The Power of Public Choice

By Gene Balfour

 I am a Libertarian, not just during the Sault Ste. Marie by-election when I was the Libertarian Party candidate, but in the way I choose to live my life every day.

Libertarianism is based on “the Good Neighbour Policy” which embodied the belief that:

  • There must be limits on the use of force – public or private – in society.
  • The only legitimate use of force is the protection of person or property against harm imposed by others.

Historically, our governments have been authorized, via elections held over many generations, to award public servants and their leaders an extraordinary level of legislated power to apply force to all citizens and enterprises according to established legal statutes. Today, the Ontario Government is empowered to enforce over 360,000 regulations that are, in essence, rules by which we must all abide or face consequences – fines, jail time, and other restrictions to individual liberty.

Libertarians are not convinced that keeping ALL 360,000 regulations is sustainable or has any particular merit. For this reason, we believe that all regulations must be subject to sunset laws whereby they can be re-issued or revised only if significant justification continues to exist. In addition, all regulations must be open to public scrutiny for as long as they remain in force.

Unfortunately, there has been no interest by any politicians who represent the existing mainstream Big Government parties (I refer to them as the BORG – blue, orange, red and Green) to contain or shrink our book of regulations.  Instead, they choose to fight other social and economic causes for which they can more readily stir up public interest, and therefore, more votes. BORG politicians always champion “glamorous” causes that are sensational and newsworthy rather than the rather unsexy causes involving the delivery of good and efficient government on a day-to-day basis.

As a Libertarian politician, I believe that the #1 Issue of our time is our inability to constrain the runaway growth of governments at all levels, and their increasingly out-of-touch bureaucratic institutions  and their leaders. This mismanagement and forgotten accountability to taxpayers has been going on for over 40 years, and it needs to stop.

It is absolutely vital to our very democracy that every voter has the choice to vote for Limited Government in every election. Just as vital is the need to allow for the fair and unbiased introduction of competing Non-Governmental Options to co-exist and compete with our existing public services. Every citizen deserves the right to legitimate choices of service that best meet their needs and interests rather than being stuck with only the monopoly service providers of government.

The Ontario Libertarian Party offers to the citizens of Ontario a platform that is the polar opposite of those presented by the other 4 major parties. In what way were they different?

For starters, the Liberals, NDP, Green and yes, even the Conservative parties, have always promoted the idea that more government is the only answer for all social and economic issues that arise in the lives of citizens. Yet, it is no secret that excessive taxation and regulations have been the cause of hardships for many of our citizens. Libertarians, on the other hand, believe that the government option should be only one option of many available to address issues and opportunities in Ontario.

So, why should government not be the only option for citizens?  

Simply put, it’s because all government services and programs are monopoly services and programs, and they suffer from all of the same inefficiencies and failings that occur in private sector monopolies- inefficiency, high prices, limited choices and poor quality of service,

But why are monopolies considered good in the public sector and bad in the private sector? The reason is simple. The voters of Ontario, over many decades, have believed the rhetoric of our Big Government politicians who have argued for the alleged merits of government-only services and never revealed their risks or trade-offs for voters to consider.

Fortunately, the voters of Ontario now have the ability to eliminate public service monopolies, but this can only occur if they vote Libertarian in sufficiently large numbers.

At this point, I wish to be very clear about what the Libertarian Platform proposes:

  • for those citizens who wish to use the services provided by the Ontario Government, these will continue to be available to those who are willing to pay for them through their taxes.
  • for those who prefer to use Non-Governmental Options, they will be able to defund the government services on their tax return and use these tax savings to pay for their Non-Governmental services providers – either by direct payments or via a private insurance plan.

Clearly, this is a "win-win" for all citizens. Everyone will have access to an unprecedented variety of options from which to choose in order to receive the same types of services that government institutions have exclusively delivered up until the present time. Who can complain about more options, more convenience and various price ranges for the services they desire?

To make this 'everybody wins' scenario a reality, the first required choice is to vote Libertarian in all elections. Ideally, if we can achieve a Libertarian 20% of the popular vote, this will be enough public support to begin the transformation of bringing a new level of liberty and economic freedom to every citizen.