Free Virginia: ‘FairlyTaxin”

Posted by Marc Montoni at Free Virginia:

In March of 2004, the members of the Libertarian Party of Virginia voted to endorse a national retail sales tax. Here is the language adopted in 2004:

WHEREAS taxing wages, earnings, investment, savings and, death destroys individual freedom and initiative; and

WHEREAS eliminating the Internal Revenue Service is a positive step in the right direction to restoring individual liberty; and

WHEREAS the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States should be repealed; and

WHEREAS passage of H.R. 25 would change the direction of government confiscation of private property in the favor of the citizenry; and

WHEREAS the complexity of the current tax system causes arbitrary government enforcement and denies equal protection under the law; therefore be it:

RESOLVED that the Libertarian Party of Virginia (LPVA) endorses the passage of H.R. 25 as a step, and only a step, in the right direction; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that the LPVA encourages all members to contact the Virginia delegation for their support; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that the LPVA encourages all members to attend the first national rally to eliminate the Income Tax on May 1st in the Hampton Roads area of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

HR 25 was the “FairTax” legislation that was in congress in 2004 (I do not know if it’s been reintroduced under that same number).

I have offered resolutions to overturn this endorsement at every state convention ever since. This year, 2010, was no different. At our March 6, 2010 state convention, I introduced the following resolution:

Whereas, the Libertarian Party has historically held the position that all involuntary taxation, regardless of form, function, or method of collection, is forceful and coercive in nature; and therefore represents legalized theft, and,

Whereas, the state and national governments are collecting revenue even in these depressed economic times that are double or triple what was collected just a few years before, in most cases just 7 to 8 years, and,

Whereas, this ‘revenue’ represents property stolen from individuals in mass quantities,

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Libertarian Party of Virginia hereby calls on all governments, to repeal the income taxes to serve as a real ‘economic stimulus’ for these tough economic times; and,

Further, be it resolved that at no time should repealed taxes be replaced with new taxes, regardless of source, such as “sin”, corporate, trade, licensure, or sales taxes; and,

Further, be it resolved that governments should operate under balanced budgets at all times, without incurring any debt, and should reduce expenditures to reflect current real revenue.

During debate, I outlined just a bit of the many reasons I believe advocating any new tax, particularly the FairTax, is simply bad business for the LP. Fortunately, there is a great library of excellent articles about the FairTax. Here are a few:

http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0704d.asp

http://www.fee.org/Publications/the-Freeman/article.asp?aid=5911

http://www.mises.org/story/1975

There are of course many more.

Surprisingly, at the convention this year, the question went further than it had at both of the two prior conventions — it was only two votes shy of success in a (very) slightly amended form.

Here are a few relevant facts.

The individual income tax typically brings in about 40% of federal revenue. Last I heard, 2009 federal revenue was on-track to be about $3.2 trillion. The Individual Income Tax brought in $915 billion. Federal spending just TWO years earlier was almost that much (spending increased $500 billion in FY 2009 over 2008; $250 billion 2008 over 2007.

I don’t want the tax system to be revenue-neutral. I want it to be coercion-free. When you have a $915 billion theft going on, it is simply wrong to allow that theft to continue.

I intend to keep trying, until my colleagues learn that we cannot play the FairTax game. We’re not Republicans. Nor are we Democrats. We must be eternally vigilant against any stew they cook up — and the FairTax is a thoroughly Republican stew.

I never thought I’d witness LP candidates openly advocating new taxes (some promote the FairTax, others promote carbon taxes). Yet here we are. How’s that working for us? Seems like the promised land hasn’t gotten any closer — the LP is still exactly where it was a few years ago, before we started hearing Libertarians proposing any new taxes.

I do not believe promoting the FairTax gets us any closer to a free society. If I’m going to spin wheels, I’d rather spin them with a clean conscience. Advocating a new tax does not leave me with a clean conscience. The sound-good idea of the FairTax should be recognized for what it is: never-ending federal tax enslavement.

If Libertarians are afraid to walk the libertarian talk, there’s not much point in working via a third party.

236 thoughts on “Free Virginia: ‘FairlyTaxin”

  1. Aaron

    I understand your points but would like to offer some others. The FairTax is about as voluntary as you can get. Used items, savings and necessities are not taxed. I am also for drastically cutting government intake and spending. I’m new to the fight but I know it goes back decade after decade. To me the most exciting benefit of the FairTax is it makes government cost visible. Its printed every day and put in every hand. Right now people don’t listen because they don’t care. They would be looking for answers under the FairTax. And of course eliminating two planks in the Communist Manifest along with the way with a booming economy would be great too…

  2. Thomas L. Knapp

    The “Fair” Tax is even worse than the income tax.

    1) Its proponents lie about the initial rate, claiming it is 23% when in fact it is 30% if calculated as as all other sales taxes have historically been calculated (exclusively rather than inclusively). If you buy an item priced at $1, the total will be $1.30, not $1.23.

    2) It’s linked to a monthly government welfare check, falsely described as a “tax rebate,” for every man, woman and child in the United States. Like Social Security, once those checks start getting mailed, it will be damn near impossible to get people to vote to stop having them mailed.

    3) Advocates of the “Fair” Tax claim that it will end lobbying for special tax privileges. It won’t. Within months of passage, all the big lobbies will have pressured their way to exemptions. After which, of course, the rate will have to go up to remain “revenue neutral,” and the politicians will squeeze the body politic’s testicles (“the ‘rebate’ checks will stop coming!”) for support to raise it.

    4) Advocates of the “Fair” Tax claim that it will result in the abolition of the IRS. Bullshit. There will still need to be a federal organization analogous to the IRS to administer the welfare program and police interstate evasion of the tax — and FIFTY state “IRS”es to collect the tax.

    5) Since used products are exempt, many business and some entire industries — in particular the auto and housing industries — will be wiped out in the initial run on used products. By the time the price of used stuff without the tax ascends to damn near the price of used stuff with it, it will be surprising if there’s a new-car automobile dealership or general contractor that hasn’t filed.

    Not only is the “Fair” Tax un-libertarian, it’s economically insane.

  3. Tom Blanton

    I was at the 2004 LPVA convention and I remember the abundant Fair Tax literature – I should say propaganda because it is mostly lies, here’s why:

    http://www.pnar.org/fairtax.htm

    The biggest promoter of this crock of horse manure in the LPVA also happened to be a big promoter of the war on islamofascism and a huge fan of Neal Boortz. Imagine that.

    The Fair Tax is a bad idea and any group that needs to fabricate so many lies and distortions to move its agenda is questionable. If anything, the Fair Tax may be worse than the horrible system of taxation we now have.

    “To me the most exciting benefit of the FairTax is it makes government cost visible.”

    No, it doesn’t. To hide the fact that the Fair Tax is 30% instead of the claimed 23%, the tax would have to be inclusive in the prices.

    A $1 item would cost $1.30 – a 30% sales tax, right? Nope, not according to the Fair Taxers. You see, 30 cents is 23% of $1.30. There you go, a 23% sales tax in Fair Tax Land.

    Eliminating planks in the Communist Manifesto?

    How about adding a socialist system of monthly checks to every household from the government for a “prebate” based on the difference between your reported income and some baseline amount.

    Considering the Fair Tax people want to put a sales tax on services, the alleged boom that would occur is unlikely when the cost of services to the consumer is apt to increase and we now live in a “service economy”.

    The Americans For Fair Taxation (AFFT) and their Fair Tax have been around since 1994 and all they have done is put donations from rubes in the pockets of the AFFT CEO and AFFT lobbyists.

    “If Libertarians are afraid to walk the libertarian talk, there’s not much point in working via a third party.”

    Ain’t that the ugly truth.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp

    Tom B,

    You write:

    “How about adding a socialist system of monthly checks to every household from the government for a ‘prebate’ based on the difference between your reported income and some baseline amount.”

    Actually, it’s both better and worse than that.

    It’s better, because you don’t have to report your income.

    It’s worse, because even though it’s misleadingly called a “rebate” or “prebate” (i.e. advance rebate), it’s not linked to payment of the tax at all.

    The way it works is that each month each person gets a check that is the same amount as would have been paid on purchases up to the top of the “poverty level.”

    For example — and I’m just making the particular numbers up — if the “poverty level” was set at $10,000 per year and below, that would be $833.33 per month. If the “Fair” Tax is 30%, then the “prebate” check would be $250.

    Of course, you may not have spent $833 on taxable things. Maybe you grow your own food and buy used clothing and walk where you go instead of driving and produce your own electricity with solar or wind. Doesn’t matter — that check will come in the mail. That’s why it’s not actually a “rebate,” but rather a guaranteed welfare check.

  5. Mik Robertson

    It seems like a lot of the opposition to the fair tax could be addressed simply by not taxing food, shelter, and clothing and eliminating the ‘prebate’.

    Most states already collect a sales tax, so this would not add any particular burden in most cases. If the tax were collected at the state level and then forwarded to the federal government , that would eliminate a lot of the blackmail of the federal government to withhold funds if certain state laws are not passed.

    Complaining about the way the tax is calculated does not address the concept itself. Isn’t the cost of compliance with income tax regulations estimated to be somewhere around 20-25% of the average cost of goods and services? That cost is currently hidden in the prices, and would be eliminated with the income tax.

    The fair tax would have that cost be open and up front with every taxed purchase. There would not be a sudden huge jump in off-the-shelf costs to the consumer.

    If you want more open and transparent government, the fair tax seems to be an improvement over the income tax system in place today. It also introduces better choices to avoid the tax if desired. It may not be an ideal end point, but it sure seems to be a step in the right direction.

  6. Bill Wood

    I would like this better:

    “The Libertarian Party of Virginia calls for the repeal of the 16th Amendment and replace it with nothing”

  7. Tom Blanton

    Tom K – I think you are right about the “prebate” not being based on income, if I recall correctly,the number of people in the household would affect the amount.

    I also seem to remember that there is some sort of income reporting required. I think it may be to dertermine Social Security benefits.

    HR25 is a monster. I read the damn thing about 5 years ago and I will not read it again.

    Ron Paul fans should note that he is not one of the 61 co-sponsors of HR25.

    If the Fair Tax is so wonderful, why does AFFT feel the need to lie and spin about it? For libertarians, the Fair Tax should be a nonstarter, for non-libertarians it is simply a bad idea that won’t result in what is promised – pretty much like every other piece of legislation.

    The one positive benefit of the Fair Tax that I can think of would be that a huge counter-economy or black market would probably arise, cutting the state out of economic activity altogether. It would be a great opportunity to build systems outside the government structure. Although considering the bad economic times, high unemployment, and high rate of taxation, it is amazing that more people aren’t side-stepping the system. Fear of that boot on the neck keeps most rubes where their rulers want them.

  8. Corinna P.

    Tom Blanton,

    You should read “Fair Tax: The Truth” (or something approaching), it addresses some of the misconceptions you wrote as factual. I read the first fair tax book as well, but I don’t think you need to to get the most of the second one, and you seem to already know more about FT than the general public.

  9. Matt Cholko

    One of my primary concerns with the idea of a national sales tax (whether that be the Fair Tax or something else) is that it will undoubtedly lead to us being taxed both on income and purchases.

    I can see it now, once the Fair Tax comes into play the personal income tax will be “eliminated for all but the really rich folks.” Then, a few years later, it’s adjusted to hit the pretty rich folks, then the kinda rich folks, then the upper-middle class, then we’re right back to where we are now, but with an additional sales tax.

    I believe that Marc Montoni (or someone other than I) made this point at the convention.

    The text of the resolution was changed slightly, to eliminate the words theft and stolen. It was thought that this would be a bit more palatable to the general public. Given the changes, I can’t really understand why anyone wouldn’t vote for it. There was a candidate present, who is supporting the Fair Tax as a campaign position. It is possible that this factored into the votes, and the resolution may have passed without him speaking against it.

    Since Mr. Montoni has brought this up in the past, I assume he will do at future conventions. If he does, I will certainly support it again.

    As to Bill Wood’s comment above, I would also support that resolution.

  10. Stewart Flood

    You are forgetting the worst part of the not-fair tax. The hidden tax on labor.

    Here’s how they claim it works: you work for someone, you get paid. No income tax. But if you work for yourself — as quite a number of people do — then your labor is now taxable UNLESS you are performing work for another business!

    That’s the key: another business. So if you repair computers (a perfect example) and you fix a computer for a person who owns their computer then the fee you charge them for labor requires payment of the tax to the non-IRS-IRS that supposedly doesn’t exist anymore but we all know will still be there. If a business customer comes in with a computer that a business owns then there is no tax on the labor for the repair.

    Sounds confusing, eh? It is. They call it business-to-business transactions, but it is really a plan to eliminate small businesses.

    This is a nightmare. And the auditors for this non-IRS-IRS that won’t ever audit your books (!) will find all sorts of ways to say that work you did for a business wasn’t really for a business and you get hit with penalties and interest (their favorite phrase) for what you didn’t collect but now have to pay to the government.

    The non-fair tax is actually a great way for the government to eliminate small businesses and independent contractors. If you work for someone, no tax (to you) for your labor. If you work for yourself, you still pay taxes — even more if you live in a state where labor is currently not taxed under the existing sales-tax system. And this makes ALL LABOR TAXABLE if the work is for an end-consumer.

    I’ve had “experts” try to explain to me how my analysis of the labor tax problem is wrong, but their own books about the subject show the problem.

  11. Michael H. Wilson

    Y’all forgot one thing. Asking people to choose between the Fair tax and the Income tax is like asking them to choose between which of two knives they wish me to cut their throats with.

  12. Robert Capozzi

    tb, Ron Paul may not be a co-sponsor of the Fair tax, but during his presidential campaign he said he’d vote for it if it came to a vote.

    I’m not a fan of the Fair Tax either, but I do think that Ls can make tactical decisions about which tax system is less injurious and more likely to promote tax visibility, all else equal.

    Lower taxes revenues and less onerous collection and fewer disincentives against peaceful production line up nicely with this L’s views. Given our role as a challenging party, I don’t think we need to get TOO wonkish about optimizing the tax system, but I do think our ideas should have credibility.

    Saying replace the income tax with nothing is not credible IMO at this time. IF one takes that position, one should seriously consider articulating a credible transition plan, at least in broad strokes. Otherwise, the numbers don’t come close to adding up.

  13. Robert Capozzi

    mc: One of my primary concerns with the idea of a national sales tax (whether that be the Fair Tax or something else) is that it will undoubtedly lead to us being taxed both on income and purchases.

    me: In most states, we already ARE taxed on purchases. I suspect a very large percentage of the US population pays a sales tax almost every day of their lives.

    This is a “sources and uses” problem. All Ls I know believe that the government takes too much from the source — the taxpayers — and spends too much, using taxpayer dollars in injurious ways.

    Some of the uses seem necessary for the foreseeable future, such as courts and a defense of the country. Some of the uses seem politically impossible to end in the short term, like Social Security and Medicare.

    What the sources for funding these functions should be could take many forms. I, for example, am intrigued by the idea of shifting the tax burden toward polluting activities and away from work, saving and investing. Not only does that seem fair, workable and peaceful, but it is potentially popular, making it more likely to be enacted.

    Any change has risks associated with it. Reasonable people can disagree about how we calculate the risk, but let’s not deny that we’re in a risk-taking business.

  14. Mik Robertson

    I agree that taking the stand that the income tax should be eliminated and replaced with nothing is a political non-starter. At least the fair tax would get the tax reform ball rolling. It is easier to change the course of a ship once it is moving.

    As far as a tax on labor, doesn’t the income tax serve as a tax on all labor? Ideally we would get around to shifting the taxes from the good things like labor or sales to bad things like monopoly land use or environmental pollution.

    Until that is a politically viable move, there is this fair tax proposal that does have some traction which could be used to address the worst of the existing system of taxation. We shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or even the enemy of some small improvement.

  15. Marc Montoni

    @4 Who exactly pushed all this in VA? Has VA been overrrun by the right-wing or GOP as is happening elsewhere?

    If you read the minutes I linked to in the article, the originator of the motion was Brian Babb. My memory could be faulty, but I recall that besides Babb, Virginia LP members Don Tabor and Jim Turbett were among those who spoke in favor. There may have been some other than myself speaking against, but if there were, I don’t remember who they were.

    The state chairs at our 2008 (Leonard Harris) and 2010 (Jeff Bowles) conventions both openly ridiculed the idea of bringing up the ‘repeal’ question. I considered their behavior prejudicial (the proper place for a chair to make a statement either pro or con for a motion is from the floor, not the podium) but did not challenge it — I think that eventually the tide will swing back the other way and such prejudicial behavior won’t have mattered anyway.

    What does Lark think about this?

    Why don’t you ask him directly?

  16. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    You write:

    “At least the fair tax would get the tax reform ball rolling. It is easier to change the course of a ship once it is moving.”

    On the contrary, the “Fair” Tax would be much harder to “change the course of” than the income tax.

    Yes, a good number of Americans consider their annual income tax refund a windfall and don’t think a lot about the fact that they paid that money in in the first place (and some of them get more back than they paid due to the Earned Income Credit and other refundable credits). But most of them understand that on net they’re being shaken down.

    Start sending every man, woman and child in the United States a monthly welfare (“prebate”) check, as the “Fair” Tax calls for, and you’ve recreated the “third rail” aspect of Social Security — within a short period of time, it will be suicide for a politician to suggest that those checks be stopped, or even reduced in amount.

  17. Robert Capozzi

    tk, actually, income taxpayers have fallen to about one-third of the citizenry, so I’m not sure your critique works.

    The Georgist in me LIKES the prebate. It’s a concern, but I like it more straightforward form of “redistribution.” ‘Course, I also like the negative income tax as a means to rollback the bureaucratic Nanny State. When the bureaucracies are gone, we can have a more pure national discussion about safety nets and so forth. As it is now, there are just too many cross-currents to have a meaningful conversation.

    IMO.

  18. Mik Robertson

    @ 19, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be some modifications to the fair tax. I think it would be better rather than go through twists and flips to get money ‘prebated’ if the necessities of life were not subject to the tax.

    Most people alive today in the US have not known a time when the income tax was not in place. Changing the system would indicate to people that things can change without the world falling apart. It would make it easier to put into place changes that make more sense in the not-too-distant future.

  19. Mik Robertson

    Also @19, If the people had to pay the tax with every purchase, do you think they would be more likely or less likely to realize how much the government takes than getting a refund on income tax at the end of the year?

  20. Tom Blanton

    It seems to me that libertarians need policy wonks (or wanks) obsessed with tactical manipulations like vegans need butchers.

    I’m waiting for a neolibertarian think tank to spring up in some suburban office park called the Libertarian Institute of Central Planning. Guys in polo shirts and tassled loafers could sit around all day modifying bad ideas, making compromises with each other, and hustling Republicans for donations. Maybe the Likud Party would even spring for a foreign policy section.

    Libertarian Statism for the 21st Century!

  21. Robert Capozzi

    tb: It seems to me that libertarians need policy wonks (or wanks) obsessed with tactical manipulations like vegans need butchers.

    me: Prolly so. What do we need, Thomas? A paramilitary of deranged and angry Timothy McVeigh wannabes? Parlor-game-playing Ivory Towerists constructing theoretical utopias?

    Takes all kinds, although I’d prefer the McVeighs just call themselves nihilists…more honest, seems to this hombre.

  22. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    You write:

    “Changing the system would indicate to people that things can change without the world falling apart.”

    Well, that’s the other problem with the “Fair” Tax. I’m not sure how you define “the world falling apart,” but in economic terms I think that putting the entire US home and commercial building and auto manufacturing industries out of business in a matter of months would be pretty damn close in most people’s eyes. The only positive outcome is that the US government would probably collapse with those two industries. While I consider that a positive outcome, for most people it would probably fall into the “world falling apart” category.

  23. Mik Robertson

    @26 I don’t know why those industries would suddenly be put out of business with this tax shift. Granted, this is just a shell game, changing how the revenue is collected, but it makes it more transparent, and may help to eliminate some of the hidden tax privileges currently in place.

    Keep in mind the proposal is also to eliminate income tax and the IRS at the same time. That means all of the costs for employers related to the income tax will no longer be. People will no longer have the withholding kept from their paychecks.

    The ones hit hardest by the fair tax would be those living on fixed retirement incomes or other things that are not subject to income tax. Perhaps any ‘prebate’ could be targeted toward them to offset the change. It is not like this would result in an effective devaluation of the currency by 23% or 30% or however you want to calculate it.

    There may be some shift of consumer choices to avoid the tax, but probably less than the steps people take to avoid the income tax. If there is a 30% sales tax but the price has dropped because there are no longer the income tax costs to the employer and you have 30% more in your paycheck, will you really not be able to buy the new house or the new car?

    Why do you think those industries would fall apart?

  24. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi, you forgot to ask whether libertarians need more candidates that defend the right of your neighbors to build nuclear bombs in their tool sheds.

    My question is do you know any libertarians that are deranged and angry Timothy McVeigh wannabes who are dishonest about their nihlism? Wow, I know the LP likes to recruit from the right because that’s where the money is, but I didn’t know things were so bad that Timothy McVeigh types are welcomed.

    And I thought it couldn’t get much worse than the acceptance of Fair Taxers and interventionists. Sounds like maybe Root being on the Michael Savage show is bringing in some new recruits after all, even if they are dishonest nihilists.

    As for parlor-game-playing Ivory Towerists constructing theoretical utopias, there are already plenty of those around – they will be the ones opening up the Libertarian Institute of Central Planning soon.

  25. Tom Blanton

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but I’m pretty sure that Ron Paul has been calling for the elimination of the income tax. If this idea is so crazy, why has a movement of people sprung up around him?

    His campaign for liberty seems to be doing better than the LP and better than the Fair Tax movement which has been around since 1994. I’m not so sure that eliminating the income tax is a nonstarter.

    Of course, there would have to be meaningful spending cuts. But, considering the federal budget has doubled in the past 10 years, there should be plenty to cut – say 50% – bringing spending down to the level of 2001. This hardly seems very radical. The out of control spending is what is truly radical.

    A program such as this would truly invigorate the economy. The Fair Tax is revenue neutral and would not likely live up to the claims made by those making a living advocating it.

  26. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    Not all transition effects are instant. During any transition period into the effects of the “Fair” Tax, industries which manufacture:

    a) Expensive products;

    b) For which a sizeable used inventory exists

    are going to take a shellacking. Yes, the price of used goods without tax will rise toward the price of new goods with tax as the demand shifts, but not as quickly as the tax itself will be implemented. Until those used inventories are exhausted or the price points get really close, carpenters and new car dealership employees might as well stay home, or find another line of work.

    The homebuilding industry will come back eventually, because most of the population won’t move to Canada.

    The car industry will be gone for good, because factories can be moved and cars imported.

    The IRS won’t be eliminated, although it might be renamed. Administering the welfare program alone will require a sizable bureaucracy, and there will certainly be an enforcement function to police “prebate” fraud (grandpa’s been dead for two years, but the checks are still coming). interstate fraud (buy something new wholesale in one state as a business to business transaction, no tax; take it across state lines and sell it retail as used, no tax) and state rakeoffs (Missouri collects $1 billion, creatively accounts, tells DC it only collected $800 million).

    I do see advantages to the “Fair” Tax — among them that within a few years most of the American economy would be untaxed because either it would be figuratively, or the politicians would be literally, underground — but most people tend to get antsy when a policy that ends with not one stone standing atop another in the city formerly known as Washington, DC is proposed.

  27. Robert Capozzi

    Yes, tb, out of control spending is extremist and counterproductive, certainly. (I associate the word radical with getting to the root, so I prefer my word choice.)

