Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Article 2. Economic Liberty
Why prohibit governments from borrowing money? What if there’s a war requiring large expenditures?
The UTL needs to keep national defense as the top priority, and always be prepared for war. During no period of time should the UTL have merely a “peacetime” military force. It also needs to cultivate alliances with other nations.
If more resources are needed, the UTL could possibly raise funds by selling or leasing government-owned properties to private parties.
Governments worldwide have proven repeatedly that they cannot be trusted to be fiscally responsible, even in peacetime. Politicians borrow as much money as they can to buy the favor of voters and campaign donors instead of allocating it for legitimate government functions.
Of every 4 dollars the U.S. government currently spends, 3 of them come from taxes. The 4th dollar is borrowed and is not being paid back. The government is merely promising to pay it back. This adds nearly one Trillion more dollars to the national debt every year, and the required interest payments exceed $1 Billion per day (2019) and are growing. This activity is unsustainable.
All expenses and debts must be paid eventually, so they may as well be paid as they occur, avoiding interest charges. In the UTL, government deficits and debt are prohibited. Citizens can always voluntarily donate to government treasuries if they are concerned about a lack of government funding.
Since when can the private sector be the source of currency?
Since antiquity. Privately issued currencies have been legally used for centuries. Currencies in use today (2018) include the Berkshare and the IthicaHOUR in the Northeastern part of the U.S., as well as Bitcoin and Ethereum. In contrast, government-controlled currencies are routinely mismanaged and devalued by government.
Would it be illegal to counterfeit any private currency?
Yes, if someone knowingly attempted to use the counterfeit copy as a substitute for genuine currency, or otherwise place it into circulation. Such activity would be prosecuted as fraud and/or copyright violation.
Why does fire suppression qualify as one of the few legitimate government responsibilities?
Because a fire potentially threatens the lives and property of many people, similar to the way crime threatens them. Fires often arise from a criminal act, and must be investigated by legal authorities to determine the cause. Since public safety is a shared need, the government is the proper entity to support it.
Why should medical first aid be a government service?
In the U.S. today, law enforcement and emergency first responders are legally given special priority access to the scene of fires, disasters, accidents, and assaults. They are therefore the natural providers of first aid to victims. The Territory governments will employ first responders as well. However, in the UTL, government-supplied medical care ends after first aid (including transport to medical facilities) is rendered.
Air traffic control could be handled privately, couldn’t it?
Not completely. Air traffic poses a common risk to all people in military aircraft, commercial aircraft, private aircraft, and on the ground. Coordinating all military flights with commercial and private flights across all regions and Territorial borders could require more secrecy than a fully private organization should handle. Government is a logical choice to manage this public safety work, but should use private contracting firms to staff the positions.
Why don’t you include public thoroughfares in your lists of “Government shall not…”?
The paragraph beginning with “Governments shall serve primarily to provide…” includes public thoroughfares as a legitimate government provision. Some roads and other thoroughfares can be created by private companies, but generally they need to cooperate with government to build and maintain thoroughfares on public land.
Teachers and schools will still exist to educate children. But since education is a commodity, like food and medical care, the private sector is the proper source of educational services. Parents and legal guardians will choose the educational services they want for their children, and can choose no services at all. Parents can choose to home school their children themselves, formally or informally, and no government bureaucrat will be monitoring them.
For families who want formal education for their children but cannot afford all of it, the charity of friends, family, volunteers, and donors (many organized as educational foundations) will help them.
Homeschooling has been working for centuries. In the UTL, nobody will be forced to use a prescribed curriculum, nor to meet any government education standards, because there will be no government education standards. Any standards will be determined by family, societal norms, schools, and industry, rather than by a politically-driven government education bureaucracy.
What kind of future will children have if their parents choose no educational services for them?
It will vary widely, as it does now. Parents usually make sure their children learn things that the parents believe are important, whether in a public school, private school, or at home. The difference in the UTL is, nobody will be forced by government to follow any particular educational regimen. Fortunately, never before in history have so many educational materials been so readily available at such a low cost. But it’s up to parents and students to take advantage of those materials.
