Journalist: Silicon Valley Could Kick-Start Libertarian Movement

From an opinion piece Oct. 14 at by Carlos Watson, an entrepreneur in tech and media and a regular contributor on MSNBC. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1995 and working for two years at top-ranked consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Watson co-founded Achieva College Prep Service in San Mateo. He sold it in 2002 as he began his careeer as a TV journalist.

The time is right for Silicon-Valley-style progressivism to woo independents into a political force under the Libertarian Party banner. Here’s how.

If the two-party system is ever going to be seriously challenged, this is the moment. The GOP, the stall-tactic party, is reeling. The Democratic administration is struggling to turn around the economy. And across the country, creative, engaged folks are increasingly feeling politically homeless. More Americans consider themselves independents (39%) than Democrats (33%) or Republicans (22%) — and the gap is widening. […]

[T]he best third-party contender already exists. The Libertarians, like so many independents and disaffected Democrats and Republicans, are fiscal conservatives and social liberals — and no one has yet built a lasting coalition out of this growing force.

If Libertarians want to have a real impact in 2010 or 2012, they need to recruit from the business world, where their values will resonate most. Places like Silicon Valley, Austin, and Seattle. You don’t have to look far to find high-profile CEO types who are likely Libertarians hiding out in the major parties. […]

These leaders could help build a financial base for the party, a complement to its significant grassroots online fund-raising operation that Ron Paul created in 2008 (only Obama and Hillary raised more). In addition to bankrollers, Libertarians need to think about more than just the presidency. GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who ran Reagan’s 1984 presidential campaign, says that if 20 to 30 compelling Libertarian candidates ran serious races in the midterm Congressional elections and won just five or six, that would kick-start the larger Libertarian movement. Those candidates would need to be a visible and sharp departure from the party’s current wing-nut-and-professor rep — young folks with pedigrees in clean tech and biotech, not politics, and solid ideas of how to get us out of the economic crisis. […]

For our democracy to flourish, we need the creative tension of competing ideas, not just stall tactics. Seize the moment, Libertarians. You’re not going to get a better one.

[Several “young folks with pedigrees in clean tech and biotech” were among the 18 Libertarian Party of California congressional candidates who in Oct. 2008 issued a joint statement offering a diagnosis and prescription for the emerging financial crisis.]

160 thoughts on “Journalist: Silicon Valley Could Kick-Start Libertarian Movement

  1. Brian Holtz

    Oddly, Watson doesn’t mention billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel or Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers. There is also Earthlink founder Sky Dayton and founder Mark Cuban.

    Rodgers spoke at the 1999 LPCA convention, and Thiel at the 2004 convention. The LP should be reaching out to these guys as much as possible. Thiel’s thoughts on politics here are a must-read.

  2. HS

    I wonder if the stodgy nature of Bob Barr will continue to haunt the LP by turning off some of these people. If they would have recruited a top CEO as suggested during the 2008 election, I think that may have been the beginning for a longterm boost of viability within the masses who are looking for a realistic third party. Bob Barr instead seems to have further marginalized the party. My thoughts, anyway.

  3. Steve

    That’s exactly the kind of optimism and attractive policies/candidates that attracted me to the LP in the first place.

    While I’ll be rooting for and contributing to Rand Paul and Peter Schiff as they give the GOP mainstream fits, just getting one or two Reps in with the L label would be huge. I see from his wikipedia page that Mr. Watson has some political experience. Will he help the LP get these type of people onboard and will the LP accept his help?

  4. Trent Hill

    Aside from Thiel and Rodgers, there is also John Mackey of Whole Foods and the guy who runs

  5. robert capozzi

    Sign me up for THIS approach!

    I’d not heard of Rollins’s observation…I esp. like it.

  6. Kimberly Wilder

    Tied into this energy should be in learning from, or even collaborating with, “The Pirate Party” in Sweden and the European Union. They pulled in volunteers and excitement by talking about reform of copyright laws, and freedom to share music, etc.

  7. Brian Holtz

    Kim, that is an EXCELLENT idea. I usually say that intellectual property is a free variable in libertarian theory, but this audience/demographic is just too important to ignore.

    I think I’ll suggest on the LP Platform Committee that we finally take a stand on copyright, and propose this language from the Free Earth Manifesto:

    Communities may recognize intellectual property in expression only to prevent unauthorized reproduction in cases of a) competition that diverts commercial benefit from the owner to the competitor, b) attributed use with unattributed defamatory modification, or c) unattributed use that misleads about who the owner is.

  8. Petra Jenkins

    Great Green Party story here at der Spiegel in English

    ‘The Greens Are About to Churn Up Germany’s Party System’

    Pleased with himself — Hubert Ulrich, the regional chairman of the Greens in Saarland, responding to Sunday’s vote to join forces with former enemies.

    The small state of Saarland is about to become a test tube for a new political alliance that could transform German politics. The Green Party has voted to form a government in the first three-way coalition with its former arch-rivals, the conservative CDU and the business-friendly FDP. It’s a bold and risky move, say commentators.,1518,654623,00.html

  9. Michael H. Wilson

    R.C. @ 5 writes; “Sign me up for THIS approach!
    I’d not heard of Rollins’s observation…I esp. like it.”

    Over the years a number of people in the LP have said something like this. Unfortunately they are not in the upper echelon of the LP so they just get ignored.

  10. Robert Milnes

    Brian, you should know better. If by a libertarian movement you mean elect libertarians, not gonna happen this way. There simply is not enough votes. The Libertarian Vote described a potential vote of 13%, 20% in an open primary i.e. 7% crossover vote from the left. This is how I and a few others could predict that Ron Paul would not win a single primary. Not enough votes. Conservatives want the libertarian vote & $ for THEIR candidates, not Libertarian candidates. Independents are just people who don’t want to admit that the dems & reps have a stranglehold on their vote, not that they are open to third party/independent candidates. Centrists are easily compromised by either dems or reps. Nobody left -except progressives, whose party started in 1912 by Teddy Roosevelt, has languished-precisely because it is split. Into a left progressive component and right componend-the libertarians. So go for the vote coordination of progressives & libertarians. Note-Obama won by coordinating the liberal & progressive vote.

  11. Thomas M. Sipos

    I have long written about the need for copyright reform. 1. Terms are ridiculously long, 2. Fair Use is being eroded, and 3. Copyright is increasingly being used to suppress free speech commentary.

    I reprinted an article from the Swedish Pirate Party in the August California Freedom. It’s not online yet, but it’s also reprinted here:

    I wrote “Media Companies are Pirating Your Copyrights,” which is on the California LP website:

    That too is reprinted in the August CF, and an expanded version may be found here:

    The July California Freedom likewise has an article condemning overlong copyright terms:

    And a 2007 issue has an article on how copyright threatens free speech:

    Essentially, a reprint from the excellent Electronic Frontier Foundation:

    After antiwar, fighting threats to free speech (including copyright and libel laws) is the issue I’m most passionate about.

    Walter Block changed my mind about libel laws (I reprint his article in CF too). He convinced me that libel should be legal, because the threat libel laws pose to free speech (discouraging true statements by people who don’t care to be sued) outweigh its benefit of protecting reputations. Indeed, if libel were legal, libelous statements would lose their power to harm, since people would think, “Oh, you can say anything about anyone. Doesn’t mean it’s true.”

  12. jrb

    Can we stop calling America a democracy? Our founders gave us a constitutional republic and we need to start acting like one again!!! They hated democracies and knew they would not work in a large country. Say no to mob rule democracy.

    We could turn this around very easily if we go back to being a land of laws, not men. Starting with a strict enforcement of the constitution, and firing any federal politician that does not uphold their oath.

    For the last 100 years both the executive and legislative branches have used this document as their favorite toilet paper, enough already!

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    Tom S,

    Because you filled your comment up with links, making it look like spam to IPR’s filters. When that happens, your comment gets shunted to moderation until someone with admin privileges gets around to looking at it, which may be a few hours. Yours is approved and posted now.

    Tom Knapp

  14. Robert Capozzi

    IP may well be too important to ignore, but I wonder how it plays in SV specifically? My gut tells me it’d be highly controversial, as some techie’s make their living on IP, others want open source and what not…

    I’m not a techie, so please school me on the dynamics of IP in the tech community.

  15. Robert Capozzi

    My observation is that business people are by their nature “pragmatic.” That which sells is what works. That which does not sell is cast aside.

    Attracting high-powered CEOs would likely require some adjustments to the LP’s MO. A pragmatic L approach would seem indicated IF we want people who are interested in real change in an L direction to actually join and be active in the LP, at least in any numbers of people fitting that profile.

    Hence, the need for the St. Louis Accord.

    btw, in his recent interview with Reason, John Mackey said he voted for Barr, and had been supporting Ron Paul during the GOP nominating process. I’d be VERY surprised if his peers like Bezos, Thiel, Cuban, etc., were significantly offput by Barr’s staid style. Business people recognize that credibility is a prerequisite for any salesperson. Barr was far and away our most credible prez candidate to date.

  16. Thomas M. Sipos

    IP may well be too important to ignore, but I wonder how it plays in SV specifically?

    Largely to free speech’s detriment, I suppose. The IP industry (Hollywood as well as Silicon Valley) has Washington bought and paid for. To quote the MPAA’s late Jack Valenti from a 1990s Hollywood Reporter article, regarding copyright law: “We have friends on bought sides of the aisle [of Congress].”

    As Von Mises observed, those with a strong and specific interest in an issue (in this case, the IP industry’s interest in expanded IP) are politically well organized, while those with a general interest in the issue (in this case, the public’s interest in free speech) are disorganized on that issue, if they’re even paying attention.