    But let me get this straight…you say that Ron Paul advocates income tax abolition and since he’s carved out a niche on American political stage that position is realistic?

    For real?

    Dr. Paul has also btw advocated a 10% flat tax over the years as well.

    I and certainly most Ls I know would LOVE to see the income tax go away and for spending to be cut 50%…for starters. It’s not a question of what, it’s a question of how….

  28. Robert Capozzi

    tb 28, would you say that Vin Suprynowicz is a prominent figure in the abolitionist L school of thought? Fair characterization?

    In 2003 at Ernie Hancock’s 2003 Freedom Summit, Vin said the following, and the audience applauded:

    Does the right to own arms mean I can own a nuclear weapon? And the correct answer is “yes”. Where do you think the government got their nuclear weapons? They only are supposed to have powers we delegate to them. How did we delegate to them the power to have nuclear weapons if we didn’t have it ourselves? Even a Libertarian politician goes “Well, I’m certainly not campaigning for personal nuclear weapons this year.” This ducking-the-question stuff, we don’t need that. Most of them are crooks by the time they get on the ballot. Everyone’s free to make their own decision, but I’ve pretty much given up. The whole voting thing, it hasn’t worked in 30 years.

    In my best Jim Carey voice, I say, “Well, alrighty, then.”

    Source: http://www.ernesthancock.com/archive/?2006-06-16-Bonus

  29. Robert Capozzi

    tk: I do see advantages to the “Fair” Tax — among them that within a few years most of the American economy would be untaxed because either it would be figuratively, or the politicians would be literally, underground…

    me: Interesting speculation. If correct — as stretched as this theory is — it seems unlikely that the pols would not make adjustments to tighten up on the underground, untaxed economy. This is why I don’t play four dimensional chess…I can’t know second, third and fourth order shifts after the initial change is made. So many variables, so little computer power. 😉

  30. Tom Blanton

    Well, Mr. Capozzi, if Vin Suprynowicz says what you claim (I’ll take your word for it), then it is obvious that not only many libertarian candidates are advocating personal nuclear weapons, many people across America (including your neighbors) must be developing nuclear bombs in their tool sheds.

    The point I was trying to make (that you didn’t pick up on) when I referenced Ron Paul’s position on eliminating income taxes was to point out that for many people (his supporters), the issue is not a nonstarter that alienates voters. In fact, his supporters outnumber LP members.

    The larger point is that regardless of the idea, and regardless of how you or others worry about the reaction of the unwashed masses to an idea, the idea will never gain traction if not presented – over and over. You know, sort of like the Fair Tax people have been doing since 1994 with their unusual idea.

    While you may wish the McVeighs of the world (or of the LP?) were more honest about their nihilism, I simply wish libertarians who claim to support certain long-standing libertarian ideas were more honest about what their agenda is, rather than wasting time, money and energy advocating issues that they don’t believe in simply because they fear rejection. The fundamental dishonesty and lack of authenticity among political hacks is one of the reasons that half the eligible population does not vote.

    However, if the goal of the hidden agenda is to alienate voters to the point where nobody votes, I might support that.

    The LP missed the opportunity to pick up support when LP candidates were silent about the wars, the militarization of society in general, and war related losses of civil liberties. LP candidates are now missing the opportunity to offer bold and clear alternatives to our failed economic system.

    For example, take James Quigley (an LP congressional candidate from Va.), his website lists only 3 issues, that’s right – three. 1) Protect against excessive fines and fees; 2) Barriers to Small Business; 3) No more bailouts.

    That’s it. This guy is running for national office and those are his only issues. Have the members of the LP become so myopic that they can’t understand why this campaign is doomed?

    Stuart Bain, the other LP congressional candidate and a Fair Taxer, has no issues section on his website at all. However, he does post a blog entry where there are 20 questions from the Campaign for Liberty that he answers affirmatively in their corner. For the most part, his answers are merely “yes”. At least one can glimmer some idea of how he might vote IF elected and what issues he deems important.

    Capozzi has nothing to worry about from these candidates offending voters with crazy talk about cutting budgets and personal nukes. These guys are playing it safe. Of course, nobody betting on the outcome of these campaigns will need to consult with Wayne Root to determine the odds.

  31. Brian Holtz

    Without giving specifics about what federal spending to cut, anyone who says “replace the income tax with nothing” is just advocating more taxation on future generations. Below is a summary of federal finances in 2008. The income tax financed 39% of federal spending. Please give us a list of federal spending cuts you would make that add up to 39% of federal spending.

    And note that if you leave payroll taxes in place, then you’ll be changing the tax system from very progressive to very regressive. That’s great for high-income people like me, but not so great for my low-income siblings.

  32. Brian Holtz

    I agree that LP candidates should stake out boldly Libertarian positions on the full spectrum of policy issues. The easiest way for them to do that is to endorse the LP Platform.

    Another easy way is to place the World’s Smallerest Political Quiz on their site (and/or on the back of their business card):

  33. Woof!

    The fair tax” tax rate is just too high for this proposal to be acceptable. Likwise, a negative income tax, prebates and other welfare schemes do nothing to eliminate the problems that come from welfare-state type socialism.

    The worst and most evil tax of all, and the most damaging in its effects on the economy and in economic distortions is the property tax.

    Repeal of all taxes on all forms of property should be a primary goal of Libertarians and the LP.

    We also must work to repeal all taxes on all forms of income and labor and elimination of the evil IRS.

    However, to advocate the repeal of all taxes and leaving the government with no revenues, while principled and attractive to radical LPers, will not lead to much serious consideration by the media or voters at the polls. It may not be the quickest way to victory.

    Instead, we need to advocate radical but plausible change that will lead to the greatest possible freedom in the short term and have the broadest appeal to libertarian leaning voters:

    ***** So,

    The Libertarian Party should call for the abolition of all taxes on income and property.

    All taxes would be replaced with a national sales tax (or VAT) of 10% on all goods and services to be shared by all levels of government: federal, state and local.

    Constitutional amendments would be introduced to prohibit all taxes on property and to prohibit all taxes on income and to cap the national sales tax at 10%.

    Balanced budgets would be mandated and borrowing prohibited, also by constitutional amendments.

    This would give us a tax system that causes the least damage to the economy, causes the least economic distortion, allows tax objectors to easily and legally avoid all taxes if they so desire, allows voters to see that every taxpayer is treated equally by paying the same percentage on all purchases of all goods and services, and allows for libertarians to work for even lower spending and taxation levels in subsequent years by working to reduce tax rates of a single, transparent tax.

  34. Brian Holtz

    I agree with LP Founder David Nolan when he wrote:

    In an ideal world, there would be no taxation. All services would be paid for on an as-used basis. But in a less-than-ideal world, some services will be force-financed for the foreseeable future. However, not all taxes are equally deleterious, and the worst form of taxation is a tax on productivity-i.e. an “income” tax-and no libertarian supports this type of taxation. What kind of taxation is least harmful? This is a topic still open for debate. My own preference is for a single tax on land, with landholders doing their own valuation; you’d state the price at which you’d be willing to sell your land, and pay taxes on that amount. Anyone (including the tax collector) who wanted to buy it at that price could do so.

    The principles of land value taxation were defended by
    * Adam Smith
    * Thomas Jefferson
    * Tom Paine
    * Frederic Bastiat
    * John Stuart Mill
    * Henry George
    * John Locke
    * Lysander Spooner
    * Benjamin Tucker
    * Robert LeFevre
    * Frank Chodorov
    * Albert J. Nock
    * Milton Friedman

    The reason economists say that a tax on land value is the “least bad” tax is that such taxes have no deadweight loss. Any tax on production or exchanges or movable assets causes economic inefficiency. A tax on these things causes a deadweight loss (i.e. allocative inefficiency) because people who would have more marginal benefit than marginal cost are not buying the good or service — just as a subsidy induces people to buy who impose more marginal cost than their marginal benefit. However, this effect of taxation does not happen when the supply of the taxed good is perfectly inelastic, as is the supply of land — more precisely, the surface area of the Earth. Sites cannot flee or evade taxation, and the available amount of them is not reduced when they are taxed. (When a tax is not on a good but rather on a “bad”, like pollution or congestion, it’s the very absence of the tax that causes allocative inefficiency, because external costs are not internalized.)

    Taxing land value is not only more efficient than taxing production or exchanges, but it is also less intrusive. All the government needs to know is who owns each plot of land and how much the unimproved land is worth. Appraisers and insurers make such calculations routinely, and one variant would have each land-holder self-assess as long as he’s willing to take any offer over his assessed value. There’s no need to audit anyone’s behavior, as with taxes on income/production/exchanges. You don’t even need to visit the site or look over the fence, as you do with taxes on land improvements or square footage. For illiquid landholders, taxes could accumulate as a lien against the property, capped at its market value, so nobody need ever be taxed off the land they hold.

    Land value taxes are naturally local, and so encourage Tiebout Sorting. If the the local mix of government services is too high (or too low) for your taste, or if they aren’t a good value for the LVT rate financing them, then you can vote with your feet. By contrast, income and sales taxes tend to get centralized at the state or even national level, because (unlike land) income and sales can flee to lower-tax jurisdictions. (New Hampshire is among the most free states, and gets the highest percentage of government revenue from property taxes. California finances its high government spending with high centralized state income taxes that rose after Prop 13 restricted local property taxes in 1978.)

    LVT retrieves the extra land value created by public services — streets, pipes, levees, police, parks. This creates pressure to defund public services that do not actually add value in the free market for land.

    LVT turns out to closely model how consensual private communities tend to govern themselves. Malls, business parks, hotels, condominiums, homeowners associations — all tend to “tax” their tenants not according to profits or revenues or inventory or improvements, but mostly by site value (for which square footage is often a good proxy).

    LVT imposes a built-in ceiling on government revenue. Critics of land value taxation claim it wouldn’t raise enough revenue because ground rent is allegedly only a small fraction of GDP. That sounds like a good thing to me. If government revenue is restricted by definition to ground rent and fees for polluting/congesting/depleting the commons, then government cannot be nearly as big as when it is allowed to tax labor, production, exchanges, and all resulting products. Once you have taxation of people’s labor and exchanges and produced assets, there is no limit to what the government can take from you.

  35. Woof!

    the Land Tax is the most evil form of Fascist-Socialism.

    It is unacceptable politically.

    It is impossible to assess in any manner that would be perceived as fair. This is because the rules are complex, convoluted, arbitrary and completely unfair. It is based on ignorance and logical sophistry.

    It is the opposite of a libertarian solution.

    It would be easier to sell the elimination of all taxes and replacing them with nothing, and for good reason, almost anyone can see that it is illogical, evil and actually will cause the greatest possible economic distortion of any tax system.

    The LP needs to rid itself of the evil fascist-socialist Henry George hangers on, or the LP, already so close to death, will soon die.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Well, Mr. Capozzi, if Vin Suprynowicz says what you claim (I’ll take your word for it), then it is obvious that not only many libertarian candidates are advocating personal nuclear weapons, many people across America (including your neighbors) must be developing nuclear bombs in their tool sheds.

    me: Huh?

    tb: I simply wish libertarians who claim to support certain long-standing libertarian ideas were more honest about what their agenda is, rather than wasting time, money and energy advocating issues that they don’t believe in simply because they fear rejection. The fundamental dishonesty and lack of authenticity among political hacks is one of the reasons that half the eligible population does not vote.

    me: Speaking for myself, I believe I AM being honest when I advocate substantial and gradual reductions in the State across the board. I believe I am being MORE honest (or perhaps more humble or more realistic) than those who seem to have very specific destination points about what point the State should be reduced to, eg, none; very small. In total candor, I find such specificity to be a ridiculous theoretical exercise, and an utter waste of time.

    Do you find my view somehow dishonest? If so, how so?

  37. Brian Holtz

    Land Value Taxes also cause body odor. And cancer. And who could ever consider Nolan’s self-assessment idea “fair”?

    The LP indeed needs to purge geolibertarian hangers-on like Nolan. How the heck did he even get associated with the LP in the first place?

    LVT could never work in the real world. Fantasies about LVT implementation always involve places with obviously-made-up names, like “Hong Kong”, “Pennsylvania”, “Singapore”, and “Taiwan”.

  38. Thomas L. Knapp

    Woof!

    You write:

    “[Land Tax] is impossible to assess in any manner that would be perceived as fair.”

    What could possibly be more “fair” than:

    – YOU assess the value of your land, and YOUR assessment is the basis of its tax rate;

    – To keep you honest, you have sell to an offer of or exceeding the value YOU assessed.

    – You’ll never be evicted for non-payment of the tax. If you don’t pay, then the tax will simply be expressed as a lien to be exercised when the property is sold.

    I can see one major loophole in that system. Let’s say that I live on a parcel of land, I want to stay there, I don’t want to pay the tax, and I’m not especially concerned about passing the land on as an inheritance.

    I’d assess the value of my land at an outrageous price — let’s say a million dollars for an acre that would only fetch $10k on the market — and not pay the tax.

    When I died, there’s no way the land would sell if that lien had to be paid off by the buyer, because many years of taxes at an outrageous valuation would have piled up, probably making the tax payoff many, many times the value of the land itself. The government would presumably have to auction the land off for a fraction of what it claimed I had owed in taxes.

  39. Thomas L. Knapp

    On the other hand, that loophole could backfire on me, or rather be turned against me by the government.

    I assess the value of my land at $1 million, even though it would only bring $10k on the market. So, the government puts a lien on the property, waits until it says I owe a million in taxes, offers me a million for the land (I have to sell it if the offer exceeds my valuation!), then takes back the million bucks it just gave me per the lien.

    So I guess I’d have to set a high base valuation, then increase increase that valuation by the amount of the lien each year to stay ahead of the bastards.

  40. Woof!

    Of course in can never be fair.

    In a free society, you have the right to own your property free and clear, forever, tax-free and to pass it to your heirs, tax-free.

    You have the right to keep your land and do what you want with it, without regard to what others may want to do with it or how others may value it.

    The very idea that you think it is OK for the state to play games and force you to sell the property at some stated value or to pay tax based on the same value shows and proves that you do not believe in liberty at all. Allowing the state to take your land or claim the tax is a most evil, fascist-socialist position.

    If you are forced to pay taxes on your land, even if assessed as a lien, then you are a slave to the state.

    Liberty begins with the end of all taxes on land.

    Without the right to own land, free of all taxes, duties and assessments of any kind, forever, and to pass that land on to anyone at any price for any reason, also free of any tax or assessment, no man can be free.

    There can be no right to life and no liberty without the absolute right to property, free and clear of all taxation.

    The whole premise behind the land-tax is fascist-socialism.

    Anyone who supports any tax on land is a fascist-socialist, no matter what other political positions that person may hold. This is an absolute, fundamental litmus test.

    The tax on land is the fundamental pillar of the fascist-socialist state.

  41. Thomas L. Knapp

    Woof,

    Please get a grip on yourself.

    I’m an anarchist. I oppose all taxation. Therefore, “the very idea that [I] think it is OK for the state to play games and force you to sell the property at some stated value or to pay tax based on the same value shows and proves” … nothing whatsoever, because the very idea is false on its face.

    Consult your dictionary. “Free” and “fair” are not the same thing.

    I can agree that Tax X, where X is any tax, is not “fair” because it unjustly impinges on freedom, while simultaneously acknowledging that the process for assessing Tax X is “fair” as far as it goes, e.g. that particular process, taken apart from the larger one, is not facially unjust or inequitable.

    And, of course, you completely avoid a larger question that goes beyond the tax itself, let alone the assessment mechanism:

    “your property”
    “your land”
    “the right to own land”

    … all assume the validity of the Lockean homesteading/labor-mixing theory of property in land, or some variant thereof.

    I’ve now been asking for someone, anyone, to actually demonstrate the validity of said theory for about a decade now, ever since I took notice of the Georgists.

    Rothbard’s attempt to do so is embarrassing and pitiful, and his is the best stab at it I’ve seen so far.

    I’ve resisted accepting the validity of the Georgist theory of property in land so far — not because the Lockeans have represented, but because I’m still waiting to see if they’ll ever do so.

  42. Brian Holtz

    In a free society, you have the right to own the results of your peaceful labor, clean production, and voluntary exchanges — free and clear, forever, without the “national sales tax” that Woof fantasizes he could cap at 10%.

    You also have the right to occupy land for as long as you live without ever being forced off it.

    What you don’t have is the right to act like a king or conquistador, and claim perpetual sovereignty over some portion of the Earth’s surface — something that is the product of nobody’s labor, and that existed long before the first humans.

    What you don’t have is the right to appropriate increases in ground rent that are created by local community services — streets, pipes, levees, police, parks. If you want to capture those ground rents, you have to pay a share based on what you think the land you occupy is worth to you.

    Woof says: “Keep 90% of what you make, and steal 100% of the value that the community adds to the land you occupy.”

    Geolibertarians say:

    You have the right to breathe and bottle air, but you don’t have the right to claim perpetual sovereignty over any column of the atmosphere.
    You have the right to drink and bottle water, but you don’t have the right to claim perpetual sovereignty over any river or ocean.
    You have the right to broadcast, but you don’t have the right to claim perpetual sovereignty over any particular frequency.
    You have the right to fly, but you don’t have the right to claim perpetual sovereignty over any particular air corridor.
    You have the right to occupy and till soil, but you don’t have the right to claim perpetual sovereignty over any area of the Earth’s surface.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Capozzi has nothing to worry about from these candidates offending voters with crazy talk about cutting budgets and personal nukes. These guys are playing it safe.

    me: I’m not sure if I don’t make my views to you clear; you have comprehension issues; or you are kidding. Playing politics is BOUND to offend someone. Virtually every issue I personally advocate offends someone. I’d venture to say that’s true for everyone who plays politics. (Interestingly, I am neutral on several issues, and some even find THAT offensive!)

    I view running for office as applying for a job. If the term of running for Congress is two years, then I’d suggest that’s a reasonable time horizon to base one’s program on. As a challenging third party, I’d suggest our candidates feel less hamstrung by the term of office, and to be more edgy and ambitious in his or her positioning. Ls SHOULD get people thinking outside the box.

    At the same time, I also think candidates should NOT take positions that are unimaginable for most based on current trajectories. That requires judgment and calibration. You’ve seen me list these sorts of extreme, absolutist positions before…no need to retype them.

    IMO taking unimaginable positions only serves to discredit Ls with the general public, which in turn does a disservice to the cause of liberty.

  44. Reply from Duopoly Central ..........

    Thomas L. Knapp // Mar 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    “Woof, Please get a grip on yourself.” *

    Oh Tom, the one thing non Libs have discovered about the libertarian movement, like military traitors or spies (or agents provocateurs in general) the most verbose often will take a cherry picked comment to build a non sequester reply upon.

    In my life time of EXPLODED government growth, think how different the post war (WWII) period would have been in the Fascist States of Amerikkka would have been if the [so called] libertarians were called to action instead of the informal agreement among them to bicker end lessly!

    * while not always blatantly illegal, this action is often frowned up in polite society. [Allowable at a dark and smoky rock concert may be ……]

  45. Brian Holtz

    Bob @48, I think that alternative candidates should run on the set of positions for which they want to show/grow electoral support. I have no problem with a Libertarian campaigning as an anarchist, to show and grow the electoral support for anarchism. I just have a problem with him wanting the rest of us to run on an anarchist platform too.

    Of course, elections are a very imprecise measurement device. Although my 2008 congressional result (4.4%) was the highest among the eight third-party candidates in four 4-way races in California for Congress or state legislature that year, and also broke the record for highest percentage ever won by a third-party candidate in my district, I don’t think that much of my vote reflected an endorsement of geolibertarianism.

    As long as the LP maps out the common ground shared among principled libertarians, LP candidates should be free within those boundaries to tailor their message according to the issue priorities of their audience and themselves.

  46. Reality Check

    A national sales tax, capped at 10%, shared among all levels of government would reduce the total sized of our government by up to 80% or so, depending upon where you live.

    This would be a pretty good success for an LP that has done nothing to date.

    It is also a reasonable goal on our way to liberty. It would allow us to reduce the state and allow individuals who do not buy goods and services to live on their land, tax free, earn their incomes tax free, save tax free and invest tax free. Only consumption would be taxed.

    On the other hand, the completely nutty, illogical fascist-socialist ideas of the geo-Georgian-fascist-socialist earth nazis would never be supported by any group large enough to fill a Greyhound bus.

    The goal of the geo-Georgian-fascist-socialist earth nazis is to enslave the people forever with a wacko idea that the land is owned by some communistic group.

    There is no logical reason to support the idea that some collective has the right to “act like a king or conquistador, and claim perpetual sovereignty over some portion of the Earth’s surface — something that is the product of nobody’s labor, and that existed long before the first humans.”

    Collective provision of services does NOT increase the value of property – in fact, it decreases the value of property. The property would be much more valuable if all services were provided in a free market and only available to those who paid for them. The fact that such services are provided by the collective reduces the value of the land and whatever earnings (if any) the landowner may derive from the land.

    The Geo-Georgian-Fascist-Socialists should pay the land owners reparations for the evil they have imposed upon him by providing unwanted collective services that reduce everyone’s standard of living and reduce the value of everyone’s property including the value of their labor and the value of all other assets in addition to the land.

    The geo-fascists make us poorer and then want to tax us for doing it.

    These people are stupid beyond all possible belief and evil on top. Typical collectivist Bull Shit.

    Being a collective does not give the geo-Georgian-fascist-socialist earth nazis any more right to own this property than the individuals who really do and should own it. They merely use the illogic of the collective to arrogate to themselves through the use of coercion the power to take property that is rightfully in the hands of individuals.

    Since individuals manage property better than the collective, since collectivization causes waste and distorted economic outcomes, since collectivization makes everyone poorer and reduces the value of the land, since liberty cannot exist without unfettered private ownership of land, columns of air, rivers, lakes, oceans, and since the collective has established no greater right to own this land than the individual, there is no basis in logic for any claims of the evil, geo-Georgian-fascist-socialist earth nazis.

    Geo-fascist earth nazis are just trying to justify taxing something. They have no interest in liberty.

    *****

    It is time to realize that the evil fascist-socialist Geo-Georgian earth nazis have no basis for their claims, they are completely wrong, unlibertarian, enemies of freedom and waste the time and efforts of true libertarians with their illogical, nonsense.

    The LP must call for the absolute repeal of all taxes on land as an essential first step toward liberty.

    Let the dirty dozen Geo-fascist earth nazis go infest the Milness party.

  47. Brian Holtz

    I stopped reading @52 at the second invocation of “fascist”. I’m speculating that among all that sputtering there is not a single sentence that explains why it’s not “fascism” for the State to claim a communal share of all the goods and services that you buy from other people.

    One doesn’t have to believe in the geolibertarian view on property rights to accept the economic arguments about why taxing land value is more efficient than taxing labor or production or consumption. I doubt that either Milton Friedman or David Nolan were applying geolibertarian property axioms when they reached this conclusion.

    Knapp is mistaken to describe the Rothbardian position on land ownership as “Lockean”. Geolibertarian property theory in fact hinges on the Lockean Proviso: that one must “leave as much and as good” for others. The opposing view is more aptly described as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allodial — i.e. enjoying the same level of sovereignty over one’s land as a royal dynasty enjoys over its kingdom.

  48. Reply to Duopoly Central ..........

    Brian Holtz // Mar 15, 2010 at 6:16 pm
    ‘I stopped reading @52 at the second invocation of “fascist” ………..’

    Do you agree or disagree that Israel First Jewish Zionists [(so called) Libs Bruce Cohen and Bruce Wayne Root, (so called) reformists John Blare, John Dennis Coffee, John Bambey, Valli Sharpe Giesler, and Independence Party ally and crook Frank MacKay ] whom use fascist tactics and strategies are not fascists ???????????

