This article, from 2017, is even more timely today.
The phrase “all politics is local” refers to the idea that political contests, no matter how broad geographically, are won or lost at the local level of cities, towns, and even neighborhoods. Having relocated from blue centers of blue states to a red dot in a red state, I can happily attest to the truth of a more constructive meaning of the words “politics is local.” To wit: Much of government is local government.
Despite Obamacare, federal environmental laws, high federal taxes, and other federal infringements on individual rights, I am freer now than I was several years ago because I now live in a freer town in a freer state—with fewer restrictions on production and trade, lower taxes, and fewer welfare-state programs that attract and encourage criminality. Federalism still exists to a significant degree in America.
Moreover, if there is a civil breakdown at the national or global level, I now have a much better chance of surviving such a crisis, because my neighbors understand and value self-sufficiency and individual rights. Instead of trying to eat me, my neighbors will join me in defending the community. Among the many issues involved in protecting one’s loved ones and oneself in times of crisis, the most important considerations are location, location, location.
For those individuals who reside or plan to reside in a location that offers freedom-loving neighbors, the remainder of this article is my draft—for your consideration—of a statement of principles for the local government of an as-yet fictional town. This town—Laissez-Faire, Utah—would be even freer than the splendid town I now reside in.
Sole Purpose of Government
When an individual makes a mistake or acts unethically concerning his own life, he harms himself, but he does not violate the rights of others. Other individuals might try to persuade such an individual to change his ways, but no one has the right to force him to do so. An individual or group has no right to force someone to be virtuous. We have the right to use force against an individual only in retaliation to that individual using force against us or against our property, which is an extension of us.
But even the use of retaliatory force must be limited in a civil society, because a mistake in the use of retaliatory force harms not only the individual who acts but also the one acted upon. Therefore, in civil society, every individual must turn over—except in emergencies—his right to retaliatory force to a deliberative body. That deliberative body is government.
The sole legitimate purpose of government is to recognize and defend individual rights—the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness—by identifying property rights and retaliating against the use of force, such retaliation to be according to objective laws and objective processes of deliberation such as trial in court.
Mission of Government of Laissez-Faire, Utah
The sole mission of the Government of Laissez-Faire is to recognize and defend the unalienable individual rights of every individual within the city limits. The Government shall accomplish this Mission by making and enforcing laws that
- clearly and objectively delineate property rights, and
- prohibit and, when necessary, retaliate commensurately against the initiation of physical force by any individual against another.
Laissez-Faire will be known as the freest city in the freest state in the freest nation, that is, the city that is best at honoring and defending individual rights as expressed in our Mission Statement above and in accord with the meaning and spirit of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America.
The Government of Laissez-Faire shall execute its mission with integrity, that is, with consistency in all respects. For example:
- Every individual is equal before the law. There will be no cronyism, favoritism, special deals, tax breaks, incentives, subsidies, or esthetic preferences for any individual, corporation, industry, interest group, or other entity real or imagined.
- In all instances in which individuals use a service provided by City Government, the Government will strive to set tax and fee schedules in a way that is commensurate with the cost to government of providing the service for each user. There will be no taxes or fees based on wealth, income, or any other perceived ability of one individual to pay more or less than another.
- Every City official, elected or duly appointed, will strive to remain true to this Mission in every respect, will make sure not to exceed the authority of his office in any respect, and will not diminish the authority of his office in deference to any other official, branch of government, private individual or other entity, or even the electorate. In short, every official will act in accordance with his own independent judgment and the full authority of his office, no matter how popular or unpopular his actions; or he will resign.
It is not the function of the City Government to give citizens—even a majority of citizens—what they want, desire, or even need. The function of the City Government, and of every official in Government, is to defend individual rights.
The City Government recognizes that every penny of its budget comes from the earnings of individuals; therefore, the City Government will be ruthless in limiting expenditures to the bare minimum needed to fulfill the Mission. The City Government recognizes that any expenditure beyond this bare minimum is itself a violation of rights, in direct contradiction to the Mission.
In particular, expenditures or limits to freedom by the City Government in the following areas are expressly prohibited: philosophy or religion; schools or any other form of education; speech or press; arts or entertainment; any aspect of trade. The City will defend the separation of education and state, art and state, and economy and state, for the same reason it defends the separation of church and state.
The City will strive to make police response timely and effective, better than industry standards in every meaningful measure.
The City will engage in no practices of civil forfeiture of private property except as part of a court’s ruling upon the conviction of a crime.
The City will have no quotas in regard to traffic or parking citations or any other assessments of fines or penalties. No fines or penalties will be designed as means of public fundraising, but only as means of upholding objective laws.
The City will make no laws that infringe on an individual’s right to bear arms. The City and the Police recognize the citizenry as the first line of defense in an emergency against the initiation of physical force.
The City will implement a plan to ensure that the Police can maintain the rule of law in prolonged emergencies and even in the event of a catastrophic civil breakdown beyond the geographic boundaries of the City.
The City will ensure every citizen’s right to a fair and speedy trial. The City will better all meaningful industry standards in regard to timeliness.
Objective Recognition of Private Property
For all forms of property recorded with the City, the City shall ensure that all rights associated with a property, such as water rights associated with a plot of land, are clearly and objectively delineated.
Permits to use a piece of property in some specific way will be required only in cases in which such use poses a potential threat to the rights of others unless reviewed by Government. In such cases, the permit process will be made as simple, timely, and as inexpensive as possible, bettering all industry standards in these regards. Permit fees will be commensurate with the cost to Government of reviewing a permit, with no excess for funding other activities of Government.
Protecting Rights Against Infringement by Other Governments
The City shall work to ensure that Utah State taxes and fees collected from citizens of Laissez-Faire are not spent disproportionately on other parts of the State. An example is the money spent by the Utah Department of Transportation. In such cases in which money from Laissez-Faire citizens is disproportionately funding projects outside the City, the City shall work—not to increase the State funding allocated to Laissez-Faire—but to decrease the taxes and fees levied on citizens of Laissez-Faire.
In particular and most importantly, the City shall work to exempt the City from all taxes and regulations by outside governments for the purpose of education. Furthermore, the City shall oppose the presence of any government-operated schools within the City’s boundaries, and will refuse any funding by government for the purpose of education.