Core PrinciplesFree People | Free Markets | Good Government
The principle that individuals have an inalienable right to act in their own interest with complete control over themselves and their production (i.e. property), and are the sole arbiters of what is best for themselves so long as their actions do not infringe upon the liberty or property rights of others. The Bill of Rights (Constitutional Amendments 1-10) is the original constitutional protection of our civil rights (individual liberties) from an intrusive federal government. The same principles behind the Bill of Rights should apply at all levels of government, including the state. Individual liberty means the freedom to make wise decisions, to make foolish decisions, to succeed, and to fail.
The principle that individuals who are free to determine their own course of action have the responsibility for the consequences that ensue from that action. Individual liberty is symbiotic with personal responsibility. In the long run, one cannot flourish without the other. Actions have consequences. Personal Responsibility means owning the results of those actions. To ameliorate the consequences of individual actions is to steal the very essence of liberty and replace it with tyranny, no matter how benevolent the intent.
The principle that the right to determine ones own actions (liberty) extends to ones production. Production comes from an individual’s mind and efforts and is as unique to that person as any other aspect of that person. As such, production (and, subsequently, property acquired through voluntary transaction between parties) is the sole dominion of its creator. This is the essence of property rights – the right to maintain ownership control and determine the use and disposition of ones property so long as it does not infringe upon the liberty or property rights of others.
Free markets spring from property rights and liberty. Political freedom and economic freedom are inexorably intertwined to make up the DNA of the greatness of this country. Property rights dictate a free market economy in which one may exercise the liberty to use and dispose of property in the manner that the owner determines is in his best interest. Government’s role with respect to the free markets is to defend and preserve property rights and uphold the rule of law. It is reasonable for government to enforce/adjudicate contracts, protect property rights, enforce justice & restitution for fraud, etc. It is not the role of government to create barriers to entry, disturb free market mechanisms such as price signaling, compete with private enterprise or distort the markets through regulation or other intrusions to advance a social, political or any other end.
To quote Jefferson, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” The premise of this statement is that for liberty to be preserved, government must be held in check. A corollary to this concept would be the principal of subsidiarity – that is, that the level of government that serves best is the one that is capable of performing the desired function which is closest to the people (e.g. local, then state, then federal).
State vs. Federal Balance of Power
The principle that the powers of the federal government are few and enumerated, while the powers left to the states or the people are broad and undefined. The nation’s founders who argued for ratification of the U.S. Constitution made their case based largely upon the premise that state governments would always hold the limited powers of the federal government in check. The principle of subsidiarity also supports this approach toward the balance of state vs. federal power.
Government cannot “provide” anything that it has not first taken from the people. This means that we must always evaluate the opportunity cost of the government’s takings from the people. The private markets are subject to competitive pressures on price, services, products, quality and profitability; the government is not. It is largely because of these pressures that the market is more efficient than government. Therefore, government should only take that which is necessary to perform its proper role, minimizing the opportunity cost to the people. In order to help minimize this lost efficiency and opportunity cost, government must be held accountable to fiscal responsibility. Government has a moral and a fiduciary duty to be responsible and accountable to the people for that which it has coercively taken from the people.
Equal Protection/Rule of Law
This is the principle that all citizens receive equal protection under both federal and state law, and that no groups of people receive either favorable or unfavorable treatment from government. This is not to be confused with the more specific “equal protection clause” codified by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which basically provides that individual states may not deprive its people of equal protection under state laws. This principle, as used by the Principles of Liberty, is more generalized from both a federal and state perspective. It is not the role of government to create a special group or class of citizens for protection or punishment, special treatment or penalties. The force of government is only legitimate if it is limited and applied equally for the protection of the rights of all.