The Scottish Libertarians is the party of freedom. Never before in the course of human history has such a vast scope of people had so much choice. That is what freedom is. It is each human being’s innate right to choose the life that they want to live. From the clothes that they choose to wear, to the food they eat, to the jobs they choose. We are so free as a people that freedom has never before been in such peril of being lost.
Freedom is about how people choose to act and with actions there are consequences. Some consequences are good and some are bad. The enemies of freedom fear the consequences of what they see as the bad choices and actions of others. They seek to use the force of government to limit a people’s choices through laws and regulations. They believe that they can make people and the world better by limiting freedom. We do not hold to this notion.
The Scottish Libertarians recognise that freedom is self-regulating. With freedom comes responsibility and each individual is responsible for the consequences, either good or bad, that come from their actions. When a people are no longer held accountable for their choices, when their virtues go unrewarded and their vices are left unpunished, society becomes corrupt. In desperation people turn to their corrupt government for a salvation that it cannot provide. Instead it brings force to control the choices of the people and freedom is lost.
The Scottish Libertarians are the party of vision. We see the imbalance between freedom and responsibility and we see how people accept the loss of freedom in the name of government providing them safety and security against threats both real and imagined. When a people relinquish responsibility for their actions and expect others to bear the consequences, they also relinquish their freedom. They have become like children ill-equipped for the demands of freedom and must rely on the State to care for them.
Our vision is to move society away from this abyss. Our vision is to give people greater choice and allow them the honour of taking greater responsibility in their lives. We recognise that this “Yes you can” approach will take time to cultivate after decades of government control and the expectations of entitlement it has fostered in the public. So every policy decision will be guided by three simple maxims. What actions will maximise freedom? What actions will decrease the power of government over the lives of the people? What actions are practical given the current situation?
Race, Religion, Gender, and Class
There are no groups. There are only people and people come individually. There are some people whose actions are mostly good and lead to good outcomes for themselves and others. There are some people whose actions are mostly bad and lead to painful outcomes for themselves and others. These actions exist in all people regardless of their genetic, assigned or adopted group identification. The only legitimate groups are based on merit, either positive or negative. Nothing else exists.
For this reason the Scottish Libertarians promote equality of opportunity. If you can you may. We reject any attempts at achieving an equality of outcome with the imposition of quotas and special privileges for any group based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or class.
In regards to religion, the Scottish Libertarians make no distinctions between a religious belief and a philosophical belief. If a religion promotes behaviours that are inconsistent with the philosophy of individual liberty, then it is seen as a threat to liberty and will be challenged accordingly within the marketplace of ideas.
The Welfare State
The Scottish Libertarians reject the premise of the welfare state that the government has a moral duty to provide for the poor and elderly and services to the community, such as free healthcare, free museums, free education, and free activity and recreational centres. The problem with this premise is that nothing is free. It is paid for through taxation, which means taking money by the threat of force from several individuals to satisfy the needs or desires of other individuals.
The welfare state seems like a good thing and many people have reaped the benefits of it over the decades, but overall it has led to an increase in poverty, a decline in educational standards, and a decline in the overall quality of healthcare. More importantly, it has eroded the character of the people of Scotland as they have become increasingly dependent on the state and less self-sufficient.
The Scottish Libertarians recognise that the welfare state has been established as such for over sixty years and its flawed premise is deeply rooted in both the public consciousness and public institutions. Therefore, it is not something that can be changed immediately without causing considerable harm.
In addition, we also recognise that people want to live in a society where there exists a social safety net, free basic education, and other government services. As long as there is democracy people will vote for politicians promising such things. We accept this as an inescapable feature of modern politics.
Therefore we advocate a gradual movement away from forced participation in monopolised social programs by encouraging access to the choices made available through privately funded alternatives. We also promote the participation of charities to perform more of the social roles and provide funding for those who are truly needy. We look to the day when free markets and charities fill the roles currently occupied by the state and regulated by force.
Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, we would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.
We reject the government’s use education of a means of social engineering through the imposition of quotas, curriculum, special privileges for certain groups, and the use of the academic industrial complex to keep unemployment figures low.
Property Ownership and Taxation
The Scottish Libertarians recognise that the ownership of property is a requirement for human existence and therefore a right. Every person has a right to their justly earned or created property to use, sell, rent, lend, or dispose of as they choose. The ramifications of this simple idea are far reaching.
Traditionally in the United Kingdom, since 1066, all land belongs to the monarch and is passed from one monarch to the next as inherited property. With the advent of Parliamentary democracy in Britain, the government assumed ownership of the land in the name of the monarch. What is commonly seen as property ownership in the United Kingdom is in fact property use. The actual owner remains the government.
With this concept in mind, we can see how government justifies telling someone what they can or cannot build on the property that they purchased. Also, council tax being attached to the property is a form of rent paid to the government for use of that property even if it is “owned”. The seas are owned too. This is why oil companies must pay the government for access to the North Sea oil fields even though the companies discovered the oil, built the rigs, employed the workers, and essentially tilled the aquatic soil. And the skies are no exception. Access to the airwaves are paid in the form of the television license by the consumer or “sold” in auction to mobile phone networks that then pay tax on that use. Even the Value Added Tax is a tax on property. Each time human labour improves a piece of property, like a manufactured product, a tax is added at each stage.
The Scottish Libertarians do not reject the idea that government may own property, but we do reject the underlying premise that government has an automatic claim in all property. Therefore government does not have the right to levy taxes on property. This includes council tax, VAT, sin taxes, taxation on the free trade of goods and services, income tax, and taxes on businesses. Nor do they have the right to fix prices.
Regarding corporate taxes, the Scottish Libertarians recognise that it is not possible to tax a company. The business simply figures the tax into its operating costs which it meets by increasing the costs of goods and services or by employing fewer people, therefore the tax levied on a business is in fact a hidden tax on the people. Therefore we advocate the abolition of all taxes on business.
The Scottish Libertarians recognise the need for government and the need to fund that government. Although taxation is a violation of property rights, it is however the primary means of funding government. So until an alternative method is found, we advocate the abolition of all taxes with the exception of a flat tax based on a fixed percentage of income minus a minimum tax allowance. Ideally this will be paid to local government with a percentage forwarded onto the central government to pay for expenses. The annual budget for both local and central government will be fixed at a percentage of GDP, thus limiting government spending.
Another hidden tax is inflation. When government prints money to pay its debts and expenditures the increase in the money supply causes inflation that devalues the currency thus rendering property worth less. To combat this, the Scottish Libertarians advocate a monetary system based on gold, silver, or both and denounce the fiat money system and the central banking system that creates inflation.
It is believed that by placing tight restrictions on taxation and spending, that government will be forced to be more prudent and thrifty when it comes to spending other people’s money.
Scottish Independence, the United Kingdom, and the European Union
The Scottish Libertarians recognise that many of the policies we would like to see for Scotland are impossible in the current political situation; therefore we support the idea of an independent Scottish nation-state as a means of ensuring greater liberty for the people of Scotland.
Our support for independence should not be construed as support for the current or future policies of the Scottish National Party. Nor do we support Scottish membership to the European Union, as this is simply trading one foreign master for another.
Since the independence referendum was defeated, the Scottish Libertarians support more devolved powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament with a view towards the establishment of a federal system with Scotland as one of many independent states within the British union. Ideally, the only powers remaining in Westminster would pertain to international and interstate matters such as trade, defence, nationwide infrastructure, and monetary policy.
International Affairs and Commerce
The Scottish Libertarians recognises national defence and international diplomacy as an important function of government.
The Scottish Libertarians see the nation-state as the natural extension of the nation which is an extension of the individual. As representatives of the individuals comprising the nation-state, the central government does not have any moral prerogative that the individuals themselves do not morally possess.
Just as the individual does not have the moral right to initiate violence so too does government not have the moral right to initiate war; just as the individual may respond with force to defend their life, liberty, or property, so too may government morally engage in armed conflict to defend the life, liberty, and property of the people that it represents.
When international conflicts arise, we argue for diplomacy as the primary option for resolution and reject the use of force, either militant or economic, as a means of achieving our international goals. Should diplomacy fail and the life, liberty, or property of the nation is at stake, then war becomes the only option remaining and will be officially declared through the passage of legislation.
Since the rights to life, liberty, and property are innate and inalienable, the Scottish Libertarians reject the moral legitimacy of any national or international body that denies these rights to the people that it claims to represent or administer.
Although the objective is to be friends with all nations, the Scottish Libertarians reject the idea of international permanent partnerships with any and all nations as such alliances may limit or determine the sovereign actions of the Scottish government as representatives of the people.
Individuals may freely trade amongst themselves regardless of international borders and without the imposition of trade bearers, restrictions, import duty, or protective tariffs. Therefore we advocate a government that facilitates trade agreements for the free movement of goods, services, and capital with as many nation-states as possible.
Part of the free movement of goods, services, and capital is the free movement of people. The Scottish Libertarians support easy immigration into Scotland for people who want to be part of the Scottish nation. However, we support reasonable controls to prevent the entry of foreign nations who pose a credible threat to security, health, or property. Also, we reject government social engineering such as situations where foreign nationals are settled in Scotland and supported through welfare or given special treatment in public institutions.
Crime, Justice, and Self-Defence
Another important function of government is to protect the rights of its citizens to life, liberty, and property against their violation by force, fraud, and the deliberate or negligent actions of others. The primary means of achieving this is through the police and the courts, but this does not preclude the right and responsibility of the individual to defend themselves as needed without fear of government reprisal for so doing.
We support restitution of the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. We oppose reduction of the rights of the criminally accused, such as the rights of due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Therefore, we also oppose the act of indefinite detention and detention without charge of a crime.
Each individual has the right to be left alone and secure in their personal information from both other individuals and government. Personal information cannot be sold or traded by any third party without the clear consent of the individual nor accumulated by government agencies without a warrant. Any violation of an individual’s expressed wishes to be left alone by any individual, company, or government agency should be seen as a violation of their rights and therefore a criminal act. The only exception being individuals or agencies seeking restitution for contractually agreed upon debt.
Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval.