Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Campaigns for Liberty

We all would like to see our liberty restored and protected from further encroachment, and many libertarians work hard to elect like-minded candidates, support ballot measures, and other work. Of course, there is much more to be done, and this is one idea from an unusual source: the United Kingdom.

Two newspapers, of all things, are promoting pro-liberty campaigns in the United Kingdom, as mentioned in recent news stories (www.thepriceofliberty.org). The Daily Telegraph is pushing a very strong campaign to change laws and make it clear that homeowners can defend themselves against robbers, burglars, and other invaders of their homes. http://www.advertising.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/28/ncrime28.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/11/28/ixhome.html
The Daily Sun (famed for its "Page 3 Girls") is also running a lengthy campaign called "Stop the Fines Robbery" (http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2004552877,00.html ) in which they are publishing examples of abuse by traffic wardens (police officers in charge of traffic - like meter maids and meter men in US cities) and then going to the various courts and cities to help the people fight to overturn the charges (many parking fines in the UK are US$160 or more). Now, neither of these campaigns is going to restore the "liberties of Englishmen" anytime soon, but they DO make an impact on the people and on the government - small, but noticeable and effective.
Similar campaigns on a local level, right here in the Fifty States, can do the same thing, and help build support for liberty on their own, as well as make it easier for electioneering and ballot issues. A small campaign to stop traffic ticket abuse can help a few people directly, gather press coverage, build alliances with other people (especially conservatives and liberals), make people better known, and reduce intrusions of personal liberty in any area. If coordinated with local groups (such as radio station personalities or newspaper columnists, or charity groups), they can broaden the appeal, be more effective, and essentially pay for themselves. They don't have to be statewide efforts - they can be as small as a county or a city.

Here are some ideas:
- many groups are fighting the condemnation authority of local governments for "economic development" where (for example) the city condemns dozens of homes in order to put together a block of land to be sold to a "big-box" retailer or industrial company.
- many cities DO have problems with parking ticket abuse - I know of one city where high-school students with as few as a single unpaid parking ticket more than a month old have been arrested in front of their classmates, in the classroom.
- many communities (one in Illinois has been in the news as of late) have their own local laws forbidding the ownership of handguns, or prohibiting either open carry or concealed carry in their boundaries.
- many towns have a problem with the arrogant attitude or continual foul-ups by a single government agency - federal, state, or local. For example, a DOT (Dept of Transportation) shop which constantly tracks mud onto the streets, or sends vast plumes of diesel smoke across the neighborhood on winter days; or a Dept of Fish and Game warden who constantly trespasses on private property, or harasses local people for game violations; or a local town that has speed traps for unwary travelers.
Each of these is an opportunity to right a wrong, protect or restore a freedom, and turn into a springboard for other good work. Look around and try and do this, yourself!

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