    If you want votes, support statist/corporatist expansion of IP. But if you want freedom, you must take the electorally more difficult road of opposing expansion of IP.

  17. Brian Holtz

    Thomas, if you have specific copyright language that would have a better chance of 2/3 support at a NatCon than what I quoted above, I’d love to hear it.

    It sounds like Block’s argument against libel would work against any kind of fraud that doesn’t involve breaking explicit contracts. “Oh, you can say anything about any product or business opportunity. Doesn’t mean it’s true.”

    Executives here in Silicon Valley typically view copyright as you would expect, given the rents they extract from it via government. The rank and file, and especially the young, have a totally contrary perspective. And that’s not just here in SV. 27-55% of all Internet traffic is from BitTorrent file-sharing. The masses are voting with their packets.

  18. Thomas M. Sipos

    I’d improve your language by stating explicitly that copyright should not be used or protected to suppress free speech.

    One problem with Fair Use is that it’s not too specific. Copyright law only gives factors for courts to consider for Fair Use. Fair Use should be beefed up with “without limiting the above factors, Fair Use shall specifically protect …xyz.”

    Too often, people or companies threaten to sue for copyright infringement, not because they feel their profits in the IP are threatened, but because they want to suppress the content. A recent example is CBS demanding that YouTube pull clips of David Letterman’s apology, because Letterman wants the issue to die down.

    Examples of copyright being used to suppress free speech can be found at the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse:

    Your language isn’t bad, but it can be beefed up with specifics of what copyright should not protect.

  19. robert capozzi

    yes, we should probably add pharma to the list of highly levered ROI products.

    I suspect being the pro-pirate party isn’t indicated for LP on several levels. I’m ok with there being a pirate caucus.

  20. Michael H. Wilson

    Crap it sounds like the idea of bringing the troops home and maybe opening the markets so that low income people could get the government’s boot off their neck just went to hell in a handbasket, or maybe even ending the drug war.

    BTW Obama was talking about repealing the McCarran- Ferguson Act which protects the insurance industry. Too bad the LP couldn’t get on that bandwagon earlier.

  21. Brian Holtz

    Any use of copyright can be claimed by the copier to “suppress free speech”. The platform already says “We support full freedom of expression”. I don’t understand what your clarification clarifies.

  22. Thomas L. Knapp


    You write:

    “Barr was far and away our most credible prez candidate to date.”

    In what respect?

    credible, adj: Capable of being credited or believed; worthy of belief; entitled to confidence; trustworthy. — Webster 1913

    Barr bolted the GOP for the LP, then supported GOP candidates with his PAC money while sitting on the LP’s national committee, then half-ass converted on some of his past anti-libertarian positions while campaigning for the LP’s nomination, then reverted to “true states rights conservative” once he had the nomination in hand.

    What’s “credible,” let alone “most credible ever,” about that?

    I guess you could cite the fact that he’s held political office before — but so had Roger MacBride, Ron Paul and Andre Marrou, and in terms of confidence/belief that they were actually libertarians, their records seem more credible to me.

    “Best-known” /= “Most Credible.”

  23. Gene Trosper

    I starting to investigate this IP stuff, but i do have one question: I have a friend who is an artist and she makes her living off of her art. Recently, some of her characters that she created were pirated and products featuring those characters were being sold on Ebay and a few shops across the country. How would the libertarian approach to IP apply in a case like this?

  24. Thomas M. Sipos

    Any use of copyright can be claimed by the copier to “suppress free speech”.

    Yes, I know. But that’s not obvious to most people. Most libertarians would say they support both property rights (including copyright) and free speech, without being aware of a conflict.

    I’d like Fair Use to be more specifically defined, and broadly so.

    I’d like to avoid the problems raised in the urls I cited. (Have you read them?)

    It might also be a good idea to explicitly state that copyright limits free speech and therefore copyright should be narrowly construed.

    I wish people would read the above urls, to familiarize themselves with how copyright threatens free speech.

  25. Thomas M. Sipos

    Gene, if anyone were selling her artwork, she would be protected.

    If people were reproducing her artwork on websites to comment on it, or on her, then she would not be protected.

  26. Tom Blanton

    Barr is credible only if your only view of reality is through a television screen and your perception is as shallow as the two-dimensional image on the screen.

    On the other hand, many people who view Fruit Loops as food and The Today Show as a news program actually vote.

  27. Mik Robertson

    @32 You have described the majority of American voters.

    Barr is clearly credible as a candidate, he was elected to congress. The problem is credibility falls off dramatically if you are outside of the “two-party” system. Until a political party aside from the two old ones can gain credibility, any alternative candidates are going to have a tough time regardless of their own credentials.

  28. Michael H. Wilson

    Over at the Daily Kos they ave this FDR quote; “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.”

    I think it might do the LP some good to to welcome some hatred. At least we’d know we were making some waves.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp


    You write:

    “Barr is clearly credible as a candidate, he was elected to congress.”

    Credible as what kind of candidate?

    He was credible as a Republican congressional candidate … until he got redistricted into the same district as a more popular, less controversial Republican incumbent.

    The last time someone went from the US House to the White House, however, was 130 years ago (James Garfield, 1880). The usual credibility threshold to the presidency is a governorship, a vice-presidency, or occasionally a generalship.

    I suppose the case could be made that any public office, the “higher” the better, is a credibility point for a presidential nomination, but it seems to me that there are others, and that Barr didn’t do as well on some of those others.

    There’s a certain respect in which the LP nominating Barr in 2008 was similar to if the GOP had nominated, say, George McGovern instead of Ronald Reagan in 1980, from a credibility standpoint.

    Remember, in 2002 we were targeting the guy for defeat in his re-election bid, and we had good reasons for doing so. I’m not saying that a good “came to Jesus” story couldn’t have turned his candidacy into an interesting thing, but it would have been a sort of “counter-credibility” exercise.

    I’m going into all this for a particular reason: There seems to be a habit in the LP of conflating “name recognition” with “credibility.” They aren’t the same thing.

  30. Thomas M. Sipos

    I think it might do the LP some good to to welcome some hatred. At least we’d know we were making some waves.

    Ron Paul did so. He condemned the war on TV, and when Rudy “9/11” Giuliani called him on it, Paul refused to back down. Paul didn’t give a damn who he offended, and many American loved him for it.

    Root, OTOH, sucks up to his neocon radio and TV hosts, careful not to offend the hand that feeds him.

  31. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, when I say credible, I mean as a candidate to the wider world. Former (highest possible) officeholder is huge for credibility. Articulateness is a big factor. Ability to speak authoritatively about issues, also important in my assessment.

    I stand by my opinion. I of course acknowledge that “credibility” isn’t the only legitimate consideration. A NAMBLA L who believes that issue is THE issue would only support an avowed fellow NAMBLA L.

  32. Thomas L. Knapp


    Actually, I think my journalistic skills have largely atrophied — I mostly do pundit stuff now, and that ain’t journalism (I started in journalism at 12, writing club announcements for my local daily newspaper).

    I’ve been considering getting back into five-point-lede journalism, though.

    Anyway, thanks for the compliment.

  33. Thomas L. Knapp


    OK, that makes some sense.


    Another big factor in determining credibility is “does the man fit the message?”

    G. Gordon Liddy would not make a credible spokesperson for the ACLU.

    Alan Keyes would not be Planned Parenthood’s representative of choice.

    The only way for Bob Barr — former high-profile drug warrior, former high-profile culture warrior, author of the “Defense of Marriage” Act, supporter while in Congress of the USA PATRIOT Act, the war on Iraq, etc. — to be credible as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate was for him to tell one king-hell “Paul on the Road to Damascus” story.

    I had high hopes early on that he would do exactly that.

    Instead, he spent much of his face time defending instead of repudiating his record, punting “conversion issues” to “states rights” territory instead of saying “I was just plain wrong,” etc.

    He also sold himself as a “conservative” and approached Republican voters as one of them, making it fairly clear that he was selling them the same things he used to sell them, just in a new partisan package.

    For the Libertarian Party’s purposes, it’s important for our candidates to sell our new stuff, not their old stuff. Even if doing the latter maintains or boosts the candidate’s credibility, it hurts the party’s credibility. We have a “brand” to maintain, too.

  34. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, Barr was credible, but he may not have been entirely appropriate for the brand.

    I seriously doubt he hurt the PARTY’s credibility with the general public, mostly because the general public doesn’t parse things as finely as you do.

  35. Thomas L. Knapp


    Early on in my involvement with the LP, when I mentioned it to a friend, his response was “the Libertarians? Hmphhh … Republicans on steroids.”

    If that perception is, or ought to be, true, then no, Barr didn’t hurt our credibility.

    If that perception isn’t, or shouldn’t be, true, then he arguably did.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, it’s a branding challenge that WAY pre-dates Barr.

    Clark tried to fix it with “low-tax liberal,” and some in the Party started a massive purging effort.

    As you may recall, I wanted our ticket to be Barr/Gravel for this very reason.

    As long as Ls can be labeled “very conservative” on economics, we’re going to have that positioning as Rs on steroids. As this article suggests, fiscal conservative/social liberal may be a way out.

    Barr’s not to blame for all this. He inherited it, and may have somewhat strengthened it, mostly because he raised the LP’s profile dramatically.

  37. Michael H. Wilson

    I would have to say that the Barr campaign was kinda limp and that’s from someone who put up signs for him.

    He didn’t come out of the corner fighting.

    Lots of people in the LP would be better of if they put down Rand and picked up Robert Townsend’s Up the Organization. It’s a hell of a book with a great message.

    BTW read it at least once a year.

