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Hon.Vito Marcoantonio:Libertarian Father of Civil Rights Act; Union Healthcare, Secession Model, Puerto Rican Freedom

Posted on December 1, 2011 at 12:35 AM

Remembering LIO Observer, Libertarian International Organization Legal Counsel Vito Marcoantonio who broke many paradigms. As LIO Counsel on his death he was succeeded by later LIO Honorary Fellows Chair  Hon.  William P. Rogers. He Championed Civil Rights, Cheap Union Healthcare, and a Secession Model in Use Now.

LIO Fellow and Libertarian International Association Counsel Vito Marcoantonio is being recalled by modern Libertarians-- with world refocus on Civil Rights non-discrimination, health care, union and local autonomy issues-- as a forgotten pioneer ...where he made signal advances in those and related areas with deep relevance today.

Like most Libertarians of his time, previous to the LIO encouraging foundation of increasingly Libertarian-oriented parties as a 'political home' he was involved in many political groups, and interested in instituting progressive public institutions to counter-act religious monopolies and outright Stalinism with the view of later libertarianization. .The attorney served as a distinguished Republican Congressman, member and later in public office for  the American Labor Party, and leader of an enormous open-entry uniion that was persecuted by the government for providing  low-cost health care--and was key strategist in restoring the natural law concepts of both protected private discrimination and breaking the back of religious-driven public offer and public bodies racial and other discrimination.

  1. Civil Rights and Non-discrimination. He authored the first modern Civil Rights Act in the US, which went on to influence many  countries in ending invidious discrimination: His early version, H.R. 3994, was first introduced on March 13, 1941, but it died in committee. A second version, H.R. 7142, was introduced  on July 20, 1942, and it also died in committee. At that point it had done its job of opening eyes and creating a core coalition; and was adopted as a model and rally cry by a determined group of business, union, and legislative leaders--including John Kennedy--for the legislation of 20 years later, spearheaded and passed primarily by Liberal and Constitutionalist Republicans.
  2. As vice-president and leader in the IWO, he worked for a "free union for voluntary, not Stalinist Communism' with a demonstration medical-dental plan for all participants. He warned that dependence on taxation of the rich was to be beholden to their incomes, and called for worker and middle class entities that were self-supporting. Unlike many Communist or other unions, ILO was open to all races and political beliefs, with a model of 'union-provided, not government centralized healthcare' that was extremely low-cost and attracted the ire of doctors for demanding professional improvement and 'allowing plumbers to fire surgeons' among other complaints; the ire of  the still powerful KKK-- which at that time had members in about 20% of American homes and many of whose families have come to control the Republicans, say critics-- for its racial openness; and dismayed insurance companies seeking legal prefrences along with hard-line Stalinists posing as 'Liberals'  and standing in the way of both government imposed 'private insurance only' or centralized options. It was closed under color of political activity but the 200,000 member union "... provided very low cost term life insurance, coverage which could be supplemented with additional protection against sickness..did not employ sales representatives and paid no commissions on policies ... published news in their own languages, organized singing societies, sports teams, marching bands, dance companies, and theater groups.... from a tiny organization of 3,000 to 5,000 members at the time of formation in 1930,  it... attracted to the low cost and nondiscriminatory availability of insurance and the willingness to take on as insureds anyone who worked, even those who worked in dangerous or high risk employment, as well as the mutual aid benefits.... it met pragmatic needs in an economic and social framework...IWO offered insurance to all working people at the same rate regardless of race or occupation and was, at the time, the only service provider where African Americans could obtain insurance at the same rate as others...' in that manner, says one site article.
  3. Was a strong advocate of state autonomy, starting as an advocate of a new 'Commonwealth Free Associate State' status where a US territory or state could on application become non-voting, leave foreign affairs to the rest and be otherwise an independent copuntry. He used the model to promote normalization of the status of Puerto Rico,  which had become a preserve where people were expropriated by corporations favored by politicians in the capital to today a 'Commonwealth' or 'Free Associated State' helping, according to one commemorative site, reverse the situation where : ..."The once land owning farmers, dispossessed by huge sugar plantations...work the unfertile mountain soil or are landless. Only seven percent of the native dwellers in the rural regions are landowners in Puerto Rico … Over the heads of these small farmers hangs a total mortgage debt of about $25 million (NOTE: In the curency of the mid-century)… The landless peasants have been converted into a great army of colonial slaves in the sugar plantations, or are unemployed..."

His interest in voluntary and libertarian communism in a liberal society that also welcomed free markets as opposed to Stalinist monopolies was lost on the FBI, which the story is told by old-timers in the movement at one time had Marcoantonio under constant surveillance-- including meetings with the FBI head and Ezra Benson, an LIO Fellow who became part of the Eisenhower administration. At one time the confused government spies of both the US and USSR were following him about, at a loss to comprehend his work and convinced he was a secet agent for the other country. His ability to get broad support across all parties even led the government to pass primary restriction and anti-fusion (running as a candidate endorsed by several parties) laws that libertarian and other groups in the US are slowly reversing today after a titanic 40-year fight.

LIO past honorary Chair Ralph Swanson, who interacted  withh Marcoantonio, Kennedy and later King, has noted that while there may be room for improvement in matters of discrimination or judicial interpretations, the 'US Federal Rights Act is correct in banning official discimination and that of public offer private businesses, while protecting strictly private firms or organizations in ability' to discriminate, though, he notes, "Even the Ku Klux Klan has begun admitting members of different races..." and the Rights was carefully studied in formulating the standard USLP platform to guide legislative coalitions.Libertarians should not confuse strictly private associations with those of public offer; in any event, most discrimination was forced on business and non-profits by government regulations that ironically were originally supported by racial progressives in many cases, or leftist groups seeking to stir up ill feeling..."

The Freelancer's Union in the US has ( http://www.freelancersunion.org/ )   recently revived many of the IWO service concepts, and Libertarians suggest dialogue on placing many social services in the hands of union and consumer groups unhindered by legislative bans or 'nanny-state' forced centralization. In the US Cover Florida, a Health care exchange predating current efforts to assist consumers has been developed by pro-Libertarians.

The US in later years, egged on by Libertarians, divested itself of its 'ridiculous play-colonial 'empire, says Swanson, with a variety of agreements, mutual free association and governance compacts, or simple independence, maintaining friendly relations. In cases such as the Northern Marianas, Libertarian groups helped mediate transition. Today many Libertarians remain interested in the Commonwealth model as a means to bring greater autonomy and experimentation to US states or local governments--from eased drug laws to non-tax zones-- consistent with the rights of the individual.


Note RE Secreatry E. T. Benson, who wrote extensively on intergrating Libertarian concepts to Mormon religious practice and worked to champion the Sister City concept: "“I am a libertarian. I want to be known as a libertarian and as a constitutionalist in the tradition of the early James Madison ~ father of the Constitution. Labels change ... though in its original British connotation the term liberal fits me better than the original meaning of the word, conservative.”(Ezra T. Benson, The Red Carpet p.206) . At the time the LIO, then the League, was a smaller advisory group, not the growing networks of today.


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