Why allow UTL’s version of Wall Street to operate free of government regulation? They will just steal everybody’s money, right?
Many industries employ privately-run oversight to keep their member companies in line. For example, in the U.S., the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a non-governmental independent private regulator of securities firms. It performs arbitration for resolution of disputes between securities firms, their employees, and their customers. It maintains lists of registered and licensed professionals. A private organization such as that could hardly be as ineffective and inefficient as a government agency in deterring dishonest practices.
Without government-run Transportation Security, how will airlines be kept safe from terrorist attacks?
Once again, the private service providers, in this case the airlines, will need to provide security measures. They did so in the USA up until the attacks of September 11, 2001. Many say that 9-11 clearly proved that privately-run security was inadequate. However, even after Federalizing all airline security, there are still airline security failures in the USA, despite overly-intrusive searches of innocent passengers and massive bureaucratic expenditures of tax money. The success of airline security does not need to depend solely on government involvement. But law enforcement intelligence information needs to be available to the airlines for passenger screening purposes. As in the U.S. today, law-enforcement personnel may also board and patrol vehicles such as trains and aircraft that are open to the public.
How will we know the number of people in the UTL, and in each locality, without a census?
Census by manual enumeration (counting) is unnecessary in the UTL, because the government will be mandated to keep track of the number of citizens and their residences, based on current government-issued citizen IDs. The government will continuously update the database to account for immigration, emigration, births, and deaths. For purposes of apportionment and congressional representation, the numbers of people who actually voted in each locality in the most recent congressional election will be used.
How can the UTL track births, if babies are born at home instead of in a medical facility which reports births? And what about medical facilities that don’t report births, as a matter of patient confidentiality policy?
Yes, a mother can choose not to inform the government that she gave birth. But a major incentive to notify the government of your existence, or that of your child, is that any adult can be deported if their identity cannot be verified. And a parent or guardian can be cited for not taking action to obtain a government ID for their minor child. Another incentive for disclosing your existence as a citizen is the voting privilege, which requires the official government biometric record.
Just how will the UTL government keep track of deaths? In a land of liberty, isn’t death really a private matter?
Just as they do today in the U.S., funeral homes, hospitals, and coroners will be required by law to report any deaths to the government. But whenever records are missing or expired, the government will seek answers from any citizen, or from the family or associates of the citizen, who fails to appear every 2 to 5 years to update his ID photograph.
Does this constitution favor same-sex marriage?
No, it simply takes marriage out of the government’s hands and leaves it up to the individuals involved.
With no regulation of marriage, and without government-issued marriage licenses, how will courts make judgements in divorce and child custody cases?
Such cases would be adjudicated in civil court, but the details are up to the individual Territories and localities to decide. This will consume a large portion of their resources.
How can you take adoption out of the government’s hands? If adoption is privatized, won’t that increase the risk of child abuse and neglect?
Foster care and adoption are generally not part of the criminal justice system, therefore government does not need to be involved. Many children’s hospitals and custodial charities are privately owned and operated, yet they have a better record of protecting and nurturing children than government agencies have.
Without parks, what kind of mundane life will our children face?
Nobody says there won’t be parks. They just won’t be government owned or government operated, meaning there will be admission fees (unless some generous sponsor subsidizes it). But we are not even getting free admission to all public parks in the U.S. today. Despite their “public” status and use of tax money, many parks in the U.S. still charge a fee for merely entering the park. For example, each person over 15 years old entering Grand Canyon National Park in 2018, even without a vehicle, is charged $20. Parks in the UTL will not be much different than that. They will be privately owned (or leased if on government land), privately operated, and privately funded.
What would a nation do without federal mail delivery service? Can private companies be relied upon to deliver mail to remote rural addresses?
Many private U.S. companies deliver items to remote locations. But instead of a one-price-fits-all system that ignores shipping distance, which is what the U.S. Postal Service has for domestic “First Class” mail, private shipping costs are based on parcel size, weight, point of origin, destination, and demand. It’s a market-based system that doesn’t lose money or rely on government subsidies. As long as competition is permitted to operate, people in remote locations will continue to receive their mail and packages, just as they do today. They may just pay more for the service than they paid to a government agency.
