Gain Insight into Libertarian Politics and Free Market Economics. If you are interested in Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Robert Nozick, or Ron Paul and Rand Paul, you should read this book!
An insightful mixture of political philosophy and policy advocacy, this book justifies libertarian politics using the Golden Rule of ethics to achieve a provocative new political theory called GOLD. GOLD defends the libertarian position on antiwar, drugs, prostitution, civil liberties, abortion rights, and gay marriage, GOLD explains why free market capitalism is necessary for freedom, and GOLD proves that capitalism helps the poor and racial minorities.
A sophisticated theory of GOLD economics is explained, which sheds light on the nature of money, prices, trade, supply and demand, inflation, and many other topics. The book also presents a bold new libertarian legal theory interpreting the United States Constitution and the common law. The book is organized into four parts, covering social policy, economic policy, legal policy, and the structure of government, and each part contains many different essays, with each essay analyzing an issue from the GOLD point of view.
Essential reading for libertarians and for everyone who wants to learn more about libertarian ideas.
Chapter One: Introduction to NVP and GOLD
The Golden Rule, which has been called the ethics of reciprocity, states: “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” or, to modernize the language, “treat people the way you want them to treat you in return.” The Golden Rule follows as a matter of deductive logic from the existence of right and wrong, good and evil, regardless of what specific details you believe about what is right and good. How could something be evil when others do it to you, but be good when you do it to them, if both you and they are human beings governed by the same ethical rules? It goes to the basic notion of fairness that you cannot treat people badly and then expect people to be nice to you.
In addition to being rigorously rational and logical, the Golden Rule is also stated or implied by virtually every major philosophy and religion. Jesus Christ taught it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). The Jews derive it from Leviticus 19:18 and Leviticus 19:34 of The Torah. It was recorded as one of the sayings of Confucius. It was a common proverb in ancient Greece during the era of the Greek philosophers. The Golden Rule is mentioned in a line in the Hindu holy book The Mahabharata, and the Muslim Hadith records that Muhammad taught it to his followers. In Western philosophy the Golden Rule formed the foundation of the ethical theory of Immanuel Kant, the most influential philosopher of the Enlightenment.
The Golden Rule’s presence in philosophy and religions of both East and West, ancient and modern, speaks to what a deep, universal, clear idea it is. The Golden Rule is a principle that the vast majority of the human race could agree on without altering what they already believe.
Here I will present a new, unique, original idea, the GOLD (Guiding Our Liberty’s Defense) justification of the principle of libertarianism. The GOLD theory holds that if you accept the Golden Rule in ethics then it follows as a matter of logical deduction that the best political philosophy is libertarianism.
In order to see liberty’s basis in the Golden Rule I must first define what I mean by “libertarianism.” Libertarianism is based on a principle that has many different names but one common understanding among libertarians. The principle has been called the Non-Aggression Axiom (NAA), the Non-Violence Principle (NVP), or the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP). I call it NVP.
NVP is an idealistic non-violence belief stating that no person should ever use violent force in order to coerce another person for any reason, including to redistribute wealth or enforce socially desirable political goals. In contrast to true pacifism, the believer of NVP is willing to use violent physical force for self-defense or to defend private property. Once we define government and laws, enforced by the police and army, as a type of coercive violent force, we reach the libertarian conclusion that the government should leave us alone and let us make our own decisions, both economic and social. This leads us to the belief that one group of people, or voters, lacks the right to use the government to impose their values and visions onto non-consenting groups of other people.
Most libertarians are already familiar with NVP, and we know what policy positions flow logically as conclusions of NVP. However, we are not clear on why NVP is desirable or right, and no consensus exists on the theoretical foundation for NVP. GOLD answers these questions. The GOLD principle is roughly the same as NVP, but it is NVP based on the Golden Rule.
Subpart 1-A: The XYAB Analysis, and a Story About Me and You
The GOLD theory argues that libertarian policies are a natural result of applying the Golden Rule to political questions. I will illustrate GOLD using what I call the XYAB analysis, which consists of the example of X, Y, A, and B, an example that I will return to repeatedly throughout this book. X is a person and A is a person. X believes Y, or X does Y, or X’s behavior is Y, and A believes B or does B or behaves according to B. X believes that Y is good and that B is evil. Assume that A believes that B is good and that Y is evil. Thus, if X and A know each other, it is probable that X thinks that A should abandon B and do Y, and A wants X to abandon Y and do B.
Because I will be talking about X and Y and A and B a lot in this book, let me note at the outset that these letters represent ideas in political philosophy, not theories in mathematics. My use of X and A has nothing to do with variables and constants, or with rates of change and levels, although X and A are used in math to denote such things. In the political philosophy of GOLD, the use of the letters X, Y, A, and B, indicates that X is a person and shows that Y is something that relates to or belongs to X. Either Y is the religion of X, or Y is the ethics and values of X, or Y is the beliefs of X, or, as will be discussed later, Y might be the goods or services that X produces at his/her business and sells to A, or Y might be X’s government that defends X and which X voted for. The name of A and B, in contrast to X and Y, show that A is a person who is different from X, and A has a B which relates to A in much the same way that Y relates to X, in that A’s B is A’s beliefs or behaviors or political values or economic products. X and X’s Y sit on one side on the analysis, while A and A’s B sit on the other side. So, in summary, Y relates to X, B relates to A, X is different from A, and Y is different from B. X hates B and believes in Y, and A hates Y and believes in B. The question then becomes, from the point of view of political philosophy, how should X treat A, and how should A treat X?
Assume that X can treat A in one of two ways. X can either let A be free to believe B, or X can try to violently force A to believe Y. Similarly, A can treat X in one of two ways, either forcing X to believe B, or allowing X the freedom to believe Y. If X and A follow the Golden Rule principle, meaning that each one of them will reciprocate towards the other with the type of behavior that he/she receives from the other, then if X forces A to believe Y, then A would force X to believe B in retaliation. This would descend into a war between X and A, with each seeking to use brute force to impose their values onto the other side. On the other hand, if X gives A the freedom to believe B, then A will give X the freedom to believe Y, and the result is the peaceful coexistence of X and A.
Thus, for people who follow the Golden Rule, the only logical path for X to follow, assuming that X believes Y is good and wants A to believe Y instead of B, is for X to respect A and give A the freedom to choose Y or B, and to seek to use reason to persuade A to freely choose Y, because this is precisely how X would want A to treat him if X wants to be able to believe Y and not be forced to believe B. Even if X believes that B is evil, X would still let A believe B or do B, because X wants the freedom to believe or do Y, and for X to be free from A’s coercion, A must also be free from X’s coercion.
However, force used for self-defense can be universalized under the Golden Rule, because if X forcibly defends himself from A’s force, and A also forcibly defends himself from X’s force, then neither dominates the other, and each will be forced to let the other do what he wants, so peace and harmony and freedom would result from self-defense for both of them.
GOLD captures the wisdom of liberty, which is based upon the freedom to choose. Political freedom means you are free to do whatever you want so long as you don’t violate other people’s right to life, liberty, and property. GOLD is the one and only behavior which each person can do to everyone else and which everyone can do back to that person which enables the person to coexist with everyone else in perfect peace, harmony and freedom. As soon as X tries to use force to impose Y onto A, A will try to impose B onto X, and the violation of rights and of liberty dissolves into violent conflict and war, a barbarian savagery where the most violent person wins and the stronger winner imposes his belief onto the weaker loser. X can be anyone and Y can be anything, so GOLD is true freedom for everyone.
