CT Libertarian Joshua Katz Considers 2016 Prez Bid

Joshua Katz

Westbrook, Connecticut Planning Board member Joshua Katz sent the following letter to IPR about a potential bid for the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.  Last year, Katz defeated both a Republican and Democrat in his election to the Planning Board.  He also serves as chairman of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut.

Fellow Libertarians:

What do we seek in a Presidential candidate, and in a Presidential campaign? A Presidential candidate must have experience governing. While no experience prepares anyone fully to be President, it would be folly to enter the office, or into contention for the office, without experience in governing organizations and polities.

Fighting for freedom in this country requires a President with more than ideas. It requires a President who can maneuver politically to get these ideas passed, and who can determine, in varied situations, how best to promote freedom and ensure the safety, happiness, and freedom of the citizens of this large, diverse country.

There are, though, basic ideas which any Libertarian Presidential candidate must subscribe to. The Libertarian Party should not endeavor to place into the White House anyone who would prosecute whistleblowers on diplomatic, intelligence, or military malfeasance. The first Libertarian President must immediately pardon all non­violent drug offenders, and investigate remaining drug offenders on a case­by­case basis. A review of all existing Executive Orders is necessary, with all but a few revoked immediately. The Libertarian President must then use Executive Orders to reign in out of control agencies and departments, end unlawful interrogation practices, and secure the value of our currency.

An acceptable Presidential candidate must be committed to the importance of peace, and an overriding concern for peace must define the Presidency. To understand how to make peace the defining characteristic of an administration, I will rely not on my words, but on the words of a great President who made this very same attempt:

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children ­­not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

As for what a desirable Libertarian Party Presidential campaign looks like, it must operate in a grassroots fashion. Campaign messaging should not be run out of a central office, but by empowered supporters in each town, country, state, and region. Information sharing with the national and state Libertarian Party, to the extent allowable by law, is a necessity. The campaign must work closely with affiliates, managing the campaign directly through the affiliates when necessary, and never coming into conflict with the existing state affiliate leadership. Volunteers must be cultivated, valued, and empowered. The Presidential candidate must speak and appear as often as possible, never conditioning his appearance on a minimum donation amount, but rather on scheduling concerns only.

My fellow Libertarians, I have experience governing. I have served in elected office, I have led organizations, I have managed crisis response. As an emergency management consultant, I have led organization response to emergencies. I have been a leader in this party, a state chair, and LNC member. I will run the campaign I described above. I will empower supporters to speak for me, with all the risks this entails. I will share all donor information with affiliates and the Libertarian Party, to the extent permissible by law, and ask anyone with an idea for an event to reach out to this freely available list. I will appear when requested, except in case of scheduling conflicts.

My highest value is peace, followed by an opposition to government policies that increase inequality and dependency. These values have driven my life, through my careers in emergency medicine and in education, and my political activities. I am a pillar of my community, involved not only in government, but in firefighting, emergency management, emergency medical services, and charitable endeavors. I am the fire department parliamentarian, and a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians and the New England Association of Parliamentarians. I am a Professor of Mathematics, a Paramedic, and a devoted public servant.

I am not a current candidate for the Libertarian Party’s Presidential nomination. I am, however, exploring such a move, and considering my options. I hope to hear from as many members as possible with offers of support and assistance, with advice, and with your honest opinions as to whether or not I should run. I request, though, that if you write to tell me I should run, that you tell me what you will do to help, and that you commit to giving me a Presidential token for nomination the debate at the 2016 convention.

Thank you for your commitment to freedom. Thank you for your interest in changing this country. Thank you for reading, and for your assistance. In freedom,

Joshua Katz

74 thoughts on “CT Libertarian Joshua Katz Considers 2016 Prez Bid

  1. George Phillies

    Joshua Katz was the invited speaker at the 2014 Massachusetts Libertarian State Convention, held in Worcester Massachusetts on October 18. He gave a superb speech on running for local office and how to run for local office.

    He then turned to Federal politics. He emphasized that we do not need a candidate for President who spends most of his money on a few campaign officials. We do not need a candidate for President who does not interact with and share with state parties. We do not need a candidate who does not recognize that the Fair Tax is the Fraud Tax. We do not need candidate and running mate who think that Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are traitors and allegations of police misconduct are untrue.

    He then announced that he is forming an exploratory committee for the 2016 nomination.

  2. George Phillies

    My state party was delighted and honored that Joshua came to our State Convention to make his announcement.

    George Phillies
    Chair, Libertarian Association of Massachusetts

  3. Jim Polichak

    I have no idea how well Joshua Katz would do on a national level but I do know that Gary Johnson as a former governor and recognizable name was able to get on more radio and television shows than most other Libertarian candidates and because of this he received 1,275,923 votes ~ more than the total of all other minor party candidates combined against Obama and Romney.
    Unless Katz has a way of raising several million dollars by the convention I think we should go for Johnson again if he’s interested.