  38. Tom Blanton

    The whole problem with the “libertarians are fiscally conservative and socially liberal” meme, besides being overly simplistic, is that liberals, conservatives, and even most libertarians haven’t bought that branding.

    It is unfortunate that so many LP libertarians are locked into a black and white pattern of thinking by classifying everything as conservative or liberal. It’s like they are unaware that a libertarian philosophy even exists. Or perhaps they wish to keep it a secret because they yearn to be accepted by conservatives and liberals without having to make the case for what they claim to believe.

    I’m wondering among what group that Barr dramatically raised the LP’s profile – maybe redneck Republicans in Georgia?

    I’d say Root is doing a better job of raising the LP’s profile in the redneck Republican category than Barr by becoming an entertainer within the right-wing talk radio circuit.

  39. Robert Capozzi

    tb, L is the brand. FCSL is the positioning. Or, perhaps, it’s the short-hand explanation of L-ism.

    I find it pretty accurate. Apparently, you don’t.

  40. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert, Tom is right on the money with his criticism of the FCSL as you call it.

    Fiscally conservative says nothing about the regulations that often are used to keep out innovations, restrict competition and have kept people in poverty.

    The Old South is a classic example of fiscal conservatism in action. They didn’t tax a lot but the sure tried to keep people down and in their place. The sooner the LP wakes up and realizes that some see phrases like FC as code words for repression the better the LP will be. Far too often I heard words like “People need to know their place and stay in it”, which is one of the reasons I left.

    Socially Liberal is another phrase that needs to be stricken from our books. I fail to understand how anyone can honestly claim to be tolerant of other people when they have no idea what the other person’s private life is like, nor is it their business unless harm comes to others.

    Are we to be tolerant of person X who in private likes to have sexual relations with small children? Is that the kind of tolerance we approve of?

    Personally I would suggest that the LP focus on Civil Liberties and Economic Freedom, or perhaps we should say Civil Liberties and Open Markets. When we say “open markets” that gives us an opportunity to point out that often the markets are closed to the detriment of many people.

  41. Mik Robertson

    @42 Thomas L. Knapp said: “Early on in my involvement with the LP, when I mentioned it to a friend, his response was ‘the Libertarians? Hmphhh … Republicans on steroids.’”

    A lot of people do have that impression of Libertarians, many of them are in the Green Party. A lot of people in the general public also incorrectly have that impression, when they know about the LP at all.

    I think Barr did a good job getting exposure for the LP with the general public. Some of those would have otherwise been unaware of an alternative and will look into it further. To that extent he did a good job, as is Wayne Root doing.

    I would agree the LP should be more about civil liberties and free markets than fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.

  42. Thomas L. Knapp


    I agree that Barr did a good job of getting exposure for the LP with the general public — and to the extent that I object to the quality of that exposure, I recognize that at least some of my discontent is “inside ideological baseball.”

    However, I still think we owe it to ourselves to coldly evaluate, and learn from, his qualities as a candidate and his efficacy as a campaigner instead of just letting ourselves soak blithely in the Calgon of hyperbolic claims (“more media than all past LP candidates combined!” “most credible candidate ever!”) which may or may not actually be true.

    That’s an astute distinction you make (“civil liberties/free markets” vs. “fiscal conservatism/social liberalism”), btw.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    I’ve no particular objection to economic freedom/civil liberties. However, these terms need a “cold evaluation,” too. Do they communicate? Are they vague?

    Economic freedom could mean a lot of things to the general public. It might well not mean less government intervention. Free market doesn’t even mean that for some, I suspect. Might mean freedom FROM. Might be that we’re for free trade.

    Civil liberties I suspect a lot of people will think it means civil rights. It might communicate, for example, Ls are for affirmative action!

    Any positioning is going to have its downside. A lot of the Normals (as the Keaton likes to say) already call themselves “fiscal cons/social liberal.” Conservative and liberal have very very high brand awareness.

    I’d be VERY surprised if mhw’s associations are widely held.

    Interestingly, this is a case in which the “Reformer” (that’d be me) is more specific than the Radicals!

    Fiscal cons means less government. Social lib means pro-choice, pro-gay marriage.

    I’d say those associations are more specific, and give the Normals a better sense of the L direction than the other terms on the table.

    Wish we had resources to test this sort of thing….

  44. Robert Capozzi

    tk, I don’t mean to sugarcoat the Barr campaign. They (and the LP) made mistakes.

    The Party made a mistake in having the convention so late. Given the challenges of fundraising and ballot access, this doesn’t give future candidates much time to rally to get these things done.

    Barr hadn’t thought through some of his vestigial views sufficiently. DOMA was the classic ex., and it hurt him. Since the bill had his name on it, he was too defensive, too legalistic, and he tried to use the federalist shield, ineffectively, IMO.

    I didn’t have a problem with his use of the term “true conservative,” but I did have a problem with his elaboration. If we ever get a former R officeholder, I hope he or she learns from Barr’s suboptimal rhetoric on this issue.

  45. Tom Blanton

    Step right up folks and try our new Pragma-Cola. Once you try it, you’ll agree that it is the finest cola on the market. You’re probably asking what’s in this Pragma-Cola that makes it so great. It’s simple. We take a little Coca-Cola and mix it with some Pepsi-Cola.

    The great news is that Pragma-Cola isn’t just a soda pop, it’s a multi-level marketing plan too. Sign up to sell Pragma-Cola, and your grandchildren might have everything you’ve ever dreamed of. We will even teach you how to vary the amounts of Coke and Pepsi you mix together to match the tastes of the targeted rubes, er uh consumers.

  46. Robert Capozzi

    tb, as you’ve demonstrated just how clever you can be, surely you can imagine that mixing 2 elements can be synthesized into something that is different than the original elements, yes? Think metamorphic rocks!

    Marketing is about attracting customers. They then take a closer look, and decide whether or not to buy.

    But I’m open to alternative approaches. We could lead with the plan to replace NORAD with insurance companies, f’instance. 😉

    Maybe we should market with the right/left balanced message, and then you can close those prospects on some of the “finer” points of L theory.

  47. Melty

    I agree with Tom Blanton and Michael Wilson. “liberal” n “conservative” are short on meaning and the liberal/conservative dichotomy mentality is what minarchists’d best shed.
    Root puts everthing in liberal versus conservative. If he’d drop that he’d cease to sound like a “conservative on steroids”.
    Present ideas through a different prism and your talk makes you distinguishable from the rest. I suggest, if you want a good dichotomy, speak in debt-spending versus cut-spending.

  48. Robert Capozzi

    m, that — debt v cut-spending — sounds like things I hear from conservatives all the time. So, I’m not seeing the differentiation. If anything, that sounds like Rs on steroids MORE than the left/right balanced messaging.

  49. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert before I go off and do something constructive today I thought I jump in and make this one final point.

    Recently I was working a booth with two other Libertarians and the issue of drugs came up. One told a vistor to the booth we need to legalize all of them, the other told a visitor sometime later that we needed decriminalization.

    We need to be clear as to what our goals are. We are not.

  50. Robert Capozzi

    mhw: We need to be clear as to what our goals are. We are not.

    me: Here’s a radical question–Why? Is this standard for “consistency of message” held by liberals, conservatives, socialists, communists, monarchists, anarchists, etc.?

    Or, do ideological movements share broad goals and positions, but not always specific ones? Near as I can tell, other movements don’t have unanimity on all issues, and Ls don’t, either. I’d say that’s healthy that Ls sometimes disagree on matters of theory, strategy, and tactics.

    If it’s imperative that we all have the exact same view on every issue, make the case.

  51. Tom Blanton

    Melty wrote:

    “Present ideas through a different prism and your talk makes you distinguishable from the rest.”

    Exactly. But first, libertarians have to be able to see through a different prism – a libertarian prism. When everything thing is viewed through the conservative/liberal prism, the output will always be the obsolete conservative/liberal fiction.

    This is a idea that many “libertarians” are unable to comprehend.

    Apparently, it is hard to stop clinging to the status quo for some who claim they want change. But, you can’t expect a society to adopt new ideas when you are afraid to present new ideas in new ways.

  52. Robert Capozzi

    tb, well alrighty then. What’s your take on the L prism?

    In my case, I’m quite familiar with various forms of L theory. I’ve read Rothbard, Nozick, Rand, and Hayek. So, if your comment is directed at me, you are mistaken. L-ism does have elements that sound to the Normals like conservative and liberals, so I use that bridge to help others understand.

    What bridge do you use? What is your strategy to help others understand L-ism, and hopefully sell it?

    Or will you just continue to wave your hands about “new ideas and ways”?

  53. Michael H. Wilson

    Okay Robert I’ll play this silly game.

    Do you think that the LP should support decriminalization or legalization, or neither?

    Do you think the LP should support a woman’s right to chose a midwife, or not?

    Do you think the LP should support a person’s right to own and operate a private urban transit business or not?

    Do you think the LP should support ending the U.S. miltary deployment around the globe or not?

    Do you think the LP should support ending the school monopoly in the 50 states or not?

    Do you think parents should have a consistent message explaining what is right and wrong with their children?

    Do you think an automobile company should consistently strive for quality in their cars or not?

    Do you think sales people in stores should consistently be polite to their customers or not?

    Do you think being truthful is quality that we should consistently strive for or not?

  54. Tom Blanton

    “Do you think being truthful is quality that we should consistently strive for or not?”

    The truth should always be strived for.

    Bubby asks:

    Or will you just continue to wave your hands about “new ideas and ways”?

    I’m not waving my hands. I was agreeing with Melty’s comment:

    “Present ideas through a different prism and your talk makes you distinguishable from the rest.”

    I take it you disagree with that and prefer the “little bit liberal-little bit conservative” tripe. We disagree, that’s all Bob. I prefer selling a vision of freedom, peace and prosperity that does not involve government coercion/ intervention, or conservatives, or liberals.

    My targets are those who are truly politically homeless as opposed to Republican or Democrat activists or hardcore party members. That’s why I think it is pointless to go to CPAC Conventions.

    But enough about me, Bob. No doubt you have read Hayek’s article about why he isn’t a conservative. Are you saying he is wrong about libertarianism being something apart from conservatism and liberalism?

    I’m just dying to hear Bubby’s theory of libertarianism being just a mix of some liberal ideas and some conservative ideas. Explain yourself in an essay containing at least 6,000 words, please.

  55. Melty

    I agree with Robert Capozzi on the consistancy example. It would be good to match words if you’ve got booths next to each other, but in general, I’d call legalization and decriminalization, even mere legalization of prescription use, adequate agreement. I prefer outright legalization, but any progress or opinion in the right direction I’d call aligned.

  56. Melty

    I live remotely, so I don’t know what gets said at coffeeshops, but all I ever hear through the net from Republicans is “cut taxes”, never “cut spending”. Naturally tax cuts not accompanied by spending cuts are debt spending too. Tax cuts in themselves’re meaningless, so why even speak of them? Why is “lower taxes” in the LP slogan? No wonder people think we’re Republicans. Release dopers. Cut spending. Ditch Istans. Cut spending. “cut spending” distinguishes you from Republicans. I suggest, for another dichotomy, “moralist” versus “victimless”.

  57. Melty

    What we are saying we are becoming. Our words shape our thinking. That’s why choice of words is so important. If you speak in the buzzwords and euphemisms of the ruling parties, you are not only indistinguishable from those parties to your listener, you grow more like them in your very mentality. Such is the power of words over thoughts.
    Thinkers within conventionality are leary of freedom. It is not happenstance that most every superpopular loaded word (“climate change”, “healthcare”, “African-American”, “gender”, “defense budget”, “living wage”, . . .) is statist. Those words form their worldview for them, and keep them looking to government for protection from the unfamiliar. If you let your pro-freedom thoughts come out your mouth in conventional terms, it sabotages your message, and even creepingly transforms your mind into just another like any other among the superfluous. Free yourself from euphemisms and statist buzzwords.

    I’ve been saying this same cognitive linguistic speil every chance I get for the last few years now. I guess I’ll just keep saying it until pro-freedom rhetoric becomes what most libertarians go around saying. Only then will pro-freedom thinking spread.

  58. Michael H. Wilson

    RC i am sure it is late where you are so I don’t exoect answer any time soon.

    I read the list of authors you have read that you posted recently. I do believe it was you who posted such a list.

    But have you ever read Robert Townsend’s book “Up The Organization”? It is a management book from the 60’s. If not give it a try.

  59. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, you didn’t answer MY questions that were asked first. But: My general answer to all your serious questions is I’m OK with diversity of thought among Ls so long as it’s clear that we’re advocating in the direction of freedom and peace.

  60. Michael H. Wilson

    RC were you serious about this question? “mhw: We need to be clear as to what our goals are. We are not.

    me: Here’s a radical question–Why? Is this standard for “consistency of message” held by liberals, conservatives, socialists, communists, monarchists, anarchists, etc.?”

    Personally I thought you were being funny.

    But I am not a member of any of the groups you mention and in the business world I have always found it wise to be clear about goals and I would suggests the same in true in the political world.

    Perhaps you feel that in business one can be vague about what the goals, but I have no idea what you do for an income.

  61. robert capozzi

    mhw, most businesses I know of have annual goals aka budgets. They may also have vision and mission statements which are less specific.

    My point is that most ideological movements don’t have really specific, super-long-run goals like “abolish NORAD, leave it to insurance companies.” Some Ls may believe that IS an appropriate vision, but taking that position sounds grandiose and unattractive to the vast majority of the population.

    Goals are, in short, time dependent. Socialists have been successful by employing a creeping incrementalist approach, as it’s less threatening.

  62. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert I am well aware of what the socialist have done and I think they set goals and executed them pretty well. They deserve credit for what the accomplished even though I disagree with them. I wish the LP would do something similar but so far we haven’t.

  63. robert capozzi

    mhw, or perhaps we Ls can learn the lesson of letting a thousand flowers bloom?

    Since at least 1980, one school of L-ism has sanctimoniously claimed it was the keeper of the flame, and attacked those who dare to deviate from the plumbline.

    Perhaps a St Louis Accord is the means to encourage intrapreneuriship and ecumenicalism within the L tent.

  64. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Since at least 1980, one school of L-ism has sanctimoniously claimed it was the keeper of the flame, and attacked those who dare to deviate from the plumbline.”

    I thought the Libertarian Reform Caucus was younger than that.

  65. robert capozzi

    tk, ha HAA. Yes, the secret is out. Reformers have all taken a blood oath that we demand immediate abolition of speed limits and drunk driving laws. 😉 Those who get squishy on this must report to the Lefebre Re-education Camp and A Priori Praxeology Center. 😉

  66. Brian Holtz

    The Reform Caucus statement of principles says it seeks “A platform that unites libertarians rather than dividing them. Where libertarians disagree, the platform should be silent. The party should be a tool for all libertarians.”

    It’s a hilarious attempt at a to say that the Reform Caucus “claims it is the keeper of the flame, and attacks those who dare to deviate from the plumbline”.

  67. Tom Blanton

    Under the St. Louis Accord, would a LP member be stripped of their liberty badges if they pointed out that a neo-nazi claiming to be a libertarian was in fact, not very libertarian?

    If the St. Louis Accord is such a good idea, why don’t the people who advocate its adoption abide by the spirit of the Accord already to demonstrate the libertopia that it would bring about?

    Do the raging moderates and incrementalist extremists favor reducing the size and scope of government or do they favor reducing the rate of growth?

    Would someone who wants more than a 1% reduction in the size and scope of government within the time frame of one year be considered a radical absolutist? What about 2%? What about 5%?

    I’m just wondering where the line is between socially acceptable moderate thinking and outrageous over-the-top radical absolutism.

  68. Brian Holtz

    Tom Blanton wonders what the draft St. Louis Accord would think of a “neo-nazi claiming to be a libetarian”.

    Setting aside Godwin’s Law, and pretending to take Blanton seriously, let’s ask the draft Accord what it thinks of neo-nazis. It says:

    Principled libertarians can disagree about how best to reduce aggression or even about what can count as aggression, but we are united in defending the full rights of each person to his body, labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges. Principled libertarians can disagree about whether every function of government can be performed by the free market, but we are united in opposing government’s growth beyond the protection of the rights of every individual to her life, liberty and property. Principled libertarians can disagree about how best we may each serve the cause of freedom, but we are determined to build a Party that welcomes and unites all those who want more personal and economic liberty. We defenders of freedom are too few, and the enemies of freedom are too many, for us to indulge in seeking heretics in our midst, rather than awakening allies across this freedom-loving land.

    Thank goodness the LP has ex-members like Tom Blanton to protect it from inflitration by “neo-nazis”.

  69. Don Lake, late at night

    ” Vegas Lib Stand Out Mike Zigler death a suicide …..
    Posted by John L. Smith
    Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009 at 09:08 AM

    The death of gifted local writer, editor and casino company communications director Mike Zigler has been ruled a suicide by the Clark County Coroner’s office.

    Zigler was 29.

    He died Oct. 16. According to a coroner’s office spokesman, the cause of death was “acute carbon monoxide inhalation of automobile exhaust.” The manner of death was determined to be suicide. Zigler’s body was found in his car parked in the garage of his Henderson home.

    He was director of communications at the MGM Grand.”

    and a big deal in Nevada Libertarian home town publication[s]

    —– what next, former California Reform Party /Deform Party state chair and legend and Meth Addict Jeff Rainforth ???????

  70. robert capozzi

    tb, I believe I’ve already shared with you that I can support candidates who stand for less government. How much less, and how quickly they wish to reduce the State, matters less to me. I would suggest they be articulate, credible and reasonable for a host of reasons.

  71. Tom Blanton

    So, the LP would welcome freedom loving neo-nazis under the St. Louis Accord. But Brian, I refuse to protect the LP from freedom loving neo-nazis.

    At this point, I’d be happy to protect the image of the wider libertarian movement from being tainted by the likes of Root and Glenn Beck. It has really become easier just to tell folks that Libertarians are as full of shit as Republicans and Democrats rather than offer any excuse or explanation for the LP.

    “Libertarian” is a word that no longer has much meaning and will probably fade from use in a few years by serious people. Once a word has 10,000 possible meanings, it becomes meaningless, not to mention the baggage the word “libertarian” carries with it.

  72. Tom Blanton

    BTW, the Accord is a brilliant piece of happy talk, but this will never fly in the LP:

    “…we are united in opposing government’s growth beyond the protection of the rights of every individual to her life, liberty and property.”

    That growth has already mestasized way beyond the protection of those rights. Few LP candidates even suggest as a long term goal that government be rolled back to protecting just those rights, unless you consider vouchers or revenue neutral tax collection schemes to be some sort of protection.

  73. robert capozzi

    tb, you’re not paying attention if you believe that there can be a “freedom loving neo-Nazi”…it should be self-evident that those concepts are diametrically opposed to one another.

    C’mon, dude, you know better than that.

  74. Brian Holtz

    clown – n. a performer who entertains, as in a circus, by antics, jokes, tricks, etc.; jester

  75. Robert Capozzi

    tb 82, so, which is it? Are you defending what YOU believe is the definition of L, or are you going to throw in the towel because “‘Libertarian’ is a word that no longer has much meaning and will probably fade from use in a few years by serious people.”

