Thank you, and continue liberating space for a fulfilling life.

Thank you.

To the more than 15,000 Utahns who cast a Libertarian vote in this year’s election for U.S. Representative for Utah’s Second Congressional District, please know that my candidacy was never about me; it is about returning power back to you. Put another way: about one in 25 voters in this race expressed a preference on their ballot in this race for an alternative to what the incumbent political party candidates offered. The majority of U.S. voters not satisfied with legacy electoral options — and who would otherwise not vote in a race without a Libertarian candidate in it — are increasingly being seen and heard.

I’m grateful for the graciousness of both of the other candidates with whom I appeared on both the ballot and the debate stage in this race. Although our contact with one another was understandably limited during this challenging time, in a different context my sense is that we would favor conversation about writing and books instead of public policy.

A heartening surprise toward the end of this election cycle was to hear from former clients for whom I have helped navigate life and the legal system who let me know that they saw my name on the ballot and had voted for me. The oftentimes painful journey I travel with my clients is one reason why I work to abolish the systems that compound the hurt.

My thanks also to those who helped support this campaign, including behind the scenes; you know who you are.

Thank you also to the journalists who interviewed me about my candidacy. However, it’s apparent that some journalists and news-gathering and –reporting organizations haven’t figured out or — because of failed business models that incentivize a pay-to-play dynamic, bias against unorthodox perspectives, or other rationales — don’t want to figure out how to cover Libertarian candidates.

As necessity is the mother of invention, our current challenges also afforded me the opportunity to file my declaration of candidacy remotely (a first that is perhaps more interesting to one who follows innovations in election processes than most).

Although the liberty movement’s electoral progress has not come as quick as many want, its progress is undeniable. The Libertarian Party “over the past decade has become the third party in the United States”. To quote Libertarian National Committee chair Joe Bishop-Henchman, “We are going to take on the duopoly until they change or we get our people elected.” 

Moreover, across the United States, liberty-oriented ballot measures are succeeding. And internationally, libertarian political parties — such as the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Germany and the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers (ACT) party in New Zealand — are electing representatives to national legislatures, thanks in large part to more competitive and representative, gerrymander-proof and spoiler-proof electoral systems.

Please join me in continuing to fight for electoral reform, service limits, intellectual property reform, and the cause of liberty, whether through the Libertarian Party, by supporting one or more of the many liberty-minded non-profit organizations working to set the world free in our lifetime, or through your own, unique way.

May all be well and happy.

In liberty,

Rob Latham

Toward gerrymander-proof and spoiler-proof democracy

Democracy has been described as a method of group decision making that purports to bind all group members by majority rule, rather than by contractual agreement.

Next year, Utah legislators and local elected officials will engage in the decennial process of drawing lines to create single-member districts from which voters will elect federal and state legislators.

The process is called “redistricting,” and the manipulation of this process — called “gerrymandering” — has been described as “politicians picking their voters”.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

A few of the world’s democratically-elected republics — such as Australia and Ireland — have upgraded their electoral systems from the traditional “winner-take-all, plurality” method to more competitive and representative single transferable vote methods that yield more proportional representation.

These updated electoral methods prevent gerrymandering.

And, as with another electoral method increasingly used in Utah known as ranked choice voting, these electoral methods also prevent a voting phenomenon called the “spoiler effect.”

The Fair Representation Act (H.R. 4000) has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to facilitate the implementation of these more competitive and representative electoral methods so that every American may participate in free and open elections. If elected, I will co-sponsor this legislation.

To understand why how a self-dealing minority coalition — that is able to form a winning plurality — undermines majority rule, consider why some have proposed restricting the right to vote for some.

Articulating what has been described as the “vote-restricting rule,” John Stuart Mill — regarded as the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century — wrote:

I regard it as required by first principles that the receipt of parish relief should be a peremptory disqualification for the franchise. He who can not by his labor suffice for his own support, has no claim to the privilege of helping himself to the money of others. By becoming dependent on the remaining members of the community for actual subsistence, he abdicates his claim to equal rights with them in other respects. Those to whom he is indebted for the continuance of his very existence may justly claim the exclusive management of those common concerns to which he now brings nothing, or less than he takes away.

–John Stuart Mill, “Of the Extension of the Suffrage

Dr. Richard Ebeling argues that Mill’s voting restriction rule

could be extended, today, to all those who work for the government, for as long as they are employed by the government they are directly living off the taxed income and wealth of others.

Extending Mill’s logic a little further, I think that the same case could be made that all those who live off government expenditures in the form of government contracts or subsidies, should likewise be excluded from voting for the same conflict of interest reasons.

–Richard M. Ebeling, “John Stuart Mill and the Dangers from Unrestrained Government. Part II

In other words, recipients of corporate welfare should be excluded from voting according to the same principle that would exclude recipients of “parish relief” from voting.

Notably, democratic governance does not necessarily require a vote. The practice of democratic lotteries, used by ancient Athenians to mitigate power’s corrupting influence, has experienced a revival of interest in recent years.

Using democratic lotteries would eliminate many of the inherent problems in existing election dynamics, such as:

that compromise the legitimacy and efficacy of democratic institutions.

If elected, I will also introduce legislation to explore and facilitate the use of democratic lotteries — that would be both election-free and voting-free — whether for state houses of representatives, county commissions, or city councils.

Decentralizing democratic institutions in these ways moves power away from entrenched, special interests — including self-appointed “gatekeepers” — and closer to we, the people.

PBS Utah Free Speech Message

My fellow, beloved Utahns, I’m grateful to PBS Utah for the opportunity to call upon you as friends and neighbors so that we may rise together to liberate Utah’s Second Congressional District.

In 2020, we celebrate the first Libertarian member of Congress, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan. Libertarians are also celebrating our first woman candidate for President, Dr. Joanne Jorgensen of South Carolina.

Libertarians favor voluntary exchange and free markets; and oppose both crony capitalism and crony communism.

The Libertarian Party’s platform sets a goal of a world set free in our lifetime.

If elected, I’ll introduce legislation to implement service limits on federal, state and local staffs to disrupt concentrations of political power and privilege.

I’ll co-sponsor the Fair Representation Act to bring about gerrymander-proof and spoiler-proof elections for every American. I’ll also sponsor legislation to authorize the use of democratic lotteries — that would be both election-free and voting-free —whether for state houses of representatives, county commissions, or city councils.

And because libertarians oppose monopolies, while supporting both creators and consumers, I’ll introduce legislation to abolish all forms of intellectual property law.

In his classic essay, The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek warned us not just of the dangers of centralized control over our social and economic lives, but also of the authoritarian mindset that sees nothing wrong with this control.

By voting different, you deny power to those who want to make decisions for you and your loved ones.

By voting different, you withdraw your consent to have your voice co-opted by two veterans of the Deep State.

When blue lives murder Black and brown lives, that deserves our focused attention and corrective action.

One action you can take, as a juror, is to vote “not guilty” when the law is unjust or unjustly applied.

By voting Libertarian, you replace State-sponsored chaos, State-sponsored poverty, and State-sponsored wars with a mutually-regulating order, abundance, and peace.

Please, empower your voice and free agency, join me at freeutahns.com, and vote Libertarian.

Campaign for Liberty candidate survey

To mark and celebrate this Constitution Day (marking the date in the year 1787 that delegates in Philadelphia signed the U.S. Constitution), posting answers to the Campaign for Liberty’s 2020 survey for federal candidates seems appropriate.

Although my campaign did not receive the survey, it should come as no surprise that my answers to each of the following questions would be “Yes”.

As many may know, Campaign for Liberty chairman Ron Paul was the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate in 1988. Adherence to libertarian principles not only helps make for consistent and predictable policy outcomes, it also helps protect against “regime uncertainty.”

In liberty,

Rob Latham

Service Limits — “We Can (All) Be Heroes”

Perhaps you are familiar with the organization U.S. Term Limits, which advocates for the replacement of professional politicians with citizen legislators at all levels of government.

You may also be familiar with the limits federal law imposes on political actors who become market actors. SeeUnderstanding the Revolving Door: How Ethics Rules Apply to Your Job Seeking and Post-Government Employment Activities.”

To aid in understanding, a discussion of some terms and concepts follows.

The non-aggression principle supports each individual’s inherent worth and dignity (self-ownership) and opposes the initiation of force against any individual.

Power means the initiation of force, also known as aggression, and is distinguishable from the defensive use of force. Only federal, state, and local agencies possess power; individuals and firms do not possess power.

Free market means a condition in which goods and services may be exchanged freely and voluntarily. Individuals and firms operate primarily in a free market (market actors); those employed by federal, state, and local agencies (political actors) do not operate primarily in a free market.

Service limit means that an individual employed by a federal, state, or local agency may be employed by such an agency only for a limited period of time.

Power has some influence on the free market, and individuals and firms operating in the free market have some influence on the exercise of power by those political actors. For ongoing commentary on the interplay between power and market, see the Power & Market Blog.

In his article “Libertarian Class Analysis,” writer Sheldon Richman observes that

The government’s coercive taxing power necessarily creates two classes: those who create and those who consume the wealth expropriated and transferred by that power. Those who create the wealth naturally want to keep it and devote it to their own purposes. Those who wish to expropriate it look for ever more-clever ways to acquire it without inciting resistance. One of those ways is the spreading of an elaborate ideology of statism, which teaches that the people are the state and that therefore they are only paying themselves when they pay taxes.

The state’s officers and the court intellectuals at universities and the news media go to great lengths to have people believe this fantastic story, including the setting up of schools. Alas, most people come to believe it. The role of war is to scare people into paying taxes for their own alleged protection and to keep the wealth flowing to the exploiters with a minimum of grousing.

Service limits reduce the gap between the exploited and the exploiters; the governed and the governors.

Continue reading “Service Limits — “We Can (All) Be Heroes””

Why repeal intellectual property laws?

Intellectual property laws generate excessive, monopoly profits and “royalties” to the holders of politically-privileged patents, licenses, and copyrighted materials, to the detriment of consumers.

A recent example of this phenomenon occurred when consumers experienced a shortage of N95 masks, and intellectual property laws interfered with attempts to fill the need.

Two chapters of Ken Schoolland’s book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey illustrate the problem, and suggest a solution.

Chapter 2 – Troublemakers
Chapter 31 – Whose Brilliant Idea?

For a more in-depth case against intellectual property laws, see Against Intellectual Monopoly, by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine.

And visit the blogs Against Monopoly and the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom.