Libertarian Stance on Issues
Libertarians generally define liberty as the freedom to do whatever one wishes as long as one does not initiate force for fraud against others; proportionate defense against aggression is acceptable. Behavior that interferes with or endanger another's person or property may or may not be considered acceptable, depending on circumstances.
Libertarians generally view constraints imposed by the state on persons or their property, beyond providing basic police and judicial services, as a violation of liberty. Libertarian anarchists favor no governmental constraints at all, believing that without the rule of government - and its "monopoly on violence" - individuals will naturally form self-governing social bonds and rules. Libertarian minarchists believe that individuals will continue to need some minimal level of government services, at least at the local, state or regional level. This includes protecting people and their property from crime and military defense.
Below is a brief summary of how these principles are applied to three primary areas: individual liberty, economics, and defense and foreign policy.
Crime and Justice
Criminal laws should be limited in their application to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or to deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Many libertarians emphasize mediation and arbitration of disputes and compensation to the victim more than punishment or retribution. Most libertarians allow that such sanctions are properly imposed by the state in the form of criminal or civil penalties. Manys believe voluntary or "anarchist" solutions are preferable to state interference.
Libertarians extend their believe in individual liberty to legalization of all "victimless crimes" imposed largely for religious or moral reasons. This includes activities such as sex work and prostitution, drug use, gambling, ownership of weapons, etc. Liberarians believe that if is no victim, there is no crime.
The majority of Libertarians, whether "pro-life" or "pro-choice", agree that the government should stay out of the issue of abortion of the fetus. Some do support laws restricting abortion in the second or third trimester, some from conception; some support only state or local government legistlation or enforcement. Pro-Choice Libertarians and Libertarians for Life have differing positions on the issue. The Party Platform takes a utilitarian pro-choice position; remaining silent on whether or not there is an actual "right" to an abortion and leaving that to the individual conscience, but stating that in any event, the government should stay out of the issue.
Free Speech and Communications
Libertarians defend the rights of individuals to unrestricted freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right of individuals to dissent from government itself. We recognize that full freedom of expression is possible only as part of a system of full property rights, such as the freedom to own and use the internet, printing press, a broadcasting station and similar property-based freedoms.
Libertarians want to end government practices of spying on citizens and support the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, property, and communications and to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure.
Libertarians believe in the right to bear arms and the right to self defense. They oppose government restrictions of private ownership and use of weapons, as long as they are not used for purposes of force, intimidation or fraud.
Libertarians believe in the right of peaceful people to immigrate into the United States. Many support restrictions due to disease or criminal history. Some support stronger restrictions on other criteria. All agree that welfare programs should be phased out and that doing so will discourage those who come to this country primarily to obtain such benefits. The Party Platform advocates that freedom requires the free movement of people and goods across borders.
Libertarians generally oppose the property, gas, excise, cigarette, alcohol, soda, payroll, gun and income tax as well as tariffs. A few support sales or "fair" tax ideas. Most support various forms of user fees. Many libertarians, including especially Anarcho-capitalism, often use the slogan "taxation is theft".
Libertarians strongly believe in free trade both within national borders and among members of different nations. They believe free trade leads to a health economy and peaceful international relations. However, most libertarians oppose "free trade" agreements like GATT, WTO and NAFTA, believing they are managed trade pacts which often benefit powerful special interests and hurt less powerful business interests.
Libertarians are opposed to spending tax money on public schools, because the schools' purpose is often indoctrination into government ideology. Most public schools provide substandard educations as opposed to private schools which emphasize education over ideology and where students can choose curriculum that best fit their needs.
Healthcare Government laws and regulations have stifled competition in health care at the state and federal levels, greatly increasing the cost of care and of health insurance. This has led to calls for more laws and regulation and even universal health care. The latter has proved to lead to shortages in medical providers and drugs, rationing and long waits for simple and even critical procedures. A free market regulated by high levels of transparency by providers is the best way to provide more and cheaper options for medical providers and means of paying for care.
Welfare, Social Security
Social welfare programs are the majority of national and many state budgets because politicians effectively have bribed various voting constituencies, like the elderly, the poor, students, and voters in general. These programs often redistribute wealth from low income workers to high income retirees and bureaucrats, many of whom are promised large pensions after only 20-30 years of work. In the early 1900s the federal and state governments began to create such programs to shut down the thousands of popularly voluntary associations which provided such services to the truly needy, without massive bureaucratic overhead and fraud. Without having so much of their income siphoned off for poorly administered programs, taxpayers could contribute to truly effective social welfare programs. Libertarians propose selling off most federal assets to create accounts to help truly disabled elderly and other individuals and to create educational and job opportunities for others.
National defense and foreign policy
Libertarians support military non-interventionism in the world as our current interventionist policies have spent trillions of dollars in unnecessary wars and supports a military establishment of 100s of military bases in a majority of the world's nations. Libertarians are opposed to foreign aid to other countries as an extension of an interventionist policy that has angered billions of people worldwide.