Libertarian

It’s Time For Libertarians To Clean Our Own House

It seems like the biggest winner in the GOP presidential primaries this year, other than the loser who will eventually be nominated, is libertarianism. Even Charles Krauthammer, one of the smartest and best writers in America, agrees.

Right now the man who is carrying libertarianism banner is none other than Congressman Ron Paul. To say that Ron Paul that has baggage however is an understatement of the decade. There is, of course, the infamous Ron Paul racist newsletters that he of course knows nothing about. There is the continued association with the likely writer of the aforementioned newsletters, Lew Rockwell. There is the troubling lack of understanding, to put it mildly, about the origins of the Civil War and the Confederacy.

Finally, there is just that damn inability to communicate which has allowed the enemies of libertarianism to define its ideas. In order to build on the momentum we have, we need to purge this cancer that is the Paul-Rockwell strain of “paleolibertarianism”.

5 Ways Old Energy Fuels Big Government

In his column on December 30, George Will seemed positively giddy that 2011 ushered in a new era of fossil fuel abundance. You see, according to Will, this newfound energy abundance is good news for conservatives (and, presumably, libertarians) because the absence of energy scarcity is bad news for progressives. They need scarcity, Will writes, to justify “rationing … that produces ever-more-minute government supervision of Americans’ behavior.” And with this newfound energy abundance, progressives will have less justification for many of their big government endeavors.

There may be valid reasons for conservatives and libertarians to take a skeptical approach to anthropogenic climate change. There are certainly good reasons for those who care about limited government to oppose the means that have been proposed to deal with it, which include such big government gems as carbon taxation and its initially conservative alternative, cap and trade. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a conservative or libertarian who doesn’t oppose the scandal (Solyndra), overregulation (good golly), or nannyism (We <3 Incandescent Light Bulbs) that have passed for energy and environmental policy in Washington.

But there are no good reasons for either conservatives or libertarians to be excited about fossil fuels. George Will argues that our newfound energy abundance will liberate us from many big government endeavors. I argue that our dependence on Old Energy empowers progressives — and, in some cases, conservatives — in at least five ways to insist upon the necessity of big government.

Ronald Paul Assails GOP Establishment

It’s not often that the media give Ronald Paul (R-Texas) a chance to speak.

There were reasons, why I didn’t watch the second GOP debate on Sunday.

Ronald Paul cleared the field on Saturday, he was the last man standing! After some initial tampering with his microphone, and pitch, he opened his arguments by restating his offensive tactic on “big-government Republican”, Rick Santorum. The only two real Tea Party contenders: Ronald Paul and Rick Perry, were left to languish on stage for the better part of 15 minutes, until allowed to join the discussion.

Mitt Romney was busy arguing how many jobs were, lost and gained under his CEO leisure. Newt Gingrich quoted the New York Times. Paul smoothly stepped back, blocked Santorum’s smugness by raining down: “he voted to raise the debt [ceiling] five times.”

Rick Santorum let loose liberal counter-attacks, naming sources “leftist”, and calling Mitt Romney class-consciously dangerous. In so doing, Santorum looked less Republican, more like a blue-state lawyer from the Northeast. Neither Paul nor Romney delved deep into his attacks, mostly picking up on their own strengths. Santorum was a negative force, not a positivist in this debate, Saturday night January 7th.

When Ronald Paul raised his hand for a response, the slick Stephonopilis retorted back to Paul (his senior by quite a few years): “we’ll stay with the subject, don’t you worry.” Brilliance in public debate rarely comes to the fore, especially on television. Paul showed it by counterstriking first Santorum, then defecting the attack from Rick Perry, onto Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Jon Huntsman decided not to attack. Mitt Romney largely left the debate unscathed. Only because Ronald Paul made no concerted effort to attack the former Massachusetts blue-state Governor. It was easy for Paul to slice-down the cryptic schizophrenity of Gingrich, whose attempted slur of Ronald Paul on “style”, many see as hearnestness.

Why do you trust your government?