You might ask: but if Y is correct and true and good, but A believes B, then A should believe Y, so why can’t X force A to believe Y? Under GOLD, X should not force Y onto A even if X is one hundred percent completely, absolutely certain that Y is right and B is wrong, and not even if in actual objective reality Y really is right and B really is wrong, because if X tries to impose Y onto A by force then A’s Golden Rule reaction is to try to impose B onto X by force, because A believes B just as much as X believes Y. If GOLD respect for the rights of others is lost from X initiating force against A, then we disintegrate into a world of brute force, and we lose freedom, rights and civilization.
Then you could ask the next question: if Y is true and right, but A believes B, how can X get A to choose Y, the correct, right, true choice? The answer is that if Y really is correct, then X can use reason and persuasion to persuade A to freely choose Y. Even if Y is true and good, nothing can be so good for everyone that it is worth violating someone else’s freedom to force the good onto them, because the widespread initiation of violence for noble, good justifications totally destroys freedom and rights.
GOLD is a higher value than Y, even if Y is true and good, because GOLD gives each person the freedom to choose between Y and B, and from the point of view of X and A, who are mortal human beings with fallible human brains and limitations upon their ability to know the truth, for all they know either Y or B could be true, so it is never appropriate for X to force Y onto A and make A’s decision for him. Even if Y is true and good, if X seeks to impose Y onto A then A will respond by seeking to impose B onto X, so if people accept that they should use violence to force “goodness” onto others then civilization devolves into a war of all against all. I have named the alternative to GOLD, the principle of X using force against A and A using force against X, by the name EVIL (Everyone Violating Individual Liberty).
Going back to the Golden Rule, that you must treat others the way you want others to treat you, you can deduce that if you assume X, Y, A, and B, and you assume that X can either violently impose Y onto A, or not initiate violence and let A freely make A’s own choice between B or Y, then the only two paths are GOLD or EVIL. GOLD means that A lets X be free to choose Y or B, and X in return lets A be free to make that choice, thus, X treats A in a way that respects A’s rights and A treats X in a manner which respects X’s rights. EVIL means that X seeks to coerce A and impose Y onto A by brute force, which leads to A retaliating against X and violently forcing B onto X. Under EVIL, X uses force against A and has no respect for A’s liberty and rights, and A gives precisely this same treatment back to X. X could respect A’s rights and A might initiate aggression against X in return, but this is not conceptualized under the Golden Rule as a treatment which could be universalized, with each person treating every other person precisely the same way, and being treated that way by everyone else in return. Under the Golden Rule, the political choice we must make is between GOLD and EVIL.
Now let us explore a story where I am Mr. A and you are Mr. X. This story is an abstract example; you could plug any values into the variables Mr. X, his belief Y, Mr. A, and his belief B, and the logic would remain essentially the same. For a bird’s eye view of this story, I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, while you are a social conservative and an economic liberal. As can be expected, your X’s Y is in sharp conflict with my A’s B. This book will explain how GOLD libertarianism rises above the war between liberals and conservatives to find a fair and principled solution that enables everyone to coexist in peace and freedom, including all groups of people who disapprove of or hate other groups of people within the same political community.
A summary of the issues where you and I disagree are: (1) sexual orientation/gay rights, (2) religion, (3) race, (4) freedom of speech/intellectual freedom, (5) occupational licensing, (6) the minimum wage, and (7) welfare for the poor. GOLD says that each of us should be free to do what we want and choose our own beliefs and values, and if I give freedom to you then you should give freedom to me in return.
Having offered the above summary, I shall proceed to flesh out the details. Regarding the areas that are generally regarded as social policy, when it comes to (1) sexual orientation, if you let me be gay then in return I will not use force to impose my beliefs about right and wrong onto your sex life. If I am free to be a gay man then you are free to have a fetish for women’s feet or marry a woman who is a member of a different religion, etc. If the government controls marriage then nobody is free, but if every social decision is made privately by each individual then everyone is free. Thus, as you will see when you read the upcoming chapter on gay rights, the GOLD position is that conservatives should not use the law to condemn and criminalize homosexual behavior, but liberals should not use the law to force social conservatives to recognize gay marriage against their will and in violation of their moral conscience. The GOLD solution is to protect gays from homophobic violence while deregulating marriage so that the government no longer gives its approval or disapproval to weddings and instead lets each church and social group freely choose their own views on gay marriage.
With respect to (2) religion, if you leave me free to be a Jewish atheist then in return you get the freedom to practice Christianity in whatever way you see fit. Although this book does not specifically advocate or oppose any particular religion, the issue of GOLD as a defense of intellectual freedom, i.e. the freedom to believe what you want, will be addressed several times, for example in the chapter on capitalism as the economic precondition of freedom, and also in the chapter discussing the civil liberties guaranteed in the United States Constitution. In both chapters I explain why intellectual freedom, social freedom and economic freedom go hand in hand. The alternative to freedom is giving the government the power to regulate religion, which takes the most sacred sphere of life and gives control over it to whoever happens to be the strongest thug or the politician with the most votes.
If I am a Jew and you impose Southern Baptism onto me then in the future someone else will impose Roman Catholicism onto you, and under the Golden Rule that will be perfectly fair because you get the same treatment that you gave to me. Or, for a related example, if you force an atheist to convert to Christianity then you have no right to complain when the Marxists take over and force you to become an atheist. Perhaps the sharpest example of freedom of religion comes in the chapter on sin crimes, where I argue that even if you view drugs, gambling, and prostitution as sins, this does not make it right for you to use the government to criminalize those behaviors, because when you fight to outlaw other people’s freedom you pave the road to your own freedom also being destroyed.
In terms of (3) race, the United States has a history that looks a lot like EVIL, which began with whites using violence and the legal system against blacks, first with slavery and later with Jim Crow. The blacks later retaliated against the whites, which is easy to understand given that many blacks are steeped in anger and furious at their history of being oppressed. Blacks sought revenge by deploying affirmative action and reverse discrimination policies to use government force to favor blacks and disfavor whites. If X is colored and A is white then it violated GOLD for A to use force against X, but it is also wrong and unfair for X to use force against A, even for the noble ideal of helping black people to escape from the past effects of slavery and inequality. This book contains several chapters showing why libertarianism helps the members of racial minorities, and also why capitalism helps the poor and underprivileged, and I take one chapter to spell out in detail the GOLD policy for defending civil rights.
As I discuss later in this book, GOLD gets government out of the business of helping one race at the expense of another race, and GOLD lets everyone be free as individuals to succeed or fail on their own unique merits, which is the policy of true social progress. It cannot be said that “GOLD favors blacks” or “GOLD favors whites” or “GOLD helps the poor” or “GOLD helps the rich” because the truth is best described by the statement “GOLD helps everybody and does not help one group at the expense of another group.” This idea may be new to pro-white racist conservatives and pro-black racist liberals, but to someone like me, who is Jewish, gay, and colored, the idea of race-blind political equality, where each individual has the same rights regardless of his or her racial identity, seems like simple common sense.
