Voluntary Governance, Rights, Progress

Libertarian International Organization

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Posted on October 17, 2009 at 9:58 AM

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 The Libertarian Tool paradigm of Charter Cities is spreading, and now being rediscovered as "new" by economists such as Paul Romer at the TED meeting of world innovators.


Variously called mini-archisms, designed communities, autonomous communities, charter areas, ZEBRAS (Zero-Based Regalation Areas), zones of waiver or exception or enterprise development zones, the idea is for a mechanism for small communities to be exempt from pernicious ordinances and in effect run as mini-societies in many cases. Libertarians such as McClaughry, Van Notten, and Bordenave (who met with Chinese leaders in the early 70's promoting Libertarian concepts)  in China have championed the concept, resulting in the gated community movement, deregulated zones in the Netherlands and other countries, and special status in China for Hong Kong and other areas. In California, statutes specifically enable "Charter Cities" with ordinances that may differ and have the status of state law. See also the article below on cities adopting voluntary city policies in Georgia.




Dr. Romer in his talk gives an informative and entertaining review of the need and use of the concept in recent years, and the state of the art of adoption. Libertarians have been discussing how to use direct democracy to enable the concept in their states or countries, and often catalyzed successful moves in that direction.


In 2001 Charles Champion, a US Libertarian in public office who formed one of the first Libertarian Board majorities in a large area, noted that many areas have charter review boards of substantial powers which Libertarians could bring to the fore. In Florida several Home Rule initiatives are under way.



>Article XI, section 3(a) of the California Constitution ( http://www.cacities.org/chartercities  ;) recognizes the adoption of a city charter and provides such a charter has the force and effect of state law. Article XI, section 5(a), the home rule provision, affirmatively grants to charter cities supremacy over municipal affairs.  See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_city


>Lang, Diane (December, 1991) (PDF). Dillon's Rule...and the Birth of Home Rule. New Mexico Municipal League. http://nmml.org/files/2008/01/dillon.pdf

Discussion of Dillon's rule, charter cities and home rule in New Mexico.


>In Spain, a long process of Regional and local devolution down to the neighborhoods is public policy and underway, particularly as a means of innovation and reducing tensions. See: http://countrystudies.us/spain/71.htm  "One of the most striking features of Spain's new governmental system is the devolution of power and responsibility to the regions. Regional differences had been the source of longstanding tensions..." (The article fails to realize that under Franco many functions had been devolved further than today e.g. hiring of local patrols was done by neighborhood associations, resulting in 90% of the police force being compensated by tips and a low crime rate. )


>In Switzerland, local area or "Commune" autonomy includes many areas that in other countries are handled by the central government, such as parts of immigration status. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_Switzerland


>Work of Van Notten: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=michael+van+notten+d-zones&aq=f&oq=&aqi=


>In the US, states such as Nevada use local rule to handle legalization of gaming and gambling, a method Libertarians have helped make now widespread; sex workers; and other cultural issues. The Gay marriage bru-ha-ha in the US started over attempts to override local autonomy on the issue in California, where cities began to recognize the concept,  led by "small government" right wing politicians and groups. 


>In Florida many functions are being handled by neighborhood associations and voluntary communities, leading to the characterization that the state has substantially privatized government. Accoding to Dr. R. Holcombe, former advisor to the Governor , Libertarians helped play a substantial role in awareness of the tool but it now has a momentum "of its own." See: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=privatized+neighborhood+government+in+Florida&aq=f&oq=&aqi=


>REPORT: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/faculty/nelson/Kennedy%20School.pdf








Posted on March 13, 2007 at 2:58 PM
SANDY SPRINGS, Georgia USA, July 2007--The myth is that we're a long way from Libertarian-oriented cities. Change your paradigm.

As Libertarian concepts of emphasis on rights and voluntary alternatives to coerced government programs spread to non-libertarians and the general culture, another 'radical' libertarian idea has taken hold: Right of Secession of communities coupled with wholesale privatization of public services to firms, non-profits, and civic groups.