    Or, could there be a third interpretation? Is it possible that those who attempted to codify the full meaning and implications of what L means were presumptuous, usurpers, overly ambitious, well meaning but off base, constructivists? Is it POSSIBLE, just possible, that the definition you cling to and defend is insufficiently narrow to trigger real change in civil society?

    People believed the Earth was the center of the universe long after Copernicus, too.

  76. Tom Blanton

    I never said I believe in a freedom loving neo-nazi. I was merely implying that any person who pops up and says he is a libertarian is considered to be one by LP standards. To be in favor of gun rights and tax cuts is usually enough to make the grade in the LP.

    This is the truth and you know it.

    Even someone who claims to be a “true conservative” is a libertarian by LP standards. Close enough to run for office, anyway. Just as if there is no difference.

  77. Robert Capozzi

    tb: To be in favor of gun rights and tax cuts is usually enough to make the grade in the LP.

    me: Ah, perhaps this is the core of the misunderstanding. Last I checked, there is no “grade” to make. People self-select whether they consider themselves L. They assemble. They choose candidates.

    There is no L Heaven, with a St. Peter deciding who gets in and who doesn’t. No one’s keeping score.

  78. Tom Blanton

    rodeo clown – n. libertarian Glenn Beck who entertains, as on the radio and television, by war propaganda, bigotry, hysteria about immigrants, paranoia over an imaginary take over by al Qaida; an asshole

  79. Tom Blanton

    Me throw in the towel? I don’t think so. My complaint is that I believe the LP has thrown in the towel and given up advocating meaningful change and instead chosen to have conservatives like Root and Barr represent them in hopes of attracting a larger base.

    Or, could there be a third interpretation of the word “libertarian”? Why of course, and a 4th and a 5th. I’ll repeat myself:

    “Once a word has 10,000 possible meanings, it becomes meaningless”

    Don’t be coy and pretend like you have no idea of what I’m talking about.

  80. Tom Blanton

    “Last I checked, there is no “grade” to make.”

    So, any neo-nazi who calls himself a libertarian is welcome in the LP and anyone who points out that the neo-nazi is not a libertarian is not welcome.

    OK, I get now.

  81. Thomas L. Knapp


    You write:

    “It’s a hilarious attempt at a [Big Lie] to say that the Reform Caucus ‘claims it is the keeper of the flame, and attacks those who dare to deviate from the plumbline.'”

    You’re right in one respect: The Reform Caucus doesn’t “claim” its flame/plumbline, but rather denies having one at all and does its damnedest to conceal the nature of said flame/plumbline.

  82. Michael H. Wilson

    Think I’ll go finish a letter to my senator.

    It probably won’t do any good but I’ll at least think I’m making some headway.

  83. Marc Montoni

    Tom, while your comments are usually infinitely entertaining, often making me laugh out loud, keep in mind that your opponents are simply playing a rather childish and insipid game of fallacious argument. In one long comment thread last summer, between the two of them, there was at least one clearly identifiable example of each of the major logical fallacies. In ONE comment thread!

    Is continued discussion warranted under those conditions?

    It’s OK to let them have the last word, because their thread hijacking doesn’t win them any converts.

    It makes no sense for anyone to debate anything at length with them. Their arguments — every one of them — and if they can even be said to be ‘arguments’ under the dictionary definition of the word — have all the stiffness of motor oil. They rely on sheer volume, not quality; and of course on diversion.

    In just one debate last summer, under an article about Lee Wrights, out of curiosity I pasted into Word the comment text from the first through comment # 145 and did a word count. That thread alone had about 20,000 words. Just one of these guys racked up well over 5000 of them all by himself — about a quarter of the total. 5000 words / 800 words = 6 standard-length op-eds. One would think all of that “libertarian intelligence” the writer thought he possessed could actually be used to give a… well, a “kind of” libertarian take on current issues, in the form of Op-Eds submitted to major newspapers. For instance, he could be opining about making war on Iraqis or Afghans, or promoting voucher-based government takeover of private schools.

    But anyway, instead of doing that, he spent all of that time on IPR proving… well, I have yet to see a single assertion of his that was actually *proven* in the dictionary sense of the word.

    An *honest* discussion involves participants actively listening, and then avoiding the use of asinine rhetorical tricks in response.

    You’re a smart guy, Tom, and a great libertarian. Rather than wasting your time engaging those who simply aren’t listening, why not spend some of that energy and smarts towards outreach to the population at large? Former LPVA chairman Rick Sincere got an opinion article published in the ‘Richmond Times Dispatch’ today — you could do that as well.

  84. Brian Holtz

    Marc, I’ll put my record of pro-freedom activism up against anybody’s:

    This week, in addition to rescuing the LPCA newsletter and posting articles here about LP activism that get indexed into Google News, I also created a full-featured template for free campaign web sites for LPCA candidates. (Announcement coming soon.)

    Oh, and I’ll also be attending a meeting on Thursday night of my town’s City Council, which is considering an alternative ordinance I’ve drafted in attempt to head off the onerous default water conservation ordinance that Sacramento has imposed. I got a spot on the town committee drafting the ordinance because I hold elective office on my local water board.

    So what have you done this week — besides defend the polemical prowess of an LP deserter who comically frets about “neo-nazi” infiltrators?

    Oh, wait, I forgot: you call my arguments names without daring to actually answer them — or to even type The Name That Must Not Be Named.

  85. Brian Holtz

    Tom Blanton, I’ll simply repeated the standard Bob and I advocate from the draft St. Louis Accord:

    * having an ultimate goal to banish force initiation and fraud from human relationships;
    * sharing our conviction that governments must never add to the amount of aggression in the world;
    * defending the full rights of each person to his body, labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges;
    * opposing government’s growth beyond the protection of the rights of every individual to her life, liberty and property;
    * wanting more personal and economic liberty.

    Again, it’s just silly to pretend that a “neo-nazi” might meet this standard. And I double-dare Marc Montoni to say it’s not.

  86. Brian Holtz

    Tom Knapp’s mind-reading powers reveal that the people in the LP who say they oppose “plumbline” single-school ideological litmus-testing are secretly the ones who advocate it. ROTFL.

    Hey Marc, which logical fallacy does mind-reading count as?

  87. Tom Blanton

    Do those reformers who signed the LP pledge and then denounced it and demanded that the pledge be discontinued have the ultimate goal to banish force initiation?

    Did Libertarian Neal Boortz, LP member in good standing, share the conviction that governments must never add to the amount of aggression in the world as he agitated for war to rid the entire world of “islamofascism”?

    Is advocating a flat tax to replace the existing income tax structure because it is simpler the same as defending the full rights of each person to his body, labor, and peaceful production?

    Does merely saying you are a libertarian because you would like a tax cut make you a Libertarian as long as you sign a pledge you don’t agree with and pay $25?

    The answers are nope, nope, nope, and absolutely (according to some folks that post here), but maybe not in reality.

    Didn’t the California LP just give the boot to a child molester in their midst? At first, some LP members didn’t even want to talk about it. Could it be possible that a crypto-fascist could slip in the door? Perhaps the endless ranting and raving about crazed radical libertarians ruining the LP’s image in the eyes of right-wingers is an indication that something might be amiss.

    To quote the late Frank Zappa:

    “Take the day and walk around/ watch the nazis run your town/ then go home and check yourself/ You think we’re singing about someone else but you’re plastic people too…”

  88. Brian Holtz

    1) The LPers I know who want to change the Pledge requirement do so because of its ambiguity (Nolan says it’s merely a pledge against revolution) and its use as an ideological bludgeon. I can’t think of any Pledge reformers who disagree with aspiring to banish force initiation and fraud from human relationships.

    2) You’ll have to quote more from Boortz than the single word “Islamofascism” to ask any fair-mined person to read him out of the LP.

    3) You’re confusing means and ends.

    4) If you’re still confused about what I think makes someone a libertarian, reread @96 as many times as necessary until comprehension occurs.

    5) You confuse not wanting to talk about something (on the indexed, archived Web) vs. not immediately launching a behind-the-scenes full-court-press to resolve it. Is this apples-and-orangutans comparison really your best effort at defending your still-silly scenario about “neo-nazis” infiltrating the LP?

    Hey Marc, if Blanton doesn’t take your last-word advice, then does answering questions from such a “smart guy and great libertarian” still count toward my wasted-words totals?

  89. Thomas L. Knapp


    You write:

    “Tom Knapp’s mind-reading powers reveal that the people in the LP who say they oppose ‘plumbline’ single-school ideological litmus-testing are secretly the ones who advocate it. ROTFL.”

    I don’t have to read your mind, I just have to read your words.

  90. Tom Blanton

    I just can’t resist asking “fair-mined” persons to read Boortz out of the LP based on the single word “Islamofascism”. I’ll even up the ante and quote some from LP member in good standing and all-round wonderful libertarian who says the word libertarian all the time to zillions of his radio fans and the millions, er uh thousands, umm hundreds of people he has recruited for the LP.

    Here we go:

    “At any rate, there is no alternative to seeing the war on terror to its end, and paying what it costs. What else are we going to do? Pull out of Iraq and let it be taken over by Al-Qaeda?”

    (Quite a gem from a crypto-fascist that doesn’t know Sunni from Shia)

    “All it will take is one of these vicious Islamic SOB’s sneaking one dirty bomb into the United States…aboard a ship, in a shipping container or in their airline luggage. They could also sneak it into Canada or Mexico, then across the border. At that point, it would be no problem for said Islamic terrorist to bring the suitcase nuke into a large downtown metropolitan area, say about lunchtime. Once the bomb went off, it would kill tens of thousands of people.”

