NHLA Positions

Death Penalty

We believe that there are two primary reasons to apprehend those who commit crimes against persons or property. The first reason is to obtain restitution for the victim of the crime, to whatever extent possible. The second reason is to prevent those who present a continuing threat to others from committing further crimes.

Given the availability of secure prison facilities, we find that the death penalty as it exists in New Hampshire serves neither of these purposes. Moreover, it has several drawbacks when compared to long term incarceration. Firstly, if a convicted person is later found innocent of wrongdoing, the death penalty is irreversible. Secondly, it costs taxpayers significantly more than incarceration (See fiscal note: http://www.nhliberty.org/bills/view/2016/SB463, also http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/CostsRptFinal.pdf). Thirdly, it has been applied inconsistently, to perpetrators of crimes against only certain kinds of victims. Finally, there is always a chance that the state's power to deliberately take a life may be abused at a future date.

From a principled perspective, rights exist only at the individual level. Rights that don't exist for an individual cannot exist for a group of people, even if those people are employed by the state.  If, as many people believe, it's morally wrong for one individual to kill another except in immediate self defense, then it remains morally wrong for an agent of the state to do so.

For these reasons, we believe that New Hampshire would be well served to discontinue use of the death penalty.


 

Drug policy

We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that drives up the price of drugs - while giving criminals and cartels a monopoly over their supply. History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. By pushing drugs underground, prohibition deters addicts from seeking help, and encourages the proliferation of dangerous chemicals in unpredictable potencies, which lead to overdoses. We have seen all these problems before, during alcohol prohibition. We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults, just as we once eliminated alcohol prohibition for adults, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, and addiction could be treated for what it is: a personal and medical problem.

From a principled perspective, we also believe in the fundamental right of self-ownership. Drug use is a personal choice; it is not the proper role of government to decide what individuals may eat, drink, or smoke.


 

Education

We believe families have a right to control their own education choices. Free choice is the very best form of accountability, in education, as in other aspects of life. By contrast, one size fits all centralized government control of education has led to spiraling administrative costs and worsening outcomes. NH government schools often spend upwards of $16K per student per year, yet achieve inferior results to less expensive, private alternatives. We believe that in the absence of government one-size-fits-all control, a variety of educational alternatives would flourish. Education should serve the interests of students, not government unions.


 

Government Transparency

People have a right to know how their money is being spent, and what policies are being enacted in their name. Pragmatically, transparency is required in order to keep corruption and waste in check. While it is always challenging for the public to hold officials accountable, without reliable information, it is nearly impossible. The NHLA itself relies on information about representatives' voting records in order to provide yearly ratings, and we encourage legislators to call for roll calls, especially on liberty-relevant legislation.


 

Gun Rights

We support the right to keep and bear arms, as recognized in Article 2-a of the New Hampshire constitution. This right is not contingent on a government permission slip. We support the elimination of arbitrary legal distinctions between "concealed" and "open" carry, as well as subjective "suitability" requirements. There is no evidence that these policies increase public safety. Instead, we believe public safety is improved when average, responsible people exercise their right to self defense.


 

Localism

We believe that government is most accountable and accessible when it is most local. Local control is generally preferable to state or national mandates. We do believe that there is a higher principle, however: the principle of individual liberty. Indeed, the most "local" governance of all is the governance of an individual over his or her own life and property. For this reason, we support state laws that prevent local governments from abridging the personal or property rights of individuals.


 

Taxes

Taxes compel people to fund programs which may be counterproductive, or even unethical. We believe most or all goods and services can and should be funded on the basis of voluntary consent. Voluntary sources of funding include user fees, subscriptions, donations, and more. Voluntary funding is the most powerful way to create accountability. Ineffective or wasteful programs, which do not produce value for others, will not be able to rely on compulsory support from unwilling people. We support efforts to reduce taxes, and put money back under the control of the people who earned it.


 

Social Programs

We believe in social assistance, but that determining the right way to help a person is often challenging. Government programs create dependency, and perverse incentives that often do far more harm than good. Effective social assistance is based on sincere care for a person, and most often occurs in the context of a genuine personal relationship. We believe voluntary charities are the ideal way to address these problems, and foster these kinds of relationships. They are also accountable to their donors, who will not tolerate waste or abuse of funds. If government funding is used, we believe it’s better done locally rather than statewide, or nationally.