FP Editor's note: The East Valley Tribune is a major publication with 114,260 subscribers receiving daily delivery in Arizona.
Tribune forum gives readers insight into the political
When we on the Tribune Editorial
Board say we are a libertarian newspaper but we have no allegiance to any particular
dogma or political party, we are frequently asked what that means. Last week,
we hosted a luncheon at the Mesa Country Club that featured four speakers who
share our basic views about the primary value of limited government action,
personal freedom and private property rights. These speakers included
libertarian scholar Tibor R. Machan, who advises our parent company, Freedom
Communications, on these issues. The other panelists were U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake,
Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker and Mesa City Councilman Tom Rawles.
Today, we present a few highlights of what they had to share with about 100
“Essentially the foundation of libertarianism can be appreciated if one
just reads the Declaration of Independence, which of course as you know starts
with, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ----
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Governments are instituted
to secure these rights, you read this carefully ---- appreciate the meaning
unalienable, that means you can’t lose these rights as long as you are a
human being; these are your rights. And if the government is supposed to be
instituted so as to secure these rights, the government can’t trample on
those rights for whatever purpose they might have. The fundamental role of
government in a free society is to secure individual rights…So (the)
revolutionary notion of the American political condition is that government is
our servant, we hire like a bodyguard to do a particular job, a very limited
job, and they do it in a very restrictive way with due process…
“Now the libertarians take this to its fullest, most logical conclusion
and maintain that government is at most a referee in a society like the
referees of the game, doesn’t play the game, doesn’t take any
sides, doesn’t console the losers or (praise) the winners, doesn’t
help the people who get injured…and so on, Government only does one
thing: make sure that the rules are played, and the rules in a free society are
these unalienable rights we all have, rights to our lives, our liberty and to
the pursuit of happiness which also includes property rights… In a
complicated world like ours, one would often hear that though we can no longer
live by these rules, those were primitive, 18th – century
concepts. We now live in a very complicated world and now we need to expand the
scope of government power in order to take care of some of our problems.
Libertarians reject this notion, pretty much on the same ground that if you
have a principle in any discipline, be it physics or chemistry or botany, the
fact that things that were complicated does not overrule the principle.
“Now the fact that libertarians are not that popular these days is kind
of understandable. After all, the American Revolution was very (recent) in
historical terms, the idea that the government is supposed to be a hired
servant of people who want their rights protected is so new, so outrageously
revolutionary, that not even Americans have gotten used to it. The government
of habit whereby people always run to the government to solve their problems is
“And that’s what we find in some of the editorials of the Tribune
and many other Freedom entities. Freedom Communications is owned by a family,
founded by R.C. Hoiles, back in the 30’s, who held these principles very
dear to his heart and he decided to go into business, into the newspaper
business…and try and teach the readers that these ideas are valid….
The fact that they are not popular, the fact that a lot of people have given up
on the American idea, doesn’t bother this family because we are committed
to try to promote these ideas even if they are unpopular in the process. Even
if it costs us a few readers in the process, or advertisers in the process,
because these are very valuable, important ideas.
“We don’t kid ourselves to think that this is going to be an easy
road. Hardly anybody who is a libertarian thinks that tomorrow morning at 9
o’clock that you are going to wake up to a totally free society.
That’s a myth. The governmental habit is so entrenched throughout life
around the world and even in America
that this road is a very, very hard one and it may never come to full fruition.
“It’s a little bit like marriage. One hopes for the best, but we
may settle for the next best.”
U.S. REP. JEFF FLAKE
“As far as those who are, for a lack of a better term, small
‘l’ libertarians, or small government conservatives, it is a
frustrating experience in Washington.
In particular, just on the spending side, to see the growth in government,
which is probably the best measure to see the growth away from the ideals that
“If some members didn’t try to put a break on it somewhere, it
would just be even bigger…. It is quite lonely sometimes. With another
presidential campaign coming up, it is hoped that those candidates will appeal
to them and stake out a new ground again and say we are too dependent in this
area. (For example), we will look at where we are going with health care. If we
move toward single-payer health care, is that where we want to go? Do we really
want to end up like Canada
in that regard?
“So there are some points at which I think we can turn back and at least
tack the other way, for a while at least. But the appeal is very strong to have
government take care of you and become dependent on government.”
MESA MAYOR KENO HAWKER
“When I ran for office, I basically went in telling people this is my
philosophy of government. You don’t have to go to all of the council
meetings to figure out how I’m going to vote. That was basically to limit
the growth of government and to have as many individual freedoms as we can.
“Now, we face many, many dilemmas as council members. We have regional
development block grant programs. We have spending measures out at Williams Gateway Airport
that will help to defend the airport that are tied into federal appropriations.
A lot of those programs, if you don’t submit the applications, the
funding will go to someone else. Some of those programs are questionable,
whether that would be your priority. But they may be the priority of that
“A lot of this is calculated. And I’m a businessman, so I’m
kind of practicable in trying to get to the target, even if I have to go around
the whole field in order to find the target…”
“The reason that libertarians are not very popular is they tend to be
consistent. The tyranny of the left, which wants to take your money to give it
to somebody else, is about that far away (holds
his fingers close together) from the tyranny of the right that wants
to tell you how to live your life personally… That’s why the
political sector is a circle and not a straight line.
“Libertarians say our guiding principle is we will not initiate force
against another. It doesn’t matter if it’s economically or
personally. That’s the value. Now, we can use force to defend ourselves.
But we will never initiate force. So if I reach into your pocket and say
you’re going to pay for that man’s health care, that’s force.
When I say you are going to feed the homeless through the coercive power of
taxation, that’s force.
“It is very easy to say ‘I want this for my community’, and
we might all agree. The question is, is there anyone who doesn’t want it?
And if there is even just one…there are certain things in this country
that the majority cannot do to the minority, no matter how big the majority is.
(While a Maricopa County supervisor), there were 2 ½ million people who
lived in Maricopa
County at the time, and I
was the only one who voted against the baseball stadium. Why? Only four people
got to vote, because the Legislature made sure we wouldn’t submit such a
corporate welfare thing to the people… But there were thousands of people,
if not millions, who did not want to pay for the baseball stadium. Is baseball
good? I love baseball…. But why should the taxpayers have to fund a
playground for millionaires to earn their money?
“It is not moral for you to use force against me to accomplish something
that you want, but I don’t. But that is what government does.”