Libertarians want all members of society to have abundant opportunities to achieve economic success. A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.
2.1 Aggression, Property, and Contract
Aggression is the use, trespass against, or invasion of the borders of another person’s owned resource (property) without the owner’s consent; or the threat thereof. We oppose all acts of aggression as illegitimate and unjust, whether committed by private actors or the state.
Each person is the presumptive owner of his or her own body (self-ownership), which right may be forfeited only as a consequence of committing an act of aggression. Property rights in external, scarce resources are determined in accordance with the principles of original appropriation or homesteading (whereby a person becomes an owner of an unowned resource by first use and transformation), contract (whereby the owner consensually transfers ownership to another person), and rectification (whereby an owner’s property rights in certain resources are transferred to a victim of the owner’s tort, trespass, or aggression to compensate the victim).
As respect for property rights is fundamental to maintaining a free and prosperous society, it follows that 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. Eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services (including wages, rents, and interest) are abridgements of such fundamental rights. For voluntary dealings among private entities, parties should be free to choose with whom they trade and set whatever trade terms are mutually agreeable.
Competitive free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Governments are unaccountable for damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights and responsibilities regarding resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Where damages can be proven and quantified in a court of law, restitution to the injured parties must be required.
2.3 Energy and Resources
While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. We oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production.
2.4 Government Finance and Spending
Since all persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor, we oppose all government activity that consists of the forcible collection of money or goods from individuals in violation of their individual rights and strive for the eventual repeal of all taxation. To further that end, we call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. We oppose forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. We support any initiative to reduce or abolish any tax, and oppose any increase on any tax for any reason. To the extent possible, we advocate that all public services be funded or allowed to be provided in a voluntary manner.
2.5 Government Debt
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.
2.6 Government Employees
We favor repealing any requirement that one must join or pay dues to a union as a condition of government employment. We advocate replacing defined-benefit pensions with defined-contribution plans, as are commonly offered in the private sector, so as not to impose debt on future generations without their consent.
2.7 Money and Financial Markets
We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Markets are not actually free unless fraud is vigorously combated. Those who enjoy the possibility of profits must not impose risks of losses upon others, such as through government guarantees or bailouts. We support ending federal student loan guarantees and special treatment of student loan debt in bankruptcy proceedings. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies and unconstitutional legal tender laws.
2.8 Marketplace Freedom
Libertarians support free markets. We defend the right of individuals to form commercial enterprises based on voluntary association. We oppose all forms of government subsidies and bailouts to business, labor, or any other special interest. Government should not compete with private enterprise. We reject government charter of corporations. We call for a separation of business and state.
Libertarians support the right of every person to earn an honest and peaceful living through the free and voluntary exchange of goods and services. Accordingly, we oppose occupational and other licensing laws that infringe on this right or treat it as a state-granted privilege. We encourage certifications by voluntary associations of professionals.
2.10 Sex Work
The Libertarian Party supports the decriminalization of prostitution. We assert the right of consenting adults to provide sexual services to clients for compensation, and the right of clients to purchase sexual services from consenting sex workers.
2.11 Labor Markets
Employment and compensation agreements between private employers and employees are outside the scope of government, and these contracts should not be encumbered by government-mandated benefits or social engineering. We support the right of private employers and employees to choose whether or not to bargain with each other through a labor union. Bargaining should be free of government interference, such as compulsory arbitration or imposing an obligation to bargain.
Education is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality, accountability, and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Recognizing that the education of children is a parental responsibility, we would restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.
2.13 Health Care
We favor a free market health care system. Medical facilities, medical providers, and medical products (including drugs) must be freely available in the marketplace without government restrictions or licenses. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines. We oppose governments either mandating, or restricting voluntary access to, medical treatments or procedures including vaccines.
2.14 Retirement and Income Security
Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals. We believe members of society will become even more charitable and civil society will be strengthened as government reduces its activity in this realm.