian Lessons: Immigration

Individuals are autonomous beings with rights that must be respected – by other individuals, and by government – regardless of religion, ethnicity, race, creed, or place of origin. We are each “endowed by our Creator” with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For libertarians, immigration is thereby considered a net good. “Let us exult, not stifle, man’s mobility!” declared Leonard Read, recognizing the importance of free movement in a person’s quest to better his life – even if that means leaving his country of birth. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of...

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Libertarianism in One Easy Lesson

Libertarianism in One Easy Lesson

It would be hard to imagine a larger deficiency in modern American society than the one we find in the ability of individual citizens to understand their proper relationship with government, and each other. Beneath the endless cacophony of varying special-interest groups lies a fundamental misunderstanding of the role we each play in a free society, and the role government plays in guaranteeing our place in a free society. Immigration, taxation, healthcare, charity and welfare, gun control, free trade, foreign policy, and private property are just a few of the issues that dominate mainstream...

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