To conclude the social freedom part of the story about me and you, if (4) you lobby the government to ban my book then you have accepted the principle that the government owns your mind and gets to give you a list of authorized books to read. And if you later want to read a book that the government has banned or you don’t like the ideas that are being forced onto you then by that point it is too late because you conceded that the government is allowed to decide right and wrong for the public and that violent force is a proper and appropriate tool to impose values and virtues onto people. One of the unique ideas in this book, explained in the section on economics and also in the section on the law, is that the liberal concern for civil liberties, e.g. my freedom to write atheist books, and the conservative concern for freedom from regulation, e.g. my freedom to buy and sell what I want on my terms, is really two sides of the same libertarian coin, because if the government claims the right to be the boss of your beliefs then it will soon usurp the power to be the boss of your place in the economy and take total control over you, and if the government is the boss of the economy then it will inevitably take over the realm of ideas in order to suppress dissent and stifle criticism of the economic planners.
To deal with economic freedom as it relates to me and you, if (5) you force me to get an occupational license to practice law to protect the public from bad lawyers, then you concede that the state can regulate and control your job too. This same principle taken to its logical conclusion would let the government assign you to a job and force you to work without the choice to quit, since the workplace would be transferred to the public sphere. If you “protect” a poor person by not letting them hire me as a lawyer, then the government will protect the poor from you by making you jump through hoops of regulation and leaving you unemployed and destitute if you don’t measure up to the regulator’s demands, even if you are good at your job and people don’t really need to be protected from you. This point will be examined in detail in the chapter on occupational licensing.
And if (6) you use force to impose the wage that you feel is right onto other people then you open the door to government using violence to impose what the state’s experts feel is right onto you even when you disagree with the government. I make the case against minimum wage laws later in this book, in the context of a bold new economic analysis which explains why economic policy can only succeed if it uses capitalism and money prices so that supply and demand can be allowed to function as a tool for people to coordinate production and consumption.
This ties to (7) poverty and helping me as a poor person. In the chapters at the heart of my new theory of economics, I show that GOLD will be better for the poor and the working class than socialism would be, I also prove that my theory, if applied consistently in practice by policymakers, would achieve so much increased efficiently and create enough new wealth that it would help solve the problem of poverty. My theories explained later in this book, including the productivity theory of demand, the choice theory of value, and my refutation of market failure, combine to explain exactly which path we should walk down to move the economy forward. So GOLD is the political philosophy that is truly loving and compassionate towards the vulnerable and helpless, because it will generate the added prosperity that will enable us to afford to help those who are less fortunate.
Both libertarianism and liberalism seek equality, but each does so by means of quite different methods, as I analyze in the chapter on equality and aristocracy and the chapter on how capitalism helps the poor. Liberalism, to the extent that it accepts socialist economic principles, achieves equality not by lifting the poor up to the level of the rich but by tearing the rich down and dragging them into the ranks of the poor. The goal of libertarian economic policy is to make everyone rich by raising the standard of living in order to create upward mobility for the working class so that everyone reaches equality at the top of the ladder. What every able-bodied poor person needs is opportunity, not handouts, so that they can lift themselves up. Economic freedom creates jobs for the working class whereas government intervention destroys jobs, although welfare benefits will go down when freedom leads to tax cuts. In other words, when freedom closes a window it opens a door.
In each of these seven examples, I was just minding my own business and doing no harm to you, but you felt justified by EVIL to use violence against me, by means of the government’s police which enforce the laws, to coerce me into doing what you think is right but which I feel is wrong. Having abandoned GOLD and embraced EVIL, there is no principle which stops the next thug or political party from coming along and forcing you to obey them just as I obeyed you. And if you choose EVIL then you are asking for it. By contrast, under GOLD you are justified in using violence to defend yourself against me if I attack you, but you should not use violence against me in a way that you would not want me to use against you if you and I had our situations reversed.
Libertarianism has been likened to “live and let die” by its critics, but we can see that GOLD is really “live and let live.” GOLD is not a philosophy of arrogance and elitism. Instead, GOLD is founded upon tolerance and respect for the rights of others, including the most important right, my right to engage in behavior which you morally disapprove of and feel is ethically wrong but which does no harm to you, which is identical to your right to do what you want free from interference by me. GOLD is an interpretation of the Golden Rule according to which I give you the freedom to do what you want, and in return you also give me the freedom to live my life as I see fit, so that we treat each other the same way and the result is freedom for both you and me. The alternative to GOLD is EVIL, where you use force against me to impose your beliefs onto me and I retaliate with violence against you. EVIL leads either to the bloody chaos of open war or, as is happening in the United States of America, it leads to a situation where you vote for politicians who pass laws that constrict my freedom, and I vote for politicians who pass laws that squeeze you and take control of your life, and the end result is a maze of laws where no one is truly free anymore.
Subpart 1-B: The Ethics of GOLD, and the Freedom to Make Decisions
The reason why EVIL is so seductive, and both social conservatives and economic liberals accept it, and the reason why GOLD libertarianism is so unpopular, is because it seems illogical and counterintuitive to say that if X knows for sure that Y is good and B is evil, and X knows definitely that B will be bad for A, and A stubbornly chooses B and refuses to freely, voluntarily choose Y, then why can’t X behave like a responsible parent teaching a child, and use violence to force Y onto A? Why not, if Y would help A and Y being forced onto A is for A’s own benefit? The GOLD Principle which says that X forcing Y onto A is wrong, even if we assume that Y is good and B is evil, requires a person to actually think deep, sophisticated thoughts about politics, and to see the logical conclusions which will result from the acceptance of the political principles of either GOLD or EVIL. GOLD demands that you reason the long-term effects of a political system, which might be subtle and hidden and not obvious, and not merely attach your political ideology to the simple and basic feeling that if Y is good then everyone should do Y, so A should do Y, so X should force A to do Y.
If X is only aware of Y, and X is not conceptual enough to know about A and think about B, then X will find it natural and easy to think that Y is the one and only truth. X will seek to impose Y onto A without even being aware of B or thinking the next thought that follows from EVIL, namely, that A believes B, and if X imposes Y onto A, then A will seek to impose B onto X, unless GOLD protects X from A and A from X and leaves X and A the freedom to choose Y or B. GOLD, as an intellectual, intelligent theory, is a political idea for human beings, and not for base animals. Unfortunately, most people, and most voters, do not think the next thought that follows from reasoning where your political principles will lead. Most people get caught on the idea of “B is good, X should do B, we should force X to do B,” and they never reach the next thought, a thought that is more complicated but also far deeper, which is “if A forces X to do B, then EVIL, and if EVIL then A and X will go to war, and brute force and savage thugs will decide who rules and who forces their beliefs onto everyone else.”
GOLD is consistent with the theory of personal responsibility and individual accountability which holds that X should decide for X between Y and B, and A should not make the decision between Y and B for X, in other words, X should be free to choose and A should not force A’s choice onto X. It isn’t A’s job to make X’s decisions. X is the one who bears the consequences of Y. If Y is good then X will prosper, and if Y is bad then X will suffer. Therefore, since X is the one most affected by Y, it is fair and just for X to choose Y, and not have A force the choice of B onto X. If X chooses Y freely then X will bear the consequences of Y, so X’s freedom to choose between Y and B makes sense. Having A make the decision for which X will prosper or suffer but which won’t have any direct effect on A doesn’t make sense. If X does not use violence to violate A’s freedom then X’s belief in Y cannot possibly harm A or violate A’s rights, so A has no right to control X, and A suffers no harm by leaving X alone and letting X believe Y.
