A prerecorded episode of “Libertarian Counterpoint” for broadcast on May 22, 2014 at 8 pm, with hosts Richard Field and Amy Lee, features one of my Republican opponents Ron Gold and I. Libertarian Counterpoint is broadcast on Comcast Sacramento channel 17, which is streamed online here. A link to an archived version of the show will be posted here once the archive is available. Full disclosure: the level of competitiveness and combat between the candidates did not approach that shown in the accompanying image.
During the show, the hosts posted a series of questions to the two candidates. The questions and my positions on the issues raised are provided below. This is not a transcript of the show. My answers here may be somewhat different from what I said on the show, but my positions are substantially the same. In some cases I have provided additional comments after further consideration.
1. Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, was passed in 1996. It prohibits state governmental discrimination on the basis of race in employment, contracting and public education. None of the Attorneys General in California since its passing have taken an interest in defending it. Would you?
Prop 209 has stood the test of time, and withstood various attacks over the years. Prohibiting governmental discrimination on the basis of race is fully in accord with libertarian principles, with the understanding that government should preferably be so limited that such discrimination would not have a wide impact. To the extent that Proposition 209 faces legal attacks during my term, I would defend it gladly.
2. California Proposition 8, prohibiting same sex marriage was passed by the voters in 2008. No Attorney General has defended it. Would you? If you wouldn’t, would you try to stop the initiative’s backers from defending it for lack of standing?
Strictly speaking, Prop 8 didn’t prohibit same-sex marriage. It says, more exactly, that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. By its terms, Prop 8 does not require the state to stamp out alternative forms of marriage, including same-sex marriage, as if it were prohibited contraband. Regardless, like many libertarians I believe that defining marriage is not the proper role of the state. California should endeavor to always avoid interfering with the voluntary arrangements of its citizens, whether those arrangements be traditional or alternative. For these reasons, I would not defend Proposition 8 from legal attacks. In the interests of preserving judicial process, and conserving taxpayer resources, I would not seek to exclude those who would defend it from their day in court. Those attacking Proposition 8 do not need the support of the Attorney General to raise arguments based on lack of standing.
3. An Ohio court has ordered a man to stop “reproducing” until he pays the $100,000 he owes in child support to the kids he already have. Would you support that kind of action in California?
No. Such an order is absurd and unjust, and impossible to enforce without forced sterilization. Parents, including fathers, have an obligation of support for their minor children. But reproduction is a basic human right that cannot justly be conditioned on the state’s determination that a father should pay a specified sum, regardless of the identity of the creditor. If a wealthy woman were willing to conceive a child by the man, the man’s debt would be irrelevant to the woman’s right to choose the father of her child, because the father’s income would not be needed to support the child. Would we then deprive a woman of the right to determine the father of her child, because she is not wealthy? That would plainly be unjust. Such an order against a man is, in reality, an order against a hypothetical future woman who desires to conceive the man’s child. A man cannot reproduce without a woman, and cannot legally reproduce without a willing woman.
4. Alex Baldwin was arrested and handcuffed for riding his bike in the wrong direction on Fifth Avenue in NYC. Is this a good use of police resources?
It’s hard to imagine how it could have been. Traffic laws have their purpose, and should mainly be for public safety. All too often the laws are enforced for improper reasons, such as generating revenue or to relieve the boredom of an officer. This kind of enforcement (assuming Mr. Baldwin wasn’t being terribly reckless) simply undermines the legitimacy of law enforcement, and should be minimized.
5. Would you try to stop Uber to protect existing taxi companies?
Absolutely not. I have sympathy for cabbies that have paid high fees to obtain a license while being tightly regulated. Unfortunately, such cabbies are both victims and exploiters of government over-regulation and taxation. My greater sympathies however are with the free market; services like Uber provide great consumer benefits and should be encouraged, even if this hurts entrenched special interests. If Uber diminishes the value of taxi licenses, so be it. Cabbies can follow the Uber model or come up with something better. Government should get out of their way, and let them compete fairly for business with Uber.
6. Are there any existing California laws that you would not prosecute? For instance drug laws of any kind?
Most definitely. There are so many laws on the books, that if all were fully enforced, everybody in the state would have to be prosecuted if not imprisoned. Prosecutors must exercise discretion in the selection of laws to prosecute. I would exercise that discretion to not prosecute any law in which there is no victim or discernible threat of harm to another. This will eliminate a lot of wasteful, unnecessary and oppressive police action, and free prosecutors to focus on crimes that actually involve a victim. Examples of victimless crimes include drug or gun possession, prostitution, and non-fraudulent business license violations.