By Donna Gundle-Krieg | May 9, 2020
We have all been stretched and forced to change our ways during the coronavirus quarantine, and over this time I noticed that more people are suddenly appreciating and practicing my own libertarian beliefs and values.
Many aspects of the Libertarian Party’s platform have been tested during this crisis, especially our core beliefs of self-responsibility and limited government. In addition, financial conservatism, property rights, and the freedoms to move, assemble, and worship have all come into play these past months.
Self-responsibility and limited government are central to the Libertarian Party platform, which states that “Individuals have the freedom and responsibility to decide what risks they accept to their own health, finances, safety, or life.” Our Non-Aggression Policy (NAP) states that “No individual, group, or government may rightly initiate force against any other individual, group, or government.”
We understand the contagious nature of the coronavirus and trust the experts, who caution that it takes a community effort to protect the vulnerable. Being self-responsible includes voluntarily following guidelines the medical professionals recommend.
Of course, not everyone will be self-responsible. We have all seen the pictures of people congregating and violating the orders. These pictures are used when trying to prove the necessity of restrictive laws. However, what the snapshots really prove is that “mandatory orders” don’t work. There will always be a certain part of the population that rebels and acts in unhealthy ways, regardless of the law.
By taking away our self-responsibility, the governor’s order took away important freedoms, such as freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom of movement. While some might argue that public safety is more important than our freedoms, the Constitution does not allow for such exceptions.
Restricting people from attending church and meetings is clearly against the First Amendment to the Constitution, and freedom of movement has been recognized as a Constitutional right since the landmark case, Corfield v. Coryell, upheld a New Jersey regulation forbidding non-residents from gathering oysters and clams.
Both freedom of movement and property rights are impacted by Gov. Whitmer’s “Shelter-At-Home” order forbidding people to travel to (and take care of) their second homes. The Libertarian Party addresses property rights in its platform: “The freedom to contract to obtain, retain, profit from, manage, or dispose of one’s property must also be upheld. Libertarians would free property owners from government restrictions on their rights to control and enjoy their property, as long as their choices do not harm or infringe on the rights of others.”
Our most serious concerns about freedom were predicted by economist Ludwig von Mises, in the aftermath of Prohibition: “Once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments.”
The government also took away our right to make a living by arbitrarily deciding who and what is essential. While the virus is a concern, the decision to shut down the economy has a huge and negative long-term impact on mental and physical health.
According to a report about economic suicides in Europe and North America between 2008 and 2010, during the Great Recession, researchers from Oxford University and the U.K. Department of Public Health and Policy found that suicide rates rose 1 percent for every 1 percent increase in unemployment.
Domestic violence is also affected. Katie Ray-Jones of the National Domestic Violence Hotline has stated that “Trapped at home with their abusers, some domestic violence victims are already experiencing more frequent and extreme violence.”
The economic impact was made worse by the fact that most Americans are not self-responsible when it comes to saving money. In fact, 50 percent of Americans have less than one month of their income saved for emergencies, according to Dave Ramsey, a financial guru who specializes in getting people out of debt.
“The decision to go into debt alters the course and condition of your life. You no longer own it. You are owned,” said Ramsey.
The government does not set the example for living within its means, nor does it save money. Before the $2 trillion “Coronavirus Stimulus Package,” the U.S. debt was already $23 trillion, which amounts to roughly $68,400 per citizen and $183,000 per taxpayer. The Libertarian Party’s platform states that “Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a ‘Balanced Budget Amendment’ to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.”
Since we believe in saving and getting rid of debt, it should not surprise anyone that Libertarians do not agree with the $32 billion in grants received by the airline industry, or the $25 million to support the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In fact, the Libertarian platform states that “We oppose all forms of government subsidies and bailouts to business, labor, or any other special interest. Government should not compete with private enterprise.”
After watching our leaders bicker, waste trillions of dollars, and take away our freedoms, many voters are anxious for another option beyond the two parties. The coronavirus crisis has shown Republicans how many of our freedoms we continue to lose, while Democrats should now be disturbed and awakened by the lack of security that comes from trusting our leaders with so much power and money.
The Libertarian Party’s time has come! Please consider joining us for a local meeting. See www.nwmichiganlibertarian.org for more information.
Donna Gundle-Krieg is a Real Estate Broker in Mancelona. She is the Political Director of the Northwest Michigan Libertarians and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.