Libertarianism has been accused of being the political philosophy of arrogance and hubris, made for those who see themselves as the productive, talented genius elite, but the principle of GOLD is actually based on being humble and having the humility to accept the limits of an individual human being’s knowledge. I asked earlier: “what if Y is good and B is evil, why shouldn’t X force Y onto A for A’s benefit?” But this question accepts a hidden premise, that we, me and you, the reader of this book, are able to look at Y and B and know, like gods or omniscient omnipotent supermen, know for sure that Y is good and B is wrong. But X believes Y and A believes B, and those beliefs are all that we humans will ever have. Nothing inherent in A’s mind, other than his arrogance, could let him believe that he is better able to choose between Y and B for X’s benefit than X could choose for himself for his own benefit.
In actual practical reality, we don’t say that A made X’s decision for X and forced B onto X, which obviously assumes that A is an “expert” in a class of superior intelligence compared to X, and X is a lower class citizen in decision-making ability compared to A. We say instead that the government made X’s decision for X and imposes B onto X. However, the way this really works is for A to vote for a politician, let us call him C, who will then impose B onto X. Thus, we can see that EVIL assumes a god complex, or a “government as God” complex, which assumes that A and C have a magical, infallible path to knowledge of B, and that the government knows better than the individuals and the government’s “experts” like C can make decisions better than the people, better than X can for himself. In true reality, A is a human with a fallible brain and limited, faulty knowledge, so we should let A make his decisions for himself, and let A stand or fall by A’s choosing B, but we should not let A drag down X by also forcing B onto X via the politician C’s control. B looks correct to A, but since this is the result of A’s mind, A might be mistaken, and it isn’t fair for X to suffer because of A’s mistake. If someone must make the choice which impacts X’s life, and a fallible human capable of error must choose for X, and X will suffer or prosper from this choice, then fairness and justice demands that X be allowed to make the choice for X. As such, GOLD is a philosophy for human beings with human brains who can make mistakes, and EVIL assumes a mistaken “government as God” complex.
EVIL appeals to two types of people: First, people who feel so stupid and weak that they want someone else to make their decisions, and they want someone to use violent force to coerce them into behaving properly instead of having their own discipline and willpower to make good choices. Second, people who are so arrogant and elitist that they feel the right to force their personal beliefs onto everyone else, as if they are smarter and know better than everyone else. By contrast, GOLD is for people who know that someone must make a decision to guide a person, so the system which makes sense is for the person who bears the consequences to make the decision, and not let one person ruin another person’s life by forcing his decision onto the other person, just because he believed in his own mind that he was right and the other person was wrong.
To illustrate this using an example, first, X is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. So X is “smart.” Second, A dropped out of high school and works as a chef cooking French fries at a fast food restaurant, and A scores low on IQ tests. So some people (not me) would say that A is “stupid.” The example works if A is smart and X is stupid, or X is smart and A is stupid, and it also works whether X seeks to force Y onto A, or A seeks to force B onto X, or all of the above. These are abstract variables that represent all people and all values.
Now, if you are smart and I am stupid and you are smarter than me, does that give you the right to make my decisions for me? If you know what’s best for me better than I do, would that give you the right to violently coerce my obedience to your decision? If you really went to Yale and Harvard then you would probably say yes. But if the reverse were true and I am smart and you are stupid and I am smarter than you, how would you feel if I forced you to obey my decisions for you and I did not let you make decisions for yourself? To say that A should decide for X if A really is smarter than X, assumes that some authority with God-like knowledge has evaluated that A really is smarter. X, since he favors Y over B, probably does not accept that A is smarter, and who are we to disagree? Who are we to decide for X that A knows what is best for X and to impose our decision by force?
Let us assume that all humans are capable of making mistakes, such that some of our decisions are definitely going to be wrong and mistaken. If something bad happens to you, would you feel better if the problem was the result of your decision or of mine? If you let someone else control you then you can deny all blame for the bad things that happen to you as a result of someone else’s decisions. It is comforting to think that “the experts” are protecting you and running your life. But the reverse of this is that someone else gets to control you on the justification that you are not fit to think and someone else is smarter than you.
If you take responsibility for yourself and you make your own decisions then you function as an ethical person who makes good or bad choices and reaps the rewards or punishments of those choices. Whether you are smart or stupid, you are a human being just like me, and I would rather choose for myself than have you (and your government) make my decisions for me. In accordance with the Golden Rule, I am willing to give you the same freedom than I want you to give to me, even if you make bad decisions of which I disapprove. So long as you don’t use violence against me, your problems are your issue, not mine. The reciprocal is also true, which means that if I don’t use violence against you then how I run my life is really none of your business, at least in the sense of political significance.
X’s decision of Y or B is a personal choice, and X’s decision is X’s path to self-actualization and self-realization as a human being. If X is an end in himself then he has the right to be free to realize his identity through choosing Y. A forcing B onto X, even for a noble, idealistic social purpose, merely turns X into A’s means of achieving B, which violates X’s dignity and independence as a human being, and effectively makes X into A’s slave. This is equally true if A’s B comes from a motive of selfish ambition and power, or from a selfless, charitable desire to help X, assuming that A believes that B will be good for X. If A tries to violently force X to believe B, to do B, to think B, to obey B, and X refuses to go along with it or dissents, and X asserts Y, then A’s political principle of EVIL will result in A putting X in jail, stealing X’s property, and murdering X. Under the principle of EVIL, X has no right to freedom nor to life, liberty, and property, and EVIL does not respect X’s right to choose Y. Thus, if X insists on Y, and A commits to violently forcing B onto X, then EVIL must eventually, inevitably result in: “to the gas chamber, go!”
Because everyone is treated the same, GOLD achieves true political equality. GOLD means that you can, and should, use force for self-defense, but you must never initiate violence against another human for any reason, even for a supposedly good, noble, idealistic reason. GOLD doesn’t tell you what to do, what to choose, what to think, or what to believe, it only says that you have the freedom to make those decisions for yourself. If we define “liberty” or “freedom” as the condition of you being able to make your own decisions and not having someone else use force to impose their decisions onto you, then GOLD, and only GOLD, can form a foundation for a politics of freedom.
Subpart 1-C: The Right to Own Private Property
When A uses force against X’s property, he is using force against X’s person, for the following reason. We can infer that property is self-expression if we accept two premises, (1) that the physical world exists objectively in reality, and (2) that a person manifests his/her existence in the physical world by mixing his/her choices, labor and actions into the stuff of material objects. Assuming these, it follows that a person owns his/her own body for the same reason, and to the same extent, that he/she owns his/her private property possessions. The reason that the person owns their body and property is that the physical things express the person’s existence in physical reality as the tools of the person making personal choices and decisions about physical existence, and a person’s decisions are their means of self-actualization and self-expression. When an artistic clay bowl results from an artist mixing her choices with the material of the raw clay, the bowl expresses her personal identity, and she owns it because she created it.
The day laborer worker does not think of his salary as self-expression, but nonetheless, physical human existence as a person includes the worker making choices to do work to earn wages to buy food, water and shelter. This forms a cycle: the self makes choices which the body acts out to create the property consumed by the body for the furtherance of the self. This cycle of production and consumption by the individual situates the person as a human being in the physical world. By “self” I refer to the person, but you could call it the soul, the mind, the brain, the consciousness, or whatever you believe the self to be. Body and property are extensions of the human self, so violent coercion against body or property is an assault on the freedom of the self. Thus, “life, liberty, and property” actually describes one thing, the freedom to exist as a human being.
Political philosophers have identified three general justifications for private property: (1) utilitarianism, (2) natural rights, and (3) personhood and self-expression. Utilitarianism says that people should own property because owning the products of your labor has the practical pragmatic result of motivating you to be productive and work hard, which benefits society by creating more wealth. For example, the motive of getting a promotion might motivate a worker to work harder. Natural rights says that you have the moral right to own the things that you create because they were created by your hard work, your decisions, and your investments of the money and materials you put in, and it is fair for you to reap the rewards of the things that resulted from your blood and sweat and tears. For example, if a businessman works ten hours a day seven days a week for several months, and goes without sleep or spending time with his family, in order to develop a new product, then he has earned the right to profit from the sales of that product. Personhood says that the things that we make are an expression of who we are as people so we have a right to control those things because they are a part of us. For example, if an artist paints a painting then she owns that image as an extension of her being.
Many libertarians get into fierce, aggressive arguments debating which of these three theories is correct. I sidestep this debate, because I see all three theories as correct. I don’t think that one theory being right means that the other two are wrong. All three arguments are true and I agree with all of them, so I have no need to defend one against the others. In the chapters to come which discuss natural rights vs. utilitarianism and the question of whether rich people deserve to own their wealth, I will elaborate on these ideas in far greater detail.
Subpart 1-D: The Freedom to be Good, and X’s Y vs. A’s B
The GOLD principle is politics as meta-ethics, and GOLD is a decision theory. It doesn’t tell you what is good or evil, it doesn’t tell you Y or B, it only tells you that the person who must make that decision is you, not the government. GOLD as an ethics of freedom comes from the meta-ethical need to choose your own right and wrong, which is the essence of being an ethical human being. In the absence of a person having the freedom to choose what he/she thinks is the good and right choice or evil and wrong behavior, morality and ethics would simply cease to exist or to have any meaning because nobody could express their ethics and values. Where, later in this book, I say what good or evil is, I tell you my belief about Y or B, but I make this merely as a recommendation, as an appeal to your reason to ask you to freely choose, rather than forcing a choice onto you. Any person can nonviolently recommend or request anything, and this does not inherently obey or violate GOLD. The GOLD vs. EVIL question turns on whether I, or you, or someone else, asks you to freely choose what they recommend, or else seeks to use the government to force their vision of morality and good and evil onto you against your will.
The GOLD meta-ethics is a politics that makes ethics possible. Assuming that a person becomes a good person by choosing goodness and choosing to do good, and it doesn’t make you ethical or moral to do a “good” behavior because you were violently forced to do it by someone else at the point of the government’s guns and not because you chose to do it or wanted to do it, then A forcing X to do B doesn’t make X become a good person even if B is a good behavior and is better than Y. Forcing people to “be good” doesn’t make people virtuous or moral or build their character, but it commits the sin of violating liberty and denying to individuals the freedom to become good people by freely and voluntarily choosing goodness.
As the simplest example of this, imagine that a person dies and then goes to the gates of Heaven and says to St. Peter who decides to let people in or else send them to Hell: “In life I did not believe in God or Christ, and I wanted to sin, but I was violently forced to do a set of behaviors like not gambling and not buying liquor on Sundays and not having sex with prostitutes. I thought about committing sins constantly and I wanted to sin and I have no feelings of God’s love or morality. I obeyed only begrudgingly and with a heart full of hatred and resentment. However, as a result of the government’s police forcing me to obey, my actions were fully consistent with the laws of the Bible and I never committed a sinful action, despite the fact that I hate Jesus and I would have behaved differently if I had been free to do so.” Do you really think that St. Peter would let this person enter Heaven? Note that in this situation the use of the government to enforce Christian morality has done everything that it can possibly do. If being forced to obey the Bible does not cause salvation for the person in my example then are any souls saved by legislating morality, even if we concede that Christian theology is correct? In contrast, if a person is free to sin but instead chooses to be holy, doesn’t that actually increase his moral virtues in the eyes of God? The common folk wisdom that “character is what you do when nobody is watching” comes to mind.
GOLD, and the Golden Rule that you should treat others the way you want them to treat you, is both a pragmatic practical principle and an ethical moral principle. As pragmatism, A should let X believe Y so that X will leave A alone and let A believe B, which is useful for A because A wants to believe B. As idealism, A should respect X’s right to Y because A respects X’s rights and dignity as a human being, and A believes in freedom and the Golden Rule. A should know that the right thing to do is to let X be free so that GOLD will govern both A and X, and A will be free to do B.
Here let me make a point which is by far the most important argument in favor of GOLD. It makes no sense to say under the Golden Rule that A may force B onto X because A would want X to force B onto A, such that it would be universal for everyone to be forced to do B. It is nonsense because the equivalent of A’s B for X is X’s Y, not B, so X forcing Y onto A is the equivalent reciprocal of A forcing B onto X. For example, a conservative Christian might say that he treats straights and gays equally because both straight men and gay men have the freedom to marry a woman. But the equivalent of A’s B for X is Y, not B. In this example the equivalent of a straight man’s right to marry a woman is a gay man’s right to marry another man.
The stupid, idiotic A will be perfectly okay with X forcing B onto A because A likes B, and A would be okay with either freely choosing B or being forced to do B. A can’t imagine that the EVIL principle means that if X is forced to do B, the reciprocal lets X force Y onto A, so A is actually accepting an EVIL result under which A will be forced to obey Y even though A fanatically believes B and hates Y. Our political structure can be based on either GOLD or EVIL, and if A embraces EVIL to force B onto X then EVIL will destroy freedom of choice for A as well as X. In the gay marriage example, if A says that X has the freedom to marry a woman but not a man then A accepts EVIL, a principle under which gay men might get elected into Congress and then use the law to force X and X’s church to recognize and endorse gay marriage against X’s will, even to the point of censoring books which discuss Catholic moral theology or putting people in jail if they make statements which offend gay men.
If X uses force to impose Y onto A then it is fair and just for A to retaliate by forcing B onto X, as we can see throughout human history, most recently by American liberals and conservatives fighting over which group can destroy the freedom of the other group as rapidly as possible. Libertarian GOLD, on the other hand, gives A the freedom to belong to a church that condemns homosexuality and gives X the freedom of gay marriage because it gives both X and A the freedom to decide his/her own ethical beliefs for himself/herself, just as it gives each person the freedom to make his/her own economic choices. GOLD is both ethical in terms of everyone receiving the same treatment and practical in terms of each person gaining the freedom to do what he wants by creating a political structure which defends the freedom of X against A’s violence while simultaneously defending A from X’s violence. If X denies freedom to A by saying that A is free to choose Y but not to choose B then X has destroyed freedom, and in doing so he destroys his own freedom because EVIL fosters a system where society and the government have no respect for anyone’s rights.
