Libertarian

Profiles in Liberty: Dr. Robert Lawson of Southern Methodist University

Dr. Robert Lawson is the Jerome M. Fullinwider Chair in Economic Freedom in the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business. Also, Lawson is co-author of the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World annual report, which provides a widely-cited economic freedom index for over 140 countries. The CATO Institute has been partners in its publication since 1996.

As my former academic advisor, Dr. Lawson is a mentor and friend who introduced me to libertarian philosophy. A happy warrior with a dry sense of humor, his love of economics and freedom is inspiring.

Lawson is a member of the prestigious Mont Pelerin Society. He also writes at the popular economics blog, Division of Labour, which you should subscribe to.

bob lawson

Matt Naugle: How did you become a libertarian?

Robert Lawson: I actually wrote about this in a little book that Walter Block edited titled, I Chose Liberty: Autobiographies of Contemporary Libertarians. As with most people, I can trace this to a couple of influential teachers. First, Mr. Eaton at Princeton High School (Cincinnati) who gave me my first copy of The Freeman. Second, Richard Vedder at Ohio University.

If Romney Wants to Win Libertarian Votes – He Has the Chance Tonight

I know that I am in the minority among the contributors to UL in that I will cast my vote on Election Day for Mitt Romney. I laid out my reasons for switching my vote from Gary Johnson to Mitt Romney in The Blaze a couple of weeks ago.

I was no fan of attempts to bully or shame libertarians into voting for Romney before I made my endorsement and I am no fan of those tactics now. I tried in my piece in The Blaze to lay out reasons why a libertarian should consider a vote for Romney – reasons that are obviously compelling enough for me personally to cast that vote.

If Romney wants to win over libertarians he doesn’t need his supporters trying to bully or shame libertarians who plan on voting for Gary Johnson. Instead, to win the votes of libertarians, Romney needs to actually take positions advocated by libertarians. I know this isn’t rocket science, but considering some of the pieces I have seen written by Romney supporters with the supposed objective of winning over Johnson voters, this actually needs to be said.

Tonight, Governor Romney has an opportunity to win over libertarians in the foreign policy debate.

First, let me say that I am realistic about what Romney could do to win over libertarians tonight. I know, unfortunately, that he will not repudiate the failed nation-building and interventionism that has been the hallmark of the Bush and Obama foreign policies.

That having been said, here is what Romney could say that would set his approach apart from the disastrous Obama foreign policy and win over libertarians:

Republicans Seem To Be Afraid Of Gary Johnson And Other Libertarians

Gary Johnson

Many of my conversations with Republicans regarding the Presidential race and the fact that I intend to vote for Gary Johnson usually end up in one of two categories. First, there are the people who tell me that by voting for Johnson, I’m voting for President Obama. As I’ve noted before, this an absurd argument largely because it assumes that Mitt Romney is entitled to my vote as a libertarian, an argument which I don’t accept. The other argument I frequently hear is one that basically says that my vote is wasted because Gary Johnson isn’t going to have any impact on the race. I’ve always thought that the two arguments are mutually contradictory. After all, if my vote for Johnson is going to hurt Romney then it obviously will have some impact on the race, and if it isn’t going to have any impact on the race then it isn’t going to hurt Mitt Romney. You really can’t make both arguments at the same time.

I’ve always thought, though, that the best way to judge what people really think is to look at how they act, and based on their actions, Republicans really seem to be concerned about Gary Johnson’s potential impact on the Presidential race:

When he was running for the Republican presidential nomination last year, Gary Johnson, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, drew ridicule from mainstream party members as he advocated legalized marijuana and a 43 percent cut in military spending.

Profiles in Liberty: Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Christopher C. Horner serves as a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. As an attorney in Washington, DC, Horner has represented CEI as well as scientists and Members of the U.S. House and Senate on matters of environmental policy in the federal courts including the Supreme Court.

Horner has testified before the United States Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Environment and Public Works, and works on a legal and policy level with numerous think tanks and policy organizations throughout the world. This week, Horner published a newly uncovered memo between the IPCC and EPA.

Greenpeace has repeatedly targeted Mr. Horner, by stealing his garbage on a weekly basis, issuing press releases announcing with whom he dines and including him in various other hysterical publications including most recently “A Field Guide to Climate Criminals” distributed at the UN climate meeting in Montreal in December 2005.

If you haven’t purchased his new book, The liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal,” you should do so today! Follow him on Twitter @Chris_C_Horner.

Matt Naugle: How did you become a libertarian?

There Is No Libertarian Case For Mitt Romney

Romney

Stephen Green, PJMedia’s Vodkapundit, came out this morning with a post putting forward a libertarian case for Mitt Romney. I’ve seen several other people try to attempt to make this argument in the last several weeks, but they’ve all been conservatives trying to convince libertarians why they absolutely must vote for Mitt Romney rather than Gary Johnson on November 6th. Inevitably, those arguments, whether in the form of a blog post or a conversation on Twitter or Facebook end up devolving into the same ridicule and condescension one typically hears from conservatives directed at libertarians. A vote for Gary Johnson, they say, is a vote for Barack Obama, for example. Another common theme is to point out that the Libertarian Party doesn’t exactly have a record of electoral success, a fact which I concede but which I find completely irrelevant to the question of who I should consider voting for and why. They call you a Paulbot too, even though I was an enthusiastic backer of Governor Johnson’s bid for the Republican nomination and had pretty much had my fill of the Ron Paul movement way back in 2007. On the whole, the conservative argument to libertarians regarding the 2012 election has been dismissive, insulting, and based more on the false assumption that we want to be loyal Republicans. I’ve really grown quick sick of it, to be honest.

Everybody Is Delusional: On Poll Denialism and Echo Chambers

A bit of controversy has been going around lately with the so-called “Poll Denialists.” These are Republicans and conservatives who believe that Romney’s current poll numbers, lagging Obama’s, are somehow false, a scheme by pollsters to deliberately skew the election towards an Obama victory, and are trying to explain it away with…well, I’m not sure what.

Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard mostly sums it up with “the polls are oversampling Democrats.” Robert Stacy McCain of The American Spectator just thinks it’s beyond any reason to believe that Obama is leading. And there is an entire website called “unskewedpolls.com” dedicated to finding the “true numbers” behind the polls.

This is pretty much balderdash, based on bad assumptions of how polling works and just plain fantasy. Stephen L. Taylor of Outside the Beltway focuses on the latter when he says:

More about libertarianism, fusionism, and the Romney campaign

Jason Pye has written a great blog post about libertarians and the Romney campaign already. He asked me my opinion about it, perhaps even with the possibility of a “point-counterpoint” sort of thing. I pretty much agree with what he’s saying, particularly about Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party. We are not a monolithic group; we are a very wide and very diverse range of individuals who just want to increase individual liberty.

What I want to add is that, while Republicans and conservatives complain about us, and want us to support them in elections, they have done nothing to earn such support. Let me show you a few examples:

To which I responded with:

And to which I got this response:

A Libertarian Case for Romney

House Fire

When firefighters are putting out a home blaze, do they carefully cover up all the furniture and belongings so they aren’t harmed by water damage? After a horrific car crash, do the EMT’s carefully disrobe a critically injured patient so as to protect their clothing? No. There is a crisis, a risk to life and property. After the crisis is dealt with - the fire’s put out, a pulse is restored - there is an opportunity to assess the damage and rebuild in a thoughtful, methodical way.

Our country faces crises in the financial and civil liberties sectors. I don’t need to outline the scope here, especially for libertarians.  Though we are antsy to achieve the government and society that will ensure and promote civil liberties and free market economic policies, first, in 2012, we need to restore the pulse of the economy before rebuilding the society that’s been systematically taken apart since the New Deal days.

Obama’s plan for the economy involves over-regulation, effectively banning new domestic gas or oil production, and tax increases of unparalleled scope beginning January 1, 2013. Beyond that, there’s not much of a plan - Harry Reid has failed to get a budget passed in well over 1,000 days.

The Romney/Ryan plan leaves much to be desired both in its scope and timing, but it is a beginning.  Negotiations can go from there. Even if passed in its current form, it puts water on the fire.

Can this Marriage be Saved: Libertarians and the GOP

Republicans

Conventions aren’t just about the present, conventions are also about the future. As the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa draws to a close, one of the most important questions for the party going forward is what role – if any – will libertarians play in the direction of the GOP in the years ahead.

Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination helped to launch the modern day liberty movement and gave voice to libertarians within the Republican Party.

The rise of the Tea Party and a second Paul Republican Presidential run gave the libertarian wing of the party hope for the future and increased visibility.

As Paul’s popularity grew in the party, so did the tension between the libertarian wing of the GOP and the party’s establishment. Many in the establishment would have you believe that the tension was more about the behavior of Ron Paul’s supporters than about policy. While there is no doubt that Ron Paul has an intensely loyal and fervent following, the truth is the tension wasn’t about behavior – it was about policy.

Libertarians want an end to foreign adventurism, they want deep cuts in spending across the board (including the military), they want government out of the boardrooms and the bedrooms, they want dramatic tax reform (starting with throwing out the current tax code), they want to privatize social security and Medicare, and they want a return to sound money.

The policy differences between libertarians and the current GOP are real and they are significant. The question going forward is whether this marriage can be saved?

Freedom isn’t just economics, it’s a story too

Usually, when we argue for the cause of freedom and liberty, we do so by engaging in arguments using economics. The broken window fallacy, third-party payer problems, supply and demand, etc. They do work, to an extent, and they are good tools. But they aren’t the only tools in the basket.

My good friend Sean Malone, the Director of Video Production* over at the Charles Koch Institute, has put together a new series of videos for the Economic Freedom Project, which tell the stories of small business entrepreneurs who are forced to survive in an environment marred by over regulation, cronyism, corruption, and a far too large business. The first had yours truly as a video assistant, which really meant that I went into the break room to steal the “guest only” Coke Zeros for Sean. But don’t tell anyone.

We have to remember that we’re not fighting for liberty just because it’s more economically efficient, or that it fits some philosophical message. (Well, it does, but…) We’re doing it because there are people out there, people who are legitimately suffering from too much government and not enough freedom. If more Americans see this—hell, if more homo sapiens see this—then maybe they will wisen up and realize that the “1%” or whomever is the target of today’s Two-Minute Hate is not some intangible, inanimate object, but is in fact a real human being, and deserves to be treated as such.

That’s what really matters. And that’s what we need to be telling people.


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