  4. paulie

    I posted on IPR email list

    As for speaking for myself I hope you do run, because I hope to see some spirited (but hopefully not nasty) competition for the nomination. I don’t plan to endorse one particular candidate for the nomination, and certainly not any time soon if I do so at all, but to the extent that my advice is considered useful I will help them all, including you if you’d like, be the best they can be. I am not sure if I will donate to any of them but if I do it would have to be a small amount. If I donate at all it may be to more than one. While I am available for “private” conversations to the extent that any conversations can be private these days, the vast majority of any advice I may have will almost certainly be public.

    My token, unless something changes, will go to the campaign that’s closest to being in the debate without having crossed the threshold. In 2012 that was Jim Burns, because Johnson and Wrights were already safely in the debate and other candidates were far away from qualifying. At this time I plan to follow the same strategy in 2016.

    That’s not material encouragement of the type you asked for in the letter but I sincerely do hope you run. I know your ideas are certainly solid ideologically; do you have any video or audio of you delivering political speeches or being interviewed about political issues by media? We may have that in our archive, I’ll take a look later to see if we do.

    Paul Frankel

  5. paulie

    Joshua Kat and George Phillies replied that video of Joshua speaking at the Massachusetts LP convention yesterday should be available soon.

  6. Bondurant

    I welcome all comers and look forward to hearing them speak in Orlando. My tokens, also, will go to make sure more voices are heard in the debate. The primary goal of any LP candidate should be to advance the cause of liberty, not waste money on high paid handlers and promote the Fair Tax.

  7. paulie

    You must be getting some likes from people who have me blocked on FB. Last time I looked at it you had ten but I could only see who 6 of them are.

  8. Joe Wendt

    Would prefer George Phillies (or even Starchild), but if Joshua Katz becomes the nominee, I would proudly re-register as a LP voter. That’s the kind of Libertarian the party should nominate, a man who was elected AS a Libertarian. I wish him luck and will gladly volunteer for the campaign.

  9. paulie

    a man who was elected AS a Libertarian

    Joshua is a Libertarian, but I believe he is technically in local office as a Republican.

  10. paulie

    Paulie, I don’t know how that works. I think it depends on each person’s security settings and whether or not you are friends.

    It may be different on groups and pages. I am only seeing my friends on there (9 of 17 likes when I just checked it again just now). On groups I can see other people who are not friends unless they have me blocked.

  11. Joshua Katz

    Ordinance entitles the old parties to seats on the boards and commissions. I faced two incumbents, a Republican and a Democrat. I finished first, followed by the Republican, then the Democrat. The Democrat was seated since the Democrats were entitled to one seat in the election. The Republicans were entitled to the other, and I was placed in that seat. I was endorsed by the Republican Town Committee while retaining my status as a Libertarian. They also endorsed the Republican. The actual roster in town shows me as a Libertarian in a Republican seat, while the SOTS recognizes only the ownership of the seat since I was endorsed by the town committee.

  12. ATBAFT

    “What do we seek in a Presidential candidate, and in a Presidential campaign? A Presidential candidate must have experience governing. While no experience prepares anyone fully to be President, it would be folly to enter the office, or into contention for the office, without experience in governing organizations and polities.

    Fighting for freedom in this country requires a President with more than ideas. It requires a President who can maneuver politically to get these ideas passed, and who can determine, in varied situations, how best to promote freedom and ensure the safety, happiness, and freedom of the citizens of this large, diverse country.”

    This is a very realistic assessment from Mr. Katz, and largely parallels the objections that many non-libertarian but sympathetic friends and acquaintances have expressed to me. Other than Gary Johnson, is there anyone in the LP who comes close to Mr. Katz’ criteria? If not, then we should ask ourselves “What is the purpose of the LP running a person for president?” rather than spending the time and resources on races where a Libertarian candidate may be seen as
    better qualified for the office?

  13. Fred

    Joshua,
    Can you address how your experience being elected in a municiple position has prepared you to be president?

  14. paulie

    “What do we seek in a Presidential candidate, and in a Presidential campaign? A Presidential candidate must have experience governing. While no experience prepares anyone fully to be President, it would be folly to enter the office, or into contention for the office, without experience in governing organizations and polities.

    Fighting for freedom in this country requires a President with more than ideas. It requires a President who can maneuver politically to get these ideas passed, and who can determine, in varied situations, how best to promote freedom and ensure the safety, happiness, and freedom of the citizens of this large, diverse country.”

    This is a very realistic assessment from Mr. Katz, and largely parallels the objections that many non-libertarian but sympathetic friends and acquaintances have expressed to me. Other than Gary Johnson, is there anyone in the LP who comes close to Mr. Katz’ criteria?

    Yes, we have over a hundred members who are currently in various mostly minor elected and appointed office. I am sure there must be many others that the national LP has not been made aware of. There are hundreds or more likely thousands of current (and past, not including those whose ideology changed since then) LP members, pledge signers and registered libertarians who have held some sort of government office. There are who knows how many LP members who have held elected offices within voluntary membership associations of all sorts, which is also a form of governing that involves maneuvering politically within those organizations to get ideas passed. There are of course any number of people who have never been LP members, but who hold many libertarian ideas and fit the other criteria mentioned, who may come over to join the LP in order to run a presidential campaign, as Johnson sort of did, although he had been a pledge signer for many years and a past dues paying member many years earlier, as Ron Paul did in 1987, and so on.

    If not, then we should ask ourselves “What is the purpose of the LP running a person for president?

    http://www.harrybrowne.org/articles/WasItWorthIt.htm

    rather than spending the time and resources on races where a Libertarian candidate may be seen as better qualified for the office?

    It’s a profound error to believe we have a set amount of time and resources that we can centrally plan and distribute to the campaigns we want to distribute them to. The dollars and volunteer hours belong to the donors and volunteers and they already have a choice of hundreds of campaigns to donate to and/or work on. No one is forced to donate to or work for a presidential campaign if they feel their time and money is better spent on other campaigns that are closer to home, nor is there any lack of campaigns asking for help.

  15. paulie

    “I will appear when requested, except in case of scheduling conflicts.”

    Does this refer to pre-nomination as well? It takes a lot of time and money to go anywhere in the country all the time for campaig appearances, many of them with few people in attendance. I know that one of the big problems we had with the Kubby campaign for the nomination was not being able to afford to get him to state conventions and other places where he was sought. Badnarik spent several months on a wing and a prayer getting just enough help at each campaign stop to get to the next one, all the way to the nominating convention where he emerged as the dark horse to get the nomination away from two better known and funded campaigns that were widely seen as jockeying for the lead. And so on.

  16. Joe Wendt

    Mr. Katz,

    I think you are a very viable candidate. 1) You beat a Democrat and a Republican in a local election, which is hard (based on my own experience) and a great accomplishment. 2) You haven’t run a disastrous GOP run for their nomination. 3) You haven’t been sued by a fundraiser.

  17. ATBAFT

    “There are hundreds or more likely thousands of current (and past, not including those whose ideology changed since then) LP members, pledge signers and registered libertarians who have held some sort of government office. There are who knows how many LP members who have held elected offices within voluntary membership associations of all sorts, which is also a form of governing that involves maneuvering politically within those organizations to get ideas passed”.

    Please, Paulie, be realistic. Most of our fellow citizens are not going to think that being on Podunk City Council or chairman of your local Rotary gives one the “chops” to be the CEO of the United States of America.

    As for Harry Browne’s article from 2000, he clearly articulates that the most important reason to run is to get publicity for Libertarian answers to current issues. So the LP needs to nominate the person who is the best orator, with the best speech writer, and whose campaign team is best at lining up radio, tv, etc. interviews. Someone once proposed having numerous LP presidential candidates (let each state choose which one they wanted to put on their ballot) to get the most bang for the buck as the LP “candidate” could literally be in many places at the same time doing live appearances and interviews.

  18. paulie

    I think you are a very viable candidate.

    Viable in what sense? For the nomination? To have a good chance of taking the oath of office as president in 2017? Or what?

    You haven’t run a disastrous GOP run for their nomination.

    Not having done something is not a great accomplishment. You can pick almost any LP member or non-member and this would be true. Disastrous is relative here; there are actually several dozen, maybe several hundred, other people purporting to run for the establishment parties presidential nominations that do not get in *any* polls or debates. We have now idea how well Joshua could have done running for the presidential nomination of an establishment party if he wanted to do such a thing but I’m guessing he would have been one of those not to make any polls or debates if he did, not that I would recommend it and not that this has much of anything to do with how I would assess him as a candidate for the LP nomination.

    You haven’t been sued by a fundraiser.

    Again not an accomplishment per se, most people have never been sued by a fundraiser, nor been in a position to be sued by a fundraiser.

    The negative campaigning, while it is not coming from Joshua himself as far as I have seen so far, is not helpful and I would advise against it.

    Johnson has a more recent track record as an LP nominee, so events from his Republican run are less relevant as they fade further into the past.

    Katz has plenty of good ideas and experiences to bring to the table without the need or desirability to go negative.

    There are absolutely some things I hope he calls Johnson out on, the “fair” tax especially, but I hope he does so in a positive, constructive way.

  19. paulie

    Please, Paulie, be realistic. Most of our fellow citizens are not going to think that being on Podunk City Council or chairman of your local Rotary gives one the “chops” to be the CEO of the United States of America.

    So the office that Joshua Katz holds is an exception to that? I don’t understand your point, then.

    Most citizens will not see a candidate who doesn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars and a D or R nomination at all, and if they do they will see him or her as a distraction. The fact that Johnson had been a Governor years ago may have been slightly impressive, if he had hundreds of millions of dollars to pound his message as well as his biography into people’s heads for months, and then you still have straight ticket voting devices in many states to overcome.

    As for Harry Browne’s article from 2000, he clearly articulates that the most important reason to run is to get publicity for Libertarian answers to current issues. So the LP needs to nominate the person who is the best orator, with the best speech writer, and whose campaign team is best at lining up radio, tv, etc. interviews.

    Yes, I agree that those criteria are important. That’s why I asked Joshua about his public speaking skills earlier.

    I do believe that demonstrated experience is also important in convincing at least some people to take one’s campaign seriously but it’s not an overriding factor as far as I am concerned.

    Someone once proposed having numerous LP presidential candidates (let each state choose which one they wanted to put on their ballot) to get the most bang for the buck as the LP “candidate” could literally be in many places at the same time doing live appearances and interviews.

    I’ve discussed that idea and why I am not for it in past comment threads at some length.

  20. Andy

    “Please, Paulie, be realistic. Most of our fellow citizens are not going to think that being on Podunk City Council or chairman of your local Rotary gives one the ‘chops’ to be the CEO of the United States of America.”

    I think that this applies more to the type of people who are most likely to vote for mainstream Democrats or mainstream Republicans than it does to people who are going to be the most likely to vote for a Libertarian Party candidate, as well as for other minor party or independent candidates.

    When I first heard about the Libertarian Party back in 1996, I did not care at all that the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President that year, Harry Browne, had never held an elected office before. If anything, I viewed the fact that he had not been elected to office before as a good thing.

    The type of people who are most impressed by career politicians and fancy titles are most likely to be Democrats or Republicans, and there really is not much that any minor party or independent candidate can do to sway these people. Sure, you may be able to get a few of them, but the biggest potential support base for minor party and independent candidates are independent voters and people who are not registered to vote.

    Being elected to office and having fancy titles next to ones name should not be the top criteria for selecting candidates for the Libertarian Party. The top criteria ought to be 1) philosophy, 2) knowledge of issues, 3) ability to communicate in a persuasive manner, 4) strong work ethic (as an activist), 5) good character.

    A candidate who is good at espousing libertarian philosophy and has a lot of knowledge about the issues is not a good candidate if their ideas of campaigning are limited to putting up a website that hardly anyone visits and attending LP conventions where they can preach to the choir. A candidate who is good at espousing libertarian philosophy and has a lot of knowledge about the issues is not a good candidate if they are clueless about fund raising.

    If a person is rich, famous, has held elected office, and/or has other fancy titles next to their name, these things can all be a plus, but none of these things automatically make them a good candidate.

    Even among people who are impressed by fancy titles, holding a low level office is not going to be of much help in running for President, and even more so if the person running is not a current office holder.

    Bob Barr was a former US House member, but he was a poor candidate for the Libertarian Party because he was lacking in the areas of philosophy and issues (from a libertarian perspective), as well as in the ability to communicate in a persuasive manner (again, from a libertarian perspective). I’d say that Barr was lacking in the character department as well. His work ethic, at least as far as building and promoting the LP went, did not seem very strong either.

    I find it to be disturbing at how many Libertarian Party members are suckered in by fancy titles. I don’t really care about titles myself.

    When I found out about Harry Browne back in 1996 I did not care that he did not have any titles next to his name. I liked his message, and I thought that he did a good job of communicating that message, and this was all that mattered to me.

  21. paulie

    Andy

    I think you are missing some context. ATBAFT started by responding to Joshua pointing out that he (Joshua) has some elected official experience and asking who else could possibly run for the LP nomination who has elected government experience besides Joshua and Gary Johnson. When I pointed that there are many such potential candidates he said local offices are not impressive, but if that is the case, why did he start out by apparently accepting at face value Joshua claiming his local office as a major credential?

    As to whether elected office of any kind should or should not be a criteria, and to what extent when evaluating candidates for LP nomination, we have discussed that many times in the past and can do so again if you wish, but ATBAFT did not introduce that question here, in fact it was a major component of the original post.

    I should also go back and add what I forgot to say the first time:

    While there are many such potential candidates, we have no idea how many, if any, of them will actually seek the LP nomination. For all we know at this time, two years ahead of time, Joshua may be the only such candidate actually willing to seek the nomination.

    Which brings us back to the questions/claims/issues you address.

  22. Joshua Katz

    If I said I was prepared to be President, I’d be lying. Here’s the thing – so would anyone else. Holding municipal office does not prepare a person for the job. Neither does anything else. Governors lack foreign policy experience, legislative experience, and judicial experience. Congressmen and Senators lack executive experience – fairly important when considering the highest executive office that exists. Yet all have been elected President, because it’s understood that the job is unique – nothing you have done previously can have prepared you for it.