I mean, there’s things like SOPA and the NDAA and the Patriot Act and your typical corruption and whatnot, but then you have ridiculous stories like the Texas teen who was accidentally deported to Columbia:

Turner said with the help of Dallas Police, she found her granddaughter in the most unexpected place - Colombia.

Where she had mistakenly been deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April of 2011.

“They didn’t do their work,” Turner said. “How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?”

News 8 learned that Jakadrien somehow ended up in Houston, where she was arrested by Houston police for theft. She gave Houston police a fake name. When police in Houston ran that name, it belonged to a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Colombia, who had warrants for her arrest.

So ICE officials stepped in.

News 8 has learned ICE took the girl’s fingerprints, but somehow didn’t confirm her identity and deported her to Colombia, where the Colombian government gave her a work card and released her.

The only thing going for ICE in this is that the girl gave a false name. Yes, she probably shouldn’t have done that—but how in the world could ICE, in her mother’s words, deport a girl to Colombia who knew no Spanish and failed to even do the basic work of, you know, confirming this claim? You would think law enforcement officials would expect teenagers to give false names upon imprisonment; it’s not that uncommon.

Steal This Comic

Submitted without comment, as none really is needed.

Virtual Shackles's excellent commentary on SOPA and the NDAA

Hat tip: Virtual Shackles, via Geeks Are Sexy

14 Fixes For Our Messed Up Country

Everyone seems to be proposing fixes for our country lately, whether it’s amendments to repeal the First Amendment or ban gays or whatever. I have a few ideas of my own that I think will go a long ways towards restoring some sanity in government and fixing what’s wrong with our society. Some of these will require constitutional amendments, and I don’t expect the entire list to actually get enacted unless magic somehow returns to the world and we resurrect Barry Goldwater, F.A. Hayek, and George Washington all at once.

I originally drafted a list of some 23 ideas, but I figured that it would be way too long for a blog post, so I shortened it to 14, a baker’s dozen. None of these are simple or light fixes, they are not tweaking around the edges to ensure a marginally better outcome. Judging from the situation our government and economy is in, from the horrific hard place our civil liberties are wedged behind, and the unmanageable mess that is Washington, I don’t think that “moderate” or “conservative” changes will do anything. We cannot pussyfoot around the issue; we need radical alterations to how our government works if we’re going to get us out of this morass. Again, most of these may never pass, but that’s to be expected.

Certainly, if you wish to hear my entire list, let me know and I’ll write it up, but for now, here are my 14 ideas for fixing our country:

1. Establish Approval Voting

I’ve already talked about this idea at length here, so I will not bore you again. In this post, all I will say is that I believe if we are to get anything done—and I do mean anything—we need to systematically reform how people actually get into office. That’s the foundation upon which any democracy stands, and when you’re up to your eyeballs in tar, the only way to get that fixed is to drain the swamp and start at the beginning.

Left Turn: Liberal Media Messing With Your Mind

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of once again visiting the Cato Institute in downtown DC for a book forum. (As a bibliophile, I’m constitutionally required to go. “Constitutionally,” as in, my body would fall apart if I didn’t.) I was particularly interested in last week’s offering, Professor Tim Groseclose’s Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, because it’s something that everyone talks about but no one really believes. What Dr. Groseclose was claiming to do—and really, after reading this book, I don’t think it’s really a claim, it’s proven—was to document this in numbers and math, and thus make it truly science.

I’m not going to repeat the video above; they go quite in depth into what the book is about, and I do encourage you to watch, although it is about an hour long, so get popcorn if you do. (Fortunately, I do not believe there is any threat of seeing my ugly mug, so don’t worry about spit takes on your monitor.) Instead, I’ll provide a few highlights and commentary.

The core idea of the book is, obviously, that there is liberal bias in the media, and moreover, that it actually affects our perceptions and our voting. He does say, though, that this is not from false statements, but bias is actually the choice of topics to cover. Someone with a conservative bias would naturally look to find stories that proved that free market capitalism is the best way to ensure prosperity for all, while someone with a liberal bias would naturally look for a story that showed a corporation ripping off people or poor people not being able to help themselves. No lies, just different focus areas.