The locality of Sandy Springs outside of Atlanta, Georgia USA  was blanketed some years ago with Libertarian outreach materials. While the local Libertarian group in the area of 100,000 dissolved, the ideas continued to percolate. Speakers from the Libertarian International Organization, which sponsors www.libertarian-program.org, were invited to talk to local groups or provide reading lists or websites on 'broad implementation of Libertarian or libertarian-direction' ideas, best practices,  standards, and areas of proven success.

The locality started a movement to secede, formed it's own city, and created a plan to provatize all city services except public security. Initial city staff was cut to 6  people according to GOVERNING magazine's site, which noted this was the beginning of a new trend. Libertarians have proposed 'voluntary cities' of primarily voluntary and private services and few laws with a wide array of choices, and smaller 'Libertarian Charter' neighborhoods and tows guided by pledged Libertarians who've taken a committment to advance rights and not advcate initiations of force. But it also shows a growing trend of use of libertarian-direction tools "Where people get familiar and ask, why wait for a Libertarian to get elected? Let's get to work," says Brian Bustamante, a consultant and officer of the Libertarian Party of Florida who monitors how Libertarian tools are being driven by citizens in  public administration: "The Georgia Libertarian Party was taken completely by surprise, which is good, it means people are taken ownership so Libertarianism is for everybody. I think that in due course we'll see cities go completely voluntary as skills and comfort levels increase."



So far there have been considerable increases in quality, choice, voter satisfaction, and lowering of costs, say Sandy Spring officials, who say they're exploring and 'feeling our way' and correcting mistakes as they go along. Key to success, say officials, are brainstorming sessions with voters to get needs and ideas, open communication, and healthy scepticism in evaluating bids and proposals. To that end, the city has even adopted a motto of " Being Honest, Efficient, Responsive," says the mayor, who notes their website, heavy with citizen participation and rapid response links,  is a key tool in promoting "involvement and knowing what's going on." For more key resources to bring these concepts to your area google "Sandy Springs" and "Mayor Galambos" and the book "Voluntary City" at www.cato.org


Posted on November 4, 2006 at 5:02 PM

(Photo) Libertarian in local public office architect Bill Sachs successfully testifies on abuses in restoring voting rights that led to legal changes as part of coalition effort.

Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, November 2006--The myth is Libertarians can't form coalitions. The truth is that's how they get a lot done: Change your paradigm.


A Florida coalition of Libertarians, Democrats, Greens, prominent Republicans and many community groups continues to drive ballot improvement legislation in Florida and the US, say supporters.


The Election Reform Coalition of Pinellas started in Florida in a conversation between Democratic and Libertarian leaders after the Libertarians and LIO activists  began holding community fora on election improvements, and is a bellweather nationwide, according to the ACLU. Members exposed problem electoral machines and documented numerous needed improvements.


LIO is viewing the project as a 'trans-partisan' model that local groups seeking to build coalitions can use. Coalition partners joined forces after the 2004 electoral problems to hold public hearings, agree on a series of short to long term improvements, and build rapport. Libertarians advocate reforms including traceable voting, proportional representation, and lowered ballot requirements. Libertarians participating in the coalition brought considereable skills, having helped lead a fight that turned Florida from having the most restrictive to highly open ballot access laws via a popular initiative, called by the US LP "The Libertarian success story of the 1990's." So far, the coalition has opened up voting inspection, got community groups involved as poll watchers, removed impediments to the voting rights of rehabilitated criminals, established a hot line, moved Florida toward paper ballots and improved procedures, says the League of Women Voters, and is leading the charge towards redistricting against stiff opposition.. Advised by LIO mentors, check out their report, latest wins-- RESOURCE: www.ERCPinellas.org



Posted on July 20, 2006 at 4:32 PM

(Photo) Liberals and Libertarians meet in the Phillippines to start new civic think tank in  this later 2008 photo, advised by Libertarians from India.