Small-minded, shortsighted people think that it is okay for them to force their “morality” or their “noble idealism” onto everyone else. They think that what they believe is good for everyone, and therefore everyone should obey it and this is consistent with the Golden Rule since everyone can force everyone else to obey goodness. But their principle is EVIL, not GOLD, because as soon as you use force to coerce others into obeying your vision of right and wrong, you open the door to everyone using force to coerce everyone else to obey their own vision of right and wrong, and this leads to an EVIL world without rights or liberty, because your belief is yours, and others might believe or choose or impose something completely different.
This does not change if you use the government to coerce other people to obey your morality or noble idealism instead of using force yourself individually, and it doesn’t change if you say that your belief about morality is what “society” believes. Coercion by the government or society is a majority aggressively coercing a minority of individuals, and the numbers on the side of X or A do not change the principles of GOLD and EVIL. EVIL will always tell X that Y is goodness and virtue and therefore X should force Y onto A, and EVIL will con and scam X into believing that a world based around Y where everyone believes Y will be a happy, peaceful, good place, because everyone will accept and believe X’s Y. EVIL is a serpent’s tongue which seduces X into abandoning the GOLD principle of freedom and rights and instead choosing a world where force decide everyone’s choices for them, a world devoid of the freedom to be good, a world where violence replaces reasoning. The EVIL world is a land of barbarian brute force that no civilized person would tolerate if they understood what was happening and what GOLD and EVIL really mean.
Who are X and A, and what is Y and B? I said that I am A and you are X, but in reality X and A could be any man or woman, any human being, and X’s Y and A’s B can be any belief, ethics, value, behavior, or choice, be it social, economic, religious, or philosophical. Note that as soon as we plug in a specific choice for Y, the supporters of Y will forget GOLD and want to use force to impose Y onto A. GOLD asks people to remember their understanding and have the discipline to let other people be free, and to advocate Y through persuasion, not violence. For example, Y could be gay pride and B could be the belief that homosexuality is a sin. Or Y could be Christianity and B could be Judaism. Or Y could be Christianity and B could be Islam. Or Y could be a desire to do drugs and B could be a belief that drug abuse is evil. Or Y and B could be two different makes and models of cars that are competing for auto consumers to buy them. Or Y could be the belief that an experimental medical treatment might be effective to treat a sickness, and B could be the belief that it is unsafe and too dangerous to try on humans. Or Y could be the belief that workers should be paid a wage of no less than $15/hour, because workers deserve to be paid well, and B could be someone’s belief that it is okay to pay workers $1/hour, if that is what the supply and demand for labor determines as a proper wage.
The principle of GOLD remains the same in each situation, no matter what you plug into Y and B, and that principle is that each person, every X and A, should be free to make their own choice, and be free to do whatever behavior they want to do in their own life, and should not have someone else’s choice imposed onto them coercively, nor should they impose their choices onto others. A person should be free to worship in the religious faith of their choosing, without a state religion being imposed on them, but the reverse is that they are not free to legislate their morality and impose their religious values onto others by means of the state. A person should be free to express gay pride, or to disapprove of homosexuality, so long as they seek to spread their opinions by persuasion and get others to voluntarily choose to agree, rather than violently intimidating others or using the law to force their belief onto those who disagree.
GOLD is not an ethics that people must choose, it is a precondition that follows if a person wants to be able to make an ethical choice. GOLD is politically necessary for any ethics or religion or for any choice, and everyone should respect the rights of others and embrace GOLD. If EVIL is accepted then politics disintegrates into a war between X and A to see who is the strongest and most vicious thug, because brute force defines whether X is able to impose Y violently onto A or whether A will triumph over X. The EVIL principle leads inevitably to savagery and the barbarian condition of “might is right” where the strongest muscle forces its beliefs onto everyone else. EVIL is a path leading back to the Dark Ages and the rule of kings, whereas GOLD is the principle which justifies civilized freedom and republican democracy and a society based around “we the people” and each individual’s right and freedom to make his or her own choices for himself/herself. GOLD is a world of freedom; EVIL is a world of violence.
The remainder of this book will lift GOLD off the pedestal of abstract theory and show what GOLD means in terms of specific, concrete positions applied to various questions concerning social, economic, and legal policy, and the nature and purpose of government. Part One explains the GOLD analysis of social policy, and introduces the concept of social libertarianism. Part Two presents GOLD economics, and showcases the correspondence theory of money, the choice theory of value, and the story of trade vs. force, as well as the productivity theory of demand. Part Three examines what a legal system would look like if it conformed to GOLD, using the American legal system as an example, and defends the United States Constitution as a libertarian document. Part Four makes the argument, which is quite controversial for some libertarians, that GOLD justifies the existence of a government that actively defends the rights and freedoms of its citizens.
To conclude, I will mention that, although the rest of this book touches upon dozens of different issues, the theme that unites all my arguments is GOLD. You should pay special attention when I discuss X and Y and A and B, because the XYAB analysis is the core of the GOLD theory. The interaction between X and A represents the political relationship between all people as human beings. X and A can be anyone and Y and B can be anything. X can either use force against A or let A be free, and A can reciprocate towards X with force or freedom. XYAB reduces the complicated conceptual analysis of how I treat you and what you do to me in return down to its most basic components in terms of GOLD vs. EVIL.
Part One: Social Libertarianism
Chapter Two: The Legalization of Sin Crimes: Drugs, Prostitution, and Gambling
GOLD libertarians want to legalize gambling, prostitution, and drug usage. Drug legalization includes all drugs, meaning marijuana as well as hard drugs. The basic application of the libertarian GOLD principle is clear, and can be described as follows: X should not force A to do Y, nor should A force X to do B, even though X fervently, passionately, fanatically believed that Y is virtue and B is horrific evil, and also despite the fact that A feels the same way in the sense that A thinks that B is goodness and Y is evil.
To apply the GOLD analysis to the legalization of sin crimes, it might be true that prostitution, drugs, and gambling are morally evil, and GOLD concedes that these behaviors might be extremely evil. Sins might condemn the sinner to an eternity in Hell, and drug abuse might cause brain damage and ruin people’s lives. But the decision of whether these things are evil or good, ethical or immoral, belongs to each individual person, because each person has the right to be free to decide for himself/herself. This decision does not belong to “society,” which in reality means that one group of people uses the government to impose their moral beliefs and feelings onto everyone else, even if some of those other people want to make a different decision. GOLD is the freedom to do whatever you want as long as you do no violence or aggression to others. Drug use, prostitution and gambling are nonviolent behaviors. Therefore under GOLD each person has the right to do them.
The legalization of sin crimes does not assume that the behavior is good, nor denies that it is evil. Legalization merely embodies the principle that the decision of good or evil should be made freely by individuals and should not be imposed by the government. If the purpose of government was to legalize goodness and criminalize evil, then legalization would imply that sins are good. But this is not the purpose of government. The purpose of government is only to legalize freedom and criminalize violence. So it is possible for a nonviolent evil behavior to exist that should be legal despite the fact that nobody should ever do this behavior as a matter of ethics. Sin crimes are such behaviors.
The criminalization of sin crimes does not make sense from a Christian theological perspective. If sin crimes are evil, then God will punish the sinner with Hell, or evil behavior will punish the person with a miserable life, but the responsibility to decide his or her moral behavior lies with each individual himself/herself, not with the social conservatives. If God punishes the sinner with Hell then what need exists to punish the sinner with jail on Earth? If God’s job is to pass judgment on good and evil, then why authorize the courts to pass such judgment? Indeed, is this not “playing God” by mortal men?
If social conservatives know that these behaviors are evil, they are free to persuade other people to agree, and thereby convince others to freely and voluntarily choose to abstain from sin. From a theological point of view, what makes a person be good or evil, destined for Heaven or Hell, is their choices to be good or evil, not merely obeying orders when someone shoves a gun in their face and threatens to throw them in jail. The government imposing certain behaviors onto people actually has no net moral benefit in terms of saving sinners. Legislating morality is merely a pretext for social conservatives to use the state to achieve political power and curtail social freedom.
The social conservative argument that such behaviors are not nonviolent, and are not a “victimless crime,” because “society” bears a “social cost,” e.g. the costs of healthcare and welfare for drug addicts, is absolute lies and nonsense. The problem of the welfare state would be solved by restoring financial personal responsibility to each individual, and the existence of welfare is not a flaw in the freedom to make individual decisions. None of the sin crime behaviors, including prostitution, gambling, and the use of pot or hard drugs, is actually more dangerous than alcohol abuse or habitual cigarette usage, which are already legal. Legalization of drugs, prostitution and gambling would create jobs and stake out new areas for businesses to develop, by enabling people to get jobs and start businesses in these areas, which would vastly increase economic growth. As a practical matter, criminalization of sin crimes unfairly targets the poor, blacks, and Hispanics, who are more likely to be arrested and go to jail for these crimes than the rich and whites. Criminalization inherently targets the poor, and those racial minorities who are more likely than whites to be poor, for a very simple reason, which every poor person knows but which the rich and middle class voters find difficult to understand. The reason is that being poor makes people sad and miserable, and sin crimes are all ways that humans cope with sadness and misery, so it is intrinsic to the criminalization policies that they will put the poor in jail, but will leave the happy rich and satisfied middle class free and untouched.
And, obviously, if it is okay for the state governments to sell gambling services, in the form of the state lotto, then why should gambling be outlawed when sold by private businesspeople? Similarly, if people are allowed to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, then why can’t they buy and smoke pot, which is actually far less dangerous that liquor or cigarettes? In reply to the argument that prostitution enables the rich to sexually exploit the poor, I reply that prostitution gives to the poor one of their few opportunities to make a lot of money, and a poor person is free to choose whether or not she (or he) is willing to do sex work. Also, criminalization has not eliminated the existence of prostitution, so some people must want to do it. It is unfair to the poor to criminalize prostitution as a way for the poor to get rich, or to criminalize the drugs which enable the poor to cope with the misery and suffering of poverty. The law as it exists right now has no rigorous logical sense or coherent reasoning to it, other than thinly disguised racism and class warfare. Therefore the need for reform is clear, and reform would be logical and rational.
Bringing the black market of drugs, prostitution and gambling back into the legal marketplace could increase economic growth by a lot, although data on illegal transactions cannot be comprehensively collected due to the absence of tax reporting of sales. If one takes the impressive economic growth that legalized gambling caused in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and the Native American Indian casinos, and projects it across a larger region, then the projection for added growth is substantial. Not only would sales of these services generate revenue, but they would create new jobs for the poor, which would shrink the number of people who need to be on welfare. Indeed, in answer to liberal critics who say that in reality some 30% to 50% of Americans need welfare, I reply that legalization has a realistic chance of creating enough working class jobs, and revitalizing enough impoverished areas, to cut the number of people in need of welfare in half. Libertarian policies discussed elsewhere in this book, such as abolishing wage regulations and occupational licensing restrictions, would create so many new jobs that the number of people who need welfare could be cut down to zero. Decriminalization will create jobs for the poor who are able to work, leaving only the truly helpless to be rescued by charity.
Some anti-drug crusaders say that legalized drug abuse would add to society’s welfare burden, but the opposite is true, the net effect would subtract from social burdens. Consider also the cost to taxpayers of funding the police effort to fight “sin” crimes, and to fight the mafia, and organized crime, and gangs, all of whom are funded largely by drug money and prostitution and gambling. Because sin crime money funds the gangs and organized crime, legalization of drugs and prostitution and gambling would deal a sharp blow to crime, in contrast to the stupidity of “tough on crime” conservatives (and liberals) who think that putting as many people as possible in jail is somehow a good thing for society. Legalization of sin crimes will cut off the funding for organized crime and return the black market economy to the daylight.
The decrease in funding for organized crime might enable federal, state and local police departments to enjoy a huge across-the-board decrease in expenses, which could cut total government spending by a significant amount. So legalization of sin crimes will both vastly increase tax revenues by stimulating economic growth and will also decrease the need for government law enforcement spending, which will enable states and the federal government to enact big tax cuts without increasing deficits. The net economic benefit of legalization might be billions of dollars per year in private business economic growth, a lot of which would benefit the poor, racial minorities, and urban inner cities.
Note that the criminal law has historically followed society’s general feelings of morality, and the evolution and trajectory of change in American moral values, as expressed by today’s contemporary sentiment, is towards greater freedom and liberty. At times in American history, it was a crime for a black slave to try to escape, or for a white person to help a black slave escape. It has been a crime in the USA to have a drink of alcohol, for people to be openly gay or for consenting adults to have gay sex, and for women to have abortions, or for married couples to use contraceptives in the privacy of their own homes, and for people to read books on the government’s list of censored books. In future eras, Americans will probably look back on our times, and view the criminal laws against drug use, gambling, prostitution, and other sin crimes and victimless crimes, as similarly barbaric, primitive and uncivilized.
The final end goal of the evolution of criminal law, if it remains true to the principle of freedom, will be for crime to consist of violence against the life, liberty or property, and nothing else. If that evolution happens, then the purpose of the criminal law will be to authorize the police to use force for the self-defense of the people. The police would be the guardians of our freedom and our liberty to live and make our own decisions, including our personal decisions (life, liberty) and our economic decisions (property). The criminal law’s purpose would no longer be to force and impose the moral values and religious opinions of some people, some voters and some politicians, onto other people who do not consent and would not willingly and freely choose to obey those moral values.
The GOLD libertarian attitude is the freedom and personal liberty of “live and let live”: I will choose to behave morally and ethically, but it is not my job to force or regulate my neighbor’s morality and violently coerce my neighbor’s moral or sinful behavior, because that is his/her own private matter, for which the responsibility lies with him or her, not with me. Their punishment or reward will be success or failure in this life or Heaven or Hell to be handed out by God, it will not be jail handed out by me and the government, and I will not use violence against my neighbor to violate their freedom, and I will not let my neighbor use violence against me to violate my freedom.
Chapter Three: The Social Libertarian Stance on Gay Rights
Applying GOLD to gay rights is obvious. If X lets A do B then A lets X do Y, and if X wants A to tolerate X then X must tolerate A in return. Y is being gay or believing that being gay is good, and B is being homophobic or believing that homosexuality is a sin. In this section I will first discuss how GOLD can enable X and A to coexist in peace, and then discuss GOLD protecting X from A, and then conclude by talking about GOLD protecting A from X.
Anti-gay conservatives don’t need to like gays or approve of gays (and when I say “gay” I mean what is sometimes called “LGBT,” i.e. lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people), but they do need to see that if they don’t want gays and liberals to force them to change their religious beliefs then in return the conservatives must not force gays to be straight through fear and violent intimidation. GOLD does not say whether being gay is morally right or wrong. GOLD says only that everyone has the right to be free to do whatever they want as long as they do no violence to others. A GOLD libertarian could be pro-gay or anti-gay but he or she must have respect for the right of others to disagree and behave differently. GOLD libertarians should be committed to the NVP approach of not using violent force against others unless in self-defense, even to force others to conform to their beliefs about good and evil when they are certain that they are correct. GOLD recognizes your right to be LGBT, straight, or anything else you want, as long as your sexual identity expression does no violence to others and your sexual conduct is consensual with consenting adults. GOLD recognizes the right to morally disagree with LGBT as a lifestyle choice, but only if that disapproval is not expressed through violence, intimidation or government laws.
If “gay rights” is defined as the freedom to be gay, and as legal protection for that freedom, then GOLD supports gay rights, because gay rights means X’s freedom to do Y and does not mean that X forces Y onto A. The specific policies which would implement gay rights must begin with the simple requirement that the police protect gays and lesbians from violence, but they also include policies to give gays and lesbians the ability to use self-defense against hateful bigots. This could be accomplished by a “gays with guns” policy of arming gays and lesbians and giving them weapons training so that haters can’t intimidate them.
One commentator has said that the civil rights movement can only protect blacks by means of three tools: the ammo box, the ballot box and the jury box. The same thing can be said about gays, and all other nonconforming minorities. Gay rights and Second Amendment gun rights go hand in hand, because a gun is a person’s best defense against a gang of haters. If we want a people to be protected from violence, the liberal answer is to make them rely on the government for protection, whereas the libertarian answer is to give them guns and bullets and let them defend themselves and stick up for themselves and not get pushed around. Gun rights as a tool for political equality is equally applicable to protecting blacks and Hispanics from white racists, or protecting women from muggers and sexual predators. The other two tools, the jury box and the ballot box, simply mean that gays and lesbians should run for political office and serve in office, and that juries should be selected from an inclusive cross-section of society so that bigotry will not play a role in criminal convictions.
The First Amendment should be reinterpreted so that hate speech and bigoted political activism which openly calls for and advocates violence against gays and lesbians is not given protection as free speech. The legal theory in support of the criminalization of bigoted pro-violence activism that its only purpose is to incite violence against gays and lesbians, and inciting violence is a criminal act, not a speech act, and violence is a legitimate target of law enforcement as understood by NVP and GOLD. Conservatives would be free to say that homosexuality is a sin, but would not be free to advocate violence against gays. This policy proposal would also reform First Amendment freedom of association so that bigots and hate group members, such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis, could be excluded from joining the police and the military, and possibly any role in government which oversees the use of the government to protect the freedom of the people from violence. This is supported under the theory that guns and weapons training, and political power, given to haters will end up being used as violence against victims. None of this would violate the “right to be a hateful bigot,” because this right entails only the right to engage in nonviolent nonaggressive behavior, and does not include a requirement that the government or society give help to violent people or help them to do violence.
Note that GOLD forbids the government to make people’s decisions about whether to like or dislike gays for them, but GOLD leaves private groups and private individuals free to persuade people to accept gays and lesbians and to encourage people to voluntarily embrace LGBT rights. This could be accomplished by “voluntary gay pride pledges,” contracts or declarations which an individual or business could sign which would declare themselves committed to nondiscrimination and acceptance. Under GOLD, the government could not help or promote this, but the people would be free to voluntarily choose to sign the pledge, and to encourage others to do so, and gay rights supporters could reward people who sign. The people would be free to boycott or speak out against those who oppose the gay pride pledge and what it represents, although, again, the government could not levy legal sanctions against the non-signers. The government does not have the right to force private businesses not to discriminate against gays, but if a business signs a gay pride pledge then it would freely choose not to discriminate, which would be better for gays in the long run because it would protect gay rights in a manner consistent with GOLD and freedom.
If the people are given freedom, then they are free to do the right thing, but society should not force any particular person to do something that someone else, e.g. me or you, considers to be the right thing for them to do. Instead, freedom lets each person decide for himself or herself. If being gay is good then the supporters of gay pride can advocate their position by reason and persuasion, without the government’s help. And if homosexuality is a sin, then the opponents of homosexuality have the right to voice their opinion via nonviolent tools, such as the preacher’s podium and the conservative think tanks. GOLD recognizes a doctrine from the theory of First Amendment freedom of speech called “the marketplace of ideas,” which means that the best ideas will win in the competition of discussion and debate and thinking, and ideas should not be forced onto people by the government.
Having explained how GOLD protects X from A, and defends X’s right to Y, let me now discuss protecting A from X, and defending A’s right to B. Both conservatives and liberals tend to embrace the principle of EVIL, in the gay rights debate as well as elsewhere. Conservatives seek to use violence to bully gays and intimidate them, while liberals try to use the government to force everyone to be pro-gay and to deny to conservatives the right to disapprove of homosexuality. The issue of the debate over gay marriage is a great example of how the liberal vs. conservative debate should be recast in different terms as a GOLD vs. EVIL debate. When the debate is framed as the liberals supporting gay marriage and the conservatives opposing gay marriage, then the hidden premise of the political dialogue assumes that the government’s job is to decide who is allowed to marry. If the liberals win then they force their beliefs onto the conservatives, and if the conservatives win then they force their beliefs onto the liberals. Both sides are EVIL, meaning that Everyone Violates Individual Liberty.
The GOLD alternative to EVIL is to “deregulate” marriage, to abolish marriage licenses and let people create whatever private social relationships they choose, which they can define using legal contracts enforced by contract law in order to create a relationship that both persons are legally obligated to obey. To “legalize” gay marriage is to deny the right of social conservatives to believe that gay marriage is wrong and to oppose gay weddings, but to outlaw gay marriage is to violate the freedom and political equality of gays. Instead of the social conservative answer of denying gay marriage or the social liberal answer of legalizing gay marriage, the social libertarian answer is to remove government from the marriage process, abolish “family law” and marital licensing, and let people engage in whatever voluntary, consensual, nonviolent behavior they choose to do. Thus, each individual, each group, and each religious organization and church, would be free to choose whether to recognize or deny gay marriages.
Because it looks like gay marriage is eventually going to be legalized at both the federal level and in most states, the right of the social conservatives is going to be violated by liberal EVIL. In contrast, GOLD would protect the right of religious conservatives to condemn gay marriage, because GOLD preserves A’s right to do B, even if the morality of mainstream society changes so that B is widely viewed as wrong and Y is more commonly accepted as right. As times change and different fads go into or come out of fashion, society will change its mind about whether Y or B is good or evil, so the only system that can offer long-term protection for both X and A is GOLD, by defending the right to do either Y or B. EVIL, even if one side uses it to force its beliefs onto others when that side is the majority, can always end up being corrupted by the other side and being used against the side which at one time was the moral majority but which has become the minority due to changing circumstances.