    Yet there are some essential understandings and types of experience, not because they prepare you for the job, but because they teach you the difference between reciting ideology and governing, a distinction many of us fail to make. Being a libertarian serving in office forces you to deal with uncertainty in a different way. So I consider it essential to have held some office. It’s important to have been an out of the closest libertarian while holding it also. A libertarian-leaning Republican doesn’t experience snipping from libertarians who imagine that political offices have dials that should be turned all the way to ‘freedom’ and fail to understand how often such a clear-cut choice is presented. I could, for instance, try to get rid of all land use regulations next month. I will achieve nothing. If my goal were to look good philosophically, that’s what I’d do. Since my goal is to govern in a manner that maximizes freedom, I instead look for things I can actually do successfully.

    The President also does more than recite philosophy. The President must build a happy, free, safe, and prosperous society. Consistently sending purist libertarian ideas to Congress, only to see them fail, is not a viable strategy – and it requires governance experience to figure out what a viable strategy is.

    My particular position is quasi-administrative, with responsibility for overseeing enforcement, which means it has an executive quality. We also hear cases, ruling on applications from other governmental agencies and from businesses and citizens, in a capacity the Supreme Court has ruled is judicial and discretionary. We consider regulations, so we also have a legislative nature. It’s not the ideal experience to become President, but it’s better than a lot of other positions at the same level.

    I agree with the comments above about the use of resources. I do not think NOTA is likely to be nominated, though – and if we are to have a candidate, I have preferences about the type of candidate we run, and the type of campaign. A Presidential campaign would be far more liable with a strong network of elected local officials and a few Congressional seats (which you win by having a strong network of elected local officials.) Given that, a Presidential campaign needs to use its resources to build the rest of the ticket – to campaign for President with every intent to win, while coordinating that campaign with local office-seekers to make maximal use of resources dropped into the Presidential campaign to assist those local candidates.

    I also agree that there is not a finite pot of resources for use in campaigns. Some money comes in specifically out of excitement for the Presidential ticket – partly based on the office, and partly based on the candidate. So it’s not like the LP can say “ok, we’re going to not run a Presidential campaign, and we’ll use the money that saves on local races.” There are also FEC limitations on such an approach, as an aside.

    As for negative campaigning – I’d rather talk about why I might run. It is worth pointing out that no tax is fair, and if there were a fair tax, it wouldn’t be a regressive consumption tax. It’s worth pointing out that police are not noble defenders in blue, that I will not have existing campaign debt to be paid off, and that I will not have a centrally managed campaign that doesn’t even let its campaign directors in each state know who the supporters in that state are, or send out any messages without approval from the main office – while calling itself a grassroots effort. I’ll have more to say on these topics.

    Traveling – I meant post-nomination. Pre-nomination, I owe myself appearances. After nomination, I owe it to the party that nominated me.

    Regarding public speaking – I have been a teacher for more than 10 years. I spend most of my time in front of groups of people, speaking on various topics. I’ve taught history, English, math, economics, and philosophy.

    My ability to handle libertarian philosophy is amply demonstrated by my 30+ Lew Rockwell articles, my papers coauthored with Walter Block, my invited piece in the first issue of Kinsella’s Libertarian Papers, and my piece in The Industrial Radical. I also began a series of articles for an English magazine, The Libertarian, on the precursors to libertarian thought, which for various reasons was never completed.

  23. Jill Pyeatt

    Well, based on the article I just posted, at least you won’t have to worry about Jesse Ventura running as a Libertarian, Joshua.

    Not that anyone asked, but I think that’s a good thing.

  24. paulie

    Ventura flip flops about whether he will, may or won’t run and with which party if any constantly. It’s just a way to keep his name in the news.

  25. ATBAFT

    Paulie, you misunderstood my original remark. I used Katz’ own criteria to eliminate virtually all potential presidential candidates except for Gary Johnson. I don’t think Mr. Katz’ limited experience meets Mr. Katz’ own stated criteria. Nor do I accept the proposition that independent voters are going to be less impressed by titles. Most such voters are “I vote the man, not the party” types, are more pragmatic, and are even more likely to be impressed by
    credentials. The top choice for our presidential candidate must always be the person most able to articulate “mainstream” libertarian positions…unless and until someone comes along who has built up his or her political resume in progressively “more important” elected positions.

  26. Thomas L. Knapp

    By virtue of having actually run a campaign and got himself elected to any office at all, Mr. Katz is well up in the top tier with respect to political “qualification” among Libertarian Party members.

    The next “qualified” President of the United States will probably be the first. It’s a unique job that keeps getting more and more complext. Even when considering incumbents, four years is probably not enough on-the-job training to really qualify an expert (no, I’m not suggesting longer terms or more terms).

    I don’t see any particular reason to give up on NOTA at the moment, but I do applaud Mr. Katz’s exploratory thoughts.

  27. Robert Capozzi

    tk: The next “qualified” President of the United States will probably be the first. It’s a unique job that keeps getting more and more complext. Even when considering incumbents, four years is probably not enough on-the-job training to really qualify an expert (no, I’m not suggesting longer terms or more terms).

    me: Interesting. I hear that. But my feedback is that being TRULY qualified for prez is impossible, since government has become so complex.

    I’d throw it out there that, yes, a certain amount of relevant experience is required to be “qualified,” but it strikes me that the most important quality for president is wisdom. The great failure of all the presidents in recent memory is that they were mostly interested in getting re-elected and what history would think of them (their legacy). Out of the gates, this leads to decisionmaking neuroses. It’s backwards thinking, I’d suggest.

    Rather than worrying about “the future,” I’d like to see a prez who daily asks the question, “What’s the right thing to do today?” Do that consistently, and history takes care of itself!

    Exhibit A: Obamacare. In BO’s haste to establish a “legacy,” he and (more so) Congress created a hodge-podge “solution” that is a Christmas tree of contradictions. It requires non-credible ex-post rationalizations, all in the name of “doing something.”

    Exhibit B: The Iraq War. Hasty and unwise on so many levels, if anyone actually examined the facts as they unfolded.

    Exhibit C: Quantitative easing. Obviously economic cocaine.

    etc.

    Of course, it’s unwise of me to expect wisdom coming from a pol! The institution does not train or reward wisdom.

  28. Andy

    ATBAFT
    October 21, 2014 at 7:50 am said: ” Nor do I accept the proposition that independent voters are going to be less impressed by titles. Most such voters are ‘I vote the man, not the party’ types, are more pragmatic, and are even more likely to be impressed by
    credentials.”

    This has not been my experience at all and I have spoken to literally 10’s of thousands of independent voters around the country. My experience with independent voters is that they are the most open to minor party and independent candidates, and that they care the least about political experience and fancy titles (as compared to Democrats and Republicans).

  29. paulie

    Yeah, I’m against both of them too. As for the details that needs some examination. I’m not sure retirement funds for govt employees should be on the chopping block, or example.

    “essential services need to be scaled back temporarily, as the market is not equipped to immediately fill them.”

    From context I am guessing that should be gradually, not temporarily.

    It’s a good discussion to have, although the devil is in the details.

    Is the income tax the worst tax? I’m thinking payroll/fica tax is worse.

  30. Matt Cholko

    In theory, I can see how the transparency of some taxes makes them seem a bit less evil. But, in reality, I have to buy food, toothpaste, clothes, and the like, regardless of the fact that I clearly see the sales tax I’m charged when I buy them. I’m still not able to get out of paying the tax, so government is still stealing from me.

  31. Robert Capozzi

    mc: At the end of the day, a tax is a tax is a tax. No?

    me: Yes, true enough at the end of the day. They are all involuntary. Whether they are all “theft” requires a workable alternative model, and that’s only in theory.

    In practice, if we are honest, taxes in some form are necessary for the foreseeable future. It requires judgment to discern a tax system that is less punitive, more transparent, less burdensome on commerce, and reasonably fair compared with the current configuration. It also requires a recognition that government spending is also a form of a tax.

    For a politician, there’s also the need to package a proposal that resonates with voters and influencers.

    The Georgists, for ex., make a pretty good case for the land tax (rent, they call it, with pretty sound reason). And yet it’s tough to package that, especially at the national level.

  32. paulie

    At the end of the day, a tax is a tax is a tax. No?

    They all take by threat of force, yes. But they have different economic effects in how they are easier or harder to raise or hide, different ways they incentivize behavior, different people they give more or less advantage to, different ways their enforcement violates privacy, and so on.

    And some like the so-called “fair” tax also have non-tax elements – the misnamed “prebate” is actually a near-universal welfare check.

  33. paulie

    In theory, I can see how the transparency of some taxes makes them seem a bit less evil. But, in reality, I have to buy food, toothpaste, clothes, and the like, regardless of the fact that I clearly see the sales tax I’m charged when I buy them. I’m still not able to get out of paying the tax, so government is still stealing from me.

    The national sales tax would probably be included in the shelf price of goods. I’ve been much more successful at, shall we say, not having taxable income than at not paying sales tax, which sales tax proponents consider a feature but I see as more of a bug of sales taxes from my self-interest. Especially since, due to my non-compliance with the SS number, I will be one of the small portion of people who won’t get the “prebate.” It would also be not so good for good compliant citizens like my parents who paid income tax on everything they made for decades of work and now will get double taxed on whatever they managed to save up for spending now that they are retired. Which won’t be good for me either given how they still help me out a lot more than they should at my age.

    Well, I guess I should look at the bright side; maybe I’ll finally lose some weight, since I won’t have much of a choice about it.

  34. Robert Capozzi

    tk: How so?

    me: Because without a rule of law, the concept of “property” is meaningless. In a state of nature, there are only “possessions.”

  35. Joshua Katz

    With taxation, the concept of ‘property’ is meaningless. In a state of taxation, there are only ‘possessions.’

    That said, a better response than ‘libertarians should embrace taxation’ might be to reconsider the implicit notions we have about property, which are in some sense royalist.

    Paulie – yes, good catch, I will fix that. Regarding retirees – find the money elsewhere, if you can. I do believe, though, that cutting retirement for government employees, if not the most politically palatable idea ever, is an objective good. Cutting SS is not. The difference is that SS is a system you are forced to pay into, and you are not forced to work for Monsanto on the Potomac. Because of what the government does to us, workers everywhere see their pensions disappear – yet those most responsible keep theirs?

    On the other hand, there is something attractive in principle about paying people to not work for the government…

    I don’t think that the transparency claim is usually that transparent taxes are less evil, but rather that they’re harder to raise and provoke more anger against government. I’m not convinced that’s true, though. As was pointed out above, sales tax is harder to avoid, and far more regressive – although the income tax is also regressive, in that poorer people need more income.

    FSM bless you, and FSM bless America.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    tk, I’m sorry, where did I say “anything the state does is not theft”?

    Let me walk you through the logic. There are things. People possess them whether governed by a state OR in a state of nature. When in a state where there IS a rule of law, possessions become property. In a state of nature, they are NOT property.

    Now if there is a way to deliver a rule of law without a state (a “workable alternative” as I said earlier), there could be property without a state.

    Thus far, such a workable alternative has not been demonstrated.

    Involuntary takings to maintain the institution of property are not “theft,” then, since without the institution of property, there is no property, only possessions.

    If a bear grabs a fish out of a river, is that theft?

  37. Robert Capozzi

    jk: In a state of taxation, there are only ‘possessions.’

    me: Valid opinion, certainly. I guess we’re doomed to have mere possessions, then. The notion of “property” seems like a good one, but without domestic tranquility maximizing institutions, the ideal will not be achieved.

    That is, unless the Frankel Singularity changes everything! 😉

  38. Joshua Katz

    Can there be theft without property? Perhaps. Can there be rule of law without the state? Absolutely. Is property a useful notion? Maybe. Can there be rule of law without taxes? Of course. Can there be property – in the absolute sense you seem to want – with taxation? I say no, by definition. It so happens that I wish to abolish taxation and also don’t accept your strict view of property, though, so I need another argument against them. Gary Chartier provides one with his reminder that ‘property rights’ can always be rephrased in terms of human rights. My property has no rights (if I have property possessing rights, I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing.) What matters is how we treat people – and we can believe it is wrong to take away even someone else’s possessions, certainly while they are using them, because it interrupts their ongoing plans, which is just rude.

    FSM bless you, and FSM bless America.

  39. Robert Capozzi

    jk: That said, a better response than ‘libertarians should embrace taxation’ might be to reconsider the implicit notions we have about property, which are in some sense royalist.

    me: I’d like to hear more. I’m not familiar with the term “royalist.” It seems kinda obvious to me — self evident — that anyone can claim anything as “property.” Possessions are only recognized as “property” when there are institutions and a generally prevalent acceptance that legitimate claims on property are recognized as such, and that there is a rule of law to sort out conflicting claims on things claimed as property.

    TK could claim tomorrow that he holds 100% of Apple Computer, f’rinstance. However, the property-rights institutions in place say he doesn’t and the generally prevalent view is he does NOT own 100% of Apple, but that the shareholders do. He could attempt to storm the HQ in Cupertino to take “his” property, but at the moment, I don’t like his odds, as the State’s peace officers and Apple’s current shareholders’s designated managers are likely to repel him and his claim.

    Just a guess, tho….

    None of the current setup has anything to do with royalty that I can see.

  40. paulie

    That is, unless the Frankel Singularity changes everything!

    Not sure how the singularity became mine, but the Capozzi stasis is pretty much impossible at this point.

  41. paulie

    It seems kinda obvious to me — self evident — that anyone can claim anything as “property.”

    Awesome. I hereby claim the moon, the sun, the other planets in the solar system, and all the stars in the sky along with any planets and moons they may have in their stellar systems. I am tempted to include this planet too, but I am obligated by the majesty of the blood of the ancient biblical Hebrew Kings that flows through my veins in an unbroken line of first sons according to a verbal tradition passed on by my grandfather, whose first son’s first son I am, to show noblesse oblige and presume you meant property not already claimed by someone else….correct?

  42. paulie

    FSM bless you, and FSM bless America.

    Darn, yet another politician trying to bring his religion into government 🙂

    Well, you walked me through something. I’m tempted to bill you for the cleaning.

    LOL

  43. Robert Capozzi

    pf: presume you meant property not already claimed by someone else….correct?

    me: No. As the post describes, TK *COULD* “claim” 100% of Apple Computer today. Such a claim is likely to be repelled.

    IOW, for a possession to become “property,” it requires that someone claim the property and institutions that recognize that claim.

    Property doesn’t happen in isolation. It’s not unilateral, it’s multilateral.

  44. Thomas L. Knapp

    Um, no.

    For a possession to become property, someone has to justly claim it. Justly claimed property is property whether institutions recognize it or not. Institutional recognition of false property claims doesn’t make those claims true.

    If I claim to own 100% of Apple (it’s no long Apple Computer, btw, just Apple) and the government recognizes that claim as true, it’s still a false claim.

  45. Joshua Katz

    The royal notion of property refers to the idea that ownerships is perpetual, no matter how long it has been since it was incorporated into ongoing plans.

    I agree that property is a social construct. I think possession is far more robust than you claim. I think it can do what you want to do with property, other than giving perpetual ownership without use.

  46. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Justly claimed property is property whether institutions recognize it or not.

    me: Begs the question: Who’s to say what is “just”? You may well think your claim on 100% of Apple is just, but the current shareholders and the State will disagree with you.

    tk: Institutional recognition of false property claims doesn’t make those claims true.

    me: Sure. Who’s to say what is false or true?

  47. Robert Capozzi

    jk: I agree that property is a social construct. I think possession is far more robust than you claim.

    me: Glad we agree on the obvious! I have no idea what impression you might have of my view of the robustness of possession. I don’t have a robust scale, actually. It does seem, though, that economies run smoother when resources can be owned and controlled with a great degree of certainty.

  48. Robert Capozzi

    tk: You might want to look up “begging the question.”

    me: Looks like I used it in the modern sense, not the classic sense. Didn’t know it was a controversial phrase. Thanks.

  49. Thomas L. Knapp

    I wouldn’t say it’s controversial, just inapplicable. My statement may have “raised” the question of what constitutes justly acquired property, but it didn’t “beg” the question (i.e. assume the conclusion in the premise) of what constitutes justly acquired property.

  50. Joshua Katz

    It seems fair to conclude that a person doesn’t find possession all that robust when they write things suggesting that taxation is justified because it’s necessary for the rule of law (!) and the rule of law is necessary because it allows for us to have property, not possessions – it seems that such a statement implies a belief that the institution of property is important, and hence that possession is not sufficient to base a society on.

    But, I’ll ask again – just how can property exist if a small group may, at its own initiative, take what it wants?

    In any case, my point is that I see nothing wrong with a possession standard, properly understood, and see many problems with property, particularly in natural resources such as land. Perpetual ownership given by once mixing labor with land is a recipe for inequality and tyranny.

  51. Starchild

    I’m glad Joshua Katz is considering running for president. From my knowledge, he is strong on all five points that Andy (October 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm) cites as important in selecting Libertarian candidates (and I think Andy’s list is excellent as far as it goes):

    “Being elected to office and having fancy titles next to ones name should not be the top criteria for selecting candidates for the Libertarian Party. The top criteria ought to be 1) philosophy, 2) knowledge of issues, 3) ability to communicate in a persuasive manner, 4) strong work ethic (as an activist), 5) good character.”

    A few additional considerations I would add (continuing the numbering above, and not necessarily implying any particular order):

    6) Not having a big ego or being too desiring of power (I suppose this could fall under “good character”, but I think it’s important enough to mention in its own right)

    7) Commitment to advancing the libertarian movement (especially important for candidates seeking high office, whose impact will differ greatly depending upon the extent to which they seek to boost the cause as a whole when running, and not just their own chances of election)

    8) Commitment to bottom-up empowerment consistent with a society where power flows upward from individuals rather than downward from government and other institutions (This is a bit of a catch-all category that could be subdivided, but I’m thinking of things like the following: Operating transparently in matters of finances, decision-making, etc. Not trying to run a campaign too tightly from the top down. Resisting pressures to kowtow to institutional demands, social norms, expectations of conformity, etc., that are disempowering to individuals. Honoring and championing libertarian activism and thinking like an activist. Bringing this consciousness to every situation and institution with which a candidate finds him/herself in contact.)

    On these points also, my impression is that Joshua would stand up well.

  52. Robert Capozzi

    jk: just how can property exist if a small group may, at its own initiative, take what it wants?

    me: I’d say property “exists” (or perhaps is generally recognized and generally works) now. The “small group” you refer is probably government, yes? Most people most of the time have and use property as they see fit, so long as they pay for the institutions that recognize and protect the institution of property.

    The institution of property would in my estimation work better if government were smaller.

    For the VERY few who don’t want to pay for the institution, I advocate Nonarchy Pods, where an individual could secede from society onto his or her property, so long as they demonstrate that the property was appropriately gotten. (That is, Paulie couldn’t unilaterally claim the Capitol and then declare the building and grounds Frankelvania!)

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