I’ve long held that, to be effective politically, conservatives and libertarians (or center-right independents) need to find common ground, and that if libertarians want to see policy and political change, it needs to be an inside job.
While this video isn’t surprising, it’s sad to me to see an outspoken conservative like Alfonzo Rachel divisively deriding libertarians as the 2012 cycle begins to pick up. It’s the kind of stuff that makes me want to stay home on Election Day.
Consider this an open thread.
The first of six videos, John Stossel does an excellent job of explaining why government interference and central planning does more harm than good.
“Most of life works best, when you are in charge. Maybe the government should do… nothing.” John Stossel
According to Ann Coulter, libertarians are “pussies” for wanting to end the war on (some) drugs and for agreeing with the Left on certain social issues such as gay marriage. Coulter was a guest on Stossel at the Students for Liberty Conference.
We’re living in a country that is 70-percent socailist, the government takes 60 percent of your money. They are taking care of your health care, of your pensions. They’re telling you who you can hire, what the regulations will be. And you want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, ‘Oh, but we want to legalize pot.’ You know, if you were a little more manly you would tell the liberals what your position on employment discrimination is. How about that? But it’s always ‘We want to legalize pot.’
Liberals want to destroy the family so that you will have one loyalty and that is to the government.
I was sitting at home Saturday night and Stossel was on Fox Business Channel. I watched. What a shock! A libertarian watched Stossel!
However, I witnessed something I never would have thought I would see, and that was honesty from a pro-regulation lobbyist.
The segment in question was about a proposal which would require taxis in Washington D.C. to have a medallion system like New York. For the record, per Stossel’s segment, a NYC medallion costs around $1 million per pop. A lobbyist in favor of medallions in D.C. said on Stossel’s show that it was in fact about squeezing out the little guy.
Many of us who are anti-regulation cite how more regulations make it more difficult for the small operator to function. As a small business owner myself, I can tell you that more and more government regulations only make life more difficult. I am currently seeking two full time employees, but only because of a profound need. I would seek out four or five employees if it weren’t for the spectre of ObamaCare - to say nothing of other regulations out there - that could make my life even more difficult and thereby override the benefit of more employees.
The lobbyist’s candor, that the measure he proposed and that a D.C. councilman actually introduced was really about squeezing out the small businessman was unique. However, it’s not really a shock for many of the pro-liberty movement. It was a shock for me though.
While I will often cite the problems of regulations and how they impact the small businessman, I never really thought there was as much of a concerted effort to break the small businessman as there apparently is. Oh sure, I figured Walmart supported an employer mandate because it would hurt Target, but I didn’t really think they gave a damn about the mom and pop store.
Now, I have to step back and rethink that.
In a special on Fox News last week, John Stossel looked at some of bans and onerous laws that Nanny Staters have put in place; on everything from lemonade stands to raw milk to taxi services. In may seem a little ridiculous to complain about these things, but Americans are becoming increasingly at risk by dumb laws and regulations put in place by federal, state, and local governments:
As you can imagine, there wasn’t much in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address that would please libertarians. John Stossel notes that much of what the president said is in fact anathema to those of us that believe in limited government, and offers some of what he would have said if he were in Obama’s shoes:
Our debt has passed $15 trillion. It will reach Greek levels in just 10 years.
But if we make reasonable cuts to what government spends, our economy can grow us out of our debt. Cutting doesn’t just make economic sense, it is also the moral thing to do. Government is best which governs least.
We’ll start by closing the Department of Education, which saves $100 billion a year. It’s insane to take money from states only to launder it through Washington and then return it to states.
Next, we’ll close the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That saves $41 billion. We had plenty of housing in America before a department was created.
Then we eliminate the Commerce Department: $9 billion. A government that can’t count votes accurately should not try to negotiate trade. We will eliminate all corporate welfare and all subsidies. That means agriculture subsidies, green energy subsidies, ethanol subsidies and so on. None of it is needed.
I propose selling Amtrak. Why is government in the transportation business? Let private companies compete to run the trains.
And we must finally stop one of the biggest assaults on freedom and our pocketbook: the war on drugs. I used drugs. It’s immoral to imprison people who do what I did and now laugh about.
Still, all these cuts combined will only dent our deficit. We must cut Medicare, Social Security and the military.
The public school system is a disaster. More and more money is being spent, and for what? The results just aren’t warranting the expense. However, there are alternate approaches out there. One that seems to be gaining steam more and more as the years go by is the idea of charter schools.
At Townhall.com, John Stossel who hosts the show Stossel on Fox Business writes a bit about charter schools.
I was surprised to meet kids who said they like school. What? I found school boring. How can it be that these fourth-graders tell me that they look forward to going to school and that math is “rockin’ awesome”?
Those kids attend one of those new charter schools. Charters let them escape the bureaucracy of regular schools, including, often, teachers union rules. These schools compete for kids because parents can always choose another school. That makes them better.
Not every charter school is good, but the beauty of competition is that bad ones go out of business, while good ones expand. Then good schools teach more kids. Choice and competition produce quality. Anyone surprised?
For the record, many teachers unions oppose charter schools. Because of their nature, they introduce some instability into a teacher’s life. Charter schools can be shut down easier, and charter schools are often formed in such a way to get rid of bad teachers quickly. The result? Kids who want to learn and do it better.
Is America moving in a libertarian direction? In his latest column - a review of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, George Will explains why we are moving away from government regulation and toward liberty:
Since 1970, per pupil real, inflation-adjusted spending has doubled and the teacher-pupil ratio has declined substantially. But math and reading scores are essentially unchanged, so we are spending much more to achieve the same results. America has the shortest school year in the industrial world, an academic calendar — speaking of nostalgia — suited to an America when children were needed on the farms and ranches in the late spring and early autumn. “No other industry,” Gillespie and Welch write, “still adheres to a calendar based on 19th-century agricultural cycles — even agriculture has given up that schedule.”
In the 1950s, A&P supermarkets (remember them? You probably don’t) had a 75 percent market share. What used to be the General Motors Building near Central Park South has an Apple store where the automobile showroom once was. When Kodak loses customers, it withers.
But when government fails, it expands even faster. This is, Gillespie and Welch say, because “politics is a lagging indicator of change,” a sector of top-down traditions increasingly out of step with today’s “bottom-up business and culture” of: “You want soy with that decaf mocha frappuccino?”
A generation that has grown up with the Internet “has essentially been raised libertarian,” swimming in markets, which are choices among competing alternatives.
Over at Reason, John Stossel chats with Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States about our collective lack of knowledge about history and the benefits of living in a free society hurts us:
What liberates oppressed people? I was taught it’s often American power. Just the threat of our military buildup defeated the Soviet Union, and our troops in the Middle East will create islands of freedom.
Unlikely, says historian Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States.
“As a matter of fact,” Russell told me, “in general American military intervention has increased anti-Americanism and hardened repressive regimes. On the other hand, American popular culture—what was often called the worst of our culture in many cases—has actually done more for liberation and our national security than anything that the 82nd Airborne could do.”
I told him that I thought that the Soviet Union collapsed because the Soviets spent so much trying to keep pace with Ronald Reagan’s military buildup
On the contrary, Russell said, “it collapsed from within. … People simply walked away from the ideology of communism. And that began especially when American popular culture—jazz and rock and roll—began infiltrating those countries after World War II.”
People want choices, and you can’t indoctrinate that out of them.
Which leads me to the most destructive myth about history: the idea that if we are to prosper, government must make smart plans for us. I was taught that in college, and despite the failure of the Soviet Union, many government leaders still believe it.
A while back, I wrote a post asking the question of whether college was over-hyped. This was based on a John Stossel column and it really deserves some consideration. After all, many very successfully people never went to college, and some college educated people are sleeping on park benches in this country. Well, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey isn’t ready to say they’re over-hyped, but she seems to think they’re definitely overcharged:
My niece loves most of her academic classes at grad school, but found that some living legends of her department are only there because of reputation rather than teaching skills and put in minimal effort or appearances.
“Ultimately, the faculty are really what makes a school,” says Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For.”
“They have the most long-term effect on campus atmosphere and student’s educational experience,” she says. “Students on campuses come and go, but faculty are there forever in many cases.”
In her book, Riley deconstructs the cause of such faculty longevity, taking on one of the most cherished perks of high education, tenure.
She asks whether the awarding of jobs for life, often as a result of a professor’s research and publication in rarefied journals, leads to some faculty staying too long at schools and doing too little of what ought to matter most — teaching.
Tenure, she contends, is dragging colleges away from their original and most important mission, and stifling the young, innovative professors, in addition to cheating students of the education they deserve.