Libertarian Loonies

In the wake of my Ron Paul posts, I received a message from from the George Phillies campaign. What? You haven’t heard of his campaign? Me either. Mr. Phillies is the Chair of the Libertarian Party in Massachusetts, and he’s running for the Libertarian Party Nomination. Of course… he’s not mentioned on the LP website as a candidate for the nomination. And that can’t be a good thing… especially when the bar appears to have been hung pretty low: Jim Burns is listed as a candidate for the nomination and the site proclaims that Jim has raised a grand total of $40 for his campaign. (This is the national site, mind you. Lp.org.)

My message was from Carolyn Marbry, and Carolyn has the best title ever for a campaign worker. She’s the “National Mobilization Facilitator for Electronic Operations.” Wow. I was almost prepared to support George based solely on his ability to hand out cool titles. Just think, instead of a poor, drab, Secretary of State we could have the National Master for Advice and Counsel in Matters Pertaining to the States, Various.

Cool titles aside, I checked out George’s website. (Did that mean I was being electronically facilitated? Maybe I was electronically mobilized….)

Now, George is a smart guy. He’s a professor of Physics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. According to the website, Professor Phillies, “has attained international recognition for his scientific studies of light scattering, soaps, and polymer solutions.” Cool. I like science. And I’m glad that we have smart, liberty minded people teaching 19 year olds how light scatters, what the heck polymers are, and why soap is important. But I’m not prepared to support Mr. Phillies in his presidential aspirations.

Let’s see where Dr. Phillies stands on the issues:

If elected, I will immediately end our occupation of Iraq. Our forces with their supplies and equipment will move as rapidly as possible through peaceful Kuwait to await shipment home.

Ahhhhh….. naturally! We’re tired, let’s go home. Oh… what? The Iraqi people? Screw ’em.

George has already lost me. George isn’t a career politician, so I’ll be kind enough to assume that this isn’t mere political pandering, but rather a deeply held belief. Of course that fact that an immediate withdrawal would be catastrophically stupid, would further destabilize an already unstable region, would stand as an engraved invitation for Iran to invade, would ignore our moral responsibility to support the Iraqi government that we created, and… oh to the hell with it. If Prof. Phillies doesn’t get this, then he’s confusing people with polymers. We’re not plastic and neither are the Iraqis.

But let’s move on:

George says,

Our only hope is a President who points at Federal program after Federal program, corporate welfare scheme after corporate welfare scheme, and says the same four words “We can’t afford that.” Those words got our grandparents though the Great Depression. Those are the words that will restore fiscal sanity to our Republic.

Well, I was hoping for a president who would do a little more than point and whine, but hey…. maybe it would work. You know, in the same way that FDR decided in the 1930’s that we just couldn’t afford to start any new government prog…. Wait, what the f**k is George talking about?

I will order all Executive branch employees to comply enthusiastically with all Congressional requests for documents and testimony.

Your smile isn’t wide enough, buddy. Wider! Be more enthusiastic!

Uncle Sam has no legitimate role in the abortion issue, and neither does your state government.

What? Then who does? I don’t care where you stand on the issue, pro-life or pro-choice, George’s position is just nuts. Unless George actually has an uncle named Sam, in which case… I still don’t get it. Either it’s a federal right or it’s not. If it’s not, then it’s up to the States. Sorry, George but the local zoning board doesn’t get a say.

At times, Professor Phillies is maddeningly vague. On energy and the environment, he’s long winded and says virtually nothing. When discussing health care he has this howler, “Cost transfers should be made illegal: Your insurance should only pay for your care.” Which, of course, would mean that it’s not insurance…. “cost transfer” is just a weird way of saying “spreading risk.” The problem isn’t that the insurance companies spread the risk around (what else would they do?) it’s that the government requires them to include extremely high risk populations in the pool, thus increasing the cost of everyone’s premiums.

When he starts in on immigration he’s just plain evasive (or horribly populist, take your pick):

All too often, we hear claims that we must import foreign workers because Americans won’t do those jobs. ‘Those jobs’ in question are hard, physically demanding, outdoor work that require constant, careful attention to detail. Those jobs should be receiving a wage premium, not be barely-minimum-wage sources of employment. There are jobs that Americans won’t do, notably in the sciences and engineering; we allow foreigners to come here to study, but then require them to leave. Mr. Bush’s foreign guest worker scheme is a corporate welfare deal at the expense of the American worker.

OK…. So… your solution is… what again? Is he saying that the government should impose a minimum-wage on farm work? How else are we to interpret “Those jobs should be receiving a wage premium” in this context? And what are those jobs in science and engineering that American’s won’t do? Really? Won’t?

To be fair, Prof. Phillies is correct on some issues, but like the major parties, his is a shotgun approach to policy. Some hits and some misses. There’s no consistent and principled line of argument here. It’s a hodge-podge of surrender, price controls, abdication, and populism. I think I’m most frightened by his call for a more enthusiastic bureaucracy….

Ms. Marbry emailed me to convince me I shouldn’t take Ron Paul as representative of mainstream libertarianism. But her implication is that Prof. Phillies is that representative. If that’s true, we’re no better off.

But is he representative?

I checked out Wayne Allyn Root’s website (he’s listed first on the LP homepage as he’s raised a whopping $14K).

First off I’m struck by this:

Libertarian Presidential hopeful Wayne Allyn Root will appear on many of Europe’s biggest TV and radio stations during his UK media tour this week.

OK… so…. Wait a minute, I’m still processing this. OK… I would have thought this would be obvious, but here goes: It’s helpful to campaign in this country if you want to win. I’m just saying….

As I begin scanning, Wayne seems OK on the issues, but that might be only because he’s not saying much at all. The devil is always in the details, and as soon as we get a detailed plan we get one of those odd, counter-productive reforms that so many libertarians are fond of:

I will ask Congress to give the Government Accountability Office real power by elevating its chief, the Comptroller General of the United States, to a cabinet-level executive branch officer, with oversight over all federal programs and agencies. Under my plan, the Comptroller would have the ability to take government agencies to court to compel their efficient performance and to forcibly remove waste and pork.

Separation of powers, checks and balances… they’re so antiquated. “…compel their efficient performance and to forcibly remove waste and pork,” sounds an awful lot like a line-item veto for the executive branch. This is nothing more than a disgusting power grab. He wants to take the independent and non-partisan GAO and make it part of his cabinet. Who needs oversight? Don’t you trust him? Come on… trust him! Trust him!

A few lines down we get the actual statement:

I support the Line Item Veto. I will push relentlessly and tirelessly to make this a crucial part of the President’s arsenal to fight the deficit, cut waste, and balance the budget.

So much for the Constitution.

I support Voting ballots in English-only. My goal is to reduce the cost of government. Therefore we must stop wasting taxpayer money by printing ballots and administering elections in multiple languages.

Federalism stinks! More power to the Federal government! This is one of those absolute howlers… elections aren’t run by the feds, Wayne. At some point, the Constitution should actually matter.

I will sign a pledge to NOT raise tax rates-PERIOD!

I support Internet Freedom. I support the legalization, regulation & taxation of Online Gaming (just like U.K.). Prohibition has been proven a failure. Let’s legalize, regulate and tax this growing industry- thereby bringing in billions of dollars in new tax revenues that we can use for deficit reduction, homeland security, or the war on terror.

He said he wouldn’t raise taxes. He didn’t say anything about new taxes. (He’s also clearly pretty fond of the U.K….)

It’s not flip-flopping. It’s nuanced. Like this:

I believe abortion is a matter of personal choice and not intended for federal government intervention. Let’s get the federal government out of a woman’s right to choose what to do with their own body- this will prevent the death of innocent women at the hands of butchers in back-alleys.
BUT I also support common sense limitations on abortion– no late term or partial birth abortion (unless a mother’s life is endangered)…no federal funding of abortion…and I support Parental Notification for underage girls.

Get the Feds out!Well, OK, not out so much as deeply involved. This kind of stuff drives me crazy. Just say what you mean. Saying things like this means that you think voters are stupid and gullible.

I am opposed to Yucca Mountain– I do not think nuclear waste should be transported across the country, thereby posing a greater security, accident or terrorist threat. I also believe the choice of a nuclear storage site near Las Vegas is completely irresponsible and reckless. Yucca Mountain was chosen at a time when Las Vegas was a small anonymous town. It is downright foolish, shortsighted and dangerous to risk a nuclear disaster near any booming metropolis.

Wow! Now that’s a new one! I haven’t seen any candidate talk about Yucca Mountain. I wonder what Phillies thinks about this, he’s a physicist after all. This is one of those issues where it would be really great to have an independent, non-partisan agency to do some fact checking. You know, like the GAO. Oh… right.

Let’s show our true colors by requesting that the Iraqi people vote on America’s role in Iraq. We are supporters of Democracy. We went to Iraq to build a Democracy. Let’s support an Iraqi national vote on whether the Iraqi people want U.S. troops to stay or go. If they vote “Go” we should leave. PERIOD.
If the Iraqi people vote for U.S. troops to stay, we should still make plans to get out of Iraq as soon as possible– but first make sure our friends and allies in the Iraq government can defend their young Democracy. We cannot punish our Iraqi partners and allies who took our word and stood by us- or America’s word will mean nothing in the future to our allies.

Wayne manages to squeeze a little waffling in on this issue too. I think Wayne’s just trying to cover his bases. I mean, cover his cricket wickets… sorry old chap.

Wayne is a candidate who takes a lot of hard, line-in-the-sand positions. Well, you know…. sort of.

Next I went to Michael Jingozian’s website. Clarity isn’t his strong suit. “Reset America” is his campaign slogan. It’s catchy and it’s hip. It conjures images of a violent and catastrophic change, a sudden loss of work, a painful period while we wait for the system to reboot…. Oy.

“Do over!” is not an inspiring political message.

Mike doesn’t seem to take any clear stand on the issues but he’s big on five year plans and prosecuting political opponents for war crimes. That’s not usually a good combination.

Oh… he also likes “integrity” and “sustainable” political practices. And there’s a picture of him thinking deep thoughts. You know he’s thinking deep thoughts because he’s rubbing his chin. Or maybe he has a pimple. Either way, he has a bunch of charts. Like this. Enough said.

Next up, Bob Jackson. I start out liking Bob. Bob’s a family man. Bob’s an Eagle Scout. Bob was an engineer. Bob knows how “things” work. (More on “things” later.) He has this to say on energy policy:

The most important scientific advancement facing us is the development of totally pollution free Fusion reactors. This requires the development of room temperature electrical super conductive materials to make the powerful magnets needed to harness the fusion process.

Oh great.Again, I find myself wishing Prof. Phillies were around…. Bob goes on,

The country needs a president with an energy plan, environmental concern and personal ethics of an Eagle Scout. Bob is the only candidate with such credentials and plan.

Bob’s an Eagle Scout. Not just a cub, or a bear, or any other piddling kid-stuff scout. We’re talking eagle. Bob has the chops. He knows all about fusion. He’s prepared. Bob will get those scientists in line. (You listening George? We’re talking to you!) Maybe he’s going for the fusion merit badge.

Bob’s Iraq plan looks better than some of the other candidates. But only in comparison. Bob’s a fan of the three-state plan. I can see it’s attraction, but I think it’s probably too late in the game to scrap the current Iraqi government and try to start over with three separate ones. (This raises a question…. Saying “I told you so” isn’t a helpful political position. Does Bob actually think this is a workable policy? Can you imagine the meeting with the Joint Chiefs? “OK… So here’s the plan. We’re calling it, Operation Do-Over. Mike Jingozian here will fill you in on the rest.”)

Bob’s also big on sealing the U.S. border. Most of the candidates are. When did this become mainstream libertarianism? I’m just asking…. Did I miss the memo on xenophobia?

Bob’s pro life and wants to devolve abortion to the States and he’s consistent about it. None of this, you get to decide, so long as you decide the way I want you to stuff. Points for sticking to principle, Bob.

So far, I like Bob the best. He seems the least off-kilter of the candidates I’ve checked out. Of course, Bob’s a libertarian, so there’s this:

Our standard of living is based literally on two factors, emotions and a multitude of “things”. Emotions (thoughts, love, hate, greed, values, religion, etc) are actually free. All humans since caveman days have all, and sometimes more, emotions that can be handle rationally. All “things” that form our physical standard of living must be produced and that requires energy.

I like “things.” Religion is an emotion? What about the Boy Scouts? Are they an emotion? And what about that knock on our paleolithic ancestors? Did they not have emotions? I know they didn’t have the Boy Scouts, but I think they probably had some emotional life. But maybe not. Maybe they were different. Maybe their standard of living was based figuratively on stuff.

The last website is for Daniel Imperato. Things get weird here. Dan’s not real big on the whole “individual” part of individual liberty, he likes “we the people.” Apparently as in, “We, the people, know better than you. Get stuffed.”

He wants to restrict your charitable donations (so you can give more to Social Security).

I propose a new charity system, where the only charity that can receive unlimited contributions is the Social Security 501(c)3 Charitable Fund. That way, wealthy Americans, who wish to have the largest tax deductions through charitable donations, will donate back to the American people and the Social Security Charitable Fund that will be run by we the people.

And then,

I propose an approval fee on all FDA approved drugs to be contributed by the drug companies to the US healthcare system. In addition, a percentage will be added to the wholesale costs of the drugs that are sold around the world that will be contributed back to the healthcare system.

Hmmm…. what’s his party affiliation? Libertarian? This can’t be right. Hey, wait! He has more new government programs!

One of my major initiatives will be a US online education system, which I have already began to develop, with an education platform that will be supported by a shared computer portal of educational courses and content. It will be provided by a large number of universities, one program at a time. These programs and classes will be installed on our educational portal, and it will represent a gesture of moral and social responsibility by and between all universities. This will collectively create the greatest online free education system in the world, for the people who can’t afford education run by
we the people.

It will be provided for by a large number of universities (not all, just a “large number”). It will be great. It will “represent a gesture.” What does that mean? Could anything be more vague? Which gesture is he thinking of? I know which gesture I’m thinking of….

I propose joint manufacturing programs, expansion of labor unions and organized labor into Latin America. This will help the people, teach the people, and organize the people, to compete around the world for a Better Americas.

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin with that one. Dan is starting to look a lot like a fascist.

My strategy for Iraq is to implement an immediate cease fire, strengthen our troop base, and join with the Arab states for a long-term peace solution.

You know, because we’ve been refusing so many requests for a cease fire. Day after day we have terrorists coming to us with reasonable and rational pleas for a cease fire. Let’s just stop all the shooting already! Can’t we all just get along? We can join hands with Saudi Arabia and Iran and the Sudan and sing songs of solidarity.

Dan wants to, “bring back his country — The United States of America — to the straight and narrow.” What with Wayne off campaigning in Britain, Dan seems to think we need to reminded about which country is his. There’s no indication that he means “straight and narrow” as a stand for family values… his website crashed so I couldn’t delve any deeper. But I saw enough, Dan’s not an advocate of individual liberty. He’s not even close.

The problem, of course, is that they all claim to be libertarians. Because being a libertarian can mean anything. More subsidy, less subsidy. Raise taxes, lower taxes. No nukes, more nukes. Open the borders, close the borders. Out of Iraq, stay in Iraq. More freedom, less freedom.

It’s a mess and it’s absurd. Of all these candidates, I liked Bob Jackson, Eagle Scout the best. But that’s only because Bob doesn’t really say that much. Bob’s also the only one who didn’t seem to descend into rank populism (although none were as bad as Imperato).

These are the people that represent libertarianism. But they don’t represent me.

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3 thoughts on “Libertarian Loonies

  1. Just a quick note.First, I’m pleased that you actually read my message and took an interest. I sincerely appreciate that.On the LP.ORG list of Libertarian Presidential candidates,Phillies is column 2, row 3.Also, those numbers you quote: That’s not how much the candidate has raised. That’s how much the candidate and his friends have bribed the LNC for favorable placement on the payola page. .If you want to see the actual fundraising figures for the candidates, you need to go to the FEC disclosures page.Thanks again.Carolyn MarbryPress DirectorPhillies 2008http://ChooseGeorge.org

  2. Carolyn,Ah…. I see that note now. Sorry, I missed the “raised funds for the LP” bit. I see that George has raised $10,534. (In addition to $55k of his own money.)Certainly more than I’ve raised in any bid for office, but not enough to seriously threaten any of the major candidates. Of course, money raised isn’t the only measure of a campaign’s seriousness. Another measure is the policies that a campaign puts forward. It surely seems to me that George’s stand to immediately pull all U.S. military out of Iraq is simply not a credible policy. It’s a talking point, but it’s just not a serious solution.

  3. Hey Pat,If it weren’t so true, it’d be hilarious. Then again, I was laughing pretty hard at this… So, I am thinking reality TV show a la Big Brother. 8 libertarians, one house, 8 weeks. The Task? Who can take important political ideas and make them seem the most ridiculous thereby undermining attempts at real progress for liberty? Call it, Rothbard’s Romper Room.

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