Note that government-run hardcopy mail and parcel (supplies) delivery will be permitted within the armed forces. Private shipping services may deliver items to and from military locations, but the armed forces will be allowed to do whatever is required for their mission, subject to commander oversight.
If the government doesn’t give money, food, or medicine to citizens who cannot afford it, except for those in the armed services, who will help those people?
The charity of friends, family, volunteers, and donors (many organized as charitable foundations) will help them. The current scheme in the U.S., which is to borrow endlessly from hypothetical future government revenues, wastes massive amounts of money on bureaucracy and interest payments, and causes inflation.
In contrast, charity is the voluntary choice of many of the same people who are currently forced to contribute to a huge variety of “worthy causes” that government chooses based on political factors. Many of those causes are morally objectionable to many people. Government’s rightful purpose is to govern and defend, not to provide things or money to individuals. Liberty doesn’t mean that needs will go unmet. It means that needs will be met by the voluntary actions and contributions of those who decide those needs are worth meeting.
Charity naturally tends to put the most obvious and noncontroversial needs first, such as food and medical care. When contributions are voluntary, the most efficient and reputable charities will generally receive the most contributions, and poorly run charities will shrink or be driven out of existence by bad practice and bad publicity.
Another source of help is private insurance, such as disability insurance, which has proven effective for many decades.
No government health funding, except in medical first aid and the armed services? Don't we all have a right to health care?
No. We have liberty to buy medical services and health insurance, if we have the ability to pay for them.
But like any other personal service or tangible item, we are not entitled to have it given to us, in whole or in part.
We have a right to own property, but private property itself is not an entitlement and is not endowed to us by our Creator.
We have freedom to sell our labor in exchange for property, such as money, food, water, clothing, and shelter, but we are not entitled to those things, nor are we entitled to a job that helps us get them.
We have a right to bear arms, but it does not include a free weapon.
We have the right to free speech, but it does not include a free radio channel, book contract, or website with which to exercise our free speech. Anything beyond our physical voice requires tools.
We must invest labor, money, and / or materials in order to exercise those rights.
However, there is a justifiable government role in providing medical care at the scene of fires, disasters, accidents, and assaults.
Why isn’t immunization regarded as a public safety issue requiring common defense?
Because ultimately, a person’s individual health is his personal responsibility, and in the case of minor children, it’s the parent’s responsibility. A viral outbreak is almost never an emergency bringing the chaos of a crime spree or fire. There is widespread disagreement on the safety, effectiveness, and necessity of immunization, whereas everyone agrees that crime and fire require immediate intervention by authorities. Immunization will still be available, but will be offered only through private providers, and will remain optional.
What about weather forecasting? The military needs to know weather conditions for defense purposes, right?
Right. Nothing in this constitution prevents government from spending resources on weather forecasting as long as it’s for national defense or air traffic control purposes. And nothing would prevent government from sharing, distributing, or selling that data to subscribers (agricultural consortiums, news outlets, private citizens, etc.).
Government isn’t the only possible source, either. As of 2018, at least one private U.S. company is in the business of placing and operating weather satellites.
How do you expect to fund the government with just sales taxes, but no income tax? Sales taxes would need to be at least 30%, right?
No. We plan to have a very limited government. Government will simply have to operate on a maximum 10% total sales tax. This will force government to fund only the essential services, with the armed services being first priority.
Taxes discourage the activity that is taxed. Why would we want to tax income, thereby discouraging people from earning a higher income to support themselves and their families? Income taxes are a violation of privacy. That’s why income tax was forbidden in the U.S. for 125 years until 1913, when Congress added the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. taxpayers incur large costs just to compute and defend their income tax returns. Government bureaucracies consume major resources to review those tax returns and collect the taxes.
Likewise, why would we want to tax savings or inheritance, thereby discouraging people from saving money or helping their families?
UTL taxes paid anonymously on retail spending only will encourage people to favor earning, saving, building, and sharing personal wealth, rather than favoring retail expenditures.
Legalized gambling would wreak havoc on society, wouldn’t it?
