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A 12-step rehab program for the Republic from Matt Kibbe


"Positive, innovative ideas that would improve people's lives by letting them be free, by spending less of your hard-earned money on someone else's favors, by letting you choose, by treating us all equally under the laws of the land"

The Sons of Liberty symbol. Photo Credit:

Matt Kibbe's new book, "Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto," is not just an impassioned philosophical tome, but also a practical roadmap for restoring a Constitutional Republic grounded in the principles and spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

To that end, Kibbe, the President and CEO of FreedomWorks and frequent Glenn Beck guest lays out a twelve-step program "designed to wean government off the empty promises of new entitlements, excessive spending, and unchecked executive power," and "restore liberty" through "positive, innovative ideas that would improve people's lives by letting them be free, by spending less of your hard-earned money on someone else's favors, by letting you choose, by treating us all equally under the laws of the land."

Below are the twelve steps along with selected excerpts from Kibbe's commentary.

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff

1. Comply With The Laws You Pass

"As Steve Forbes likes to say, the planners in Washington should have to eat their "own cooking." This seems like such common sense, but you won't be surprised to learn just how controversial this idea is behind the closed doors where congressional staffers and career bureaucrats congregate. Do as I say, they prefer, not as I do." [Kibbe goes on to cite former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's inability to pay his own taxes, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and others' use of inside information to profit in the stock market and Congress' subsequent exemption from the disclosure requirements of legislation intended to curb such abuses and the attempt by Congress to exempt itself from ObamaCare].

2. Stop Spending Money We Don't Have

"The core problem, of course, is that they are not spending their own money. They are spending your money. The ghost of John Maynard Keynes provides them with a pseud0-intellectual rationale to "stimulate aggregate demand." But we are on to them and know that the only real stimulus they are buying with borrowed money is for their own reelection seems like common sense would dictate a few things:

  • Stop spending on new programs.
  • Prioritize dollars and get rid of programs that don't make the cut as top priorities in a world of scarcity.
  • No sacred cows allowed until we solve the problem, so put everything on the table.
  • Deal honestly with entitlements by acknowledging unfunded future promises.
  • You can't tax your way to a balanced budget without tanking the job creation that actually generates tax receipts.

I know, more radicalism. Harry Reid is so offended by these budget principles that if you agree with them, he thinks you are an "anarchist."

...The Congressional Budget Office has released a report suggesting that if nothing is done to control spending, by 2038 the federal debt could be as high as 190 percent of GDP. At that point we can send congressional emissaries to Athens, Greece, to solicit innovative budget savings ideas from the Hellenic Parliament.

3. Scrap The Tax Code

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building is viewed in Washington, DC, February 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building is viewed in Washington, DC, February 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images 

This incomprehensible complexity [of the tax code] favors insiders and the special provisions they lobbied for, and the rest of us food the bill. It's political class warfare against working Americans. The problem isn't tax cuts for the rich; it's a tax code that prevents working Americans from getting rich...Complexity means more career public employees to navigate ambiguous rules. The tax code becomes a weapon in the hands of IRS agents who have a partisan or parochial agenda, or hold a grudge. We need to scrap the code, and abolish the IRS...and start over with a simple, low, flat tax...No agendas, social engineering, no overbearing discretionary authority in the hands of gray-suited Soviets.

[sharequote align="center"]The problem isn't..cuts for the's a..code that prevents working Americans from getting rich[/sharequote]

...Making the tax code simple, low, fair and honest would be a powerful means of unleashing human potential. Class warriors on the left would howl about the injustice of treating everyone equally, but their real agenda is in defending the Beltway interests that have designed the current mess.

The true victims of fundamental tax reform are the insiders who have carved out their favors, as well as the legislators and bureaucrats who make their living off soliciting, creating, and navigating new complexity. The reduction in wasted time and money devoted to compliance would unleash capital, job creation, and upward mobility, while the elimination of complex loopholes would level the playing field between Americans and tax compliance enforcers inside government."

4. Put Patients In Charge

"The singular problem with our health-care system is all of the faceless, gray-suited middlemen standing between you and your doctor. So-called "third party payers" are the direct result of government distortions in health-care markets. Remember, allowing employers to provide benefits like health care, with pretax dollars, was a political fix to FDR's wage and price controls...There is a simple way to free patients and doctors from third parties...This could be accomplished by eliminating the punitive bias in the tax code that taxes health insurance and services when purchased directly by individuals...If health care is different, and vitally important to all of us, let's provide care for our families with our own hard-earned dollars, before the federal government takes its cut. In other words, treat everyone the same, regardless of where you work and whom you work for.

[sharequote align="center"]The singular problem with our health-care system is all of the faceless, gray-suited middlemen...between you and your doctor[/sharequote]

Other commonsense reforms include health savings accounts for younger workers, stripping all of the "mandated benefits" from gold-played insurance plans that drive up both costs and overconsumption of health services. We should also let families shop for better health insurance policies in all fifty states...No mandates, no coercion. Just choice...It's really not that complicated, unless health-care reform is more about their control over you than it is about your control over your health care."

5. Choice, Not Conscription

Noted economist Milton Friedman. (Associated Press.) Noted economist Milton Friedman, author of "Free to Choose," the themes of which are echoed in this step of Kibbe's plan. (Associated Press.)

"One-size-fits all entitlements take security and control away from you, and that's exactly upside down. You should have a say and a choice in your own future plans...Today, so much is forced, mandated, and controlled by someone else. If these programs [Social Security, Medicare, ObamaCare, etc.] are good and desirable, we should let people choose. After all, choice and competition are the fundamental building blocks of customer satisfaction.

[instory-book ISBN="9780062308252"]

I don't think we should change the rules of the game on retirees and near retirees...That would be wrong. But so is forcing young people into one-size-fits-all programs that experts do not believe will be around when future retirees arrive. So young people should be free to choose. It would be wrong to force them into a system they can't count on in retirements.

...Opting out costs the Social Security system money today, but it also takes unfunded future liabilities off the books. Honest accounting would demonstrate the value of young people taking more personal responsibility. People work hard for their money. It is only reasonable to let them choose how to use it to invest in their own futures, especially when the fiscal health of the entire nation hangs in the balance.

And we know what Congress has done to the Social Security Trust Fund. They have already spent all of the retirement funds on other stuff. Really.

We should make participation in Medicare voluntary...If you don't want to participate in Medicare, you shouldn't have to. The system could use the money. We should also let participants in medicare purchase additional health-care services outside the government system, and let doctors provide those services without being penalized."

6. End Insider Bailouts

This September 17, 2008 file photo shows the logo of American International Group Inc. outside their office in the lower Manhattan area of New York. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing allegations of fraud by 26 Wall Street firms including several investment giants whose collapse sent world markets into turmoil, US media said September 23, 2008. The FBI has set its sights on investment titan Lehman Brothers, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurer AIG, in a wide-reaching inquiry that comes as lawmakers rush to agree a 700-billion-dollar government bailout of the troubled US financial sector. Credit: AFP/Getty Images This September 17, 2008 file photo shows the logo of American International Group Inc. (AIG) outside their office in the lower Manhattan area of New York. AIG was one of the firms bailed out by the federal government during the financial crisis in 2008. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images) 

The bridesmaid of big government is always some well-heeled interest that wants a special deal. If the government weren't so involved, insiders would have to go back to serving consumers and taking responsibility for their own actions.

...One of the biggest problems in Washington, D.C., is the unholy collusion between favor-seeking "businessmen," committee chairmen, and White House operatives...Why is it that powerful Wall Street banks and multi-national car manufacturers get bailouts paid for by the rest of us?

Well, who's your man in D.C.?...Don't have one, do you? And there's the problem. The trend in D.C. is toward more consolidation, more "insider trading," where favored interests--think General Electric or Solyndra or the government employees' union or the city of Detroit--rearrange the rules and federal budget allocations to their advantage...The best weapon against this insider cronyism is transparency, public shaming, and market accountability.

...If you believe in freedom, you understand that future rewards entail risk, a willingness to put your money where your mouth is. This, to me, is the cool part of capitalism; it allows everyone to play in the rough-and-tumble scrum of serving consumers better. Maybe you have a better idea, or see efficiencies no one else does. But if you get it wrong, freedom holds you to account. No looking to someone else to bail you out.

...Americans should get a fair shake, with equal treatment under the law, rather than being forced to prop up failing enterprises with their tax dollars. Free markets are all about accountability, and that means both profit and loss. That's the American way."

7. Let Parents Decide

"Parents know the educational needs of their children best.

Every day we are told that America is falling behind in educational standards, that we are in danger of being unable to compete on a global scale, that our children aren't learning well enough, fast enough. The proposed solutions invariably include putting more good money into a bad system, tightening the grip of the federal bureaucracy on education standards, lengthening school hours, imposing more rigorous testing, and separating children ever further from their parents' control, putting them into the hands of Big Brother.

[sharequote align="center"]The more top-down control from Washington, the worse our kids perform in monopoly schools.[/sharequote]

These two trends are the inverse of each other: The more top-down control from Washington, the worse our kids perform in monopoly schools.

...Common Core standards eliminate choice at every level, hobbling states, localities, teachers, students, and parents in their ability to choose education standards that work for children, over those that are arbitrarily mandates from on high.

All of this is in direct conflict with the empirical evidence that children learn best when parents are free to choose from a variety of educational options to suit the individuals needs of their children.

...The U.S. Department of Education does nothing but stand in the way of preserving choice and keeping education local, where it should be...we should shut it down and put tax dollars back in the hands of parents and allow them to choose the right school for their children, be it public, private, charter, or home."

8. Respect My Privacy

FILE - A  June 6, 2013, file photo, is an aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. Electrical failures are complicating the opening of the National Security Agency s largest data storage center. The Army Corps of Engineers says it discovered the problem during tests ahead the fall opening of the $1.7 billion facility located south of Salt Lake City on a National Guard base. Credit: AP FILE - A June 6, 2013, file photo, is an aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. (Credit: AP) 

"Americans should be free to live their lives without the fear of government constantly snooping into their every activity...Freedom is compromised when surveillance is pervasive...Gradually we have allowed our privacy rights to slip away, starting with the warrantless wiretaps of the Patriot Act and extending to the outrageous domestic spying program of the NSA. A freedom-based policy would restore privacy to the American people and reassert the principle of "innocent until proven guilty.

...Justin Amash has taken the lead in attempting to end NSA spying on Americans once and for all...The bill [USA FREEDOM Act] is a multi-pronged attack on the surveillance state. It ends the collection of Americans' data by the NSA except in case of suspected criminal activity; it requires FISA court decisions to be made available to Congress, and summaries of those opinions to be released to the public; it gives telecommunications companies more freedom to disclose information on government surveillance to the public; and it installs a special advocate to argue in favor of preserving Americans' civil liberties before the FISA court."

9. End The Fed Monopoly

Monopolies don't work very well when it comes to maintaining high quality and a low price. It's the lack of accountability and competition that leads to expensive, inferior outputs. This seems like a good analogy to explain why the Federal Reserve has trashed the dollar. A lack of accountability and competition has degraded your purchasing power...With a lack of supervision or oversight, there is no way of knowing what really goes on within its [The Federal Reserve's] deified walls. The first step in eliminating the Fed's monopoly is a comprehensive audit to find out exactly in which ways it has been mismanaging our currency.

[sharequote align="center"]To the extent there is a [Fed]...its only job should be to protect the integrity of the currency[/sharequote]

...To the extent there is a central bank, its only job should be to protect the integrity of the currency, not to manipulate the dollar based on pressures from politicians and big investment banks. The Fed would be more accountable and predictable if it operated using rule-based monetary policy rather than the blank check discretionary power it has today...We should eliminate "maximum employment" from the Fed's current dual mandate...Giving the Fed a mandate to do whatever it wants leads to irresponsible abuses of the currency and drives the political business cycle of boom and bust.

...I think we start by "denationalizing" money, an idea first proposed by F.A. Hayek. Let's legalize gold and other electronic payment systems as a means of exchange. Let's allow competition in currency. Choice, transparency, and competition would end the Fed monopoly, and stop the destructive boom and bust of monetary manipulation."

10. Avoid Entangling Alliances George Washington portrait. (Image Source:

"Remember George Washington's caution not to "entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils" of other nations' affairs. He was worried about the security of Americans first, and he knew that the budget implications of foreign entanglements mattered in a very real way. It is not isolationist...It's about opportunity costs, economic realities, and common sense...Our national security depends on the economic strength and fiscal stability, and it would be reckless for Congress to bankrupt us in the process of becoming the world's policeman...

Pretending that military measures won't cost more than D.C. "experts" predict ignores everything conservatives already know about experts' predictions...

A foreign policy based on the ideals of freedom would address these problems. The use of military force is a serious thing not to be employed lightly. It is a mistake, therefore, to get involved in entangling alliances that force our troops to act when doing so is not in the national interest, when there is no clear objective or definition of victory, and when the lives of innocent civilians would be unnecessarily forfeit as a result."

11. Don't Take People's Stuff

"The vast increase in data collection by the federal government and the rise of the government's Big Data policies are putting more and more people under a spotlight. Unfortunately, they may never know, because many of these decisions are made by faceless bureaucrats with warrants granted by the secret courts. Civil forfeiture laws should be wiped from the books; without being convicted of a crime, no individual should have to hand over his private property to the government.

Besides outright taking of property, the growing regulatory state that we live in also threatens our property and livelihoods. The federal government has stopped people from building homes in the name of environmental protection; local governments are passing new laws to keep food trucks from competing against local restaurants; alternatives to taxis, such as Uber, are being threatened with regulation prompted by taxicabs; and the IRS is now deciding to issue new regulations about who can be a tax preparer. At every turn the growth of regulation is a threat to our property and our liberty. And more often than not, it is wielded by those with political clout against those without. The regulatory state offers political insiders more levers to press and more avenues of access in order to protect their interests from new businesses trying to enter the market. Paring back the regulatory state--which costs the nation $1.2 trillion a year--is a sure way to enhance the freedoms we enjoy."

12. Defend Your Right To Know

"...political disintermediation online shifts control of freedom--and a real voice--to the end user....In the fight for freedom, the Internet is everything, and we should fight to protect i from government encroachment and censorship.

As more and more of our lives are carried out online, the data cloud is growing, and so is the potential for abuse. The government can now readily access private information, as when the IRS illegally seized 60 million personal medical records. At the same time, the rules governing federal access to online information are murky as to whether a search warrant is required...

It is important, then, to ensure that the liberties enshrined in the Constitution extend to every sphere of activity--the Constitution does not stop where technology begins.

...Both government policy and businesses seeking refuge from the intense competition of the Internet may introduce barriers that ultimately limit consumer choice or access to information.

...Restrictions on the flow of information have important political implications. Regulation and other formal constraints on the Internet have the potential to shape the information available to individuals and therefore the political debate. We can't go back to the world of three nightly news channels and have the same level of political discourse that we do today. The internet has to remain free from government control and unnecessary regulation, free to provide activists a platform to educate and mobilize, and free to anyone wishing to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech."

Kibbe ends this section by noting that regardless of all the great proposals in the world, what matters is the American citizenry:

"We can do all these things if and when America beats Washington. That's the key. The perfectly constructed constitutional amendment or the best patient-center heath-care reform goes exactly nowhere if Washington is left to its own devices. You will have to act."

In case you missed it, be sure to check out Matt Kibbe's recent discussion with Glenn Beck on restoring liberty below:

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