  49. Mik Robertson

    @29 “During any transition period into the effects of the “Fair” Tax, industries which manufacture:

    a) Expensive products;

    b) For which a sizeable used inventory exists

    are going to take a shellacking.”

    Why would that will be the case? The tax rate is the same, so why should the sales of a pack of gum be affected differently than a new house? There is already a large supply of used houses on the market, some dirt cheap, yet new homes are still sold. If some of those used houses get sold because of the fair tax, that would be a good thing.

    “The car industry will be gone for good, because factories can be moved and cars imported.”

    How does importing cars avoid the tax? Why can’t cars be made here and sold overseas? If it were not for government bailouts, the US automobile industry would be almost gone already, without the fair tax.

    I don’t find this economic analysis to be a compelling case against the fair tax. I don’t think the fair tax is by any means the best option out there, but the current monstrosity of the income tax system is about the worst thing we have. It would be hard to change it for something worse.

  50. Thomas L. Knapp

    “The tax rate is the same, so why should the sales of a pack of gum be affected differently than a new house?”

    Because there’s not a huge inventory of used chewing gum that people will find acceptable as a substitute for new chewing gum.

    “How does importing cars avoid the tax?”

    It doesn’t avoid the tax. I didn’t imply that it did.

    In the early days of the “Fair” Tax, new car sales will plummet to nearly zero — there are plenty of used cars without the tax on them, and people will snap them up rather than pay 30% more tomorrow for the new car that cost 30% less yesterday.

    As demand for new cars dies, the last incentive for manufacturing new cars HERE will die with it. Firms with plants in the US will shutter them, pack up their equipment, and re-open their factories elsewhere. They’ll sell their cars in countries that haven’t gone shithouse rat insane until the US starts to regain its sanity … and then they’ll sell here, but probably not manufacture here again for a long, long time.

  51. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Knapp is mistaken to describe the Rothbardian position on land ownership as ‘Lockean.'”

    The Rothbardian position on property in land is Lockean to the extent that it posits a homesteading/”labor-mixing” process for procuring ownership rights in land.

    The neo-Lockeans never point out the “leave as much and as good” criterion; they stick with the homesteading claim. That’s one reason they fare so poorly against the Georgists in the argument.

  52. Mik Robertson

    @56 “As demand for new cars dies, the last incentive for manufacturing new cars HERE will die with it. Firms with plants in the US will shutter them, pack up their equipment, and re-open their factories elsewhere. They’ll sell their cars in countries that haven’t gone shithouse rat insane until the US starts to regain its sanity … and then they’ll sell here, but probably not manufacture here again for a long, long time.”

    Do car manufacturers make cars in one country and sell them in another? Why would a tax on sales shutter production? It seems to me a response to the tax may be to make cars here and sell them overseas. Labor markets would be improved as requirements for income tax compliance go away. If you want to drive away the manufacturing, tax production.

    I don’t see where the scenario of manufacturing packing up because of a sales tax would happen. Do manufacturers pack up and move out of states with sales taxes or do retailers move across state lines?

    New car dealers may close and move if suddenly there were to be a jump in the cost of their products without any adjustment in earned income, but that would not be case under the fair tax proposal, as I understand it. A lot of new car dealers have already closed without the fair tax, so a doomsday proclamation as a result of a tax shift rings hollow.

    There is more to the sale of houses than price. The fact that some used houses won’t sell for a few hundred dollars while new houses still sell should indicate something.

  53. Marc Montoni

    In the early days of the “Fair” Tax, new car sales will plummet to nearly zero — there are plenty of used cars without the tax on them, and people will snap them up rather than pay 30% more tomorrow for the new car that cost 30% less yesterday.

    There is actually some evidence to support this claim. In the eighties and nineties there were a gaggle of new taxes piled on to various items regarded as “luxury goods”. For instance, a substantial new “luxury tax” was placed on boats in 1991, which I believe applied to boats above a certain cost (although it might have been all boats). Not only did the tax fail to collect anywhere near projections, but for all practical purposes it destroyed almost the entire yachtmaking business in the USA within just a couple of years. Prior to the enactment of the tax in 1991, the USA was a net exporting yacht-making country; afterwards, and to this day, it imports far more than it exports.

    The 10% luxury tax was applied to the retail sale of yachts — just as the FairTax would apply to retail sales of everything. It won’t take very long at all for the wild gyrations of the FairTax to send ripples and shockwaves throughout the entire economy.

    All I can say is, be careful what you wish for.

    Read more:

    http://www.boattest.com/Resources/view_news.aspx?NewsID=3482

    http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/shipwrecked-in-new-jersey/

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/budget/budget_1-1.html

  54. Robert Capozzi

    tk and mm’s critique seems to be that transitioning to a FAIR Tax would involve serious transition problems. I agree. It’s one of the primary reasons I don’t support the FAIR Tax, but like Ron Paul, I agree it’s probably a net improvement from the current tax system.

    However, a new luxury tax on some items is not necessarily a sufficient illustration, since it was a NEW tax on TOP of the current regime. If the income tax were gone and a sales tax took its place, taxpayers and consumers would have more disposable income on Day One. The sticker shock of a big new sales tax may well cause those with a propensity to buy X to delay, but a revenue neutral tax system like the FAIR tax would allow taxpayer consumers to buy and sell as they will. The prebate could actually lead to an INCREASE in demand, as those who make less income to could afford marginal goods they otherwise would not be able to afford. How that’d all net out is impossible to say.

    I much prefer to undo the current system, possibly replacing it with pollution taxes phased in, at lower levels, of course. An excellent place to test this would be on Social Security and Medicare funding.

  55. Tom Blanton

    The notion that libertarians should support a revenue neutral means of taxing Americans to fund Social Security, Medicare and a bloated central government seems to fly in the face of the shiny new LP Platform the reformers worked so hard to push through.

    Perhaps the LP is ready for a new platform. Maybe the coming Libertarian Institute of Central Planning could draft a new platform along with a 100 year transition time-line. Gradually rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would probably be a better tactical move than simply moving the chairs around haphazardly.

  56. Robert Capozzi

    tb, if you are refering to my post 60, then I’m leaning to the “weak comprehension skills” I suggested was a possible explanation for your inability to understand me, as I suggested in post 48.

    What I ACTUALLY suggested in post 60 was “I much prefer to undo the current system, possibly replacing it with pollution taxes phased in, at lower levels, of course. An excellent place to test this would be on Social Security and Medicare funding.”

    Notice the bolding to help you out in your quest for truth, and (I’d hope) your future avoidance of profound mischaracterization, as you seem wont to do. Interestingly, when you make such BLATANT mischaracterizations, you undermine your credibility with the fair-minded, I’d strongly suggest.

    My revenue neutral discussion was simply my comparing and contrasting the current INCOME tax system with the proposed FAIR tax, which I don’t advocate, as I’ve said repeatedly. (I trust that fact will eventually sink in!)

    Now, if you want to bait me on whether I think SS and Medicare should NOT be funded tomorrow (which, btw, ain’t gonna happen), my answer is I don’t support that. I do support a gradual unwinding of those failing programs.

    Perhaps that makes me not an L in your book. I’m OK with your having such an opinion, but I happen to disagree with you. Or do you actually respect that I am a L, as I do you, despite your counterproductive argumentation.

    Oh, yes, I’d also take issue with describing the platform as “new.” It removed a lot of years of bizarre overstatement, and got the platform back to a place that most Ls can live with it. That was the goal, and I’d say Platcom was largely successful in achieving that goal.

    But, no, the platform is not the L 10 commandments.

  57. Tom Blanton

    You need to chill, Robert. You sound very angry.

    I comprehend what you write, but you must understand that not everything I write is directed at you or about your ideas. It’s not all about you, Robert. Just some of it.

    But if you can’t take it, you can always stop dishing it out by projecting your images of violence and rage. McVeigh libertarians?

    This thread is about the Fair Tax and that is touted as being revenue neutral.

    There are a number of ideas expressed here. Some I agree with, some I disagree with, some I find absurd. But you are certainly free to believe what you want and call it libertarianism if you wish.

    If I wanted to say “Capozzi, you are no libertarian”, I would simply write: Capozzi, you are no libertarian. But why would I? You profess to be a “lessarchist” with some other adjectives thrown in. And who gives a shit whether I think you are a libertarian or not?

    My credibility is not so much an issue as I am not a politician. I’m not running for any office or selling anything. I do confess to being amused by how seriously some people take themselves around here. But that doesn’t require me to take anyone seriously.

    The fact that a small number of “libertarians” can’t agree on virtually anything might validate the belief that a diverse nation of over 300 million people spread out over millions of square miles shouldn’t have one rigid system of laws imposed by a central government. It just doesn’t work for most people. However, I am fully aware that many “libertarians” would disagree. Perhaps rather than argue over what system should be imposed, it would be better to discuss a framework for optional systems, or my favorite, no national system at all.

    As long as reading comprehension has become an issue, did I say the LP is the “L 10 commandments”?

    The LP platform is what it is. I’m just saying that maybe it should be changed again to accommodate the new bright ideas taking hold in the current LP. Maybe reduce the whole thing to 4 planks: guns, God, gambling and tax cuts.

  58. Robert Capozzi

    tb, chill is always good counsel. Anger’s not in my repertoire, but testy is, and my patience was tested, ultimately by ME! So thank you!

    You may not care, and perhaps you are serving as kind of Glenn Beck of L circles, playing the rodeo clown, poking and prodding and otherwise challenging. I’m not running for office either, but I do try my best to maintain my credibility, as I do try to influence other Ls to be accepting and respectful of our comrades in arms. Sometimes I too use hyperbole to make a point, though! OK, more than sometimes 😉

    As for the 4 Gs, don’t you know that you can count me out….

  59. Brian Holtz

    The fact that a small number of “libertarians” can’t agree on virtually anything

    Blanton assumes a fact not in evidence. If he’s not familiar with what a supermajority of Libertarians believe, he should read http://www.lp.org/platform.

    Blanton cannot name a single LP leader calling for a revenue-neutral implementation of the Fair Tax.

    I’ll say it again: unless a proposal to “cut” taxes includes a specific proposal to cut spending, it’s really just a proposal to shift taxes to somebody else. Here are some spending cuts I proposed in my 2008 campaign for Congress:

    * Everyone should be cashed out of Social Security by giving them bonds equalling their total lifetime contributions (and employer match) plus interest and inflation less benefits already received.
    * The U.S. military budget represents half of the world’s military spending — far more than needed for ensuring our national defense. Major savings can be had by ending our efforts at nation-building in places like Iraq, ending U.S. forward ground defense of allies in Europe and Korea, reducing the size of our strategic nuclear arsenal and blue-water navy, scaling back our weapons modernization programs, and slashing missile defense efforts down to only basic research.

  60. Tom Blanton

    The Incredible Knower Of All Facts asserts:

    “Blanton cannot name a single LP leader calling for a revenue-neutral implementation of the Fair Tax.”

    Actually, I referenced a LP candidate above that is for the Fair Tax and there have been many candidates who claim they were for the Fair Tax and they did not specify that it was not to be revenue neutral.

    Apparently, Mr. Holtz is unaware that Rep. Linder, sponsor of the Fair Tax bill HR25, and the AFFT claim the Fair Tax is revenue neutral. Therefore, anyone who says they are for the Fair Tax is in support of a revenue neutral tax bill, according to the leading advocates for HR25.

    By the way, just because a super majority of libertarians vote for a platform doesn’t mean they agree with it. I would cite as evidence for this claim the fact that no small number of libertarians will sign the LP Pledge and then turn around and say they don’t agree with it. Libertarians are a fickle bunch.

    The larger picture, outside of what Brain Holtz thinks, is made clear by what issues LP candidates bring to their campaigns in aggregate. Often, these issues are not in sync with the LP platform.

  61. Tom Blanton

    Robert, Robert, Robert. There you go again with the passive-aggressive insult thing you do so well. I suppose the seething rage within must be expressed in some fashion. At least you aren’t bombing buildings in Oklahoma, yet.

    I’m quite sure you intended the Glenn Beck/rodeo clown jab to be an insult. I am the anti-Glenn Beck.

    I could easily return the insult, but I’ll give you a pass this time – just to prove how I too can pretend to be above all that.

    Rodeo clown, indeed. Geez.

  62. .......... via Don Lake

    Tom Blanton // Mar 16, 2010:
    The Incredible Knower Of All Facts asserts,
    “Apparently, Mr. Holtz is unaware”

    Apparently it is not widely known out
    side of Lib Land that non Libs consider
    the rumor that ‘ya want 13 opinions —–
    consult a dozen LPers’ if not true, then
    at least worthy of investigation!

    And Lib Ethics, truth and honesty be
    tween self employed self important
    arrogant white males whom trade in
    the Holy Bible for RROO: ‘after bumping
    fists or shaking hands —- count yer
    fingers, twice!’

  63. Robert Capozzi

    In all honesty, tb, this ‘graph:

    My credibility is not so much an issue as I am not a politician. I’m not running for any office or selling anything. I do confess to being amused by how seriously some people take themselves around here. But that doesn’t require me to take anyone seriously.

    reminds me of the FORM that Beck takes, that of rodeo clown. He makes outrageous statements, I’m guessing KNOWING that his credibility will be diminished, but for the purposes of stirring the pot.

    Content-wise, I’m aware that you’re not a Beck fan.

  64. Brian Holtz

    Blanton writes that LPCO congressional candidate Stuart Bain “did not specify that [the Fair Tax] was not to be revenue neutral.” Actually, it’s worse than that. In Bain’s trifold, “Solution 1” is the Fair Tax, which he explicitly describes as having “revenue neutrality”. Granted, Bain describes “smaller government” as “Solution 2”, but he’s very vague about what parts of government he would shrink.

    Social Security, Medicare, and means-tested income/health-support programs together make up half of all federal spending. The current LP platform still says these programs shouldn’t exist, but no LP platform has ever suggested how to unwind the government’s massive “social insurance” schemes. (The only suggestion has been that “Victims of the Social Security tax should also have a claim against government property.”)

    One approach to unwinding Medicare would be give people a refund (in Treasury bonds) of all “premiums” paid in, less any Medicare benefits so far received. People who have started receiving benefits could choose to forego the refund and instead remain a beneficiary for a period of time proportional to how long they or their spouse paid premiums. People who forego or exhaust their Medicare benefits would be covered by the means-tested healthcare safety net — i.e., Medicaid, or its defederalized/privatized successor.

  65. Tom Blanton

    Stuart Bain is not running in Colorado, he is running in Virginia.

    It only seems he’s running in Colorado if you’re in California.

    Living in Virginia, the embarrassment is more painful.

    At least the guy could put an issues section on his website.

    As for spelling out how to unwind government programs in the LP platform, many LP folks have argued against that for years saying that candidates should set forth their own ideas on those matters.

    Perhaps they are aware how hard it actually is to get libertarians to agree on details. Or maybe they don’t want a top-down plank on these details, assuming a candidate might be better at coming up with ideas that suit the district he is living in.

  66. Brian Holtz

    It only seems he’s running in Colorado if you’re in California.

    Or if you scanned the front page of his web site and saw the headline: Why I Am Running as a Libertarian for Colorado’s CD 6.

  67. Michael H. Wilson

    re # 72 Brian I believe that is in reference to a McNealy for Congress article on Bain’s site.

  68. Michael H. Wilson

    The link below will take you to a page with a number of inflation graphs on it. If you take a look at the history of inflation from 1600 to 2005 you will see a steep increase beginning about 1950. That’s about the same time as the overseas expansion of our military was seriously underway and other growth in government began about the same time as well. This is how we pay for all this government we have.
    http://oregonstate.edu/cla/polisci/price-levels-and-us-economy

    Here are similar numbers from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank
    http://www.minneapolisfed.org/community_education/teacher/calc/hist1800.cfm

    Maybe one of y’all can graph this into a nice brochure for us.

    Thanks,

  69. Robert Capozzi

    actually, while I’d not advise nor advocate it, a L candidate who advocated a revenue-neutral tax plan AND spending cuts is supportable by me. Spending is the first thing to cut, now more than ever.

    TB, there is no reason that Ls should agree on all the details. It’s a party, not the Borg, after all.

  70. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, as you know, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. By your logic, then the GDP charts ALSO correspond to increased military interventionism. I doubt you’d want to make that point, I know I wouldn’t.

    Also, my reading of the inflation charts show the inflection points later, more like 1965 and 1980.

    RE: CPI, I’d like to see the methodology used in these charts. The basket of goods today and in 1665 have to be substantially different. We’ve got a LOT more choices today than in 1665, when most lived at subsistence levels. When real per capita goes from about $6K to $36K in 100 years, some things are going very right. The biggest inflection point appears to be about 1935…not exactly a great year for liberty.

  71. Brian Holtz

    The real inflection point is 1971, when Nixon ended the gold convertability of the dollar, thus triggering the formation of the Libertarian Party:

    How much benefit does the government derive from inflation? An upper bound would be to multiply M2 by the inflation rate, which yields an amount that runs around 5% of federal spending. But in the reporting of government revenue, only about 1% consists of proceeds from creating money. Of course, the real benefit to the government from inflation is in decreasing the real value of the federal debt.

    And whatever correlation-to-causation story you want to tell between warfare-state-spending and inflation, an even stronger story can be told about welfare-state spending:

  72. Scott Lieberman

    “Robert Capozzi // Mar 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

    actually, while I’d not advise nor advocate it, a L candidate who advocated a revenue-neutral tax plan AND spending cuts is supportable by me. Spending is the first thing to cut, now more than ever.”

    *********************************

    I agree – mostly.

    Fair Tax advocate Neal Boortz would LOVE to make the 30% extrinsic sales tax rate much lower at inception, but he admits that political realities dictate not cutting spending until after the Fair Tax is in place. I think a “modest” (for libertarians) spending cut should be put in place at inception, bringing the rate down to 27%.

    This does not make me a socialist – this makes me someone who wants to see actual movement towards freedom in MY lifetime – not 100 years from now.

  73. Robert Capozzi

    bh, your charts only include FEDERAL spending, I do believe. Layer on state and local spending, and the State’s real burden on taxpayers becomes clearer, and where the burdens are coming from.

  74. Brian Holtz

    States and localities have no ability to inflate the dollar. My graphs are for addressing Michael’s claim that dollar inflation saw “a steep increase beginning about 1950” that is explained by “the overseas expansion of our military”. My goal was to show that the turning point was actually around 1971, and that the welfare state has been a bigger fiscal imperative during that time than the warfare state.

    However, I don’t see how the numbers support the naive theory that seigniorage has been a significant method of financing either the welfare OR warfare states. Instead, inflation has been the (predictable) result of short-sighted government efforts to manage the business cycle in general and the trade balance in particular. Bracket creep and monetizing the debt were both bigger boons to federal finances than seigniorage, but I suspect that the leaders of the omnimalevolent state saw even these two larger effects as fringe benefits to their desperate efforts to synchronize the business cycle to the election cycle. However, fans of simplistic correlations should note that inflation was slashed dramatically in 1981, right when bracket creep was nearly eliminated through automatic indexing.

  75. Michael H. Wilson

    BH @ 74 I also wrote “… and other growth in government began about the same time as well.”

    I fully recognize that the welfare state is a significant part of the problem.

    Another part of the problem is that the government has twice reformed the way that inflation in calculated so that the numbers are lower.

    What I’m looking for is a nice brochure we can use to illustrate the problem of inflation.

  76. Work on it folks .......... via Don Lake

    Robert Capozzi // Mar 17, 2010 at 10:12 am
    “………. only include FEDERAL spending, I do believe. Layer on state and local spending, and the State’s real burden on taxpayers becomes clearer ………..”

    This Democan and Republicrat HATER would have thot that Lib style politics would have also EXPLODED!

  77. Brian Holtz

    Here’s an excellent recent article on the relationship between inflation, federal debt, and social insurance: Why Default on U.S. Treasuries is Likely. It confirms my back-of-the-envelope calculation that seigniorage (revenue from creating money) is insignificant these days. By contrast, it says that one quarter of the cost of WWII was covered by seigniorage, and that probably explains the lingering Ron Paul mantra that our “empire” is made possible by fiat money.

    Having a “brochure to illustrate the problem of inflation” would be sort of like having a brochure to illustrate the problem of interest rates, or the problem of unemployment, or the problem of trade deficits. To the extent that these things are currently problems at all, they are second-order effects of first-order policy mistakes.

    For a good overview of the policy issues surrounding inflation, see http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Inflation.html. Given the behavior of consumer prices over the last few decades, it’s hard to see how to turn the issue of consumer price levels into a compelling brochure for Joe Sixpack. The real problem lately has been another kind of inflation: asset price inflation in the technology and real estate sectors, abetted by moral hazards created by the credit policies of the federal government and its central bank. That’s not an easy problem to explain, but in 2008 the LPCA slate of congressional candidates took a shot at it in this press release: http://knowinghumans.net/2008/10/bailout-hair-of-moral-hazard-dog-that.html

  78. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    Interesting article you cite there. Quote:

    “Only the naively optimistic actually believe that politicians will fully resolve this looming fiscal crisis with some judicious combination of tax hikes and program cuts. Many predict that, instead, the government will inflate its way out of this future bind, using Federal Reserve monetary expansion to fill the shortfall between outlays and receipts. But I believe, in contrast, that it is far more likely that the United States will be driven to an outright default on Treasury securities, openly reneging on the interest due on its formal debt and probably repudiating part of the principal.”

    A year and a half ago, give or take, you insisted that no serious person would hold that the national debt might not be paid off. What changed?

  79. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@83):

    Here’s an excellent recent article on the relationship between inflation, federal debt, and social insurance: Why Default on U.S. Treasuries is Likely.

    Articles written by Hummel are always highly recommended. He is thorough in his analysis and invariably correct.

  80. Michael H. Wilson

    Given the increase in the money supply that has been used to prop up the banking system we may see significant inflation if it should leak out to the general public. Thus it might be wise to be prepared to deal with that problem. Those second tier problems have a way of popping up to the top.

    I would not dismiss “Joe Sixpack” so lightly. From my experience lots of people are aware of the problem. They just don’t know how extensive it is, nor the history. And neither do most politicians which is something we should use to our benefit.

  81. Tom Blanton

    Holtz:

    “Or if you scanned the front page of his web site and saw the headline: Why I Am Running as a Libertarian for Colorado’s CD 6.”

    Maybe instead of spending so much time arrogantly trying to portray everyone else as an idiot, you’d have more time to read something instead of “scanning” it.

    Why would a candidate in Colorado have an outline of Virginia on the heading of his website? Why would the Virginia Campaign for Liberty be asking a candidate from Colorado questions? Do you really believe I am so stupid as to not know a candidate that is running in the state where I reside?

    Your bizarre perception of reality and twisted judgment never ceases to amaze me.

  82. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi, you say:

    “TB, there is no reason that Ls should agree on all the details. It’s a party, not the Borg, after all.”

    That is exactly my point, smart guy.

    Perhaps you need to convince Mr. Holtz as he’s the one who seems to think a “super-majority” of libertarians are in agreement.

    I contend that most libertarians agree on very little, ESPECIALLY details. I never said or even remotely implied that libertarians should agree on details. I take it for granted that they refuse to. I also take it for granted that many LP candidates have platforms that ignore the LP platform, contradict the platform, or conceal the platform.

    I could now argue against something you didn’t say while implying you did, but I’ll let you and Holtz play that game. You guys really seem to enjoy it so much.

  83. Brian Holtz

    Tom, I can’t find a quote from me like what you’re describing. You may be confusing predicting default with advocating default. As for your question of “what changed” about a year and a half ago, that would be the bailouts.

    Blanton, the issue about Bain was what positions he took, not what state he’s running in. The word “LPCO” @70 was mine, not yours; that’s why I didn’t put it inside the quotation marks. Nothing I’ve written has suggested you don’t know what state you live in, so it’s just bizarre — no, revelatory — that you leap to the conclusion that someone might assume you to be “so stupid”.

    Since I took the time to read Bain’s trifold and find his “revenue neutrality” gaffe, and you didn’t, it’s just hilarious how you’re trying to score a tiny point off the fact that I was misled by his huge Colorado’s CD 6 headline as I searched for his Fair Tax positioning. I was quickly able to identify his trifold as in effect the “issues section” that you claimed @34 that his campaign site lacked. His trifold gives no indication of what state he’s running in, but congratulations on recognizing the Virginia silhouette on the web site of a candidate you already knew was from that state. Clearly, you are no idiot.

  84. Brian Holtz

    Blanton @63: The fact that a small number of “libertarians” can’t agree on virtually anything

    Holtz @65: Blanton assumes a fact not in evidence. If he’s not familiar with what a supermajority of Libertarians believe, he should read http://www.lp.org/platform.

    Blanton @89: Holtz is the one who seems to think a “super-majority” of libertarians are in agreement.

    I invite Blanton to quote a plank from the Platform, and claim that it’s not agreed with by a supermajority of LP members. If he doesn’t, it shows his “can’t agree on virtually anything” remark was simply wrong.

  85. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “I invite Blanton to quote a plank from the Platform, and claim that it’s not agreed with by a supermajority of LP members.”

    At least two variables in that invitation need to be quantified or defined.

    First, what do you mean by “supermajority?” Is 60% a supermajority? 2/3? 75%? 87.5%?

    Secondly, what do you mean by “agreed with?”

    If you define a “supermajority” as 2/3, then a supermajority (of delegates, at least) “agreed to” the platform in 2008 … but that’s not the same thing as “agreeing with” everything in it.

    For example, I “disagree with” a couple of the planks, but voted for the platform on the “up or down, without amendments” motion because I considered it a good start, an improvement on 2006, etc. … and because while I suspected that a couple of the planks I disagreed with might not get a supermajority if proposed individually, I also suspected that my preferred amendments to those planks wouldn’t get a supermajority either.

  86. Robert Capozzi

    tb, et al, this is starting to sound like a disagreement over nothing, or minor semantics.

    I agree with Brian that the party spoke and said, “yes, let’s have a lean, less specific, platform that we can all live with.”

    I agree with you that people are not going to agree with details. That’s not just true of Ls, but is the human condition. I don’t believe the platform has been optimized FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, and I had a hand in recrafting it. It has been optimized in that a person considering the LP can read it and get a good sense of what it means to be L. As two years have passed, there may be room for additional optimization now. There’s still language in the platform that I’d like to see changed, but I consider the 08 platform a crowning success, since — on balance — most Ls can live with the language therein.

  87. Brian Holtz

    Tom, you can take “supermajority” to mean its dictionary definition. Ditto for “agree with”. When I talk about “agreeing with” a plank, I’m not talking about agreeing that it was better to adopt the Denver platform than to not adopt it. There was no “up or down, without amendments motion” in Denver. Each plank was voted on separately, with amendments in order only if the proposed plank didn’t win the requisite 2/3 supermajority. Only 4 of the 27 planks ended up being amended.

    I’m not relying on the Denver voting to make my challenge to Blanton. I’m just relying on my belief that the Denver delegates did a good job in building a platform that most Libertarians agree with.

    Until you see Blanton here quote some planks and then deny that most Libertarians agree with them, then you know that he’s not standing behind his “can’t agree on virtually anything” hyperbole. Indeed, for his claim to stand up, he’d have to do this for virtually every plank.

    But he won’t. Those who indulge in the short-term gratification of hyperbole rarely bother to think ahead about whether such hyperbole can be defended.

  88. Michael H. Wilson

    Platform or otherwise I think this bit I got off of Google tells us a lot about what is wrong.

    Libertarian Party | Smaller Government | Lower Taxes | More Freedom

    FreedomWorks | Lower Taxes, Less Government, More Freedom

    Until the time comes that the LP clearly defines itself then it will be easily confused with something else.

  89. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “Tom, you can take ‘supermajority’ to mean its dictionary definition.”

    Well, yes, I could — but that wouldn’t tell me anything, since the dictionary definition omits the specific measurement. I’m asking you for that measurement as regards your claim.

    “There was no ‘up or down, without amendments motion’ in Denver”

    You’re correct. I was thinking of Mattson’s motion for mass deletion of the Atlanta-format planks — and even that ended up being amended to require that the war on drugs plank be handled separately.

  90. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, I’d need to dbl check, but I do believe the LP’s tagline predates FreedomWorks’s. Since I helped to found FreedomWork’s predecessor organization — CSE, which was funded and created by small-l libertarians — I’m not surprised by the similarity. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  91. Tom Blanton

    Holtz, I think you are losing it. You write:

    Nothing I’ve written has suggested you don’t know what state you live in, so it’s just bizarre — no, revelatory — that you leap to the conclusion that someone might assume you to be “so stupid”.

    Reality check. Nothing I wrote accused you of suggesting I don’t know what state I live in. I suggested that you must think I’m stupid if I don’t know what candidates are running in the state I live in. Keep in mind that this is after you arrogantly insisted this candidate was running in Colorado.

    What is both bizarre and revelatory is the fact you think I’m concerned with scoring “tiny points” when the only one keeping score in the game you’re playing is you.

    My point that anyone who supports the Fair Tax is supporting a revenue neutral tax simply because the Fair Tax as set forth in HR25 is supposed to be revenue neutral is beyond refute.

    That’s really not so hard to understand, Holtz. But I expect libertarians to disagree on virtually everything. Some libertarians even disagree with themselves. For example, those who support military interventions out of one side of their mouth and then support limited government from the other side of their mouth.

  92. Thomas L. Knapp

    ‘My point that anyone who supports the Fair Tax is supporting a revenue neutral tax simply because the Fair Tax as set forth in HR25 is supposed to be revenue neutral is beyond refute.”

    Don’t tell the “Fair” Taxers that — now they’re selling it as a tax cut.

    I got a robocall tonight from Michael Reagan, paid for by American for Fair Taxation. The call said that the “Fair” Tax would be a tax cut and that Ronald Reagan would have supported it.

  93. Brian Holtz

    Tom, I claimed @65 that “a supermajority of Libertarians” “agree” with the principles in the LP platform. I didn’t say there is a percentage X such that my claim is true if X% of Libertarians agree with the platform, and false if only (X-1)% agree.

    Blanton continues to amuse. I happened to in passing identify Bain @70 as an “LPCO congressional candidate”, and now Blanton says I “arrogantly insisted this candidate was running in Colorado”. Readers can decide for themselves whether there was any “arrogance” or “insistence” in my identification of Bain @70.

    Blanton flees from defending his “can’t agree on virtually anything” hyperbole, and dodges my challenge to cite an LP platform plank that is not agreed to by most Libertarians. Does he really think readers here won’t recognize his desperate invocation of the intervention issue as a clumsy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring?

    I don’t deny that HR25 is written to be revenue neutral. However, I do deny that if one would welcome replacing the income tax with a consumption-tax framework like the Fair Tax, then it’s impossible to also advocate — indeed, emphasize — the necessity for major spending cuts.

    Here’s Ron Paul doing it:

    And here’s Bob Barr doing it:

  94. Michael H. Wilson

    BH @ 72 you wrote; ”
    “It only seems he’s running in Colorado if you’re in California.

    Or if you scanned the front page of his web site and saw the headline: Why I Am Running as a Libertarian for Colorado’s CD 6.”

    The way you have worded your comment it reads as if you are taking a shot at Mr. Blanton.

  95. Tom Blanton

    Holtz says @ #65:

    “Blanton cannot name a single LP leader calling for a revenue-neutral implementation of the Fair Tax.”

    Holtz then says @ #100:

    “I don’t deny that HR25 is written to be revenue neutral.”

    Further evidence that Holtz may be in disagreement with himself since anyone supporting HR25, the Fair Tax, is supporting a bill that is written to be revenue neutral. Yet, he believes libertarians that support the Fair Tax aren’t supporting a revenue neutral measure???

    Kooky, man. Like totally weirdsville. Some libertarians can’t agree with themselves on virtually anything.

    But pay no attention to all that, the real issue is spending cuts. I propose cutting the federal budget by 100%. Of course that would be too radical for most libertarian central planners, so I would propose doing it incrementally. Start with a 50% budget cut, bringing spending to 2001 levels immediately, and then gradually reducing the budget over a two year period to zero.

    Hows that for incrementalism?

    I see Mr. Wilson making sense @ #95 and I know more than a few libertarians that would agree with him about that. And speaking of the Dick Armey, WaPo reveals how Dick shows his ass here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/15/AR2010031503730_pf.html

  96. Tom Blanton

    Robocalls from Michael Reagan telling you what his dead father is thinking proves Hunter Thompson was right. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

    Maybe Patrick Kennedy could do they same thing and do robocall outbursts of gibberish telling folks what his dead dad Ted is thinking.

  97. Brian Holtz

    Michael @101, the “shot” you quoted was Blanton’s snark about “only if you’re in California”. My reply was more civil than his, and yet still served the purpose of giving his snark what it deserved.

    Blanton, here’s what I was trying to say: you cannot name a single LP leader arguing that an optimal implementation of the Fair Tax would be revenue-neutral, and that such tax reform should not be used to reduce government revenue.

    But I didn’t phrase it quite pedantically enough. Thanks for your feedback on how pedantic I should be when dealing with someone as desperately tendentious as you.

    I already posted a video of Ron Paul saying he would vote for the Fair Tax (presumably HR25) if it came to a floor vote. Do you dare say that Ron Paul is an advocate of revenue-neutral tax reform? Of course not — just like you don’t dare quote an LP platform plank and claim that its principles aren’t agreeable to most Libertarians.

    I propose that all force initiation and fraud be abolished tomorrow. How’s that for radicalism?

    Last I heard, Blanton quit the Boston Tea Party, after quitting the Libertarian Party. Why should the LP take branding advice from a serial quitter?

    I’ve never defended the bland “Smaller Government – Lower Taxes – More Freedom” slogan. I’ve always said that the key to LP branding is to differentiate us from both the Left and Right. Here are the slogans I like:

  98. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “Tom, I claimed @65 that ‘a supermajority of Libertarians’ ‘agree’ with the principles in the LP platform. I didn’t say there is a percentage X such that my claim is true if X% of Libertarians agree with the platform, and false if only (X-1)% agree.”

    So what you’re saying is that you made a statement that’s meaningless because it’s not subject to falsification?

    I wasn’t responding to you @65, I was responding to you @91:

    “I invite Blanton to quote a plank from the Platform, and claim that it’s not agreed with by a supermajority of LP members.”

    If you refuse to quantify “supermajority,” that invitation is likewise meaningless.

    If you refuse to define “agreed with,” even more so.

    A 2/3 majority (is that a supermajority, yes or no?) of convention delegates (not LP members) agreed TO (is “agreed to” the same as “agreed with?”) the 2008 platform and each of the planks in it.

    It does not follow from that fact that a supermajority of LP members agree with each plank.

  99. Brian Holtz

    Tom, I’ll repeat it as often as you want to ignore it: “I’m not relying on the Denver voting to make my challenge to Blanton. I’m just relying on my belief that the Denver delegates did a good job in building a platform that most Libertarians agree with.”

    You’re committing a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_fallacy, and you presumably know it.

    If you as a native speaker of English want to claim that you can’t perceive any meaning in the word “supermajority” unless it’s accompanied by a numerical definition, then I’ll play along with your game and point out that anything more than a minimal 50%+1 majority can be called a supermajority.

    Since Blanton doesn’t dare get specific, I will. Consider the Platform statement: “Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.” I defy anyone here to seriously claim that this statement would not meet with agreement among, say, 2/3 of Libertarians.

  100. Tom Blanton

    You need to just give it up, you silly Holtz.

    “I already posted a video of Ron Paul saying he would vote for the Fair Tax (presumably HR25) if it came to a floor vote. Do you dare say that Ron Paul is an advocate of revenue-neutral tax reform? Of course not — just like you don’t dare quote an LP platform plank and claim that its principles aren’t agreeable to most Libertarians.”

    Of course I wouldn’t say Dr. Paul advocates revenue neutral tax reform. I also wouldn’t say he advocates the Fair Tax either because he doesn’t. He merely says he’d vote for it if it came up, but that it isn’t going to get out of committee.

    Now, if I quote a plank that isn’t agreeable to an undefined sooper-dooper majority like you’ve double-dared me to do, will you then poll at least 600 libertarians to prove you are right, tough guy?

    I like this one:

    “Last I heard, Blanton quit the Boston Tea Party, after quitting the Libertarian Party. Why should the LP take branding advice from a serial quitter?”

    Well, as an outsider, and as an experienced quitter, I can offer a perspective that is nearly free of the cult-like group think of LP members.

    Perhaps, if folks in the LP were interested in actually building a party, it would be a smart thing to examine the reasons there has been a mass exodus of long-time libertarians from the LP.

    But I don’t really care so much about that and I suspect you don’t either. I do care that the LP, which continues to use the word “libertarian” in its name, has become an embarrassment to nearly everyone in the greater libertarian movement. I realize this is not the case with those in the LP that have internalized LP culture – especially those who wrongly believe the sole purpose of the LP is to elect political hacks to office.

    What I find particularly weird is that LP members don’t seem to be curious as to why a huge number of libertarian authors, columnists, speakers and activists shun the LP.

    I do have great respect for many people in the LP, despite thinking they are misguided in the use of their time, energy and money. On the other hand, there are people in the LP who appear to me to be hell-bent on not only destroying the LP but the very idea of libertarianism.

    Now, I challenge you, make that double-dog dare you to explain how you can say:

    “I propose that all force initiation and fraud be abolished tomorrow.”

    and yet favor military intervention against people who have not initiated force against you. Prove that you are not in disagreement with yourself, if you dare accept this challenge.

    I am changing the subject right now under Rule 1673(C), Subsection 12b of the Brian Holtz Rules Of Blog Debate and Scoring Guide of 2008, as amended.

  101. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “I’ll play along with your game and point out that anything more than a minimal 50%+1 majority can be called a supermajority.”

    Very well. With that quantification, I believe you’re correct in implying that a “supermajority” of LP members would agree with any and every plank of the platform.

    If you defined a “supermajority” as 2/3+1, I suspect you might have trouble getting the borders/immigration plank over the bar.

    If you defined it as 7/8ths (the delegate threshold required to modify the Statement of Principles), there’s simply no way you’d get the first sentence of the crime and justice plank in (and it’s an embarrassment that it made it into the platform committee’s report, let alone got passed, in Denver).

  102. Robert Capozzi

    tb: I do care that the LP, which continues to use the word “libertarian” in its name, has become an embarrassment to nearly everyone in the greater libertarian movement.

    me: You make it sound like this embarrassment is a new phenomenon. I recall Bergland in 83 at the NY convention being interviewed by a network TV reporter. I listened as the reporter asked him: “Are Ls anarchists?” DB answered, almost verbatim: “Yes, some of us are anarchists and some of us are minarchists.”

    Do I need to explain why THAT was embarrassing?

    Moderate AND abolitionist Ls have left the party over the years, for a variety of reasons, I suspect.

  103. Brian Holtz

    Tom, my point about the platform was that it shows Blanton was wrong to say that even “a small number of ‘libertarians’ can?t agree on virtually anything”. Thanks for backing me up on that.

    Blanton, I no more need to poll people on this topic than I need to poll scientists about the cheese composition of the moon. The reason you keep fleeing from my challenge — to quote an LP platform plank and claim that its principles aren?t agreeable to most Libertarians — is that you and everybody else here knows that such a claim would be obviously false for virtually every plank.

    “Tough guy”? Heh. Diagnosing your falsehoods and fallacies isn’t tough at all.

    I’d like to see some data for your hand-waving claim about “a mass exodus of long-time libertarians from the LP”. There will always be a churn cycle and a burnout cycle in an alternative party like the LP. If any “mass exodus” is evident in membership numbers, it seems to have stopped/reversed around the time that Platform reform began in 2006:

    Heck, I too considered the LP an embarrassment to the freedom movement when I first read its quasi-anarchist platform back in the 1990s. In 2006, I compiled a list of the top 30 libertarian blogs, explicitly noting what each seemed to think of the LP. I’ve long lamented that the LP doesn’t work more closely with the Cato Institute — and then I learned that many LP radicals have been trying to keep Cato alienated from the LP ever since the 1983 schism. I pointed out in 2009 that libertarian scholars at Cato, Reason Foundation, Independent Institute, PRI, Heartland Institute, Friedman Foundation, and Institute for Justice — and even an anarchist like Prof. David Friedman — all consider tuition vouchers to be a step in the right direction, but the LP can’t endorse them because some of its anarchists seem to fear small government more than they fear big government.

    I’ve always argued against those who claim the sole purpose of the LP is to elect people to office. I’ve said for years that the LP’s primary purpose should be showing and growing America?s electoral demand for more personal and economic freedom.

    Regarding intervention, I’ll just repeat the last word from the most recent slap-down I administered to Blanton on his favorite red herring:

    I?ve been making the same essential argument for overthrowing Saddam since at least 2004, and its wording is virtually unchanged since 2006. Blanton cannot refute a single one of its factual predicates. I?ve repeatedly challenged him to produce or cite an essay that does so. He has failed to do so ? every single time.

    He says my support in 2003 for overthrowing ONE of the world?s SCORES of tyrants means I have ?proclivity toward intervention? and ?is incompatible with the notion of limited government?. The ?proclivity? claim is facially false. The ?incompatibility? claim is blind to the notion of limiting Saddam?s government.

    Meanwhile, Blanton still lacks the intellectual courage to defend his libertarians-can?t-agree-on-virtually-anything silliness.

  104. Robert Capozzi

    bh, hmm, looks like a strong correlation between the LP’s recent secular declines in members and revenues and 9/11. We can’t be sure of causation, but it’s certainly plausible that in a time of “existential threat,” Americans are inclined to support status quo institutions.

    With that seminal event now well in the rearview and even GOP congresspeople realizing that the Iraq War was a mistake (see today’s Cato @ Liberty ), perhaps the LP’s peace & liberty approach is ripening.

    Now that the status quo institutions have proven so woeful, perhaps more folks are inclined to think outside the box.

    Will Ls step up, or will we continue our esoteric dance in the Ivory Tower of Constructivism?

  105. Tom Blanton

    Holtz, as I recall, your “case” for the Iraq war was a list of bumper sticker slogans that lacked any context or sources, except for the one where you sourced a NewsMax article reposted on FreeRepublic.Com to “prove” your assertion that one of Saddam’s sons hated America. That being the most ridiculous reason for going to war that I have ever heard.

    Your little list of bumper sticker slogans that you compiled in 2006 or 2007 had already been refuted and/or placed into some sort of context thousands of times in the years 2002 through 2005.

    I don’t feel the need to write an entire series of monographs debunking the absurdities and double-standards by which you justify war (and all that goes with it) against a nation that had not attacked the U.S. and did not have the means to attack the U.S. simply because, as I said at the time, anyone can go look at the archives of AntiWar.Com or even Ron Paul’s archives to find hundreds of articles (written by people with more credibility than you or I will ever have) that address your simplistic slogans.

    For someone who relies on such simple meaningless slogans, bumper stickers, and animated gifs, you have a lot of gall to question anyone’s intellectual courage.

    Holtz, the simple fact is that you supported the initiation of force against Americans by the U.S. government to provide the money and lives for waging an illegal war of aggression against a nation that posed no serious threat to Americans. The only limited government you seem to support is a government limited to the functions you deem appropriate while asserting that nobody should have the right to opt out of paying for the schemes you want the government to force on Americans.

    As you consistently demonstrate in your postings at this site, you lack the intellectual courage to admit when you shown to be wrong, apparently because you believe that this is some sort of battle of the talking points and someone somewhere is keeping a score card.

    You also demonstrate that you believe intellectual dishonesty and arrogant, condescending rhetoric serves to elevate and validate your own opinions (which you often state as if they were facts).

    You, Holtz, personify why I believe (and your chart above indicates) the LP, and other political cults, are moribund. Like the state, they have outlived their usefulness to society. Meanwhile Holtz, enjoy your fantasy that you, and you alone, can centrally plan what is best for 330 million people spread out over millions of square miles.

  106. Tom Blanton

    Looking at the chart above, it is clear that the LP experienced real growth during the nineties. This was during the period when Holtz was embarrassed by the “quasi-anarchist platform” platform. As LP membership peaked, Harry Browne was the face of the LP, a somewhat radical libertarian.

    Note that as LP membership begins to bottom out, the moderates, reformers, interventionists, Boortz followers, pragmatists, and LP candidates running as “true conservatives” are firmly in charge – especially at LPHQ and in state parties. The face of the LP had become Barr and Root, libertarian leaning conservatives.

    Yet, somehow it is the evil radicals that have decimated the LP? The non-radicals propose more of the same as the solution to dwindling numbers. What’s wrong with this picture?

    The “serious” pragmatists and reformers insist that their brilliant strategies are yielding results, but where are the numbers that show this? The numbers actually show otherwise. They insist that Root is growing the LP with his non-stop book tour, but after over six months there is no growth to point to. Root has only been successful at embarrassing many libertarians and probably even a few conservatives with his “dynamic” personality and his command of the “facts”.

    The numbers, the personalities, and the tactics speak for themselves – year by year.

    So, to put the LP (and the rest of the larger libertarian community) out of its misery, support the Fair Tax, and vouchers too. Run candidates that run as “true conservatives” or refuse to deal with issues out of fear of offending someone. Recruit only from CPAC conventions, gun shows and talk radio shows. Nominate Wayne Root in 2012 and hammer the last nail in the coffin of the LP.

    Maybe by then libertarians will realize how easily political parties are subverted and taken over by opportunistic hacks. Maybe then libertarians will direct their attention to direct action, lobbying, and education.

  107. Dear .......... Liberty Lovers

    Maybe by then libertarians will realize how easily political parties are subverted by petty debates and ‘other worldly’ steer manure.

    Remember the Natural Law Party [RIP 2004] and the Reform Party/ Deform Party movement death spiral [Long Beach 2000] mutual suicide pact. Abandonment of the real world travails of every day citizens is much more relevant than the straw man of being taken over by opportunistic hacks.

    Maybe then libertarians will direct their attention to direct action, lobbying, education, AND BASIC HUMAN ETHICS!

  108. Michael H. Wilson

    Re @ 110 and the decline of membership. I tend to think that Mr. Blanton is on the right path with his criticism. The major parties have come under criticism in the past few years and I am left to wonder if the fact that the LP has been copying the other guys the biggest mistake the LP ever made. Actually I don’t think that. I know it for a fact!

    There is no reason the LP should not get out in front of the parade on most if not all of the issues.

    Clearly define the difference. Well that’s what I was told when I was working for a company in construction sales. “We ain’t sellin’ the other guy stuff. We are sellin’ ours” as I was told repeatedly. ‘Course that company was number one in the nation. What the hell do I know.

    Back to the cave for this knuckle dragger, or so I have been called.

  109. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Yet, somehow it is the evil radicals that have decimated the LP? The non-radicals propose more of the same as the solution to dwindling numbers. What’s wrong with this picture?

    me: hmm, whose said the “evil radicals” have done any such thing? No one that I’m aware of. We can only speculate what caused the downturn in the (TINY!) numbers, but I’d suggest 9/11 seems as good an explanation as any.