    (Another gem from fear merchant Boortz who apparently doesn’t know a dirty bomb from a suitcase nuke and who apparently doesn’t know how unlikely it would be for al Qaida to have a suitcase nuke or the technical capability to maintain it – I guess Boortz figures his followers are too dumb to use Google)

    “Victor Davis Hanson says not to forget Afghanistan. People were dismissing that as a lost cause, and it largely turned out fine. As always, good reading.”

    (Words of wisdom from a great libertarian in 2005)

    “Just know this: As we wallow in our insipid politically correct stupor of sensitivity toward the Muslim world, much of that world is plotting our extinction.”

    (Neal’s paranoia in 2007)

    “The American Spectator reminds us that Islam is not a race it is a religion … so everyone claiming that ‘Islamophobia’ is racist, think again. Wait a minute … did we ask these people to actually think? Sorry … it must be something in the water down here.”

    (Ha ha, that libertarian Neal Boortz is almost as humorous as libertarian Glenn Beck. I wonder if the America Spectator had any tips on the usage of “bigot”?)

    “Saddam Hussein was training Islamic terrorists before we removed him from power.”

    (Is this top secret information that Bush and Cheney didn’t want us to know about?)

    “OK .. so they haven’t found any WMDs in Iraq yet. This is a big deal to Democrats. It really isn’t that big a deal to many others. And why not? Because American value the concept of human rights … and they know that removing Saddam Hussein was the appropriate thing to do.”

    (Yeah, nobody cares that the Bush Regime lied about WMD “Because American value the concept of human rights”. Iraqis learned all about human rights at Abu Ghraib, right Neal?)

    Wow, what a libertarian. But read what John Sugg from Atlanta (Boortz HQ) wrote about old Neal:

    Great stuff. Too bad Neal isn’t running for president. Oh well, there is always libertarian Glenn Beck.

  91. Brian Holtz

    Mr. Knapp, I defy you to quote any words from me ever advocating that the LP choose one school of libertarianism as a “plumbline” deviations from which are to be attacked. You surely know that my position is precisely the opposite. As we convened in Denver, I restated my position for the umpteenth time:

    What the Dallas Accord became was a deal in which anarchists get to veto all Platform content they disagree with, while minarchists get to veto only the one statement that the empty shell of the state will be discarded once we’re done hollowing it out. That is not big-tent. The Reform Caucus is trying to restore the symmetry of the Dallas Accord, so that the Platform is as respectful of small-government minarchist principles as it is of zero-government anarchist principles. We seek a Platform that includes all and only the principles that unite the major schools of libertarianism.

    If we adopt this platform, our most radical candidates will still be free to campaign for zero-government abolitionism. Similarly, small-government libertarians will be equally free to campaign for a limited constitutional Ron-Paul-style government, without having the Platform used as a bludgeon against their “deviations”.

    Support the Platform Committee’s all-principles unity Platform, and let’s end the Platform purity wars this week, in this city.

    And, except for a few echoes, we did.

    Sure, I advocate geominarchism as the optimal school of libertarianism, but I don’t try to twist the Party’s foundational texts into an endorsement of my favorite school as more principled than the rest. I have neither a psychological nor ideological need for such a bludgeon. And that is the core difference between reformers and radicals.

  92. Robert Capozzi

    tb 91, as the co-author of “An Open Letter to Lew Rockwell: Tear Down This Stonewall,” I share your concern about hard-right “infiltration” of the LM. NewsletterGate (a term which I believe I coined) followed on the heels of the Stormfront episode, so our shared concerns have a basis in fact.

    Hard rightists (Nazi and Klan) have largely stayed away from the LP itself, near as I can tell. As far as I’m concerned, haters need not apply.

  93. Robert Capozzi

    tb 91, oh, yes, I championed and was successful at renaming the plank in the current platform from “Secession” to “Self Determination.” Using the word “secession” in the LP platform was like a welcome-mat code for haters. So, I feel good that I did my part to dissuade hard rightists from joining the LP, as you seem to fear.

    To be clear, not all those who believe in the secession option as a general proposition or even that the CSA was justified in seceding are haters. However, haters are very often Confederacy apologists, so I’d prefer to avoid such terminology in the platform.

  94. Thomas L. Knapp


    You don’t “advocate” that the LP choose one school of libertarianism, etc.

    Instead you squall “BIG TENT!” at the top of your lungs, while simultaneously whining, when anyone suggests actually reducing the size, scope or power of government instead of just recombobulating that power to produce the outcomes you desire, that they must not be taken seriously because what they’re really demanding is anarchy next week.

    The plumbline/true school folks are at least honest about what they’re doing. You want to have your gadfly cake and eat your status quo too.

  95. Robert Capozzi

    mm: …why not spend some of that energy and smarts towards outreach to the population at large?

    me: Marketing follows product development. If the product was flawed at the outset, the engineers and inventors need to go back and rework the product until it’s ready for mass distribution.

    And there is the notion of comparative advantage.

  96. Robert Milnes

    Pardon the interruption. I’ve proposed a major press conference in Washington that the LP & GP announce they support PLAS on another thread. Would you care to participate?

  97. Brian Holtz

    @105: Who are you, and what have you done with the Tom Knapp who occasionally tries to muster, you know, actual quotes when challenged to produce one? This “just recombobulating that power” charge is pure drivel. For a list of 125 agencies and 50 laws that I’d abolish, see

    When I criticize abolitionists for not recognizing e.g. school vouchers as obvious progress, I’m not saying that vouchers should be LP dogma. I’m just saying that opposition to vouchers should not be LP dogma.

    Again: you’re confusing 1) disagreement among schools of libertarianism with 2) advocating that a particular school be considered privileged by the LP’s foundational texts.

    Your earlier charge @75, that the Reform Caucus “sanctimoniously claims it is the keeper of the flame, and attacks those who dare to deviate from the plumbline” remains pure nonsense. (It is, however, a revealing case study in the knee-jerk shrillness and lack of intellectual self-discipline that some would say characterize many of the LP’s louder self-identified radicals.)

  98. Tom Blanton

    I don’t see where Tom Knapp mentioned the foundational texts of the LP. Go back and re-read #105.

    Brian Holtz, you stand accused of whining when anyone suggests actually reducing the size, scope or power of government.

    Whining is an understatement. I would describe your reaction more as a childish tantrum and angry diatribes consisting of pseudo-intellectual gibberish.

    It appears Mr. Knapp is also accusing you of being dishonest. I would agree, although perhaps not intentionally. It could be you just have so little self-awareness that you are unable to discern reality when it conflicts with your psychological needs.

    It may come down to you taking yourself so seriously that nobody else (besides your follower) feels the need to take you seriously.

    I would imagine that somewhere in California there is some kind of self-help group that could help you work through this, Brian. Maybe clown therapy?

    Good luck.

  99. robert capozzi

    tb, bh need not defend himself. He’s supplied a list of programs he’d abolish. Therefore, he’s on record advocating reducing the size, scope and scale of government. You blatantly have your facts wrong.

    You might consider revising your accusation to maintain some credibility with fair-minded readers. Or, don’t you care?

  100. Brian Holtz

    Blanton is also ignorant whether @105 implicates the LP’s foundational texts. When Knapp says “the plumbline/true school folks are at least honest about what they’re doing”, he’s obviously talking about people like the Restore04 crowd.

    Thus Blanton’s first two paragraphs in @109 are trivially falsified. His remaining paragraphs there are unfalsifiable content-free sputtering. If the facts were on Blanton’s side, he’d cite some.

    He can’t, so he doesn’t.

    As for Blanton “not taking me seriously”: Blanton needs to take lessons from Montoni about ignoring Him Whose Name Must Not Be Written.

  101. Thomas L. Knapp


    OK, fair cop. I tried to make your weird “must, at ANY cost, keep government in control of education” position on vouchers” into the general case. I shouldn’t have done that.

  102. Brian Holtz

    OK, Tom, now get ready for the next apology for your misrepresentations. 🙂

    My position isn’t “keep government in control of education”. My position is:

    • Completely separate education and state.
    • Pending that, auction off all government schools, and convert all government school funding into parent-controlled tuition vouchers.
    • Pending that, give tax credits for tuition spending.

    By all means, keep making stuff up about what I believe. Your need to do so is the best possible evidence that you can’t argue against what I actually advocate.

    We clearly have different judgments about what’s politically possible and tactically astute. It’s simply par for the radical course for you to twist those differences into me having a “we must keep government in control of education” position.

  103. Marc Montoni

    And I double-dare Marc Montoni to say it’s not.

    Perhaps I’ve overestimated.

    The level of discourse here doesn’t even rise to the level of high school trash-talk. Rather, it’s outright grade-school nonsense.

    Now all we need is a “double-dog dare” and our day will be complete.

    Tom K & B, this is why it’s just plain stupid to debate these people.

    Incidentally, for those who wonder, I have no problem with addressing *respectful* people by name. Disrespectful people tend to blow their own horn — ad nauseam — and therefore are generally not worth any extra recognition.

  104. robert capozzi

    bh, yes, but it’s not clear whether you hold high the banner against compulsory education. Some Ls believe parents have the right to provide their kids with no education at all. Sounds to me like child abuse.

  105. Brian Holtz

    89 words from Marc, but (again) zero substance about

    • the merits of the language I’ve proposed for inter-factional accord;
    • whether that language leaves room for “neo-nazis” to join the LP; and
    • whether my hobby of answering charges from radicals leaves me insufficient time for LP-external activism.

    Interestestingly, only half a day after Montoni’s drive-by complaint @94 that “I have yet to see a single assertion of his that was actually *proven*”, Mr. Knapp went and admitted he misrepresented me.