Issues with gambling are similar to those covered in Section 1.1 regarding recreational drugs. Gambling can be addictive like drugs. It’s one consequence of having a society based on liberty. Unlike drugs, however, gambling does not involve manufacturing, transporting, or ingesting a substance, and could be conducted remotely, via the internet or other telecommunication. This makes private gambling, as opposed to public casino-based gambling, more difficult to detect and restrict than drug use.
Despite its questionable value, gambling does not inherently violate anyone’s rights.
Gambling is widely available and legal in the U.S. today with government-run lotteries and reservation-based casinos.
Gambling is one of countless human activities in the category of sovereignty over one’s body and what one can choose to do with it, as addressed in Section 1.1. It also involves the voluntary use of one’s own property, i.e. money. In the United Territories of Liberty, we reject the concept of government control over your body or property, “protecting” you from your own freely chosen activities for which you are responsible. An adult’s personal behavior, unless violating someone else’s rights, is nobody else’s business, not even the government’s.
Do we want police to raid people’s homes on suspicion that the occupants might be wagering? No.
However, a Territory could limit casinos to areas set by zoning laws, and restrict admission to adults only.
The public can freely expose, protest, and boycott any business, such as a casino, if they choose to.
Never in history have there been so many forums upon which unlimited numbers of people can promptly record and broadcast their opposition, or their support, in detail. In the UTL, we will let public pressure, not the force of government regulation, drive the legal choices that consumers and business owners make.
How can you have no legal limits on Campaign Spending? If you don’t restrict campaign spending, then the richest and most well-connected people will always win elections and seize power, right?
Are you suggesting that giving huge amounts of taxpayer money to politicians is better than letting them freely raise funds from private donors?
Why not allow them the freedom to run their campaigns any way they want? People in the U.S. can donate unlimited hours of labor for any candidate or proposition. And if money is just the fruit of our labor, then why permit unlimited donation of labor while restricting monetary donations?
Should we restrict the amount of labor that volunteers donate also? That would certainly be anti-liberty.
In his 2008 campaign, Obama chose not to use public funds. He took unlimited private donations instead. Was that unethical?
The candidates who spend the most money on advertising do not necessarily win elections. Trump has vast personal wealth, but spent far less on on the 2016 Presidential campaign than his losing opponent did.
In most nations, many people are motivated to gain office in order to enrich themselves. However, per Section 2.1, the UTL government provides minimal opportunity for any elected official to influence and skim money from government contracts, while requiring officials to disclose all gifts and their sources.
How can you possibly fund all levels of government with only 10% total retail sales tax, and no income tax?
By having only small government. 10% is the Biblical percentage for voluntary tithing; we cannot justify having a tax exceeding that level. This government will be forced to operate efficiently.
Are water, fuel, and homes considered retail goods to be taxed?
Yes. And it doesn’t matter whether the water or fuel is sold in containers, or from a pump, or through a pipeline to a home.
Why place import taxes on goods and services from outside the UTL?
Imported services will be taxed as an incentive for people to use domestic service providers instead. Call it protectionism if you want to. Import tax rates will be subject to modification by Congress, but cannot exceed 10 percent of the retail value.
What is a capitation tax?
A capitation tax is a tax levied on an individual for simply being or doing. One example is income tax, levied on individuals for earning their income. In contrast, a sales tax is not considered a capitation tax, because it is levied upon the sales transaction itself.
How can an employer possibly fire someone for no reason?
This means the employer will not be required to provide a reason. Whether he has a reason or not, he will not be required to declare it nor to document it.
If you don’t prevent big companies from merging, won’t you get price fixing and monopolies?
In this free market, monopolies cannot last long. By nature, competition arrives and stabilizes prices. Meanwhile, consumers should benefit from savings resulting from economies of scale and avoidance of expensive red tape, lawyers, and delays that would have come from government regulation of a merger. In this age of instant mass communication, any “unfair” practices by companies would be quickly exposed and deterred by the risk of a public relations nightmare.
Will there be some sort of Environmental Protection Agency?
Yes. As pollution is a shared problem affecting public health and safety, pollutants known to be harmful need to be limited, and transport of hazardous materials across public lands, especially on public thoroughfares, needs to be regulated.