R.I.P. William Niskanen (1933-2011)

It is with heavy hearts that United Liberty mourns the passing of political economist William Niskanen, former Chairman Emeritus of the Cato Institute in Washington, DC, and former acting chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors. He suffered a massive stroke at his home on Tuesday evening, October 25, 2011 while still recovering from heart surgery in September, and passed away yesterday in a Washington hospital.

“He was a giant of Public Choice,” said American University professor Laura Langbein, a long-time friend of Niskanen’s, in an email. “Bill spent a lot of his life pointing out, in an article published in the Journal of Law and Economics in 1975 and in later books, that, contrary to what he first wrote in [Bureaucracy and Representative Government (1971)], bureaus DON’T maximize budgets.  Rather, bureaucrats (individual government employees) maximize a mix of output and slack. This is a far more generalizable model. Bill had a great mind, and he was a nice guy. He also had a fine sense of humor.”

Many other economists also lauded Niskanen’s commitment to scholarship, as noted by Cato:

Niskanen was granted a Professional Achievement Award by the University of Chicago Alumni Association in 2005, sharing the stage with fellow recipient David Broder, the late longtime Washington Post columnist, and philosopher Richard Rorty. The announcement of the award described Niskanen as “the embodiment of what the University of Chicago stands for in terms of scholarship, professionalism, integrity, and dedication.”

Real Reform Begins In The Ballot Box

I remember about a month ago there was a lot of bruhaha about Pennsylvanian Republicans trying to change their contribution to the Electoral College by divvying up the votes based on Congressional districts, like Maine and Nebraska. Naturally, a lot of people got upset with that, with some (like Doug Mataconis and George Will) saying we should keep the Electoral College just like it is now, and many others saying that we should instead move to a National Popular Vote system. Now with Occupy Wall Street taking over our media senses, some of that talk has been pushed aside, with people instead focusing on Wall Street rather than Pennsylvania Avenue.

I would like to go back to the Avenue, however, for multiple reasons. First off, I actually think that a lack of serious political reforms is the reason for much of the discontent we’re seeing in Zucotti Park. Second, we have Congressional deadlock, as always—but in recent years, the vitriol and polarization we have seen has increased dramatically. Third, even with the 2010 GOP landslide in the House, we still have a very high incumbent reelection rate—although it was lower in previous elections, it still stood at 87%. Fourth, we have not seen any new ideas with regards to the major issues of the day: our debt crisis, our flagging economy, our eroding civil liberties, or our overburdening government.

Clearly, the emphasis is on the egg and not the noggin in the egg nog, here.

Very little can be done to change or institute major reform, even though we need it, badly. Part of that is by design. The Founders wanted a system where it would be difficult to radically change it, in order to preserve the liberty they had fought so hard for. In the modern era, that backfired. Instead of preserving liberty, the system is preserving the corrupt bog from which liberty is being drowned in.

Time, Place, and Free Speech

You would think the First Amendment is a relatively easy legal precept to grasp, and that the idea of free speech is an equally easy general concept to comprehend. Naturally, this being 21st century America, that just isn’t so.

Take this example from the Arizona Daily Star, this Tuesday:

Northern Arizona University students who were passing out American flags Friday in remembrance of 9/11 got a bigger response than they expected.

No fewer than four university officials and a police officer descended on the group, accusing them of hindering foot traffic and lacking an advance permit.

“9/11 is very important to me,” said student Stephanee Freer. “That’s why I do the event. Every year, I do something for 9/11 and it’s never been disrupted like this.”

University spokesman Tom Bauer said it had nothing to do with what they were saying and everything to do with keeping traffic moving.

“I don’t think that this is a freedom of speech issue. We were not asking them to be quiet. We were not asking them to leave,” he said. “We were asking them to move to a different location within the same area. This is basically clearing the walkways.”

Freer said she meant to pass out flags all weekend but canceled the rest of her plans after the dust-up.

Read the rest of the story. Read the arguments of both sides; the students basically say “First Amendment! Free speech!” while the school officials just say “time, place, and manner.”

“Clearing the walkways,” uh-huh.


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