    I’d ask Montoni to cite a “single assertion” against me by a radical “that was actually *proven*”, but I know his policy is to not bring anything to these discussions beyond ironic and fact-free accusations of “grade-school nonsense”, “childish”, “insipid”, etc.

    I did, however, enjoy his link to Wikipedia’s catalog of logical fallacies. I guess he missed this one: Irrelevant Conclusion: diverts attention away from a fact in dispute rather than address it directly. I respectfully invite Mr. Montoni to back up his charge @94 and try to demonstrate me ever falling prey to a formal deductive fallacy.

  106. Thomas L. Knapp


    On the contrary — in the voucher case, it was you who plainly couldn’t argue against what I actually advocated, since every time I pointed out that vouchers/ targeted credits don’t reduce government power over education (and are in fact likely to increase it), you screamed “anarchy next week, folks! He’s calling for anarchy next week!”


    “Not providing” something isn’t “abuse.” It might be “neglect.” Those are two different things.

  107. Brian Holtz

    More misrepresentations from Knapp. Sigh.

    Our voucher debate ended with me saying:

    • Education is perennially one of the top four or five voter concerns.
    • Replacing government ownership of schools with tuition vouchers is considered too radical a decrease in the size of the nanny state that GOP legislative majorities don’t attempt it, and GOP candidates (like even the “libertarian-leaning” ones for governor here in California) dare not advocate it.
    • Seven out of the eight leading libertarian think tanks that take a position on vouchers support them, and even an anarcholibertarian academic like David Friedman says they would be a “great improvement”.

    Nevertheless, the Libertarian Party has never spoken positively about tuition vouchers even as an incremental reform. WTF!?

    This is emblematic of why prominent libertarian policy analysts and policy shops want nothing to do with the LP. And it also demonstrates how, even now, the LP’s vocal abolitionist minority retains an effective veto power over the official policy positions of the LP.

    I also explicitly answered your misunderstanding about this being an “anarchism next week” issue:

    You apparently didn’t catch the distinction I intended when I said “your abolitionist agenda” instead of “your anarchist agenda”. I’m not accusing you of always being upfront about wanting to raze the building — on the contrary, you’re one of my poster children for how LP anarchists don’t campaign on their beliefs as forthrightly as I do. Rather, I’m accusing you of opposing any reduction in the building’s size that might involve hammering a nail and not just swinging a wrecking ball.

    That’s not an “anarchism next week!” complaint. That’s a complaint that, as an anarchist, you self-consciously and explicitly take out of your more-liberty quiver any arrows that involve replacing government programs with smaller-but-different ones.

    Again: principled libertarians can disagree about whether a given arrow fired at the Nanny State will bounce off it or even somehow allegedly strengthen it (even though all nanny-staters oppose the arrow). My point here is that:

    1) the LP should leave room for its spokesmen to advocate an arrow like vouchers, rather than mandating that all LP spokesmen support/oppose them; and
    2) this big-tent position is the exact opposite of the “plumbline” position you falsely accused me of demanding.

    I’m getting tired of you arguing with the voices in your head. When you use quotation marks in a debate with me, trying wrapping them around words I actually wrote. Is that too much to ask?

  108. Tom Blanton

    Marc, you’re right – I’ve lost it out here on the playground. But look, you kneel down behind Brian and I’ll push him down. We can take his lunch money and go to 7-11 and blow it.

    Uh oh, Marc, he’s double-dog daring you to back up your “charge” @94.

    Brian Holtz, your post @111 is falsified and you have censored my post of the neo-nazi rantings of Neal Boortz. Plus, my bike is cooler than your bike. Just wait until Halloween.

  109. Brian Holtz

    Blanton is fact-impaired yet again: I’ve never censored anything on IPR. On the contrary, I want people to read fantasies of playground force-initiation from the “great libertarian” Tom Blanton.

    Poor Marc just can’t catch a break here. First Knapp instantly undercuts Marc’s claim that I never “prove” a point, and now Blanton undercuts Marc’s calling my postings “childish and insipid”.

    However, I will cop to insufficiently disguising my delight at the polemical ineptitude of angrytarians who rebuff/ignore my proposals for intra-party harmony. If my words upset them so much, maybe they can be soothed by TV-shaped moving pictures with sounds:

  110. Michael H. Wilson

    “However, I will cop to insufficiently disguising my delight at the polemical ineptitude of angrytarians who rebuff/ignore my proposals for intra-party harmony”

    I like “angrytarians”. That’s a neat word.
    Kinda like “waffletarians”.

    What other neat words can we come up with?

  111. Brian Holtz

    The freedom movement has a rich vocabulary of neologisms: minarchist, lessarchist, partyarchist, smallarchist, angrytarian, losertarian, povertarian, agorist, mutualist, panarchist, nonarchist, voluntaryist, propertarian, geolibertarian, ecolibertarian, paleolibertarian, anarcholibertarian, cosmo-libertarian, econ-libertarian, neolibertarian, etc.

    I just don’t see “waffletarian” making it into our vocabulary. Plus, it already apparently means “people who don’t eat waffles”. Apparently, Waffletarian Day is July 13.

  112. Michael H. Wilson

    Cheezus Brian ya left out conservatarian, one of the first ones.

    And what happened to Liberventionist?

  113. Eric Sundwall

    Political reality check: CEO’s aren’t exactly high on the average voter’s lists of credible spokesman for a movement or political party.

    Even if they had the capacity to hire the Mike Murphy’s and James Carville’s of the world, the latter loudmouth progenitors of strategy and message would be at odds to expound their hyperbolic nonsense in a third party scenario. Big dollars for the same results.

    That is a small percentage of the vote because most people are going to vaguely associate ideologically with one of the more likely winners. Likely because two parties dominate in a winner take all scenario . . . since the beginning of the republic. Most Americans are practical in that regard.

    All the tweaking of platforms, minor media stints and marketing in the world won’t change that. Libertarians and Greens need to get comfortable in their own skins (ie. accept losing as the only possibility and work harder than the others regardless – it also means happy happy with each other) or just join and take over the other Big Two.

  114. robert capozzi

    es, maybe. Perot, Whitman. Corzine. Fiorina. Metzenbaum. Corporate leaders have done pretty well in politics.

    Accepting loss seems wise counsel. Running as a loser ain’t. Run as if one could win in order to maximize reach seems wiser.

  115. Brian Holtz

    Yeah, it’s not like a CEO has ever won 18.9% of the popular vote in recent decades while running for President outside the two-party system. Let’s stick with reality, people.

    Nobody said anything about hiring a Carville. What Perot did with his money is what Koch did in 1980 for Clark (on a much smaller scale): buy TV time. But the best thing about money is that it gets you media attention even without having to spend it. More media attention will not magically win us the White House, but it will spread our ideas, and tempt the majors to co-opt some of them.

    Nobody said that fixing the platform was a silver bullet. I wrote in May 2007: The Platform should not be a battleground on which we declare defeat for all but one LP strategic vision. Fixing the the Platform — i.e. smoothing its sharpest kookiest edges and scouring away its decades of laundry lists — is hard enough without also trying to engrave into it a particular short-term legislative program or explicit strategic plan. We need to practice the incrementalism we preach, and focus on the narrow goal of making the Platform reflect our common ground instead of our battle lines. We don’t need to make the Platform into a marketing silver bullet, we just need it to stop being a poison pill. The absolute worst thing that can happen to Platform reform is not to fail to rewrite the platform, but rather to succeed in rewriting the platform while promising that the rewrite will accomplish feats that no rewrite possibly could. If in Denver we pass a new Platform and claim to have created a “marketing tool”, then the new Platform will be blamed for any subsequent lack of candidate success.

  116. Brian Holtz

    Thus my bottom line is that I agree with Eric that liberty-oriented legislative changes will not be passed by LP legislative majorities or signed into law by LP executives. Any such reforms will come from non-LP politicians feeling compelled to co-opt our ideas. Eric, do you support changing the LP bylaws so that the LPUS or its affiliates can do what you did in your last election effort — endorse a lesser-of-two-evils opponent if we want to punish a greater-of-two-evils one?

  117. Michael H. Wilson

    Elsewhere Brian has written: “In fact… the Outright leadership has been vociferous in defending incremental reforms while still advocating ultimate principles — precisely the stance of “pragmatic” Libertarians.”

    I don’t see anything wrong with this approach.
    My bitch is the failure to establish goals and having literature spelling them out.

  118. robert capozzi

    mhw, yes, we get that that’s your bitch. Problem is some Ls have as a goal to abolish NORAD to be replaced by insurance companies. Most Ls don’t. So, we have a 35 year impasse.

    Perhaps you should consider the St Louis Accord as Plan B.

  119. robert capozzi

    bh, odds were very high in 1773 that the American colonies would remain under the crown. Odds were very high in 1985 that the Soviet Union would remain intact for centuries.

    It’s one thing to play the odds, another to make absolutist statements about the future, yes?

  120. Michael H. Wilson

    I have said I can support the St. Louis Accord but you seem to be unwilling to see anyone else’s side of any issue and I mean any issue.

    Your attitude from what I read is that it has to be your way or no way.

  121. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 135 RC writes: “Odds were very high in 1985 that the Soviet Union would remain intact for centuries.”

    Wrong Robert. There was a report in the late 1960s early 70s that the life span in the USSR was declining.

    Additionally the increase in oil price with the oil emabrgo of the 1970s provided the USSR with the needed funds to stay afloat. That is fairly well known.