Prague, Czech Republic, July 2006--The myth is that Libertarian-oriented think tanks aren't spreading. Change your paradigm.


(Updated article) Libertarian and Liberal think tanks are spreading across the globe, paving the way for libertarian networks, civic action groups, more liberal and eventual  hard-line Libertarian parties, and giving people conceptual tools to fight poverty and corruption improve their lives. So says Vince Miller, head of the non-partisan International Society for Individual Liberty (www.isil.org) which is monitoring the process, in an e-mail from Prague where Libertarians are holding their annual conference in a country with a libertarian president, Vaclav Klaus.


"The US Libertarian Party was essentially founded as a convenience to ISIL members who wanted a means of political action," said Miller. "It immediately set up a variety of projects to create think tanks and undermine extremism, especially in countries with few human rights., along with political activity such as legislative campaigns and candidacies.. These projects were blessed by the LP but were intended to be autonomous. Among the most successful were a series of meetings in 1979 and 1980 co-chaired by LIO head M.Gilson-De Lemos and former US Secretary of State William Rogers, who advised LIO, that encouraged important work that has changed the world. These included the eventual union of SIL and LI that became ISIL with meetings in countries as they were 'on the brink' to help them move in the right direction, spread of Libertarian concepts to key persons in the dictatorships, and long term creation of think tanks particularly by means of the Atlas foundation. In a now-it-can-be-told story, it was  one of the US LP's most successful and discreetly carried out initiatives."


Czech President Klaus has said on several occasions that the fall of the Iron Curtain was in large part due to Libertarian input and activism 'tipping the scales.'


Miller noted that the think tankl movement arose in a series of meetings chaired by LIO in the late '70's and early '80's that created CATO, the Atlas Group, and others to develop interest in primarily freeer economic approaches, and were instrumental in the downfall of the Iron Curtain. Today there is a growing roster of groups created by Libertarians or with a libertarian sub-group. "We don't endorse everything they say, but these are study groups. Several are doing basic work on voting rights, transparency and so on in emrging economies. Many are more market freedom oriented.  I'm confident we'll see more personal freedom networks in the next few years, and  I encourage people to see for themselves. We're working on developing clubs with an additional focus on personal freedoms and non-authoritarian approaches, local 'citizen think tanks' in every country."


2008 RESOURCE UPDATE (Libertarian-interest; most are economic freedom oriented):

Atlas Directory: http://thefreedomnetwork.org/

Cato International: http://www.catooncampus.org/tag/show/650.html

IPN Directory: http://www.policynetwork.net/main/organizations.php

US: http://www.spn.org/directory/



CIEN, Guatemala


European Center for Economic Growth, Austria

Federazione Ambiente Agricoltura, Italy

Free Market Foundation, South Africa

Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Canada

Fundacion Atlas 1853, Argentina

Fundacion Libertad, Panama

Hayek Institute, Austria

IEEP, Ecuador

Imani: The Centre for Humane Education, Ghana

Initiative of Public Policy Analysis, Nigeria

INLAP, Costa Rica

Institut Constant de Rebecque, Switzerland

Institute for Free Enterprise, Germany

Institute for Market Economics, Bulgaria

Institute of Economic Analysis, Russia

Institute of Public Affairs, Australia

Instituto de Libre Empresa, Peru

Instituto Liberdade, Brazil

Instituto Veritas, Honduras

International Policy Network, UK

Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy

Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, Israel

John Locke Foundation, USA

Liberales Institut, Switzerland

Liberalni Institute, Czech Republic

Libertad y Desarrollo, Chile

Liberty Institute, India

Lion Rock Institute, Hong Kong

Lithuanian Free Market Institute, Lithuania

Minimal Government Thinkers, The Philippines

New Economic School, Georgia

New Zealand Business Roundtable, New Zealand

Tennessee Center for Policy Research, USA




The TaxPayer's Alliance, UK

Washington Policy Center, USA