    Things are now on the upswing, again with tiny numbers.

    I sense, Thomas, a reactionary longing for the good old days in your ongoing narrative. Lism and the LP were tiny and inconsequential then, as we are now. Let’s not kid ourselves.

    It could easily be that since the founding the LP was self-limited, given many/most of the founders’s use of the NAP as the basis for a political party. Is it possible that that foundation was doomed to failure from the outset? Is it possible that L-ism needs to evolve and grow as we learn more about how the philosophy and the real world interact?

  110. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, did your construction company ever say that the engineering of their buildings was untested, but trust us?

  111. Dear .......... Michael H. Wilson

    Michael H. Wilson // Mar 19, 2010:

    “………. The major parties have come under criticism in the past few years and I am left to wonder if the fact that the LP has been copying the other guys the biggest mistake the LP ever made. There is no reason the LP should not get out in front of the parade on most if not all of the issues.”

    Oh like anti Viet Nam II [Iraq, Afghanistan, and next, Iran] and supporting abused military veterans ??????????

    How is Reich Marshall [Bruce] Wayne Root doing ????????? Does Doctor (PhD) George Phillies finally apologize for leaving ALL THE OTHER political parties out of the anti war chorus ???????? Well, hey at least Doctor George is out in front [Libs as ONLY peace party], way out!

  112. Mik Robertson

    @110 “I pointed out in 2009 that libertarian scholars at Cato, Reason Foundation, Independent Institute, PRI, Heartland Institute, Friedman Foundation, and Institute for Justice — and even an anarchist like Prof. David Friedman — all consider tuition vouchers to be a step in the right direction, but the LP can’t endorse them because some of its anarchists seem to fear small government more than they fear big government.”

    It’s the early 20th century. Two communists are walking down a London street and talking when they come across a beggar. The first pulls out a couple of coins to give to the beggar. The second slaps his hand away and says “Don’t do that, comrade! You are delaying the revolution!”.

  113. Tom Blanton

    Robert, evil radicals? Ask Holtz:

    “I’ve long lamented that the LP doesn’t work more closely with the Cato Institute — and then I learned that many LP radicals have been trying to keep Cato alienated from the LP ever since the 1983 schism.”

    That is his most recent “blame the radicals” statement. A common meme among “serious” libertarians. Actually, CATO does a remarkable job of keeping itself alienated from libertarians all by itself.

    I’m not quite sure what this even means:

    “I sense, Thomas, a reactionary longing for the good old days in your ongoing narrative. Lism and the LP were tiny and inconsequential then, as we are now. Let’s not kid ourselves.”

    The term “reactionary” generally refers to someone who is opposed to progress as defined by a liberal. Are you saying that the declining numbers for the LP is evidence of progress? I don’t call losing half your members in 10 years time progress.

    Are you trying to say I am some sort of right-winger opposed to a more liberal LP? That would be total nonsense as I am opposed to the drift toward conservatism in the LP and the acceptance of people like Glenn Beck as a libertarian by none other than Holtz.

    Or are you just being a rodeo clown, Robert?

    The idea to promote libertarianism is to grow the number of libertarians. It would be great if the LP wanted to do that. But, these days it appears they would rather promote things like “true conservatism” or “Reagan libertarians” or the Freedom Works slogan. If this is the direction the LP wants to take libertarianism, I’d prefer the LP wind up in the dust bin of history. And it appears the LP, along with folks like Beck, Root and Boortz, are doing a good job of redefining libertarianism into some variant of conservatism.

    To be sure, the LP looked more promising in the “good old days” than it does now. But, if you think America is heading in a more libertarian direction now, I’d suggest you pull your head out from wherever it is and look at some numbers. The federal budget and national debt would be a good place to start.

    Rather than looking at how libertarian philosophy and the real world interact, you might wish to look at an army of statists armed with billions of dollars and the most awesome propaganda machine in the history of mankind and contemplate how to overcome that.

    Nothing any third party does in the area of electoral politics at this point will result in political change in America. Third parties are not allowed to compete in the process.

    Libertarian ideas just aren’t that hard to sell, except perhaps within the LP and in beltway circles.

    It seems bizarre, but the Campaign for Liberty, which actually is mostly a libertarian leaning conservative organization, has an incredible variety articles posted on their website written by hard core libertarians. So, rather than pandering to idiot conservatives with crap about Fair Tax, vouchers or the Evil Kenyan Marxist Obama, they are exposing people to a lot of stuff beyond Chuck Baldwin and Ron Paul.

    Anthony Gregory, Sheldon Richman, Jacob Hornberger, James Bovard, Karen Kwiatkowski, and many others are featured regularly. Imagine that.

    Compare that with Wayne Root. You can only find his tripe at NewsMax, his website, and ….well, reposted here. Apparently, a lot of conservatives and tea party types are reading about real libertarian ideas written by libertarians and even anarchists and instead of rejecting it, they are sending their cash to Campaign for Liberty. They claim 200,000 members.

    Compare that with whatever “success” the LP is experiencing.

  114. Michael H. Wilson

    No Robert. No one ever said any such thing. We knew the work was good! That’s why the company was number one! And it provided services to contractors. We did not put up buildings.

  115. Michael H. Wilson

    C4L has a pretty good website. I’ll have to visit more often.

    Anyone know how much the LP pays for its site?

    Maybe we could save some bucks and get Yahoo to host it 😉 Whadda ya say Brian?

  116. Robert Capozzi

    tb: That is his most recent “blame the radicals” statement.

    me: hmm, yes, I guess he’s saying some radicals have alienated CATO. That doesn’t say the radicals are EVIL and the reason the LP has remained tiny.

    tb: Are you saying that the declining numbers for the LP is evidence of progress?

    me: No. I’m saying that the LP was founded by Randians who were later joined by Rothbardians (which is a branch of Randianism, as I see it). That foundation was not a sturdy one, IMO, as those philosophical POVs have some major flaws in them. And, even if they are not flawed, they require people to buy some very alien ideas.

    Both Rand and Rothbard were gifted, passionate, zealous polemicists. That tradition carries on to this day, and is a source of perennial friction. There’s a my-way-or-the-highway, to-the-gas-chambers-go attitude underneath their writings.

    That has self-limited the LP. I’m challenging the very foundation, trying my best in a small way to heal that initial error. I sense that you sense that I’m trying to heal something that you believe is just fine and dandy, hence the term “reactionary.”

  117. Robert Capozzi

    mhw 122, my point is that you may have differentiated from the competition — a useful thing to do in the marketplace — but you didn’t, I suspect, differentiate SO MUCH that your business was an experiment. You probably did a small amount of experimentation, but it was probably very gradual, not a wholesale change in how a building’s construction is serviced. Just guessing here.

  118. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Anthony Gregory, Sheldon Richman, Jacob Hornberger, James Bovard, Karen Kwiatkowski, and many others are featured regularly (on C4L’s site). Imagine that.

    me: Hmmm, I’m not getting the point of this. Please elaborate. Bovard ghostwrote Barr’s campaign book. I suspect Doug Bandow wrote many/most of Barr’s press releases. The LP itself sometimes cites studies by L think tanks. As a partisan organization, there may well be restrictions on actual reprinting on the LP’s website.

  119. Robert Capozzi

    re: the chart, if the vertical axis went up to $50MM and 1MM members, the lines would look more or less flat.

    Also, does anyone have the data going further back? It looks like the Paul 88 campaign didn’t do much for the LP. This tells me these very minor swings don’t tell us very much about who is to “blame,” as Tom B. seems to want to determine. “Blaming” doesn’t do anyone any good, most especially the blamer.

    IMO.

  120. Tom Blanton

    Robert writes:

    “As a partisan organization, there may well be restrictions on actual reprinting on the LP’s website.”

    Actually, I think you have it backwards. There are restrictions on presenting partisan material by tax-exempt organizations, if they wish to retain tax exempt status. For example, a minister that tells his flock to vote GOP from the pulpit. The LP is free to present any ideas it wishes and to link to anything it wishes.

    “Hmmm, I’m not getting the point of this”

    One point is the irony.

    Many LP candidates, Wayne Root, the previous LPHQ gang, Boortz, etc., seem to have been trying to move the LP into the conservative quadrant in recent years. The Campaign for Liberty, run by self-described conservatives for the most part, seems to have no problem with presenting pretty solid libertarian opinions to the public.

    While a lot of people in the LP seem to be afraid that people will reject libertarian ideas and therefor don’t present the very ideas that could move society in a libertarian direction, a conservative organization is presenting these ideas to the general public and is thriving – as the LP is shrinking.

    Another point is that if the LP wants to be a thriving and dynamic organization with motivated libertarian activists, perhaps the LP should reject the “true conservatism” bullshit and the Reagan libertarians. Maybe LP candidates should dispense with the sophomoric tactical posturing and the goofy conservative-oriented rhetoric, understanding that the point of running is not to attain the impossible goal of winning, or even to build the LP, but to expose the general public to libertarian ideas.

    The so-called strategy of exposing the general public to libertarianism incrementally doesn’t seem to be working as a means to build a libertarian party made up of libertarians. In fact, it may be a strategy to bury libertarianism. It almost seems that the LP has been subverted by people who wish to destroy it as an organization that advances libertarianism. It seems as if too many LP members themselves confuse libertarianism with conservatism.

    Try to imagine how someone might react who has been exposed to libertarian thought through articles written by the various writers I mentioned when they see Wayne Root on some cable news show sounding like a garden variety partisan Republican while the host says Root is the leading candidate for the LP presidential nomination.

    The bottom line is society will move in a libertarian direction when actual people adopt actual libertarian ideas. These ideas will most likely not be adopted by people unless they are exposed to the ideas. Presenting other ideas that are merely tactics to prepare people to accept libertarian ideas at some point in the future is no short cut – this is a detour and confusing.

    This stupid tactic has been proven to be a failure by LP candidates. In 10 years, the LP has lost half its membership numbers – proof that the candidates did not build the LP while running. The fact that LP candidates were running on issues like the Fair Tax while remaining silent on many actual libertarian ideas proves they aren’t selling the message.

    Let me borrow what Capozzi said:

    “Hmmm, I’m not getting the point of this”

  121. Tom Blanton

    I forgot to mention that all the brilliant tactics, strategic posturing, pandering to conservatives, pontification about what “the people” will accept, and time spent over many years has not lead to even one electoral victory by a LP candidate for U.S. Congress.

    During this time it would be impossible to count the number of alcoholics, drug addicts, sex fiends, gangsters, liars, idiots that the Dems and GOP have elected to Congress.

  122. Tom Blanton

    Since when is a 50% drop in membership a minor swing, Robert?

    I need to ask, who’s blaming who?

    What is it when you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result?

  123. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 125 Robert the level of services provided by that company were significantly greater than the competition and they charged for those services as well. They were still number one in the marketplace.

    Organizations have to clearly define who they are and how they are better.

  124. Mik Robertson

    @128 “While a lot of people in the LP seem to be afraid that people will reject libertarian ideas and therefor don’t present the very ideas that could move society in a libertarian direction, a conservative organization is presenting these ideas to the general public and is thriving – as the LP is shrinking.”

    Those conservative organizations certainly have not presented ideas like children having the right to participate in child prostitution. Nor have they called for the abolition of federal agencies that don’t exist or for things like gay marriage.

    I don’t recall hearing anyone at the C4L say anything about individual secession, but some may say such things. I don’t recall anyone from C4L suggesting that all government be abolished, but some may say those things as well.

    @129 “I forgot to mention that all the brilliant tactics, strategic posturing, pandering to conservatives, pontification about what “the people” will accept, and time spent over many years has not lead to even one electoral victory by a LP candidate for U.S. Congress.

    During this time it would be impossible to count the number of alcoholics, drug addicts, sex fiends, gangsters, liars, idiots that the Dems and GOP have elected to Congress.”

    This goes to show how bad the systemic problem is and just how big of a hurdle we face. Ten years ago we would have considered it great for Libertarian Party candidates to be elected to offices like inspector of elections in Pennsylvania. Now we are having our candidates elected to offices like township supervisor, borough council, and mayor.

    It is a slow change, but one that is coming about. You cannot present good ideas and suddenly people forget all of the flakey ideas that were presented in the past. As we keep bringing forward good ideas and work with others to put these ideas into practice, we can start to break down some of the systemic barriers, which will be good for the political process overall.

  125. Michael H. Wilson

    We can argue about lessarchy, miniarchy, anarchy, partyarchs, radicals, reformers or what have you any day of the week which may be fun.

    On the other hand we can clearly spell out the problems with the role government plays through intervention in the marketplace by restraining actions or subsidizing activities. We could be pointing out that government restrictions on midwives deprives expectant mothers of a choice. That restrictions on urban transit makes life more difficult for many. That the drug war is and has been a disaster. That housing regulations add to the costs of homes and help bankers not home owners. That corporate welfare costs $100 billion annually.

    We can point out the costs and impact of having some 200,000 plus troops stationed overseas which is thought to be in the neighborhood of $250 billion annually or about $825each. For a family of four that works out to be $3300 which is maybe a couple of mortgage payments.
    But we are doing much of that either.

    Or we can go around copying others.

  126. Mik Robertson

    “Or we can go around copying others.”

    Others point out those same things. The Greens and Nader go on about corporate welfare, and the Tea partiers go on about government intervention in the marketplace. It is not copying to point out the same problems or suggest similar solutions that others do.

    The question is does the LP want to start working with those organizations on issues of common interest or does it want to shun them and go its own way.

  127. Dear ....... Another Open Door For

    Tom Blanton // Mar 20, 2010:
    “………. when is a 50% drop in membership a minor swing ………. What is it when you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result?”

    ———– Let’s see, Dems and GOP down slightly, Libs down a lot, every one hemorrhaging like a real live horror show! The bright spot, ‘Decline to state’.

  128. Tom Blanton

    Mik proclaims:

    “Those conservative organizations certainly have not presented ideas like children having the right to participate in child prostitution. Nor have they called for the abolition of federal agencies that don’t exist or for things like gay marriage.”

    Wow, a herd of stampeding straw horses gallops across my screen.

    Has the LP as an organization ever presented ideas like children having the right to participate in child prostitution?

    I wasn’t even talking about what ideas C4L is putting out. I merely and clearly stated that they are publishing articles written by real libertarians and exposing their members to these ideas. Which is more than the LP does in advancing libertarian ideas.

    “You cannot present good ideas and suddenly people forget all of the flakey ideas that were presented in the past.”

    What people remember “all” of these flakey ideas. It seems to me that only reformers talk about this stuff, giving the enemies of the LP ammo. To the extent that a very small number of libertarians have ever advocated “flakey ideas” to a very small number of people, it is hardly something that prevents LP candidates from being elected.

    I’m not so sure that there are more libertarians elected to local offices now than there were ten years ago and in many if not most cases, these elections are not partisan.

    It is a canard pulled out by reformers and many of the “libertarians” that have caused so much discord in the LP to suggest that it is something a few radicals or even fewer wing-nuts did years ago preventing LP candidates from winning elections. It is the Republicans and Democrats responsible for that, Mik.

  129. Mik Robertson

    “Has the LP as an organization ever presented ideas like children having the right to participate in child prostitution?”

    There was certainly that implication in the former LP platform, as was calling for the elimination of federal agencies that no longer existed. I would call that something the LP puts out as an organization.

    “I wasn’t even talking about what ideas C4L is putting out. I merely and clearly stated that they are publishing articles written by real libertarians and exposing their members to these ideas. Which is more than the LP does in advancing libertarian ideas.”

    They expose people to some libertarian ideas but not others. Whether they are written by real libertarians, perhaps some are, perhaps some are not. The LP has exposed people to many of the same ideas, and also some of the others I’ve indicated. There can be legitimate libertarian arguments made for child prostitution, don’t you think? It is not an argument I would make nor do I think the LP should make it, however.

    “What people remember “all” of these flakey ideas. It seems to me that only reformers talk about this stuff, giving the enemies of the LP ammo. To the extent that a very small number of libertarians have ever advocated “flakey ideas” to a very small number of people, it is hardly something that prevents LP candidates from being elected.”

    Reporters do. I recall seven or eight years ago when I first ran for a county commissioner office, I was characterized by a newspaper as being too radical for the people of the area. When I asked the reporter where he got that idea, the response was that I was a Libertarian candidate and he read the platform and other things the LP presented. If the ideas weren’t flakey, the enemies of the LP would have no ammo.

    Did someone mention straw creatures? This is not about candidates getting elected. In my case the newspaper story did not make or break my candidacy. It is a question of organizational credibility.

    The way that reporter saw it, any Libertarian Party candidate would have been too radical, it was not just me. This reporter was not the only one I ran into who saw it that way. That is a problem with organizational credibility. It affects the capability of the organization to influence public policy through the political process.

    We have been able to change that perception of the LP as radical flakes, little by little, since that time. People are starting to take the LP more seriously as a political party. I think that is a good thing.

    “I’m not so sure that there are more libertarians elected to local offices now than there were ten years ago and in many if not most cases, these elections are not partisan.”

    I mentioned what has been happening in my area. All of the races here are partisan. Your experience may be different.

  130. Brian Holtz

    Has the LP as an organization ever presented ideas like children having the right to participate in child prostitution?

    The following language was in the LP Platform from at least 1986 until it was finally removed in 2006: “We call for the repeal of all laws that restrict anyone, including children, from engaging in voluntary exchanges of goods, services or information regarding human sexuality”.

    It seems to me that only reformers talk about this stuff

    “The Libertarian platform is a prescription for anarchy.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2000-07-14

    Libertarians “espouse extreme views Like the cessation of all taxation, public education and government regulation.” Dallas Morning News, 1998-11-08.

    “several citizen panelists agreed that they found the anti-government platform of his Libertarian party too extreme”. Philadelphia Daily News, 1997-10-20

    “to these mainstream issues the Libertarian Party platform adds such problematic esoterica as jury nullification, a reliance solely on tort law and ’strict liability’ to govern pollution, and the right of individual political secession. When libertarianism is presented as an all-or-nothing bargain, interested voters are more likely to leave the whole package on the table.” Reason, 1996-07-01

    “settle environmental clashes in court, permit open immigration […] if taken literally, the Libertarian platform is so far out of the mainstream as to be high and dry […]” New York Times, 1992-10-22

    Consider a Libertarian?; Get Serious – “Standing against things is the Libertarian Party’s specialty. Its platform calls for government to cease and desist from almost everything except the repealing of laws […] Police and armies that keep bad people at bay, and roads that make practical the freedom to travel […] The Libertarians’ extremism (they oppose laws setting minimum drinking ages, or restricting immigration, and so on) makes them unelectable.” George Will, Washington Post, 1992-07-09. Also ran as:
    * Libertarians? No, US Needs A Legitimate Fourth Choice. Chicago Sun-Times, 1992-07-09.
    * Libertarians Stew On Fringe. San Jose Mercury News, 1992-07-09.
    * Extreme Views Doom Libertarian Nominees. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1992-07-13.
    * From The Prison Of One Idea. Rocky Mountain News, 1992-07-12.

  131. Michael H. Wilson

    Mik over the last ten years or so I would say the LP has been more of a Republican Party echo chamber than anything else. Fortunately it looks like Wes has begun to change that.

    One of the bigwigs from national popped up in the state I was living a few years ago and the most important thing to him or so it seemed to me was “The Death Tax”. Like that one is going to ruin my life. Its probably a Limpaw sound bite.

  132. Michael H. Wilson

    Maybe the LP should be silent on the Drug War because we’ll end up with crystal meth being legal. If the LP comes out against zoning then people will think they’ll have chicken coops built next to their homes. If the LP supports ending occupational licensing for doctors then anyone can be a witch doctor and people will get killed and no one will do anything to stop it. If we say “Sell the Schools!” people will think the LP hates little kids. If we have Free Banking the corporations will be ripping people off and no one will be able to figure out what a Visa Franc is worth or an American Express Liberty Dollar. There will be just too much confusion. Some people will be on Day Light Savings Time and other won’t and who will decide when to trains come what an inch is. Will football be played with Canadian rules or American rules. And what if someone copyrights the Alphabet? Hey are we gonna leave those troops overseas on their own or bring ‘em home?

    Cheesuz pull the covers up. I’m scared already. Tuck me in and where’s Mr. Teddy Bear? 😉

  133. Brian Holtz

    over the last ten years or so I would say the LP has been more of a Republican Party echo chamber than anything else

    Thank you for sharing your feelings. Now consider some facts: LP.org Is Consistently Anti-War and Anti-Right.

    “The Death Tax”. Like that one is going to ruin my life.

    Ah, so you don’t object to confiscation of half of your wealth if it’s done on the day you die? Or is it that you don’t object because you’re under the traditional $1M wealth threshold?

  134. Michael H. Wilson

    Ah Brian. The phrase “Death Tax’ is one the LP folks picked up from the republican party hacks but I guess you don’t get that.

    You got your facts and I got mine and while I may not be always right I am never wrong. 😉

  135. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Since when is a 50% drop in membership a minor swing, Robert?

    me: If 2 people start a group, then one quits, that too is a 50% drop. When the base is tiny, large percentage swings are more likely. I’d suggest we don’t have enough data to say why LP membership is down from its peak, so my conjecture — 9/11 being the primary reason — seems as good a guess as any. You seem to be saying its the EDs and NatComs since 2000. That might be, too. I’d say we can’t know for sure.

    tb: I need to ask, who’s blaming who?

    me: In my case, I assume everyone’s always doing their best. The LPs founders were doing their best, infusing the philosophies of Rand and Rothbard into the founding documents of the LP, a political party. My assessment is that while Rand and Rothbard had some good ideas, their philosophies and analysis were in some major ways dysfunctional generally, and quite dysfunctional for a political party. Mistakes were made; that too is the human condition. The idea is to LEARN FROM our mistakes, to improve, to adjust to what works and what not.

    tb: What is it when you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result?

    me: Yes, precisely my point!

  136. Robert Capozzi

    mhw: Maybe the LP should be silent on the Drug War because we’ll end up with crystal meth being legal.

    me: Actually, the more interesting question is if the LP and its candidates advocate immediate abolition of all laws against possession of all drugs, is that likely to END the drug war? I’d say no, it’s highly UNlikely. Such advocacy is HIGHLY likely to discredit anything and everything that we Ls say, as IMO most of the population finds the prospect of all drugs being legal tomorrow to be a frightening prospect. It’s not fair, but such advocacy held high sounds to most like crazy talk to most.

    OTOH, advocating medical marijuana or even recreational marijuana doesn’t strike me as a non-starter with the general population.

    Positioning the LP as an extremist organization discredits the cause of liberty, IMO.

  137. Mik Robertson

    @140 “Mik over the last ten years or so I would say the LP has been more of a Republican Party echo chamber than anything else. Fortunately it looks like Wes has begun to change that.”

    Perhaps you see that because that is what you want to see. The Republican Party does have some good ideas, so does the Democratic Party, so do the Greens, and so does the Constitution Party. The LP has similar positions to all of them of them in some cases. That does not make the LP like any of them in total.

    Is it a bad idea that the LP should share some ideas with a political party that has tens of millions of supporters? If one person can change what is the perception of the LP, what does that say about the party?

  138. Brian Holtz

    What Mik said. Michael, X doesn’t automatically stop being good anti-statist rhetoric just because Republicans like to say X.

    If the Republicans advocated ALL of our economic-liberty ideas, and the Democrats advocated ALL of our personal-liberty ideas, then would you have us close up shop?

    Libertarianism isn’t supposed to be about iconoclasm. It’s supposed to be about freedom.

  139. Tom Blanton

    “It’s supposed to be about freedom”

    Well, actually it’s supposed to be about “lower taxes, less government, more freedom”.

    Ooops, that’s what Dick Armey’s Freedom Works is all about. The LP is all about “smaller government, lower taxes, more freedom”.

    Hmmm, it sort of reminds me of this:

    “My overall concept is to minimize the role of government and to maximize the role of the private economy to maximize personal freedoms.”

    Now, who said that? Was it Brian Holtz? Maybe it was Capozzi? Oh wait, it was David Koch – one of the all-time largest donors to the GOP, main stockholder in CATO, funder of Reason, funder of Dick Armey, and former libertarian.

    Dick Armey’s Freedom Works originated from a campaign called Citizens for a Sound Economy, set up by David Koch.

    So, is it really about freedom or is it about more freedom? Or is it all about David Koch and his paid minions scurrying about in the shadows of the LP?

    Maybe it’s all about the freedom of Koch Industries to spend over $20 million in 2008 lobbying the government. That might come to a shock to the “just plain folks” in the Tea Party people herded together by Dick Armey. A lot of them think there is too much corporate influence in politics.

  140. Brian Holtz

    is it really about freedom or is it about more freedom?

    Obviously both, because “more freedom” is defined in terms of “freedom”. For any given step toward freedom, you probably can find someone advocating it who would damage your fragile self-image if you considered yourself to be in any way associated with him. That’s the fundamental psychological disability of radical angrytarians — their self-esteem depends on who they’re against, rather than on what they’re for. I’d recommend therapy, but admitting the problem is really all you need in order to be cured…

    Blanton @113, the LP platform was every bit as radical when membership was falling during the 1980s, and the platform was actually becoming slightly less radical (e.g. Children’s Rights) during the 1990s membership growth. The platform was every bit as radical as the 1990s when all those membership gains were given up during 2000-2006. Despite my coy observation that the 2000-2006 membership plummet stopped at the time that platform reform began, I’ve never claimed that the platform has ever, or would ever, have any measurable impact on membership numbers.

    The hump in the membership graph of the last two decades had nothing to do with the radicalism of the LP. It had to do with a nuts-and-bolts membership prospecting/retention operation that was created in the 1990s and that was abandoned when the dot-com bust and 9/11 apparently tipped the financials of the operation into the red. The downward slide surely wasn’t mitigated by a botched database transition, the ending of the Unified Membership Program, and the experiments with Zero Dues and $50 dues.

    People who claim they can measure the radicalness or non-radicalness of the LP via its membership graph simply have no idea what they’re talking about.

    They insist that Root is growing the LP with his non-stop book tour

    The growth that matters is in vote totals, voter registrations, and media exposure. I care much less about how much total dues that LPHQ processes, because there is almost nothing productive that LPHQ does that couldn’t be done on a shoestring budget. (I say “almost”, because the big exception is ballot access.)

    The “serious” pragmatists and reformers insist that their brilliant strategies are yielding results, but where are the numbers that show this?

    Correlation does not imply causation, but the rebound in membership around the time of the Portland platform change is not the only positive sign:

    * In the LPCA, we now have reversed the voter registration slide that began around 2003.
    * Google News shows that LP mentions in the media were up in 2008 compared to 2004.
    * NewsLibrary.com counted for 2009 an all-time high in articles that mention the LP in post-presidential-election years.
    * NewsLibrary.com counted for 2008 a number of LP mentions that reversed the decrease measured in 2004 and shattered the record set in 2000.
    * Barr earned dozens more national TV appearances in 2008 than the 53 that Browne claimed for his 2000 campaign.
    * Root claims 1000 media appearances since the 2008 election, and his amount of earned media as an LP VP/ex-VP pick are simply off the charts of what our past VP picks have done.
    * Traffic at LP.org has been steadily growing since the 2008 election, while post-election traffic at the Green and Constitution party web sites has been essentially flat.
    * The Cato Institute’s analysis of Gallup polling says that the percentage of libertarians in the electorate has recovered steadily from the dot-com/9-11 dip and is back at the peak measured in the late 1990s. (Currently, 23% tell Gallup that government does too much and should not favor any particular set of values.)

    Again, I think the LP largely rides the larger waves rather than creating them. I suspect that whether the LP has a headwind or tailwind depends on whether the Washington D.C. regime and exogenous shocks (like 2001 and 2008) are driving members/voters toward or away from the LP. I suspect that, as Marc Montoni claims, we can significantly affect our membership numbers at the margin by how well we run our prospecting/retention operation. I’ll cautiously predict that the bailouts and Obamacare are going to do as much or more to help sustain the 2006 membership bounce than whatever the LNC does.

    Blanton @112, you once again fail to produce or cite a single text that refutes even one of 12 factual predicates in my argument for overthrowing Saddam. Repeatedly bleating “antiwar.com” does not constitute a refutation. For you convenience, I’ve updated my web page to give you a cut-and-paste template for refuting my argument. So far, you’ve not only failed to even attempt to refute it, but you haven’t even explicitly stated that you actually disagree with it. So I’ve also included cut-and-paste instructions for what you need to say to actually disagree with me rather than with the voices in your head.

  141. Robert Capozzi

    tb 148, Ron Paul was Chairman of CSE for a time, so I guess he was a Koch minion, too, by your estimation. We actually interviewed Lew Rockwell as well. Sheldon Richman was a staffer. Minion in perpetuity in your book?

    I’m not sure what your forensics about FreedomWorks proves or even implies. Can you be more specific?

  142. Robert Capozzi

    bh: …there is almost nothing productive that LPHQ does that couldn’t be done on a shoestring budget.

    me: hmm, can you expand on this? I’d actually like to see HQ do a LOT more if they had budget. Candidate recruitment and grooming, for ex. A LOT more media. Strategy, like where is money best spent for maximum impact. Leaving this sort of thing to volunteers entirely runs the risk of the LP coming off as amateurs. Yes, politics needs volunteers, but all-volunteers doing the work of politics at night and on weekends is a gating item from professionalism.

    This doesn’t mean the party should be run top-down. Professionalism requires pros who know how to facilitate and groom the grassroots.

    Otherwise, we have a perpetual goat rodeo.

  143. Tom Blanton

    Holtz – you don’t actually refute anything I wrote (that you pasted above) where I addressed the claims of others. I suppose you deny these claims have ever been made. I’m wondering what rebound in membership you refer to – where are the numbers? While the chart shows an uptick around 2006, it then heads downward again.

    I’ve addressed your list of formerly incomplete sentences rationalizing why you support an illegal war of aggression on more than one occasion. Sorry if it isn’t to your liking. I just can’t help but wonder why in 2010 you ask me to refute neocon propaganda from 2002 and 2003 that you adopted as your own in 2007. If I didn’t make it clear enough that I think your list of bumper sticker slogans are bullshit reasons for war, sorry.

    Capozzi writes:

    “I’m not sure what your forensics about Freedom Works proves or even implies. Can you be more specific?”

    The LP is using the motto of Freedom Works, a front organization for Koch being run by Armey – two Republicans that support Republicans who have no concept of freedom or government limited in any meaningful sense. In fact, it would be hard to find someone who has given Republicans more money than the Koch machine.

    Most libertarians favor meaningful reductions in the size, scope and power of government. Republicans don’t, in practice – and they have had many chances – and only nominally in rhetoric. They only pretend to be serious about limited government when they are out of power.

    David Koch gave $2,300 each to McCain and Romney, none to any other candidates. A supporter of small government?

    Somehow, the best friend of my enemy is my friend is a concept I can’t comprehend. But maybe Holtz is right – perhaps I’m a psychologically disabled radical angrytarian and just don’t get his genius-level pontifications.

    On the other hand, is it really so bizarre to wonder why the LP would adopt a slogan from a group that is backed by one of the GOP’s largest donors, or be suspicious of “libertarian think tanks” (like Reason Institute or CATO) backed by this same donor?

    It would seem one item on the agenda of Koch is to blur the lines between libertarianism and Republican-style conservatism. Why? Does Koch have people working within the LP?

    Is it beyond the pale to wonder if Koch has moles in the LP to move it in a more Republican direction, thereby rendering it obsolete?

    It seems pretty obvious that it is not exactly libertarianism that he supports.

  144. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Libertarianism isn’t supposed to be about iconoclasm. It’s supposed to be about freedom.”

    And it can’t effectively be about the latter without successfully being about the former.

  145. Brian Holtz

    I wouldn’t have the LP spend any money buying strategy advice from professionals. The 202-page LP Strategic Plan still contains more good strategy advice than we have bandwidth/resources to execute on.

    I wouldn’t have the LP spend any money on media buys that don’t demonstrably pay for themselves. Instead, I’d devote any such media budget to growing a toolkit of high-quality non-perishable customizable media — videos, web banners/badges, handouts, cards.

    I wouldn’t have the LP spend any money on candidate recruitment and grooming. Instead, I’d devote any such money to campus recruiting. In my 2008 campaign I blanketed the Stanford campus with 250 of these frisbees:

    Knapp says libertarianism can’t be about freedom unless it’s about iconoclasm. What he doesn’t seem to realize is: libertarianism can’t ever become mainstream if being mainstream is defined as unlibertarian.

    Blanton asks what “rebound” in membership I refer to. He is blind. My graph @110 shows that membership dropped sharply from 2000 to 2006, started climbing then, and remains higher than 2006. And of course, Blanton utterly ignores the eight other statistical trends I cited @149, and instead conjures — wait for it — Koch-financed Republican moles within the LP. ROTFL.

    Blanton of course cannot quote himself refuting a single one of the 12 factual predicates in my intervention argument. If he did, then he could write “On (date) at (URL) I demonstrated that X”, where X is one of the claims below. But you will never ever see Blanton write that, because it never happened — except in his fantasies.

    America’s liberation and decade-long protection of Iraqi Kurdistan could not in 2003 have been considered a success.
    America’s overthrow of the Taliban could not in 2003 have been considered surprisingly easy.
    Saddam’s regime never admitted nuclear ambitions.
    Saddam’s regime never expressed hatred for America.
    Saddam’s regime never had supported terrorists who had targeted American civilians.
    Saddam’s aggressions had not killed over a million people.
    Saddam had not invaded any sovereign neighbor.
    Saddam had not annexed another sovereign neighbor by force.
    Saddam had not fired ballistic missiles at two more neighbors.
    Saddam had never defied UN nuclear disarmament mandates that Iraq was bound to obey as a 1945 UN Charter signatory.
    Saddam had never used chemical WMDs in a war of aggression.
    Saddam had never used chemical WMDs in genocidal attacks on his own citizens.

  146. Robert Capozzi

    tb, no one associated with Koch is on FreedomWorks’s Board:

    http://www.freedomworks.org/about/board-of-directors

    If I recall the story, when CSE schismed, the Koch money went to Americans for Prosperity.

    As for the slogans being similar, which was established went first?

    You’re starting to sound like a Bildenberger-phobe, inventing conspiracies on facts not in evidence and others that only faintly point in the direction of your conclusion.

  147. Robert Capozzi

    bh, yes, the current bandwidth doesn’t indicate what I was suggesting. If the LP grew to capture large percentages of the libertarian voting base, we might have a different situation.

    When I said “media,” I meant PR. Media placement and training, mostly.

    Your frisbee is charming. Casting seeds on campuses seems sensible, but cultivation requires more focus, IMO.

  148. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi, I have not invented any conspiracy theory. That would consist of an allegation and some sort of facts to back it up. I merely seek an explanation why the LP parrots Freedom Works and why some libertarians parrot David Koch.

    Perhaps the nearly identical slogans (that you say are similar) came about merely as a coincidence. That would be a coincidence theory. I find that to be odd.

    I do know that very soon after the LP adopted the slogan, it was pointed out to me that it was almost identical to the Freedom Works slogan. So, I would surmise that the Freedom Works slogan came first or simultaneously.

    That Koch, a huge supporter of Republicans, could have his tentacles within the LP is not so far out of the realm of possibility.

    He supports CATO and Reason, both of which make the claim that they are libertarian organizations. It is obvious that Koch seeks to have influence within the libertarian sphere, while at the same time supporting candidates that are not even remotely libertarian. Both McCain and Romney are big-government Republicans. I find all this to be rather odd.

    The notion that political people have moles in political parties just doesn’t happen is incredibly naive.

    Capozzi, perhaps you can explain why LP candidates have become increasingly more like the Republicans over the past decade and why the LP would adopt the Freedom Works slogan. Over the past few years, Boortz, Barr and Root have been the LP members with the highest profile. Do you deny that they are all conservative leaning libertarians at best?

    LP members that deny the LP is perceived as a right-wing political party by a majority of the general public are not paying attention. The sad part is that the perception of the general public is becoming more and more accurate – despite whatever the platform may say.

    The funny thing is the almost immediate response accusing me of being like a NWO conspiracy theorist. That sounds more like David Koch’s father who was behind the John Birch Society. Are you still on the Koch payroll, Capozzi?

    Oh Brian, I see you’re still trying to justify the illegal war of aggression against Iraq. It looks like you’ll be doing that for years to come.

  149. Tom Blanton

    Here’s a birthday present for Holtz:

    America’s liberation and decade-long protection of Iraqi Kurdistan could not in 2003 have been considered a success.

    America’s overthrow of the Taliban could not in 2003 have been considered surprisingly easy.

    Saddam’s regime never admitted nuclear ambitions.

    Saddam’s regime never expressed hatred for America.

    Saddam’s regime never had supported terrorists who had targeted American civilians.

    Saddam’s aggressions had not killed over a million people.
    Saddam had not invaded any sovereign neighbor.

    Saddam had not annexed another sovereign neighbor by force.

    Saddam had not fired ballistic missiles at two more neighbors.

    Saddam had never defied UN nuclear disarmament mandates that Iraq was bound to obey as a 1945 UN Charter signatory.

    Saddam had never used chemical WMDs in a war of aggression.

    Saddam had never used chemical WMDs in genocidal attacks on his own citizens.

    There, Holtz. Now the ball is in your court. I challenge you to prove me wrong, providing both sources and context for each allegation. Then you must make a convincing argument for each item why America should have gone to war. No incomplete sentences or bumper sticker slogans. I want names, dates, sources, and full discussions for each allegation you claim warrants war.

    I especially am looking forward to your argument for going to war with a nation because its regime “expressed hatred for America”.

  150. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Knapp says libertarianism can’t be about freedom unless it’s about iconoclasm. What he doesn’t seem to realize is: libertarianism can’t ever become mainstream if being mainstream is defined as unlibertarian.”

    Actually, that’s precisely what I do understand.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that we have precisely zero chance of becoming “mainstream” by triangulating toward “mainstream’s” current location. Moving to the center won’t work. We have to move the center to us.

  151. Brian Holtz

    That, Blanton, is the sound of a trap slamming shut.

    When you assert things like “Saddam had not invaded any sovereign neighbor”, I simply rest my case and hand it over to the jury of our readers — who will note that, as I predicted, you did not dare write that “on (date) at (URL) I demonstrated that X” for any of the X’s above.

  152. Brian Holtz

    Tom, I’ve never advocated moving the LP toward the mainstream of American political thought just because we’re not in it. What I’ve instead advocated is moving the LP into the mainstream of libertarian political thought.

  153. Thomas L. Knapp

    Iconoclast \I*con”o*clast\, n. [Gr. e’ikw`n image + ? to break: cf. F. iconoclaste.]

    1. A breaker or destroyer of images or idols; a determined enemy of idol worship. [1913 Webster]

    2. One who exposes or destroys impositions or shams; one who attacks cherished beliefs; a radical. [1913 Webster]

    We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state …

    Iconoclasm is a foundational principle of the Libertarian Party. We were established as a radical anti-state party, on the premise that statism is idol worship, an imposition, a sham.

    If the LP has a legitimate “moderate” wing, that wing consists of those who agree with Paine that “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

    The current self-described “moderate”/”pragmatist” wing of the LP would, if transplanted to Germany in 1942, attempt to end the Holocaust by arguing for the issuance of taxi vouchers as an “incremental step” away from just stuffing the Jews into boxcars for transport to the camps. They’d describe any suggestion of actually shutting down camps, or even reducing the hours of chamber/oven operation, as “extremist stuff that will keep us from becoming mainstream.” Feel free to scream “Godwin’s Law” if you like, but that’s the fucking size of it.

  154. Thomas L. Knapp

    Oops … I forgot to close a blockquote in the previous comment.

    The first blockquote ends with the second iteration of [1913 Webster]

    The second blockquote consists of the linked first clause of the first sentence of the LP’s statement of principles.

    The remainder of the comment is me, not a quote of someone else.

  155. Michael H. Wilson

    2 145 RC wrote: “… IMO most of the population finds the prospect of all drugs being legal tomorrow to be a frightening prospect. It’s not fair, but such advocacy held high sounds to most like crazy talk to most.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. In 2001 and 2002 from April to Labor Day I and a few other spent most Saturdays running a booth for the LP. We registered voters and did basic outreach. About 8 ft in the air at the front of the booth was a large 8 ft x 3 ft black on yellow banner that read “End the Drug War”. We explained to the people who approached us what we meant and laid out the case for abolishing all the drug laws. We had very few people tells us it wouldn’t work. In fact we had a large number who encouraged us in our efforts.

    We explained the racist origins of the laws and how race play in the application of the laws today. I’ll suggest that the LP could make significant inroads with the African-American and Hispanic communities if we worked this issue appropriately. BTW you can easily explain the problem in less than a minute and I also had a short brochure on the issue.

    Does going after the drug laws make me an iconoclast?

    And Brian. I’ll take my position out on the edges and let the others come to me. I refuse to go to them. Let’s move the mainstream to us and not the other way around. I’ve got a book around here by some fancy activist who said something about never compromising. That a point to remember.

  156. Tom Blanton

    Holtz writes:

    “What I’ve instead advocated is moving the LP into the mainstream of libertarian political thought.”

    To determine what the mainstream position is, simply ask what David Koch would consider mainstream, unless it is about military intervention, then as what Yaron Brook would think is mainstream.

    As far as compromising goes, the mainstream position is always compromise before you get to the table. In other words, compromise with yourself – don’t wait for an adversary to come along to negotiate with.

  157. Robert Capozzi

    Tb: I do know that very soon after the LP adopted the slogan, it was pointed out to me that it was almost identical to the Freedom Works slogan. So, I would surmise that the Freedom Works slogan came first or simultaneously.

    Me: Yes, so it sounds like the LP imitated FW. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Tb: [Koch] supports CATO and Reason, both of which make the claim that they are libertarian organizations. It is obvious that Koch seeks to have influence within the libertarian sphere, while at the same time supporting candidates that are not even remotely libertarian. Both McCain and Romney are big-government Republicans. I find all this to be rather odd.

    Me: You know, when I knew a bit Charles and David way back in the mid-80s, they were L and David had been our VP candidate in 1980. As I recall, Charles was less interested in political action or public interest group work. I don’t know why they give to Rs now…could be a business decision, to hedge their bets and gain influence. Koch Industries is a major corporation, and now they are HUGE, having acquired Weyerhauser.

    Tb: Capozzi, perhaps you can explain why LP candidates have become increasingly more like the Republicans over the past decade and why the LP would adopt the Freedom Works slogan. Over the past few years, Boortz, Barr and Root have been the LP members with the highest profile. Do you deny that they are all conservative leaning libertarians at best?

    Me: I’d add Ron Paul to that list. Most Ls I’ve known in the past 30 years have come from a conservative lean, so that we continue to attract disgruntled conservatives is no surprise to me.

    TB: Are you still on the Koch payroll, Capozzi?

    Me: I never was, Tom. In the mid-80s, I worked for a Koch-supported outfit. I wish they and other affluent Ls would come back to the LP. I’m grateful the Kochs continue to support excellent L institutions like Cato, Reason, and George Mason affiliated institutions. Liberty needs as much help as it can get!

  158. Robert Capozzi

    tb, did you read my comment 155? It’s my understanding that FW is NOT Koch-supported, it’s the result of a schism between Armey and the “Kochtopus.”

  159. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, nice anecdotes. Perhaps larger numbers of people are ready for an immediate all-drug legalization now. Good news!

    Is your anecdote supported by any wider polling data?

  160. Mik Robertson

    @163 “The current self-described “moderate”/”pragmatist” wing of the LP would, if transplanted to Germany in 1942, attempt to end the Holocaust by arguing for the issuance of taxi vouchers as an “incremental step” away from just stuffing the Jews into boxcars for transport to the camps. They’d describe any suggestion of actually shutting down camps, or even reducing the hours of chamber/oven operation, as “extremist stuff that will keep us from becoming mainstream.” Feel free to scream “Godwin’s Law” if you like, but that’s the fucking size of it.”

    This completely distorts what extremist or pragmatic positions are and is entirely divorced from any relationship to discussions of public policy options in the LP today. This is clearly an abuse of Godwin’s Law and is nothing more than complete nonsense.

    It is not a question of the LP becoming “mainstream”, it a question of how to move public policy in a libertarian direction. To do that most commonly takes some sense of political reality. Extreme situations such as a genocidal regime do not approximate the current conditions in the United States.

    Is it better to, for example, take a position on the legalization of medical marijuana, and work with other groups that also have this as a goal, or is it better to take the “principled” high road, refute that incremental approach, and refuse anything that is short of complete deregulation of all drugs immediately?

    I think taking the latter option will not only result in no changes in public policy, but the organization that takes such an approach is likely to be viewed as being comprised of a bunch of flakes.

  161. Robert Capozzi

    tk 163, echoing MR’s point. Do you not grant that it’s one thing to assess a fact set as dysfunctional — perhaps profoundly so in your example — another to determine what is indicated in response to the dysfunction.

    I illustrate this by giving the most extreme examples. Were I an abolitionist anarchist, I would deem it dysfunctional that “stolen” tax dollars are paying the staff in the silos. Is it indicated to abolish those jobs and replace them with nothing? I’d say No, abolition of that stream of “stolen” funds would be contra-indicated, all things considered. The cure would likely be more dysfunctional than the disease. There are clearer-cut dysfunctions to could be ended or wound down for a net improvement in the citizenry’s lot.

    Politics requires judgment, in short. Reducing one’s advocacy to one simplistic formula — force initiation or not — misses all sorts of mitigating factors and complex interrelationships and interdependencies.

    IMO.

  162. Robert Capozzi

    more…

    So, were I transported to 1944 (’42 seems a bit early) Germany, I’d find the Holocaust deeply dysfunctional, horrifically so. Would it make sense for me to hold high the banner for halting the murder on a soapbox in a central location in Berlin? Spose I could. Spose I’d be quickly hauled off by the authorities, and I would have accomplished precisely nothing except, perhaps, to get MYSELF killed.

    What would be the point of that quixotic effort?

  163. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert I think you’ll find that Weyerhaeuser continues to be its own self. It was GP that Koch bought.

    “Koch Industries Inc. agreed to buy Georgia-Pacific Corp. for $13.2 billion, adding Dixie paper cups, cardboard boxes and lumber to fuel and chemical businesses to become the largest privately held company in the U.S.”
    http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12776

    And nope I don’t do polling. I wonder what would have happened if John Hancock, Madison, and the others in that group of rabble rousers had taken polls to decide what to do and where to go.

  164. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, yes, thanks, I stand corrected, GP.

    If Hancock, Madison, et al didn’t have a sense that there was widespread discontent with British rule, they would not have dared to launch the Revolution, I suspect. Is your sense otherwise?

    There have been numerous lunatics in history who have done violent acts hoping that large numbers of folks would surge to their support. Maybe their grievances were correct on some level, but they misread the prevailing sense of discontent among the populace.

    If I thought that legalize all drugs was a ripe concept, I’d support it. But being Don Quixote on this issue doesn’t seem worthwhile. I happen to believe that adults should be free to ingest what they wish, but there’s only so many hours in a day. Is there something “wrong” with prioritizing?

    By your logic, why do you cite your anecdote about a few experiences you had in a booth? You shouldn’t even care if everyone (self-selected, I’d note) who approached your booth gave you encouragement and support, right? That was a poll of sorts, too. If they spat on you, would you have continued to unfurl your flag?

  165. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    You write:

    “Is it better to, for example, take a position on the legalization of medical marijuana, and work with other groups that also have this as a goal, or is it better to take the ‘principled’ high road, refute that incremental approach, and refuse anything that is short of complete deregulation of all drugs immediately?”

    With thanks to Brian Holtz for supplying the most concise proper response:

  166. Thomas L. Knapp

    Hmmm … I attempted to put the “strawman” image in there. Didn’t work. Text version:

    I’ll respond to your questions when and if they have something to do with my arguments. Strawmen bore me.

  167. Mik Robertson

    It was a simple example question. If you cannot answer that, how can you hope to address more complex problems? (Perhaps that question is boring, too.)

  168. Dear .......... Thinkers

    Thomas L. Knapp // Mar 22, 2010:

    Hmmm … I attempted to put the “strawman” image in there. Didn’t work. Text version:
    “Strawmen bore me.”

    Lake: Strawmen [in or out of Oz] enrage me!

  169. Mik Robertson

    I seem to recall someone saying this @160:

    “Moving to the center won’t work. We have to move the center to us.”

    You cannot move the center to you if people think you are associated with a bunch of flakes. What happens then is that people run away from you, even if you do present some good ideas.

    Taking the furthest, most hard-line positions from the center on issues and hoping that will somehow average out to the center moving in your direction is not a good approach to take for a political party, in my opinion.

    To move the center to us, we have to entice the majority of people, most of whom are very risk-averse and reluctant to change, to support more libertarian public policy positions. It is more like laying down a trail of nuts for a squirrel to follow than some analogy of an extreme fascist, genocidal regime. Making wild moves will only cause fright and flight, moving the center away from where you want it to go.

  170. Robert Capozzi

    mr, well said. I’ve had this conversation with abolitionists in the past, and to date I’ve never heard them clarify what they mean by moving the center to us when the LP is effectively very, very, very far from the center, and therefore easily dismissed as flakes.

    Maybe someone will address the point in this thread…I hope so…I really would like to at least understand the abolitionist perspective. The silence has been deafening.

  171. Tom Blanton

    Anyone who still believes that ending drug prohibition is some sort of radical concept is poorly informed and living in the past, or perhaps they just place too much credence in prohibitionist propaganda.

    Public opinion polls and the actions of numerous governing bodies around the country and the world show the tide is turning against strict prohibition.

    In 2005, over 500 economists signed off on legalizing marijuana.

    See: prohibitioncosts.org/

    In 2006, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition was formed.

    See: leap.cc

    Look at the graph that shows where the numbers are about to converge as to those who are for and against outright marijuana legalization.

    See: http://www.gallup.com/poll/123728/u.s.-support-legalizing-marijuana-reaches-new-high.aspx

    Once again, many of the so-called moderate/pragmatist “strategists” in the LP are behind the curve, not unlike their counterparts in the major parties.

    Here’s the deal. If you want to MOVE people in a particular direction, you need to lead them as opposed to follow them. If you want people to adopt your ideas, you have to expose them to the ideas, not just tell them what you think they already believe.

    By the way, it’s not like the the moderate/pragmatist strategy is successful. In fact, if there had not been “radicals” calling for the end of drug prohibition for many years, it is doubtful that 500 economists or law enforcement officers would speak out on the issue. So, while the “pragmatists” were sitting on their asses and remaining silent about the drug war because they feared rejection, “radicals” were out there calling for the end of prohibition. Now that we are starting to see society actually moving in that direction, the “pragmatists” are afraid to get out front on the issue.

    Pragmatist: A person who tends to set aside their ideals or higher goals in order to pursue lesser, more achievable objectives.

    Where are the achievements?

    Makes you wonder who are the radicals and who are the moderates.

    Capozzi, when your political enemies dismiss you as a flake, you should wear it like a badge of honor. It means they fear you and are threatened by your ideas.

    As far as the drug war goes, who are the flakes? We have the largest incarceration rate in the world, a militarized police force, erosion of constitutional rights, corruption of public officials, and billions have been thrown away to accomplish nothing. It seems to me, anyone who thinks all that is OK is beyond being a flake – I’d say they are sociopaths.

  172. Robert Capozzi

    tb, I do believe I’ve indicated in this thread that MARIJUANA legalization is within the zone of plausibility. (I’ve certainly expressed that opinion many times.) Your cites only talk about that, NOT all recreational drugs.

    And, while if someone calls a L a “flake,” that’s on them, not on the accused, as far as I’m concerned. However, politics is a game of persuasion, so positioning Ls as flakes in unlikely to win over supporters. Given the choice between being successful vs. “winning” ideological debating points, I’ll take the former every time. When peace and liberty win, we all win.

    Seems like you are changing the subject. Do you agree that taking really far-out positions on issues runs the risk of our ideas being discredited? Perhaps worse, do we risk discrediting ALL L ideas, not just the really far-out ones?

  173. Thomas L. Knapp

    “It was a simple example question”

    No, it was a false dilemma between the position you take and a position I don’t take, intended to confuse the reader into believing that I do in fact take the latter position.

    Nice try. Thanks for playing.

  174. Mik Robertson

    @181 “Pragmatist: A person who tends to set aside their ideals or higher goals in order to pursue lesser, more achievable objectives.”

    Perhaps this is where we are talking past each other. It is not an abdication of ideals or higher goals to pursue an achievable objective. The legalization of medical marijuana does not mean the efforts to continue to increase liberty through the reform of the drug laws would cease.

    As far as I am aware, there are a number of realistic possibilities for medical marijuana legislation, some of which have already been adopted. They were not adopted because of proposals to remove all restrictions on all drugs, nor will any other reforms be driven by such proposals.

    Would LEAP decline to support a proposal for the use of medical marijuana because it would not remove all restrictions on all drugs? Would LEAP abandon its mission if it would support a medical marijuana proposal?

    Taking an approach that actually will move the center in your direction is hardly contrary to the cause, yet those people have literally been compared to aiding Hitler on this thread.

  175. Mik Robertson

    “No, it was a false dilemma between the position you take and a position I don’t take, intended to confuse the reader into believing that I do in fact take the latter position.”

    No, it was an example. Whether anyone holds those positions does not does not matter, it is how you are reasoning. Has anyone taken this position:

    “The current self-described “moderate”/”pragmatist” wing of the LP would, if transplanted to Germany in 1942, attempt to end the Holocaust by arguing for the issuance of taxi vouchers as an “incremental step” away from just stuffing the Jews into boxcars for transport to the camps. They’d describe any suggestion of actually shutting down camps, or even reducing the hours of chamber/oven operation, as “extremist stuff that will keep us from becoming mainstream.”

  176. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    Ah, I see where you’re misunderstanding me.

    I’ve long supported both medical marijuana and outright marijuana legalization as incremental measures toward ending the drug war. I don’t hide the fact that I want to end the whole thing, but neither do I reject any move in the right direction.

    Thing is, taxi vouchers to Auschwitz would NOT be an incremental step toward ending the Holocaust, any more than vouchers or tax credits would be an incremental step toward ending government dominance in education or health care.

    Handing someone who’s chained to the counter at your restaurant a revised/expanded menu is not an “incremental step” toward removing the chains. It’s just an attempt to make him accept the chains and maybe even like the chains.

  177. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi writes:

    “Your cites only talk about that, NOT all recreational drugs.”

    I previously said:

    “Anyone who still believes that ending drug prohibition is some sort of radical concept is poorly informed…..”

    If you think LEAP is just talking about pot, you are poorly informed.

    Mik asks:

    “Would LEAP decline to support a proposal for the use of medical marijuana because it would not remove all restrictions on all drugs?”

    Probably not, but they want to end the prohibition on all drugs. Medical marijuana is not their issue. My question to you is can you name any libertarian “radical” who would decline to support a proposal for medical marijuana, even though they are for total prohibition of all drugs?

    You seem to imply that people you deem to be “radical” oppose everything less than exactly what they advocate. I don’t believe this is true at all. In reality what you are suggesting is that people should compromise with themselves.

    And don’t kid yourself, the medical marijuana movement grew out of the drug legalization movement. If people more radical than cops and economists had not been busy for years paving the way, people in the mainstream would not have stuck their necks out like these people did.

    Where is the evidence that “taking the moderate approach” has been successful for the LP or the libertarian movement in general?

    How does keeping libertarian ideas on the down low help acquaint the general public with these ideas?

    Maybe I’m the only one who has ever noticed how Democrats and Republicans constantly slime each other and try to paint their opponents as flakes, lunatics, radicals, and everything else. What is it with libertarians that they care so damn much about what their opponents say?

    Did you guys spend recess hiding behind the dumpster crying if some kid called you a poop head on the playground?

    Maybe it’s time for some of these LP clown candidates to grow some fucking balls and learn how dish it right back out at their opponents. God knows they provide enough ammo. There is very little a hard core libertarian could propose that could be more radical or crazier than what the scumbag politicians have already done.

  178. Mik Robertson

    “No, it’s not an argument over nothing. It was an argument in which you took one side and nobody took the other.”

    I hardly think that is the case. In fact it appears you are taking my side, as opposed to this:

    “So, while the “pragmatists” were sitting on their asses and remaining silent about the drug war because they feared rejection, “radicals” were out there calling for the end of prohibition. Now that we are starting to see society actually moving in that direction, the “pragmatists” are afraid to get out front on the issue.

    Pragmatist: A person who tends to set aside their ideals or higher goals in order to pursue lesser, more achievable objectives.”

    The issue was whether it was acceptable for the LP to take positions that are steps toward a more libertarian public policy or whether it should advocate extreme positions to “bring the center to us”. It now appears you agree with the former while previously it appeared you did not.

    It also appears from your earlier comments that you do not think the fair tax is a step in the right direction. I think it has benefits beyond the elimination of the income tax. Whether it is a position the LP should advocate as an organization may be worth a discussion, but I think there are better positions for the LP to take. That is not to say a Libertarian candidate couldn’t make a good case for the fair tax.

    I am not out to belittle anyone, as there can reasonably be different approaches to increasing liberty. As an organization though, the LP has to also be concerned with how it can be most effective, and that is not by keeping itself on the margins.

  179. Mik Robertson

    @189 “You seem to imply that people you deem to be “radical” oppose everything less than exactly what they advocate. I don’t believe this is true at all. In reality what you are suggesting is that people should compromise with themselves.”

    I don’t deem people to be radical or not. It is the public policy positions that the organization advocates that are the issue. Let me give an example even though it is likely to draw another attempt to post the strawman picture:

    The LPPA has long maintained that the government has no authority to license the sale of agricultural products. Not that long ago, the sale of raw milk to the general public was illegal in Pennsylvania. Several groups tried for a long time to have the sale of raw milk be legal here.

    These groups would not work with the LPPA because of the position the organization had taken. It was a political non-starter, and to be associated with the LPPA would have hurt the ability of these other organizations to successfully get a bill through the legislature that allowed for the licensed sale of raw milk under some rigorous conditions.

    Even more recently, when I approached these other organizations about working together to reduce some of the licensing requirements, they would rather not be associated with LPPA on the issue because of the official position that LPPA still holds.

    So rather than be an organization that is helping to increase Liberty and helping people increase their choices, the LPPA is essentially on the sidelines on this issue. Legislators are much more likely to listen to the points of groups that will address some of their concerns than an organization that simply takes a hard, uncompromising line. Maintaining the hard line is not making a difference in people’s lives, in my opinion.

    If individuals want maintain that there should be no government authority to license ag products, that’s fine. As an organization we should work to improve the situation where we can and not take ourselves needlessly out of the picture.

    What your opponents say is one thing. When those who should be your friends tell you to go away, maybe it is time to rethink the approach.

  180. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    You write:

    “The issue was whether it was acceptable for the LP to take positions that are steps toward a more libertarian public policy or whether it should advocate extreme positions to ‘bring the center to us.'”

    A false dilemma is not an “issue.” It’s an attempt to misdirect people such that instead of seeing two or more actual choices before them, they see one choice which appears reasonable and one which does not (with the latter usually being a creation of or exaggeration by the person presenting the alleged dilemma).

    Medical marijuana did not get to be the “center” by anti-drug-warriors coming up with some “mainstream” proposal under which those arrested for marijuana possession would receive vouchers to serve time in the prisons of their choice (with the ability to augment said vouchers with their own money to get better food, etc.), or to “privatize” the DEA . They didn’t pretend not to be anti-drug-warriors. They didn’t pretend to be centrist pragmatists just looking for a way to make things more “efficient.” They moved the center TOWARD THEMSELVES by proposing an incremental step in the right direction.

    They changed my mind, by the way.

    When I first came to the LP, I was all about “pragmatism.”

    In my first campaign for public office, part of my platform was replacing my city’s mass transit for the handicapped with cab vouchers, and I was very forward inside the party with bullshit ideas like “we can’t go to Farmer Bill’s door and tell him we’re about legalizing drugs — he won’t listen to anything else we have to say.”

    I lost, of course (20% in a three-way race) … and wouldn’t you know it, the entire newspaper profile on my campaign was about the Libertarian position on the war on drugs, when the only campaign position I took that was relevant to it was that drug enforcement should be a lower law enforcement priority than other things in a city where it took police 90 minutes to respond to an “I just got hit in the head with a shovel by someone who’s been stalking me” call. I suspect that got me votes rather than costing me votes.

    That was in late 1996 and early 1997. At the same time, libertarians and other anti-drug-war radicals were talking to Farmer Bill about legalizing medical marijuana … and WINNING.

    So, I learned my lesson.

  181. Tom Blanton

    Mik, it sounds like you are saying that a single-issue group didn’t want to work with the LP because the political enemies of the LP (Republicans and Democrats) refuse to work with a group associated with the LP.

    What is the solution? There is none. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what position the LP takes on any issue, the Republicans and Democrats will still oppose the LP. Am I wrong?

    Or are you saying that because the groups you refer to disagree with the LP on licensing agricultural products, they prefer to not have whatever help the LP could offer. Perhaps there is no solution to that either other than have the LP become a single-issue group – their issue.

    Perhaps a better way to advance the cause is for individual libertarians to work with these groups as opposed to the LPPA.

    If the motives of LPPA members are so pure and they feel so strongly about this issue, why aren’t they already working on the issue as individuals? Perhaps these groups feel the LPPA’s motivations are self-serving, and they are probably right. Is it not true that the LPPA thought it might gain publicity, attention and credibility by joining the coalition?

    Honestly Mik, somebody out there will always disagree with some political position the LP will take. There’s nothing you can do but advocate what you actually believe in and do it honestly.

    As I often seem to say, libertarians aren’t the enemy of the LP as so many LP members seem to believe these days. Republicans and Democrats are the enemies. Their allies are. The people sucking up to them for favorable treatment simply understand that they won’t win favor by allying with the political enemies of those in power.

    Be honest Mik, what does the LPPA bring to the table in the situation you describe? Boatloads of cash? Vast number of voters? Influence over Republican and/or Democrat politicians? Some special expertise? I’m guessing no, no, no, and no.

  182. Tom Blanton

    Hey Tom K – in 1996 there were probably a lot of Farmer Bills growing a little “medical marijuana” out on the back 40.

    Here in Virginia, where the mountain folks have a tradition of distilling “tonic”, more than a few of these people were hooking up with the freaks who were leaving the cities and moving to the mountains to get close to the land back in the seventies. Growing a little weed was something that seemed to fit right in with the Blue Ridge Mountain lifestyle.

    Of course, these same mountain people also had a tradition of minding their own business, dodging revenuers, owning guns, and getting buzzed up while jamming on guitars.

    Too bad more people aren’t like them.

  183. Mik Robertson

    @192 Thomas,

    Why do we keep talking past each other? There is no false dilemma, there are real choices to be made. The choices made by the organization for public policy positions do not have to be the same choices made by the individual.

    Talking to Farmer Bill about legalization of marijuana is fine. Have you talked to Farmer Bill about removing all regulation of all drugs? If so, fine, that doesn’t mean it is the most effective public policy position to take for the LP as an organization.

    I think the LP should have a national coordinator for the drug issue and any other issue for which the LP wants to develop a public policy position. There should be concrete proposals developed that could be translated into legislative action. In most cases the extreme positions are going to be legislative non-starters. We need positions where we can work with others to bring the positions to the table for discussion.

    Moving the center incrementally is what I have been talking about, rather than taking an extreme position. Some may believe taking the extreme positions are the better way to go, and the organization should consider very carefully which is the best approach. I have explained why I generally don’t think the best approach is to take the extreme position.

    It may be that the most effective approach in one area may not be the most effective approach in another. This is why the national party should address national issues and let state and local parties address state and local issues, respectively.

  184. Mik Robertson

    @193 “Mik, it sounds like you are saying that a single-issue group didn’t want to work with the LP because the political enemies of the LP (Republicans and Democrats) refuse to work with a group associated with the LP.”

    No, that is not correct. The groups to which I refer were not single-issue groups, nor were the opponents D’s and R’s. I’m sure you are aware of the complexities and different interests that go into the legislative process.

    In this case there were other ag groups that opposed the sale of raw milk, primarily because they were afraid of losing market share for the milk they sell. To propose that raw milk be sold without regulation would have gone absolutely nowhere, and raw milk would have remained unavailable in Pennsylvania to this day.

    “What is the solution? There is none. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what position the LP takes on any issue, the Republicans and Democrats will still oppose the LP. Am I wrong?”

    I certainly hope you are wrong. What would be wrong with the LPPA taking a position that is in line with the other groups to move public policy in a more libertarian direction? The D’s and R’s don’t have to always be our enemies. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless it is digital, then you probably wouldn’t know what time it said.

    “Perhaps a better way to advance the cause is for individual libertarians to work with these groups as opposed to the LPPA.”

    In fact I am also a member of one of those organizations. It is fine for individuals to support the cause, but what does that say about the organization? Do we want an organization to help move public policy or not?

    “Honestly Mik, somebody out there will always disagree with some political position the LP will take. There’s nothing you can do but advocate what you actually believe in and do it honestly.”

    Opponents will disagree, sure. When there are those who you should be on the same side with and who are actually working to move policy toward what you want, shouldn’t you be working with them as an organization despite the opposition?

    There is no need to be dishonest, but making an activity legal that had been the norm for thousands of years of human history seems like should not be difficult for the LP to be on board.

    “Be honest Mik, what does the LPPA bring to the table in the situation you describe? Boatloads of cash? Vast number of voters? Influence over Republican and/or Democrat politicians? Some special expertise? I’m guessing no, no, no, and no.”

    What could we bring? Perhaps a network of volunteers, some familiarity with the legislative process, contacts with elected officials, people passionate and committed to improving the state of affairs in the commonwealth, people who can organize public events and are good public speakers, media contacts, maybe even some input from similar cases in other states or national campaigns if such existed.

    We could be supporting the community we hope will support us. It is a give and take. To get you have to give. Spouting the line of no regulation would have hurt the chance for adoption of the legislation, which was by no means certain. That kind of help would have been worse than no help at all.

    I think too often the preoccupation with ideology gets in the way of what can be done to bring into practice what we preach. Whenever you have a lot of people trying to determine the best course of action, there will be disagreement. We shouldn’t let that disagreement be paralyzing to the organization, though.

  185. Tom Blanton

    Maybe the LP just needs a dress code and flash cards with standardized talking points for candidates. That way all the LP candidates could be dynamic winners just like Wayne Root.

  186. Mik Robertson

    Wayne has good points and some not so good points. You have to give credit where credit is due, and Wayne is a dynamic individual. I wish his message would be more on target with my thinking, because of course I am right. I am hearing generally fewer things that I would disagree with lately, though. I will be seeing Ernie Hancock this weekend.

  187. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    You write:

    “Why do we keep talking past each other? ”

    Because you keeping buying into Bob Capozzi’s hallucinatory “contra-indicated extremists” bullshit.

  188. Tom Blanton

    “No, that is not correct. The groups to which I refer were not single-issue groups, nor were the opponents D’s and R’s. I’m sure you are aware of the complexities and different interests that go into the legislative process.”

    I don’t buy that.

    So, the opponents and the people who legislate are not D’s and R’s?
    What are they? Libertarians, Greens and Communists?

    “There is no need to be dishonest, but making an activity legal that had been the norm for thousands of years of human history seems like should not be difficult for the LP to be on board.”

    Are you talking about opium, marijuana or milk?

    I’m not sure why you think it is better to have the LPPA involved officially as opposed to having individual members of the LPPA involved. You got a collectivism fetish? Do you also think government should do tasks that individuals could do? Is it a secret that you are a libertarian? Why weren’t these groups afraid you’d start spouting off about licensing as you claim the LPPA would have done.

    Perhaps the organizations that rejected the LPPA’s help did not want any partisan association at all. Many groups avoid any appearance of partisanship. I’m guessing that no other political parties were partnering with them.

    What’s up with this big deal all of a sudden with raw milk and libertarians? This is a nation-wide issue among libertarians now. It reminds me of people polishing door knobs while their house is burning down. Are LP activists so hard up to find moderate non-controversial issues that they have turned to milk?

  189. Robert Capozzi

    tb: If you think LEAP is just talking about pot, you are poorly informed.

    me: LEAP isn’t a general poll. I’m glad that LEAP is out there, singing the praises of creating a national Hamsterdam. Even Rothbard in his infamous Leninist strategy memo talked about having L single-issue groups to really hold high the banner. Politicians and political parties serve the role of aggregators and communicators, generally to a lowest common denominator.

    tb: Where is the evidence that “taking the moderate approach” has been successful for the LP or the libertarian movement in general?

    me: The LP hasn’t tried it much. Closest I can recall are the Clark and Barr campaigns, which both got a lot of coverage. As for the movement, compare and contrast the influence of Cato and LvMI.

    tb: How does keeping libertarian ideas on the down low help acquaint the general public with these ideas?

    me: That depends on what you mean by L ideas. Are we talking silo abandonment or school vouchers? Rothbard and Hoppe or Friedman and Hayek ?

    tb: Maybe I’m the only one who has ever noticed how Democrats and Republicans constantly slime each other and try to paint their opponents as flakes, lunatics, radicals, and everything else. What is it with libertarians that they care so damn much about what their opponents say?

    me: This one doesn’t (although technically I have no “opponents,” only those who have another opinion). I’m not concerned with those who strongly disagree, I’m concerned with those in the general public who are undecided or are liberty leaners. These are the people we need if our ideas are to be consequential. Winning them over calling for unprecedented rates of change seems unlikely to succeed in my estimation.

    tb: Maybe it’s time for some of these LP clown candidates to grow some fucking balls and learn how dish it right back out at their opponents.

    me: Ah, the manhood argument, charming 😉 Perhaps you’ve not noticed, but there are a variety of filters that block hysterical-sounding non-major-parties from the public square. We can whine about the rules, or play the game as it’s played. We can attempt to disintermediate the filters — and the Web is doing that to some extent — but that’s unlikely to reach the numbers necessary to move the debate in an L direction.

    That all said, there is nothing stopping an abolitionist L from running for office on the sort of agenda you are pointing to. Interestingly, when they do, they often start to moderate their message, since the abolitionist message doesn’t seem to ring true, at least not in a political context away from intra-L discussion.

  190. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Maybe the LP just needs a dress code and flash cards with standardized talking points for candidates.

    me: Hmmm, it strikes me that non-abolitionist Ls precisely DO NOT want that. We big tenters are pluralistic and broad in our definition of who a L is. NAP advocacy seems more prone to a homogenized L positioning.

  191. Robert Capozzi

    tk: …Bob Capozzi’s hallucinatory “contra-indicated extremists” bullshit.

    me: Sorry you feel that way, TK. Near as I can tell, I’m not hallucinating. Indeed, I find my opinions to be quite grounded, arguably TOO grounded, if I get your critique.

    tk: Or we can change the rules and the game.

    me: That’s certainly an ambitious outlook. The game — near as I can tell — has been the same for thousands of years, although the players and specific circumstances seem to change. Win/lose. Dominate/submit. Attack/counter-attack. I agree it is all a bit wearying. It’s why I find Kingism so appealling…can we all just get along? That’s a REAL game changer. In the meantime, though, the way of peace may require continued use of the old-skool rules…when indicated. 😉

  192. Robert Capozzi

    tk, I’m curious whether you believe there’d need to be A LOT more Ls if we were going to change the rules. Or do you believe that 10-30K, say, Ls can change the rules by ourselves?

  193. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “The game — near as I can tell — has been the same for thousands of years”

    The US two-party game as we know it is only about 120 years old, although it was in development for close to a century before that.

    The two parties managed to narrow the rules in the 1880s and 1890s with adoption of the Australian ballot and control of access to that ballot.

    That had the effect of giving third parties one potential small square (so they could pretend we were included in the game) with no adjacent squares to which the rules would allow us to move. They don’t particularly care whether the square we take is near the edge or at the center, so long as the game is rigged to prevent us from controlling more than that one square out of some large number of squares, and so long as the square isn’t one from which we could hope to permanently cripple either of the “main players.”

    We could play that game, by their rules, for another 100 years and we’d still be in the same place and control the same amount of board territory as right now.

    We’ve got to find a way to pick up the board, dump the pieces off of it, and get new rules for how they’re to be put back on it.

    Do I know how to do that? No — but I’m trying to figure out how to do it. It’s been done before, in other places, with boards being overturned and different rule sets being discarded/rewritten.

    And not always through violent revolution, either. Britain has managed to peacefully move from its two party system — Tories versus Liberals, then Tories versus Labour — to a three party-plus system (Tories, Labour, Liberal Democrats), with other parties like the SNP picking up substantial regional and local roles.

    I think I’ve tortured that analogy enough for the moment.

    The first step in getting anywhere is understanding that we have to offer more than just a set of policy proposals. There is no policy proposal or set of policy proposals that can’t be co-opted by the major parties if they decide they need co-opting. Unless we offer a markedly different approach to the role of government per se, there’s no reason for us to exist.

  194. Michael H. Wilson

    Here’s an interesting column from one Libertarian in the NYT and while you are there may I suggest read the comments.

    “Pragmatic Libertarians
    By EDWARD L. GLAESER

    Edward L. Glaeser is an economics professor at Harvard.
    Question: Do libertarians support the sale of heroin to minors in vending machines?
    Answer: Only if they are privately owned and operated.
    That joke is usually told by libertarians themselves, as a means of showing that they are well aware of the great distance between their very pure views and political reality.”

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/

  195. Robert Capozzi

    tk: There is no policy proposal or set of policy proposals that can’t be co-opted by the major parties if they decide they need co-opting. Unless we offer a markedly different approach to the role of government per se, there’s no reason for us to exist.

    me: If the majors co-opt the ideas of liberty, I’m for it. That alone would be a GREAT reason to exist. That would be markedly different approach to the role of government.

    HOW markedly is the question. What is the optimal calibration? I think we’d both agree that silo abandonment is calibrated too far. Freezing government at +40% of GDP, too little. Lessarchists of varying stripes may well disagree on a host of things, but all would agree that somewhere between those poles would be more virtuous than the current configuration.

    But I’d hope that we agree that SOME calibration is required.

  196. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    I admit that I’ve only been in the libertarian movement for 15 years, but in those 15 years, I’ve noticed precisely one person talking about “silo abandonment” — you.

    When I notice someone making up bizarre positions to attribute to others with whom he is engaged in debate, my default assumption is that he’s doing so because he understands that he can’t win the debate if he speaks to their real positions.

    It’s useless to talk about “calibration” when the gauge on your meter includes in its range the square roots of negative numbers .

  197. Robert Capozzi

    Silo abandonment is the most extreme implication of NAP I can think of. Those who staff the nuclear silos are paid in “stolen” dollars, therefore those positions should be abolished and the silos abandoned.

    TK, I’m happy to sub in any number of alternative extreme examples of the implications of the NAP that you’d prefer. The old Children’s Right plank’ll do, if you need a concrete example. The calibration point is an important one IMO, so I’d hate to not get agreement because you are distracted by my hypothetical.

  198. Robert Capozzi

    IOW, silo abandonment is my version of selling minors heroin in vending machines, MHW, of extremism that some might think the pure liberty construct implies. It’s one of the many reasons why I don’t find constructs useful.

  199. Dear .......... Thinkers

    think that the March 2010
    Space Cadet Captain Cody Quirk
    MAKING IT UP AS WE GO ALONG
    award, via Doctor Donald Goo Goo:

    Bob ‘Titan II shell game’ Capoizzi

    per: Thomas L. Knapp // Mar 23, 2010:
    ” I’ve noticed precisely one person talking about “silo abandonment” — you. ”

    [Don Lake, as a former ROTC scholarship
    cadet and one time ‘Pocket Rocket’ Silo
    Jockie, knows the bitter truth. To abandon
    such WMD would mean cancellation of
    O [fficers] Club membership (even for non
    drinking Southern Baptist and Mormon) ]

  200. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi writes:

    tb: Where is the evidence that “taking the moderate approach” has been successful for the LP or the libertarian movement in general?

    me: The LP hasn’t tried it much. Closest I can recall are the Clark and Barr campaigns, which both got a lot of coverage. As for the movement, compare and contrast the influence of Cato and LvMI.

    Since when is getting media coverage the same as achieving political success? Balloon Boy gets media coverage. If media coverage is success, LP candidates should be as outrageous as possible. That would assure media coverage. Clark bought his coverage with Koch money and Barr only got much coverage on cable due to their 24/7 news shows (which have very low numbers watching).

    tb: Maybe it’s time for some of these LP clown candidates to grow some fucking balls and learn how dish it right back out at their opponents.

    me: Ah, the manhood argument, charming 😉 Perhaps you’ve not noticed, but there are a variety of filters that block hysterical-sounding non-major-parties from the public square. We can whine about the rules, or play the game as it’s played. We can attempt to disintermediate the filters — and the Web is doing that to some extent — but that’s unlikely to reach the numbers necessary to move the debate in an L direction.

    The manhood argument? I’m not whining about the “rules”, I’m whining about how LP candidates refuse to play the game as it’s played. The game is played by deflecting your opponent’s criticisms of you and by putting the opponent on the defensive (sliming the bastard with their idiotic positions or voting record).

    LP “strategists” seem to think damage control consists of abandoning the issues they claim to believe in, explaining that “the people” aren’t ready for them.

    The truth is that for every libertarian that has crossed some imaginary line into “radicalism”, there are dozens of “moderate” Republicans or Democrats that get messages from God, molest young boys, are whore-mongers, take bribes and pay-offs, solicit sex in airport bathrooms, etc., etc.

    What you describe as the manhood argument is more like the grow up and quit being a whining punk kid argument. Do damage control and constantly point out why your opponent should not be elected. Like they say, politics ain’t beanbag. If the LP insists on playing the game, they shouldn’t run away from a few nerf balls. The media loves tension.

  201. Robert Capozzi

    tb, yes, media coverage is not a great metric of success, but the win/loss ratio is so low as to be indistinguisable. Contrasting a percentage point here and there is not significant.

    Let’s keep in mind that most L candidates are part-time, paper candidates. Politics is often played aggressively, but coolly. It’s interesting to me that NOW you seem to want to imitate this aspect of how the game is played, yet you also seem to want to see Ls play the game with maximum differentiation.

    It’s also interesting that you seem to associate getting messages from God with sexual or illegal behavior that many view as unacceptable. Surely you must realize that getting divine inspiration and proclaiming it publicly is QUITE different from private behavior such as your list: “molest young boys, are whore-mongers, take bribes and pay-offs, solicit sex in airport bathrooms…”

    Help us understand your perspective, for it seems very unfocused to me.

  202. Robert Capozzi

    oh, yes, the media loves tension over 50-yard-line scrums, often over sideshow matters that have very little substance or are small, bite-sized nuggets. A congressman shouting You Lie at the State of the Union. A beer summit over a bust in Boston. Terry Schiavo. Sarah Palin’s wardrobe. And the mother of all sideshows, the Lewinsky Affair.

  203. Mik Robertson

    @199 “Because you keeping buying into Bob Capozzi’s hallucinatory “contra-indicated extremists” bullshit.”

    What are you talking about? Is it reasonable for the LP to take positions in favor of incremental steps to improve the condition of liberty or is it that the LP should always propose what is perceived to be the logical endpoint and settle for nothing short of that. It seems we are not talking about the same thing.

  204. Tom Blanton

    Robert, I had no idea that you were a Pat Robertson fan. Is it because of the “success” he achieves due to the media attention he gets whenever he passes on what God has told him?

    I guess you were pretty upset with Him that Robertson didn’t get the GOP presidential nomination back in 1988.

    I shouldn’t poke fun at Pat about God telling him about Haiti and gays though, lightning could strike me down.

  205. Tom Blanton

    Who suggested that the LP should always propose what is perceived to be the logical endpoint and settle for nothing short of that?

    Would it be possible for a LP candidate to advocate what is actually in what’s left of the LP Platform AND propose incremental steps to get there?

    Maybe Capozzi can tell us what God says about this.

  206. Mik Robertson

    @200 “I don’t buy that.

    So, the opponents and the people who legislate are not D’s and R’s?
    What are they? Libertarians, Greens and Communists?”

    There is nothing being sold, so there is nothing to buy. The opponents in this case were not political parties, but groups opposed to the particular proposed legislation. Let me ask again if you are familiar with the inputs that go into the legislative process, perhaps that is where there is some misunderstanding.

    “Are you talking about opium, marijuana or milk?”

    This was about milk.

    “I’m not sure why you think it is better to have the LPPA involved officially as opposed to having individual members of the LPPA involved. You got a collectivism fetish? Do you also think government should do tasks that individuals could do? Is it a secret that you are a libertarian? Why weren’t these groups afraid you’d start spouting off about licensing as you claim the LPPA would have done.”

    At least you didn’t call me “Comrade”. You do understand the difference between individual action and organizational action, correct? It is not about what I may claim the LPPA would have done, it is about what the LPPA did do.

    As an individual, I can support or not support what I wish, but that has no bearing on what the Libertarian Party organization does. One person who happens to be a Libertarian Party member
    working for something does not mean the LP is working for something, just as if I am a member of the IOOF does not means that organization would support the effort.

    “Perhaps the organizations that rejected the LPPA’s help did not want any partisan association at all. Many groups avoid any appearance of partisanship. I’m guessing that no other political parties were partnering with them.”

    You may speculate all you wish, but what the leader of one of the organizations driving the proposed legislation said was that they didn’t want to be associated with a group that took the position that there was no authority for the government to regulate the sale of milk. It doesn’t get much more direct than that.

    Had the stance of the LPPA been different, I do not doubt there would have been a different response from the potential partners.

    “What’s up with this big deal all of a sudden with raw milk and libertarians? This is a nation-wide issue among libertarians now. It reminds me of people polishing door knobs while their house is burning down. Are LP activists so hard up to find moderate non-controversial issues that they have turned to milk?”

    This is an issue that is important to people, and it is hardly non-controversial. If we cannot win on something so basic as simple human nutrition, where are we? When the government tells you you cannot eat food that is not first processed, is that a significant curtailment of liberty? Perhaps Mr. Knapp would characterize it as simply adding another menu item for someone chained to a lunch counter, but I think that would be a mischaracterization.

    This does not need to be an issue where the LP positions itself out of the debate because of the policy position. This was only an example, there are other cases where it happens as well.

  207. Mik Robertson

    @214 “The truth is that for every libertarian that has crossed some imaginary line into “radicalism”, there are dozens of “moderate” Republicans or Democrats that get messages from God, molest young boys, are whore-mongers, take bribes and pay-offs, solicit sex in airport bathrooms, etc., etc.”

    I now see where the disconnect is. This is not about what individuals do, this is about what organizations do. It does not matter if Libertarian individuals want to promote anarchy, or some form of minarchy, or some other position that promotes liberty, as that has no real bearing on the position of the LP organization.

    Sure, some D’s and R’s molest young boys, are whore-mongers, and take bribes, but that does not harm the political organization more than slightly, if at all. If the D or R party were to take the policy positions that it is fine to molest young boys, whore-monger, and take bribes, do you think the organization would be affected by those positions?

    The issue is what the LP does as a political organization. Having radical LP members is fine. Whether taking the most radical stance on every public policy position is the best way to go is another question.

    On the issue of the fair tax, maybe the national party should adopt a position either for or against it, but I think there would be better positions to take. Maybe an option would be for the national party to not take a position on the fair tax and leave that to state organizations.

  208. Michael H. Wilson

    Michael J Graetz, is a professor at Yale, who wrote the book The Decline of the Income Tax: How to make sense of the American tax mess and the flat tax cures that are supposed to fix it.

    On the elimination of the deduction for home mortgage and property tax he references a couple of studies on page 237. The one study with the lowest impact “suggest an average decline in housing values of 40 percent and a significant default on mortgages” if the flat tax is adopted.

    Flat tax proponents say otherwise. So who is right?

    My suggestion has always been to focus on cutting spending simply because of this sort of mess this is difficult to sort out.

  209. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Is it reasonable for the LP to take positions in favor of incremental steps to improve the condition of liberty or is it that the LP should always propose what is perceived to be the logical endpoint and settle for nothing short of that.”

    Which part of “false dilemma” do you not understand?

  210. Tom Blanton

    You may speculate all you wish, but what the leader of one of the organizations driving the proposed legislation said was that they didn’t want to be associated with a group that took the position that there was no authority for the government to regulate the sale of milk. It doesn’t get much more direct than that.

    Had the stance of the LPPA been different, I do not doubt there would have been a different response from the potential partners.

    Obviously you should have called an emergency meeting of the LPPA in order to rescind the wildly radical position on the deregulation of milk.

    I do wonder why the LPPA could not lobby on behalf of raw milk on its own and not as part of a coalition, considering the importance of the issue.


    I now see where the disconnect is. This is not about what individuals do, this is about what organizations do.

    No, the issue I was addressing is about libertarians worrying about being criticized by opponents over what some statement or position taken by an individual libertarian in the past or being criticized for some bizarre or exaggerated interpretation of some libertarian position.

    What I was addressing had nothing to do with your milk issue.

  211. Mik Robertson

    “Which part of “false dilemma” do you not understand?”

    The first part, false. The discussion was about whether LP public policy positions should be incremental or absolute. Suddenly it becomes a false dilemma?

    It is possible to choose to not take a public policy position on an issue, that is true. If you are going to take a position, either it will be an absolute position or it will not. There is no false dilemma.

  212. Mik Robertson

    “Obviously you should have called an emergency meeting of the LPPA in order to rescind the wildly radical position on the deregulation of milk.

    I do wonder why the LPPA could not lobby on behalf of raw milk on its own and not as part of a coalition, considering the importance of the issue.”

    Hopefully the position will change and the LPPA can be more engaged on some of these issues. It is hard to lobby with a non-starting position. The image of the LP as the knight in shining armor swooping in to wrest bad legislation from the grip of evil monsters and turn it into good legislation all alone is not very realistic.

  213. Mik Robertson

    “No, the issue I was addressing is about libertarians worrying about being criticized by opponents over what some statement or position taken by an individual libertarian in the past or being criticized for some bizarre or exaggerated interpretation of some libertarian position.

    What I was addressing had nothing to do with your milk issue.”

    However, the same thinking prevailed throughout.

  214. Thomas L. Knapp

    “The discussion was about whether LP public policy positions should be incremental or absolute. Suddenly it becomes a false dilemma?”

    No, it didn’t “become” a false dilemma. It was one from the start.

    Let’s try looking at it in terms of another party’s positions.

    “The discussion is about whether the Constitution Party supports the partial birth abortion ban or supports a human life amendment.”

    They do both.

    You keep putting it in terms like this:

    “Is it reasonable for the LP to take positions in favor of incremental steps to improve the condition of liberty or is it that the LP should always propose what is perceived to be the logical endpoint and settle for nothing short of that.”

    False dilemma. Those are not only not the only two options, but I’m unaware of anyone seriously advocating the strawman latter clause.

  215. Robert Capozzi

    tb 218, huh? Where have I indicated — or even mentioned — support for Pat Robertson? It’s of course none of your business, but I don’t happen to be.

    Mik, with abolitionists, it’s not that the LP must advocate an endpoint. The language that a L articulates cannot foreclose the no-State endpoint, however, and cannot endorse any State action. At least that’s my understanding of the view of abolitionists.

  216. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Would it be possible for a LP candidate to advocate what is actually in what’s left of the LP Platform AND propose incremental steps to get there?

    me: Sure, it’s possible. It’s also possible that a candidate may choose to articulate only the incremental steps. I’m OK with either.

  217. Tom Blanton


    The image of the LP as the knight in shining armor swooping in to wrest bad legislation from the grip of evil monsters and turn it into good legislation all alone is not very realistic.

    Huh? Who said all alone? Who conjured up that image? These are fabrications in your mind, not mine.

    Various groups lobby lawmakers all the time separately and with no connection to one another. The LPPA is free to lobby alone if it wishes.

    You seem to have a problem with talking past everyone you choose to engage.


    Let me ask again if you are familiar with the inputs that go into the legislative process, perhaps that is where there is some misunderstanding.

    Perhaps you need to ask yourself.

  218. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi, I assumed you must be a fan of Pat Robertson because after I mentioned politicians that get messages from God and other things, you got in a little tizzy over that.

    Since Pat Robertson is the only person I can think of that proclaims to the public what God has told him, I assumed you were defending him. He comes off like Elmer Gantry to me.

    Pious politicians are a lot like virgin prostitutes, they are hard to find. Warmongers and people who order assassinations and executions that claim divine inspiration seem to be pretty evil. But that’s just my opinion.

  219. Robert Capozzi

    tb, well, you could learn to ask rather than make wild accusations, esp. false ones. I see to recall W also believed he’d been guided to run for prez. I’m not a fan of his, either.

    The claim of divine guidance and taking bribes seem like real different things to me and probably most of the population. But I respect your right to travel to the beat of a VERY different drummer.

  220. Mik Robertson

    @228 ““False dilemma. Those are not only not the only two options, but I’m unaware of anyone seriously advocating the strawman latter clause.”

    This is not a false dilemma. These are two true lemmas. It is possible to take more than one position in different public policy proposals, but you cannot take two different stances at once without undermining one of them.

    If there were a partial birth abortion ban bill, the CP may take a position supporting it, but if they also take the position that all abortion should be illegal it would undermine that support. They may oppose the bill for that very reason.

    When a position is taken to promote for a public policy, either you promote one that is an absolute or extreme end, such as there should be no taxation, or you promote some incremental step to increase liberty and personal choice, such as shifting the tax structure. Trying to do both at once is not going to be the most effective way to promote proposed legislation. This was the problem we ran into in Pennsylvania on the raw milk issue.

    The “strawman latter clause” is advocated, even on this thread;

    “I’ll take my position out on the edges and let the others come to me.”
    or
    “The so-called strategy of exposing the general public to libertarianism incrementally doesn’t seem to be working as a means to build a libertarian party made up of libertarians. In fact, it may be a strategy to bury libertarianism. “
    or
    “There is very little a hard core libertarian could propose that could be more radical or crazier than what the scumbag politicians have already done.”

    This seems to be because of this kind of thinking:
    “Nothing any third party does in the area of electoral politics at this point will result in political change in America. Third parties are not allowed to compete in the process.”

    Other parties are often not involved in the process because they position themselves out of the process. If you are trying to promote medical marijuana legislation and you come in with the position that all drugs must be unregulated, your chances of having meaningful impact on the legislation go down.

    You could maybe raise public awareness on the issue with such a position, but you would not likely have any input into the legislative process.

    I am only suggesting that taking a different approach as an organization may get us some good partners to work with to make a difference in the system. We don’t have to get people elected to make a difference through the system, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.

  221. Tom Blanton

    Mik, you seem to think that involvement in the legislative process is similar to a popularity contest that requires a collective of groups.

    The fact is that individuals acting alone and individuals representing one group or a coalition of groups can speak before legislative committees and sometimes entire legislative bodies.

    What you bring to the table in these presentations is not what your philosophy is, your ideas or feelings, but facts. You bring studies, reports, statistics, and you share verifiable accounts of what similar legislation in other areas has achieved or has not achieved.

    You make a case to modify, reject, or adopt specific legislation that is up for consideration. Your affiliations, membership in groups, positions on related issues are simply not relevant.

    Meanwhile, Capozzi whines:


    tb, well, you could learn to ask rather than make wild accusations, esp. false ones.

    Why? That’s not what you do. I’m playing by your rules. You constantly stretch everything to illogical conclusions and attempt to smear people by referencing people like Timothy McVeigh. You even admit to hyperbole. There’s something called the Golden Rule, Capozzi, you should study it.


    The claim of divine guidance and taking bribes seem like real different things to me

    They are different things, Capozzi. Nobody said they were the same. The context is criticizing politicians. Whether they claim that God talks to them (for example claiming God says a pact with Satan caused an earthquake) or whether they take bribes, they will be criticized. The point being that every political party has someone who can be criticized.

    That one LP candidate can be successfully smeared because one time a guy ran with blue skin or some guy named Rothbard who died years ago wrote something extreme is an indication that some in the LP don’t have thick enough skin to play the political game when such tactics can easily be dismissed by making the point that all political parties have weirdos, extremists or worse as members and candidates.


    But I respect your right to travel to the beat of a VERY different drummer.

    I doubt you do, but I am accustomed to your passive-aggressive put downs. Which relates to your admonition against making wild accusations. You are accusing me of marching to a VERY different drummer. Not just a different drummer, but a VERY different drummer. Go check yourself, Capozzi – you’re full of it.

  222. Mik Robertson

    @235 “Mik, you seem to think that involvement in the legislative process is similar to a popularity contest that requires a collective of groups.”

    I am not sure why you think I think that. What I am clearly saying is that the positions taken as an organization can make a difference whether others want to work with that organization or not.

    If you position yourself too far out, then your chances of working with others who may want to go in the same direction you do, or affecting legislation to move it in the direction you want it to go, decrease.

    “You make a case to modify, reject, or adopt specific legislation that is up for consideration. Your affiliations, membership in groups, positions on related issues are simply not relevant.”

    This is about more than appearing at a public hearings, this is about having an impact on the legislative process. It is about developing draft legislation and getting it introduced. It is about working with key legislators and mobilizing public support. It is about finding other organizations to join in your efforts.

    If you do appear at public meetings, being able to represent a broad coalition of organizations and a variety of viewpoints certainly does matter, and is quite relevant. Coalition building is an important part of the legislative process.

    I think the understanding of that process in most alternative parties could be developed a little more. It is easy to complain that alternative parties are shut out. It is more difficult to get third parties to understand the need for subtlety and to sometimes find some common ground in order to be included.

Leave a Reply

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