  122. Brian Holtz

    Michael, a response I started writing to you got way out of control, and became this:

    You accuse Bob of “your way or no way”, but I’m saying that accusation should be leveled at all of us. Who here is willing to have the Platform or LPHQ say something you disagree with? I’ll bet that I have a longer list of deviations-from-personal-plumbline that I’m willing to tolerate than any Radical Caucus leader or Restore04 signatory. I bet Bob’s list would be pretty long too. How long is yours, Michael?

  123. robert capozzi

    mhw, I’m not sure why you conclude that, but I’m about as open-minded as I know. The Accord is quite flexible and pluralistic, as am I.

    Perhaps you foresaw the Soviet collapse, but my sense at the time was most were surprised, even shocked.

  124. robert capozzi

    bh, mea culpa. Were it up to me, subjects and treatments would be different. Like most things in life, ain’t up to me. I can live with it and suggest improvements.

  125. Robert Milnes

    Eric Sundwall, @129, your comment is fine up to the last paragraph. The PLAS changes that equation. & there is no joining & taking over the dems & reps. They are too numerous & powerful. The example of Ron Paul should make that clear.

  126. Michael H. Wilson

    RC from what I have read you are against establishing any goals for the LP but you have said otherwise. Unfortunately you don’t want to specify what those goals are. You say let a thousand flowers bloom. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. After all that is what a free and open market is all about.

    I’ve spent a number of years in sales and realize that one size does not fit all. I’ve also spent some time at sea and recognize that getting to your goal (port) depends on the winds, currents and weather and as one shifts you may need to change course. Same idea work in politics.

    What one community decides to do may not work in another.

    We do however, need to be clear as to what our goals are and we need to offer some suggestions as to how to go about achieving those goals. No one is going to be satisfied with everything all the time but right now we have people leave because we are vague on too many issues.

    Robert you want people to support your St Loius Accord. Fine. I have said I will support that accord. But not any longer. Based on what I read as your unwillingness to be specific on goals that support is withdrawn. Until you are willing to provide some examples as to what you believe in other than some vague ideas I do not feel it is beneficial to myself or the LP to support the accord.

    Leadership requires taking a stand out in front of the crowd. Time to do so.

  127. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian I firmly believe in the seperation of education from the state. If that means selling the schools fine. I that means charter sschools fine. If that means vouchers fine. However last time I looked vouchers were not constitutional in Arizona and some Libs object to supporting religious schools on religious grounds. Personally I am against vouchers and I don’t think we should be promoting them but that does not mean I will object to them being mentioned if that is what it takes to make the sale.

    I am also for bringing the troops home from abroad. Some Libs I have spoken to say getting them home isn’t our problem. That is their problem and they should not have gone overseas in the first place. Let’em pay their own way home. Some Libs think we need to keep some forces overseas. Those are two extremes. So are we to do nothing and say nothing because of the two extremes? Me, I want to specify the goal of bring them home, spell out the numbers overseas and as some questions such as how long are the U.S. taxpayers going to support their overseas competition. We need to ask the question so that we drive the debate.

    We’ve got this wonderful idea but now we are like the guy who invented a better mouse trap but didn’t tell anyone.

  128. Brian Holtz

    We don’t say nothing. We say: “The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances. American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and its defense against attack from abroad. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid.”

    And just a few weeks ago, we reiterated: “The Libertarian National Committee calls on the government of the United States to withdraw the armed forces of the United States from Afghanistan, without undue delay”.

    I doubt you could get the requisite supermajority to get an LP convention to demand that every last member of the U.S. armed forces be brought back to U.S. soil.

  129. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian I think this is the platform; “American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and its defense against attack from abroad. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.”

    It is a bit difficult to hand the platform out at a booth if someone ask about the LP’s position on this issue. Nor does it explain the costs associated with the present deployment which might help to sell the idea. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that most Libertarians not to mention most Americans have little or no idea as to how many bases we have abroad or what the costs are.

    You talk about the costs your daughters have to deal with, well this one is one of the biggest. We need to deal with it and it may be at the root of the inflation we have been experiencing since the 1950s.

  130. Brian Holtz

    Annual spending on the nanny state is $1.6 trillion, compare to $500 billion for all defense spending (not just on “empire”). Further, even the most wild-eyed estimated total future price tag for Bush’s wars is only about 2% of America’s unfunded entitlement liabilities.

  131. Michael H. Wilson

    So did you bother to think the issue through?

    If the American worker was not subsidizing her economic competition then maybe we would not have all that nanny state spending.

    Try again!

  132. Michael H. Wilson

    One more thing Brian. Some weeks ago I sat and listened to one of my fellow vets talking about his experiences from Vietnam and he’s damn near crazy but he’s one of us. Now if you want to strap on a weapon and go to it, then have at it. Just don’t ask others to do it for you. And pray to God no one in your family ever has to go through that.

  133. Brian Holtz

    Good libertarians know that foreign trade is positive-sum, and that xenophobic fears of “competition” come from the same dark place that wars come from.

    Even if we forget all we know as libertarians about how comparative advantage makes trade positive-sum, it would be ludicrous to suggest that the U.S. troops in Germany and Korea are what created the American Nanny State, or that returning them to U.S. soil would dent the demand for continuation and expansion of the Nanny State.

    The “Chickenhawk” argument is the weakest on my list of fourteen arguments against liberventionism. That argument says I only get to advocate the existence of crime-fighting and fire-fighting and drowning-prevention and jails if I personally am a combination cop / fireman / lifeguard / warden.

    I don’t order anyone to be a soldier; the U.S. military is (and should be) all-volunteer. American soldiers voluntarily enter a contract to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” I don’t believe in any gods, but people in my family have indeed been in war. My grandfather lost a leg in one. Nevertheless, as a Libertarian I don’t believe that the lives of my family are inherently worth more than those of the many innocents abroad that the U.S. military has variously saved, avenged — or killed. In general, you can count me as in favor of minimizing the killings of innocents — by anybody.

  134. Robert Capozzi

    very difficult — I’d say impossible — to say that US non-defense military spending (i.e., NATO, SEATO and other spending overseas) triggers the rise of the welfare state. It seems an easier case that Germany and Japan’s Nanny State spending are higher than they might otherwise be. The relative lack of expenditure on defense could be said to enable Nanny spending.

    During the Reagan budget cycles, there was pretty explicit logrolling going on. Ds acceded to R defense buildups in exchange for increases in Nanny spending. Reagan/Stockman had proposed some actual domestic spending cuts, as I recall, but gave in.

  135. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, I don’t oppose the LP having goals. The idea of a “program” has been bouncing around for a LONG time. I’m OK with the idea.

    Like the platform– which used to, in essence, say that Ls support the individual right to any and all weapons, including WMD — if it contains goals that I find hurts the cause of liberty, I’d be inclined to not support the goal list.

    If you can cobble together goals that resonate with the required super-majorities, good luck!

    I’d note that we already HAVE a goal:

    “As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”

  136. Brian Holtz

    Bzzzzt. Those figures ludicrously assume that 91% of the national debt is defense-related, when in fact social spending has dwarfed military spending throughout the run-up of the debt in the last few decades. The Higgs article is based on 2006 data, and even it says “the Department of Defense itself spent $499.4 billion”.

    This almost as comical as when Paulie cited some figures that tried to exclude Social Security and Medicare because they are allegedly self-financed through payroll “contributions”.

    For more recent numbers than either Higgs or I were using:

    Oh, and thanks for completely ignoring the $50 TRILLION in unfunded nanny-state liabilities:

  137. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Bzzzzt. Those figures ludicrously assume that 91% of the national debt is defense-related, when in fact social spending has dwarfed military spending throughout the run-up of the debt in the last few decades.”

    Bzzt x2.

    First, those figures make a VARIABLE assumption, ranging from 23% to 91% for the “defense”-related interest figure.

    Secondly, it’s reasonable to place more blame for debt on discretionary spending than on non-discretionary spending (if I pay my rent with my salary and then take out a title loan and go out for dinner and a movie, it makes more sense to blame my debt on dinner and movie rather than on rent), and on supplementary rather than regular spending (if I spend what I have, and then borrow and spend more, it makes more sense to blame my debt on the extra spending than on the initial spending).

    I ignored the unfunded liabilities because I was making a very NARROW point (that “defense” spending is more than you said it is), not disputing the larger issue.

  138. robert capozzi

    tk, I’m surprised that you assert such a thing as “non discretionary” spending.

  139. Brian Holtz

    Higgs plainly writes: “This sum is equal to 91.2 percent of the value of the national debt held by the public at the end of 2006. Therefore, I attribute that same percentage of the government’s net interest outlays in that year to past debt-financed defense spending.”

    You simply echo Paulie’s silly lefty propagandists who attributed 100% of the national debt to defense, for no other reason than it’s the kind of spending they personally like the least. Typing in the word “discretionary” doesn’t make this move any less silly.

    I apologize for the sarcasm on unfunded liabilities. I should try harder to assume agreement with fellow Libs rather than disagreement.

    Out of curiosity, how do you as an ex-Marine view veterans’ benefits? Would you immediately repudiate such obligations, just like (if I understand correctly) you would repudiate the national debt?

    My position is: 1) we should honor the terms of employment that led people to choose to become government employees; and 2) we should continue “entitlement” benefits for individuals up until they have recouped their past payroll “contributions” plus interest plus inflation.

    If you wouldn’t cancel veterans’ benefits tomorrow, it sounds lame to complain about them. If people should be punished financially for lending to The Omnimalevolent State, then surely they should be punished financially (at least!) for fighting for The Omnimalevolent State.

  140. Michael H. Wilson

    So you’re okay with taxing the American workers to subsidize their economic competition.

    That’s nice. I’ll bet we could sell that one. Yup!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *