The Educational Wing of the Libertarian Party

With the 2008 Libertarian National Convention now appearing on the political horizon, I’d like to offer some thoughts on how we might be able to solve one of the ongoing issues of debate within the Libertarian Party.

First of all, I’d like to ask a question for the consideration of Libertarian Party activists: If you had your choice of immediate goals, would you prefer to work towards living in a country dominated by libertarians or one where the LP is the dominant political party?

To be clear, I like both directions and will try to present some pros and cons for both approaches—and then I’ll provide a possible solution to certain issues which take up a lot of our time and energy.

Electoral Politics

Changing the mindset of an entire country is a bit more of a daunting task than to simply win elections. While the percentages are still being debated by historians, it’s clear that a quite sizable number of Americans opposed the Revolutionary War at a time many consider to be the most libertarian period in American history. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there were 900,000 Loyalists out of a population of 2,500,000 colonists in 1776. Of the remainder, while the numbers may be disputed, it is clear that some supported the Revolution and others were either neutral or undecided.

Like most political groupings, libertarians are a minority. Even Republicans and Democrats are minorities within the American electoral system. Using Cato’s data, one might expect that 15% of the voters are actually ideologically libertarian.

It’s rather doubtful that there has ever been an ideological libertarian majority in any jurisdiction where a Libertarian Party candidate has won election or reelection to public office. However, (depending upon how the question is asked), 44-59% of people describe themselves in a way which might allow them to vote for a Libertarian Party candidate.

In many cases, an LP politician can tap into a greater voter pool by working with the local electoral demographics, as opposed to preaching a general libertarian message. For example, imagine a hypothetical district where opposition to a new publicly-financed sports arena, support of a local medical marijuana bill and opposition to the new school bond are highly popular issues. A candidate who focuses on these issues has a greater chance of success than one who focuses on certain hardcore ideological issues which hold little public support.

It simply isn’t necessary for a majority of Americans to be libertarian for them to pull the Libertarian Party lever on Election Day. Looking at the numbers, this seems to be a much simpler project than to convert a majority of Americans into becoming ideological libertarians.

Education and Outreach

This said, I highly value the role of educational efforts within the Libertarian Party and the much broader libertarian movement. Let’s separate these two groups for a moment.

There are a variety of organizations out there which provide libertarian outreach and education which deserve our support. Some cover general broad categories of libertarian ideas, such as Von Mises, Cato, IJ, CEI and Reason. Other may not be libertarian at all, but provide coalition activity to support individual libertarian goals. Simply in the drug policy arena, these four immediately come to mind: LEAP, MPP, DPA, NORML.

However, this article is aimed at educational and outreach activities within the Libertarian Party. There has long been conflict between those who focus on achieving Libertarian electoral victory and those to whom outreach and education are more important. I’d like to propose a solution which might help both general groups to work better together, as opposed to spending valuable resources fighting with one another.

It’s first important to establish the importance of outreach and education within Libertarian Party circles. Without outreach—especially at a local level—it’s difficult to recruit, train and organize the vital infrastructure of any political party. Someone has to pass out literature, organize events, maintain the local database, manage precincts and districts, run county parties, recruit local candidates and then fill their campaign staffs, and so on. It is the outreach gurus who accomplish this most valuable of work.

Education is important from an outreach perspective, too. The number of new Libertarians recruited at activities ranging from speaking on college campuses to participation at events like gun shows and gay rights parades is significant. Obviously, we need a whole lot more of these educational/outreach attempts—not less.

Aside from outreach, education serves other vital roles. When our educational efforts produce a new ideological libertarian, we’ve also won a new voter and perhaps a new activist. While I don’t hold hope that the Libertarian Party will convert a majority of the American population to become libertarian, every percent or two gained along the way helps electoral efforts, too.

Elections aren’t generally won by a majority of people who agree with every view of the candidate they end up supporting, but by a coalition of various sorts of people who eventually vote for the candidate in question. However, there are some voters a candidate should always be about to count upon. General educational activities which steer even small percentages of voters in our direction help create an electoral base which doesn’t just help with one election, but every subsequent election.

On the legislative and referenda front, education becomes an even more important tool. It’s a lot simpler to convince a voter that one single dish at the Libertarian smörgåsbord will be palatable than to convince the same voter that every dish on the table will taste great. To persuade voters to repeal a particular tax is easier than to persuade them to repeal all taxes. And it’s certainly easier to convince the typical voter to repeal one tax than to repeal all taxes while radically legalizing drugs, prostitution and getting the government out of the marriage license business.

Even in electoral contests, education becomes important. Using the hypothetical situation I outlined above, imagine that public support to kill the local school bond proposal starts becoming less and less popular. Odds are, this would probably because of the educational attempts of the opposition—quite often operating with public finances, too. This is a perfect time for the education wing of the Libertarian Party to swoop down to show how defeating the bond proposal will benefit the community (or individuals within the community, as appropriate).

Likewise, educational attempts can help in state and national elections, too. Assisting a candidate in any policy area where the candidate is weak is certainly an asset. For instance, assume the LP nominates a candidate who has plenty of drug policy or small business experience but limited foreign policy knowledge or experience. This would be an example of when the foreign policy educational experts within the party could be of great service. A Steve Kubby- or Wayne Allyn Root-type nominee might wish to quote Karen Kwiatkowski in press releases while the Susan Hogarths and Tom Knapps of the party continue to educate Americans about the reality of U.S. involvement in the Iraq War.

Education has a key role within the party, too. Most converts to libertarianism don’t immediately obtain a perfect score on a Nolan chart, but many will some time in the future. It’s important that we take the time to work with our new brethren to obtain a better understanding of libertarianism. If there is one key regret of mine with respect to internal Libertarian Party educational activities, it is that I didn’t spend enough time dealing with the general topic of non-interventionism in the time prior to 9/11. Had a lot of us focused more on that topic, we probably wouldn’t have suffered, as a party, as much as we did immediately post-9/11.

There is one quick suggestion I’d like to make to party educators at this moment: Try to teach, not insult. Calling someone a statist, commie, reichwinger or neocon is not very likely to persuade anyone to change his or her mind on an issue.

A Proposed Solution

No matter how we slice-and-dice debate over the mission of the Libertarian Party, there are going to be people within the LP who have winning elections as a primary goal and there are going to be people who place a greater emphasis on longer term outreach and education. Often, these two general groups of well-meaning people are at loggerheads with each other.

What would happen if we found a better way to get along, a way where both sorts of people within the party could benefit from the efforts the respective opposition?

Right now, the LP is filled with formal and informal internal caucuses and groups. There are LP Radicals and the Reform Caucus, the Defense Caucus, the LSLA, the Women’s Caucus, and Libertarians for Life—just to name a few. Most of these groups are tightly focused on only a small range of LP issues and activities, however. What if some sort of larger formal organization of education- and outreach-oriented LP members was created?

Depending upon how they established their mission statement, this group could apply pressure to the LNC, staff or even presidential candidates to operate more in a manner of their choosing. This group could also act autonomously, providing internal or external educational and outreach opportunities as they desire. Like smaller caucuses, they could choose to promote some candidates and not others. Hopefully, they would also augment campaigns and state affilliates, too. If there is some major ongoing ballot access effort, I can envision these folks passing out fliers while obtaining signatures. I’d expect to see their booth at various Libertarian Party conventions. If they are smart, they’d establish themselves as a federal committee and begin raising funds to support their operations.

As a campaign manager, I’d love to be able to pick up my phone and call such an organization to obtain their assistance, support or endorsement. As a state chair, it might be nice to be able to order 50,000 fliers on some particular issue not available on the standard LP inventory.

Right now, it seems that more time is spent writing blog comments debating the direction of the LP than on actually steering the Libertarian Party in a meaningful direction. I’ll suggest that organizing a formal educational wing of the Libertarian Party will accomplish more than an entire decade’s worth of blog comments.

79 Responses to “The Educational Wing of the Libertarian Party”

  1. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    You write:

    “Right now, it seems that more time is spent writing blog comments debating the direction of the LP than on actually steering the Libertarian Party in a meaningful direction.”

    What things seem like and how they actually are aren’t necessarily the same thing.

    Yes, I’m one of those who does a lot of blog commenting on the direction of the LP.

    I’m also one of those who has directly recruited no fewer than three candidates, and probably indirectly/partially another five to ten, to run for office as Libertarians this year.

    I expect to spend a lot of time between now and November helping those candidates in every way I can. In any given election year, I write press releases and speeches for a number of candidates in my state and elsewhere. I walk precincts and do lit drops. I help candidates prep for debates and forums. I help them fill out the piles of special interest group questionnaires. I work the polling place for one or more candidates in November (and, if there’s a contested primary, possibly in August; and if it’s a local race, possibly in April). Oh, and not just candidates—ballot issues as well.

    Some of those I work with win. Most, like most Libertarians, lose. That’s the way it goes, but I try hard not to let it keep going that way any more than necessary, which means that when I’m not commenting at TPW, I probably have my nose buried in a book or magazine that’s supposed to teach me to do what I do better.

    Blow my own horn much? Whatever—the point isn’t really that I do all of the above, it’s that LOTS of the people you see commenting at TPW and elsewhere do the same things and other important work, year in and year out. Arguing on blogs and doing real politics aren’t incompatible.

    The internal caucuses, the internal debates, etc., aren’t irrelevant distractions. There’s political work to be done, but in order for that work to be done, people have to do it, and in order for people to do it they have to want to do it, and in order for people to want to do it they have to believe that doing it is worthwhile. If they don’t believe that their party represents them well enough to be worthy of their support, they won’t support it.

    Naturally there will be conflicts between Libertarians on what “good representation by my party” means. Those conflicts will be won and lost at various points, and some will exit or enter the party accordingly. All that goes with the territory—especially with libertarians, who tend to take their individualism neat rather than on the rocks, and who therefore don’t easily go along to get along.

    Internal conflict may be a bigger overhead cost for us than it for other parties, but that goes with trying to be a libertarian party. Since I’m not interested in working with a nonlibertarian party (been there, done that, tshirt just didn’t fit), I’m willing to put up with that overhead.

  2. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Steve,

    My short version is that a political party optimally educates by running good, articulate candidates. I’d hate to see the LP become any more like the LaRouchies, handing out brochures in airports about the “morality” of private nukes.

    From a division of labor perspective, the LP should do politics. Leave “education” to think tanks.

  3. Zander Collier Says:

    I appreciate the comments Stephen makes above, but I don’t think the Republican or Democratic Parties have “educational wings”.

    The purpose of a political party is to get its candidates elected to office with the goal of changing public policy that fits with the philosophy and ideals of that political party.

    I believe that with Cato, and Reason, and ISIL, and all of the other “Libertarian Educational” organizations out there that didn’t exist in 1971 when the LP was founded, it seems that organizing an “educational wing” of the Libertarian Party is a waste of party time and resources. If 15% of the electorate is truly libertarian, then we need to focus our time, money, and energy on getting credible candidates elected at the local level, and building up from the grassroots so that as we make our case at each level of government. at 15% of the electorate, we can be just as competitive for the mindshare of the American people as the D’s and R’s.

    Let the educational organizations like ISIL, Reason, and Cato do the education.

    We have more important things to do.

  4. Wes Benedict Says:

    Uneducators:

    Sometime’s I’m not sure what y’all mean by “not being educational.” Check out my responses to the League of Women’s Survey: page 22. Pay special attention to my “global warming” stance. Is that what you mean by not educating? I provide not an ounce of education on “global warming.” Just a hominem. I think that makes me a “real Libertarian Political Partier, not a debate societer.”

    http://www.lwvaustin.org/votersguide/votersguidemar2008.pdf

    Agree?

  5. Delling Says:

    Steve,

    Libertarians are the future, if they grasp the opportunity.

    I’m not intentionally trying to sap any traffic from your site, but what libertarians have been searching for is right in front of their eyes.

    “There are currently no constitutionally-elected sitting United States Senators. They were all inhabitants of the State in which they were chosen and that is forbidden by Article 1, Section 3, Clause 3.

    The person must be 30 and a nine year citizen of the U.S. and shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of the State in which they shall be chosen.”

    http://www.ballsnews.com/us-constitution-unhinged-part-2.html

  6. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    One concern some libertarians have is that if the LP focuses on “getting votes” to the exclusion of all else, we will morph into a non-ideological blob, identical to the Demopublicans.

    The LP will become all things to all voters, compromising here, remaining silent there, lest we “scare away” votes, until our bland, moderate candidates are no longer our public face, but what we truly are.

    As Kurt Vonnegut said: “We are what we pretend to be. Therefore we must be careful what we pretend to be.”

  7. Stephen Gordon Says:

    From a division of labor perspective, the LP should do politics. Leave “education” to think tanks.

    To some degree, I agree. However, both factions are here and likely to be here for some time. I’d like to see us figuring out how to work together as opposed to against each other.

  8. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Internal conflict may be a bigger overhead cost for us than it for other parties, but that goes with trying to be a libertarian party. Since I’m not interested in working with a nonlibertarian party (been there, done that, tshirt just didn’t fit), I’m willing to put up with that overhead.

    I’d rather reduce the overhead in order to increase the profit margin.

  9. Stephen Gordon Says:

    One concern some libertarians have is that if the LP focuses on “getting votes” to the exclusion of all else, we will morph into a non-ideological blob, identical to the Demopublicans.

    I’ve frequently heard that argument but never seen evidence of it happening.

    Also, I’ve never ever ever heard any LP member seriously suggest “’getting votes’ to the exclusion of all else.”

  10. Wes Benedict Says:

    Steve Gordon says:
    I’d like to see us figuring out how to work together as opposed to against each other.

    Wes says:
    Steve, I recognize your’re severely limited by your Alabimagination, but you leave out a significant third option: factions figuring out how to work on the projects they want to separately from those who don’t want to work on the same projects and leaving the other group be.

    For example, Capozzi, rather than flipping out that some Libertarian somewhere might be engaging in some educatation, Capozzi could simply not participate in that activity which he finds so abominable, but instead could go politic 100% with like-minded politiccers.

  11. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Stephen Gordon: “I’ve never ever ever heard any LP member seriously suggest “’getting votes’ to the exclusion of all else.”

    Then what are we talking about?

    I’ve never heard any “educationist” say the LP should be solely an educational institution.

    I have heard some people say the LP should focus exclusively on winning elections because it’s a political party.

    However, if we all agree that the LP should engage in both elections and education, then there’s no point to this thread.

  12. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Wes—you are close to reading my mind and described my intent somewhat well. Perhaps I was too Alabamafied to express my intention well enough.

  13. Robert Milnes Says:

    Steve, thank you for mentioning the Cato study. You mention 15%. I’ve been referring to the study 13% for months & gotten criticism, skepticism & yawns. Now maybe I can say, Steve Gordon refers to the Cato 15% & get some positive feedback.

  14. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I’ve never heard any “educationist” say the LP should be solely an educational institution.

    Nor have I.

    I have heard some people say the LP should focus exclusively on winning elections because it’s a political party.

    That’s true. But that doesn’t mean “watering down” what libertarianism is all about—it means Libertarians doing the things necessary to win elections (like polling, GOTV efforts, advertising, serious fundraising, etc.).

    However, if we all agree that the LP should engage in both elections and education, then there’s no point to this thread.

    We don’t all agree. I’m merely trying to find a way for us to successfully work together where we can and apart when we must.

  15. Wes Benedict Says:

    OH MY GOD! BREAKING NEWS from REPUBLICANS IN TRAVIS COUNTY TEXAS!

    Look, here’s the Travis County Republican Party:
    http://www.traviscountygop.org/

    But look here too:
    http://www.goptracpac.org/overview.html

    Looks like the Republicans in my freaky hometown don’t think the Republican Party is the only vehicle that focuses on electing candidates. Apparently PACs do it too, if not better!

    The PAC was started by my opponent. I guess (actually I know) that my opponent thinks the Republican Party in Travis County sucks at getting Republicans elected to office.

  16. Wes Benedict Says:

    Steve Gordon,
    I should confess that I haven’t read your main post yet. It was kind of long for my attention span but I’ll go read it and see if I think it says what you say it says. Then I’ll be in a better position to evaluate how Alabamified your Alabimagination is.

  17. Wes Benedict Says:

    Steve Gordon says:
    As a state chair, it might be nice to be able to order 50,000 fliers on some particular issue not available on the standard LP inventory.

    Wes says:
    Hey Steve, I’m with you on this one. I’ve always been very disappointed with the LPStuff bumper stickers. They’re kind of, as Obama’s daughters would say, “yuck.”

    That’s why I created: http://freelibertarianstickers.com/

    The site also is my impression of me doing an impression of Wayne Allyn Root.

    I’d like to offer the following bonus to Third Party Watch readers for the next 72 hours. If you post in the comments section of http://freelibertarianstickers.com/ the following, I’ll send two for the price of one (limit two). Here’s the comment you most post without alteration:

    “Wes, your annoying on TPW. Send me two free stickers, not just one.”

    Sorry, Texans forbidden from this exclusive 72-hour offer.

  18. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Hey, Wes. They aren’t free. :)

  19. disinter Says:

    Hey, Wes. They aren’t free. :)

    That was confusing me as well.

  20. disinter Says:

    Wes raises a good point re: PACs. I do think that may be the solution with regard to focusing on very limited, winnable races.

    Anyone know of a good one?

  21. Stephen Gordon Says:

    That’s the mission of the newly formed Atlas!Liberty. They are working on their first real candidate (Schlosser for Flagstaff mayor) now. Up to now, they been concentrating on sending top-notch people to campaign school.

    Mark Rutherford is acting as the benevolent dictator.

  22. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Wes,

    If I was running against you for public office in Texas, I’d certainly start the Executive Detractor PAC.

  23. Wes Benedict Says:

    The site says:
    “Wes, I’m not ready to buy these beautiful low-priced stickers, but, go ahead and send me ONE FREE LIBERTARIAN STICKER!”

    I’ve made a special offer for two free for 72 hours. Give me a good enough hardship story and I might send a hundred or more (but make it real good—and I did just say “might”)

    They’re not available for Texans because you can go here and get Texas Libertarian stickers for free: http://lptexas.org/campaignmat.shtml
    I (or my staff) sends those out.

    In Texas, in about 1.5 years, we’ve distributed about 5,000 “Texas Libertarian”: bumper stickers. I’ll be ordering another 5,000 Monday. We also distributed in 1.5 years over 4,000 yard signs and over 200,000 of the door hangers.

  24. Executive Detractor Says:

    Wes is an idiot. I’m going to order 2 stickers just to piss him off.

  25. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I missed the fine print on freeexecutivedetractorstickers.com. Good one, Wes.

    Now, back to the next upcoming Libertarian Lists presidential survey.

  26. disinter Says:

    That’s the mission of the newly formed Atlas!Liberty.

    I don’t get that impression by looking at the website. I looks like if I donate I will pay for the “tuition” of some unknown candidate to attend some strange school.

    I would expect to see 2 highly researched races chosen and 2 very good candidates selected with the single goal of getting those two fine folks elected. This PAC is a dud, IMO.

  27. Tom Blanton Says:

    Man In The Street: What Does the Libertarian Party stand for?

    Libertarian: Look pal, I’m not here to educate you about libertarianism. There are plenty of organizations that do that. Go do your own research. I’m from the Libertarian Party and my job is to tell you who to vote for. Vote Libertarian. Got it?

    Seriously folks, if you want to be free, simply live as if you are free. That can be dangerous when you live in a fascist police state – so grow some balls.

    If you think you are already free, what do you need the Libertarian Party for?

  28. Wes Benedict Says:

    Disinter says:
    Wes raises a good point re: PACs. I do think that may be the solution with regard to focusing on very limited, winnable races. Anyone know of a good one?

    Wes says:
    I don’t think there are any in Texas focused on electing Libertarians to office or on education purposes.

    Forming a PAC in Texas is very similar to running a campaign for office like state rep or county commissioner or city council (but not like running for a federal office like US Congress or US Senate because those operate under FEC rules).

    Let’s consider a hypothetical PAC opportunity in Texas. If many Libertarians in Texas did not think the focus of the Libertarian Party of Texas and its Executive Director and staff was focused on the right things, individual Texas Libertarians could band together and form a PAC that was governed by the PAC controlling committee which they would select on their own and it would operate independently of me or the LP Texas Executive Committee.

    That PAC could raise funds from people and decide to focus on electing one or more individuals to an easily winnable position like a school board in a modest size city.

    If the goal were to have “Libertarian” associated with the race, then the PAC could be called Libertarians for Great Schools PAC. Or, if the word Libertarian was considered a negative by the PAC creators, they could call it “Citizens for Great Schools PAC.” The important operation and control characteristic is that the founders of the PAC would have complete control and could create whatever message they wanted and support whatever candidate they wanted to.

    Republicans and Democrats in Texas do most of their work through PACs, not through their official party. I think that’s something Libertarians haven’t realized. You should not consider your political activity to be constrained by what you can convince the Libertarian Party of Texas to support. Like-minded individuals who want to pursue some strategy or mode of operation that is different from what the party is doing are free to do so.

    All that is needed is Libertarians who take the initiative to make it happen. I’m a LP Texas insider staff person so I’m not the one to do it right now, but I sure support others taking that step.

  29. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Man In The Street: What Does the Libertarian Party stand for?

    Libertarian: Look pal, I’m not here to educate you about libertarianism. There are plenty of organizations that do that. Go do your own research. I’m from the Libertarian Party and my job is to tell you who to vote for. Vote Libertarian. Got it?

    More likely case:

    Man In The Street: What Does the Libertarian Party stand for?

    Libertarian: Look pal, you are a statist so we don’t want your vote. You will ruin the Libertarian Party.

    Man In The Street: But I’m really not a statist. Please tell me about the LP?

    Libertarian: Recite some Rothbard then, be-otch.

    Man in the Street: I haven’t read Rothbard, but here’s a tattered copy of Nozick. I’ll buy you some meth if you tell me.

    Libertarian: OK, I’ll tell you. Because of the CFR and the government conspiracy behind 9/11, we are at war in Iraq. We believe that all drugs should be legalized, even for children—because we don’t think there should be laws and we don’t believe in government in the first place. Gold standard and omnipotent cult…

    Man in the Street: OK, I’m convinced. I’ll vote for your city council candidate—his position on Iraq is impeccable. Hey, you never even told me his name? Do I know him?

    Libertarian: If you need to know his name, decipher the tattoo on his forehead. Or I’ll tell you when you’ve finished reading everything ever written by Rand and Rothbard. In the meantime, we don’t need your stinkin’ statist vote because it will water down the Libertarian Party gene pool.

  30. Rich M Says:

    Libertarian PACs. Seems like an obvious and freaking great idea. Unfortunately….

    I recall there was the Libertarian Victory Fund, organized nationally to fund winnable local races. It went belly up.

    There was supposed to be a Libertarian National Congressional Committee (LNCC) patterned after the RNCC and DNCC, but I’ve not heard anything about it in… a year? ... two?

    I myself firmly believe that the Iowa state legislature is a relatively excellent prospect and founded the Iowa Libertarian Legislature Fund (www.ILLF.org) a few years ago. I have no doubt that this is entirely somehow my own fault, but the ILLF’s never really caught on either.

    But absolutely – it would be great if someone somehow somewhere could figure out how to get a successful Libertarian PAC operating. To this point, it seems that somehow the money is never there.

    Oh, and about that education versus politics thing – for the past decade or so I’ve told just about any LPer that would listen these two things:
    1) I’m not nearly smart enough to know what strategy is going to ultimately work, and
    2) I do know that people ought to work on whatever they believe in because that’s the only way they’ll be motivated enough to see it through the tough times.

  31. Stephen Gordon Says:

    The Libertarian National Congressional Committee (LNCC) is only approaching winnable lower level races, the last I heard.

    I’ve never received a fundraising appeal from them.

  32. Executive Detractor Says:

    Oh look! Looks like the Texas Libertarians are pursuing a paper candidacy “spam the voters” campaign strategy again.
    http://lptexas.org/release-20080102.shtml

    Obviously the Benedictards in Texas aren’t serious about winning elections. What a joke. I fail to see the correlation between bumper stickers and electing candidates to office.

    Can we form a PAC called “Wes Benedict is a Retard” focused on getting him and his failed strategies fired from the Libertarian Party?

  33. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Wes, I’m sure someone already has a Gortard PAC going somewhere or another.

    I’ll bet I can raise more money for the Gortard PAC than you can raise for the Benedictard PAC.

    Since we actually accomplish more than the people who founded those PACs, perhaps they’ll hire us to direct them. :)

  34. Wes Benedict Says:

    Executive Detractor,

    PACs in Texas can pursue just about anything. They can be focused on electing certain people to office, passing initiatives, or yes, even influencing the LP Texas convention to elect a committee that was hell bent on firing me (or perhaps I should say, freeing me from my services offered).

    Anyway, try not to be such a prick about it and you might get more supporters.

    The key point with a PAC again is that those who found it and fund it can do just about whatever they want. They just have to file some paperwork, and despite all the whining about campaign finance laws in Texas, the reality is that the paperwork is no more complicated than a typical travel expense report filed with your employer (assuming you have one—I’m beginning to wonder if you’re employable based on your behavior).

    Disinter and Steve Gordon, I assume you both still know who’s hiding behind the Executive Detractor name (forgot the online term for secret name).

  35. Executive Detractor Says:

    Wes Benedict, don’t call me a prick. You’re the arrogant know-it-all prick!

    Steve, sorry, but this guy is a classic example of what’s wrong with the Libertarian Party. Does he have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than post on blogs? What a joke.

    What’s next?

    Wes says:
    The Pope’s my Daddy?!

  36. Executive Detractor Says:

    Steve says:
    Now, back to the next upcoming Libertarian Lists presidential survey.

    Wes says:
    Steve, if I may (and if Executive Detractor will cool his beans for a moment), I have been concerned that the design of some of your presidential surveys in the past were worded in a way that didn’t get responses that adequately reflected the opinion of Libertarian respondents. Executive Detractor will probably insult me for saying this, but I’m going to anyway: if you’re willing, I’d like to review the survey just to provide some feedback upfront in case I see something that strikes me as misleading. And please, I recognize, any feedback I give is only free advice. You’re not obligated to take my advice and I might not actually have any useful advice (Executive Detractor—feel free to insert insult here).

    Sigh!

  37. Wes Benedict Says:

    Oops. The comment above was from Wes Benedict, not Executive Detractor. Pardon the typo. Leading a double life has its risks.

  38. Wes Benedict Says:

    Oh, I’m still awaiting clarification on the “education” issue.

    Do you, or don’t you agree that my stance presented above on “global warming” was 100% uneducational?

    OK, I’m going to up this a notch and ask Robert Milnes what he thinks.

  39. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    I wrote:

    “Internal conflict may be a bigger overhead cost for us than it for other parties, but that goes with trying to be a libertarian party. Since I’m not interested in working with a nonlibertarian party (been there, done that, tshirt just didn’t fit), I’m willing to put up with that overhead.”

    To which you reply:

    “I’d rather reduce the overhead in order to increase the profit margin.”

    The profit is enacting public policy of a specific kind (libertarian). Without the overhead of determining what constitutes that kind of public policy, there’s no way to tell if there’s a profit or not. It’s like trying to do business without being willing to learn to distinguish between $5 bills, $20 bills, and IOUs your little sister wrote in crayon on the back of napkins.

  40. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Tom,

    For the most part, we are still writing IOUs in crayon. Some of us would like to change that.

  41. disinter Says:

    Do I laugh, or do I cry?

  42. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Wes,

    Pop me a line on helping with the survey. You’ve got my number, I’m sure.

  43. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    Can soneone please fill me in on what the definition of educational as used in the context of this discussion means?

    If I am running for Congress and am critical of the Federal Reserve
    and develop a pamphlet about the history of inflation to support my criticism and my campaign is that educational and thus prohibitted, or is it politicing? How about if I use that same infomation in a news release, or in debate? Is there a difference? Please clue this clueless libertarian in.

    Thanks,

    MHW

  44. Wes Benedict Says:

    Disinter,

    I recommend laughing. Crying is depressing. Although doing both at the same time can be emotionally liberating—I’ve done it, but please don’t tell anyone.

    Back on the PAC. I believe you can form a PAC all by yourself that gives you 100% control and you can raise funds from others to support it. However, I wouldn’t recommend you just go out and form a PAC without a plan.

    First, I’d recommend identifying a specific candidate or two to support. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with that because I don’t know one running that is likely to win. I wish as much as anyone in Texas that there was a candidate running in a race where significant support would result in the candidate winning. I’m all for running candidates that can win. In the absence of finding candidates that can win, I support running candidates across the board to help publicize the Libertarian Party and build our percentages from 2 to 3%.

    Find someone to run for a winnable non-partisan race and I’ll probably throw some cash at them myself.

  45. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    WB writes: “Disinter and Steve Gordon, I assume you both still know who’s hiding behind the Executive Detractor name (forgot the online term for secret name).”

    Sock puppet mean anything, or is that what young boys use to cover up their manhood with at night?

    MHW

  46. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Wes: For example, Capozzi, rather than flipping out that some Libertarian somewhere might be engaging in some educatation, Capozzi could simply not participate in that activity which he finds so abominable, but instead could go politic 100% with like-minded politiccers.

    Bob: Hmm, have I “flipped out”? You might consider reading up on the concept of psychological projection, “Benedict.” Of course if someone wishes to spend their time educating people about their view of political philosophy, I wish them great success. It’s true that I would suggest they not resort to LaRouchie tactics, but I don’t find even that “abominable.” I do find it ineffective, and a poor use of resources.

    Sales and marketing necessarily involves some education of the customer. Politicking involves some educating of voters. In this context, your “either/or thinking” misses the forest for the trees, I’d suggest.

    Wes, if you haven’t gotten the hint, I’d prefer to be referred to as Bob. Calling me by my last name seems awfully disrespectful and schoolyard. Of course, do what you will, for whatever reason you wish.

  47. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Steve G. and Tom B.,

    Yes, Steve has summed things up nicely.

    Putting it another way, in a different forum, Susan Hogarth, leader of the Radical Caucus, told me point blank that I am not a Libertarian, but rather a fellow traveler. Her reason is that I do not share her absolutist view of NAP.

    It’s true that I find NAP insufficient and overly simplistic. I prefer to see our limited resources focused on education through example, i.e., through good campaigns. That doesn’t mean I oppose straight party building through things like Smallest Political Quiz booths and so forth. That has its place, too. I would prefer, however, that such booths not be used to promote NAP absolutism in the name of the LP for 2 reasons:

    1) I seriously doubt that that’s an effective marketing tactic, as NAP absolutism is highly bracing to the vast majority of voters.
    2) NAP absolutism is one, but not the only, libertarian approach.

  48. severin Says:

    I think if a candidate is running in a race where there is somewhat of a chance of winning they should stay away from a broader platform designed to educate and focus on race specific issues. However, if a candidate is running in a race where they know they will not win then they should run a race to educate people.

  49. John Mills Says:

    You assert: “Using Cato’s data, one might expect that 15% of the voters are actually ideologically libertarian”

    I think that’s NOT what Cato’s data shows. Cato’s data (and Rasmussen polls) suggest that 10 to 20 percent of voting-age Americans are libertarian.

    “Voting age” Americans and “voters” are distinctly different classes.

    Because the Ds and Rs have spent 150 years identifying, organizing and getting like-minded people to the polls, voters (as a group) are overwhelmingly D and R thinking people.

    It is highly probable that almost ALL of the libertarians don’t vote – principally because they are not interested in running other people’s lives and accordingly aren’t interested in politics. I suspect this is why even highly publicized campaigns, like – for example – Ron Paul’s R campaign, or the Ed Clark campaign, or Carla Howell’s gubernatorial campaign, or Badnark’s U.S. House campaign, don’t ever get more than 2-4% of the votes.

    It is a big mistake to assume that “voters” as a group are comprised of a real cross-section of “voting age Americans” as a group.

    Modern politicing is not about changing minds or selling ideas. It is about energinzing people who already are sold on ideas and exciting them enough about the prospect of winning that they will actually bother to vote rather than sit home and mow the lawn or go to a ball game.

    What the L’s have not done is to go actually identify the like-minded Americans among us (most non-voting Americans), organize them, and energize them enough to actually turn out and vote.

    Part of the reason for anemic poll results is that we spend too much time talking to voters, and voters naturally are predominantly D and R in their thinking, and highly unlikely to change since they are motivated enough by D and R candidates to actually go out and vote. (As if their vote actually mattered to the outcome.)

  50. Stephen Gordon Says:

    You assert: “Using Cato’s data, one might expect that 15% of the voters are actually ideologically libertarian”

    I think that’s NOT what Cato’s data shows. Cato’s data (and Rasmussen polls) suggest that 10 to 20 percent of voting-age Americans are libertarian.

    “Voting age” Americans and “voters” are distinctly different classes.

    First of all, 15% is between “10 and 20 percent.”

    Source of information used: “Our new research finds that 15 percent of American voters are libertarian rather than liberal or conservative.”

    “Gallup consistently finds about 20 percent of respondents to be libertarian. We used a narrower definition, and we found that in 2004 libertarians accounted for 13 percent of the voting-age population and 15 percent of actual voters.”

  51. Carl Says:

    Several false assumptions implied above:

    1. That 15% of the voters are libertarian. More like 0.15% if you use the definition of libertarian used by Hogarth et. al
    2. That the reformers are not into education. I have switched purely to voter education, and I was a leading reformer.
    3. That the radicals are attempting voter education. They are not. They are into voter indoctrination/brainwashing.

    Using the ZAP definition of libertarianism, well less than 1% of the population qualifies. Voter education and/or indoctrination will not change this fact in the foreseeable future.

    If the definition of libertarianism is broadened to include the half the libertarian quadrant, then voter education combined with sound electoral politics has a chance.

    “Education” is about reminding people of what they already know/believe, as well as providing additional facts and threads of logic. Indoctrination is about psychologically pummeling people to the point where they suppress values once held dear in favor of the values of the new ideology. Indoctrination works within a cult. It is problematic at the national scale unless you have a totalitarian dictator.

    These days I educate. I inform people where smaller government solutions can provide them with that which they value, be it a cleaner environment, prosperity, security, etc. I have gotten out of the business of telling people that concerns of liberty/non-aggression trump all other concerns. Since I am no longer trying to indoctrinate people into a cult, a greater percentage listen, and change their minds in the direction of greater liberty.

    I can advance liberty ten times faster than a “true libertarian.” However, I will create no new libertarians as currently defined.

  52. Dave Williams Says:

    “Seriously folks, if you want to be free, simply live as if you are free. That can be dangerous when you live in a fascist police state – so grow some balls.”

    More talk about ‘balls’. Dondero is that you?

  53. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    Mr. Capozzi writes: “Leave “education” to think tanks.”

    I would appreciate an explanation of what this means. I’m sitting around here working on a couple of issues and dropping in to read when I stike a dull spot in my thinking, which occurs pretty regularly. My efforts though are in developing some issue oriented literature that candidates can hand out that provide some detail as to the problems we, as a society, face. One I am working on relates to healthcare.

    Instead of universal healthcare what would Libertarians suggest? I was handing out the LP’s most recent version of a “New Vision for America” at a show a couple of months ago, but found it to be be vague on this one issue that has been a popular issue since Truman’s time in office. Everyone wants to give us some version of universal care, but the LP’s doesn’t have much to say other than some vague words and buy Healthcare Savings Accounts. Although what I am working on would fit on one page I’m wondering if the lack of specifics on the LP part has been deliberate and if so, why and what am I missing.

    Thanks,
    MHW

  54. Jeff Wartman Says:

    I believe the future of the Libertarian Party will depend on whether or not the “Ron Paul Republican” movement takes off.

    The Paul candidacy sucked money and resources out of the LP for a short time, but if the money that we can project would normally come in starts going to Ron Paul Republicans, it’s going to be very, very hard for the LP.

  55. Brian Holtz Says:

    Michael, it’s true that “smash the state!” and “zero aggression!” are not very edifying answers to the question “Why not universal health care?” Unfortunately, the LP’s purity police have long prevented the LP from repeating many of the sensible policy prescriptions on health care that have been prescribed by various libertarian think tanks and economists. For an overview of that literature and a sample plank that the purity police would never let the LP adopt, see http://libertarianmajority.net/healthcare-plank.

  56. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Capozzi writes:
    Putting it another way, in a different forum, Susan Hogarth, leader of the Radical Caucus, told me point blank that I am not a Libertarian, but rather a fellow traveler. Her reason is that I do not share her absolutist view of NAP.

    It might help, Robert, if you used actual quotes instead of paraphrasing what you remember I wrote. That would give folks a much better idea of what I actually beleive, rather than what you think/feel/imagine I beleive. Of course, it’s possible that an accurate representation of my statements is not your goal – though I would hate to imagine that such a thing is possible.

    Some actual quotes which might make our respective positions more clear:

    You wrote (in another forum):
    I consider someone a libertarian who believes government is too big. ... The next step, it seems to me, is to codify this agreement that we Libertarians stand for reducing the size of government in the near term, AND LEAVE IT AT THAT.

    I wrote (in the same forum):
    I think that a person is more or less libertarian according to the
    amount of aggression (including taxation) he advocates. An alternative … way of phrasing it is: advocate 100% self-ownership, 100% libertarian. Advocate 0% self-ownership, 0% libertarian.

    Perhaps you’d choose other quotes to illustrate some point you wish to make – or perhaps you’ll continue making up words and assigning them to me. But the truth is much more bland and less melodramatic than you seem to making it out to be. I am willing to acknowledge and celebrate the libertarian impulse (however transitory or purely rhetorical) in figures such as Ronald Reagan. It seems that is not sufficient for you.

  57. Carl Says:

    The Libertarian Party position is:

    1. Anyone should be able to practice medicine; this would reduce doctor’s fees considerably.
    2. Anyone should be able to buy any prescription drug whatsoever.
    3. Drug companies should not have to prove efficacy of their drugs before putting them on the market.
    4. Emergency rooms should be allowed to demand money before rendering services
    5. Terminate Medicare and Medicaid next week; let charity pick up the slack.

    If the LP Radicals would be so kind as to produce a brochure boldly voicing these positions, we can get a real chance to see to what degree that issues matter.

  58. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Carl,

    Thanks once again for pointing out how easy it is to take a libertarian position and – through the miracle of hyperbole – translate it into fear-mongering rhetoric. Libertarians eat puppies! Kill babies!

    But frankly that’s boring. I – and you, I am sure – could do the same for Democrat or Republican positions. There is nothing a political organization can say that will not be distorted by its enemies. It’s kind of you to once again point this out, but if you keep doing it so persistently I would not be surprised if people begin to imagine that you yourself are one of those enemies.

    Can you provide some citations? When someone says “The Libertarian Party position is,” that suggests to me that they must be speaking of the platform as that is the canonical issue statement of a political party. The current platform doesn’t seem to address healthcare at all, and the 2004 one says this:

    http://restore04.com/2004platform.htm

    Health Care

    The Issue: Recent decades have witnessed growing government involvement in the health care system. That involvement has led to bureaucratic top-down management, rapidly escalating prices, costly regulations, the criminalization of the practice of medicine and a host of other problems. None of these problems was prevalent prior to the time when government began to increase its involvement. We believe that government involvement is the principal cause of many of the problems we face in the health care system today. The high cost of health insurance is largely due to government’s excessive regulation of the industry.

    The Principle: We recognize the right of individuals free from government interference and its harmful side effects to determine the level of insurance they want, the level of care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care. Government’s role in any kind of insurance should only be to enforce contracts when necessary, not to dictate to insurance companies and consumers which kinds of insurance contracts they may voluntarily agree upon.

    Solutions: We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We advocate a complete separation of medicine from the State. We support an end to government-provided health insurance and health care. Both of these functions can be more effectively provided in the private sector.

    Transitional Action: We oppose any government restriction or funding of medical or scientific research.

    Were I to try translating your hyperbole and negativity into a positive Libertarian message based on the ‘04 platform, I would say this:

    The Libertarian Party position is:

    1. Anyone should have the freedom be seek medical services from whichever source(s) he trusts.
    2. People should have unhampered access to the medications they and their doctors decide are best.
    3. Individuals should be free to choose the level of protection and safeguards they require for medications.
    4. No individual or business should be forced to provide medical services for another against his will.
    5. End the practice of forcing some people to pay for the medical care of others against their will.

  59. Brian Holtz Says:

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2008/03/01/the-educational-wing-of-the-libertarian-part

    Susan, are you saying you would not “terminate Medicare and Medicaid next week”? If so, then when would you terminate them? If not, then how is Carl’s characterization “fear-mongering”? As Rothbard’s “intellectual love-child”, do you oppose all timetables for destatization, or not?

    On Aug 10 you wrote to Bob: “I’m not sure that any amount of goodwill or respect toward others could honestly make me call someone who embraces the idea of initiating force against others to accomplish something they desire a libertarian.” Does your statement hold even if what “they desire” is to police aggression (e.g. through pollution taxes) or to provide access to justice (e.g. by letting the criminally accused subpoena innocent third-party witnesses)?

    Michael, do you find Susan’s five-way repetition of “get gummint out of health care” any less vague about actually addressing America’s healthcare problems than the LP literature you rightfully complained about?

  60. timothy west Says:

    1. Anyone should have the freedom be seek medical services from whichever source(s) he trusts.

    they are often not in a position to know which is best, and often not in any condition to get themselves there or even decide where that place is. I was not when I keeled over and almost died exactly 2 years ago. I had to trust others to make that choice for me. they chose to life-flight me to Georgetown University for emergency brain surgery. I lived as a result.

    2. People should have unhampered access to the medications they and their doctors decide are best.

    This could be read to interpret free drugs upon demand paid by others.

    3. Individuals should be free to choose the level of protection and safeguards they require for medications.

    WTF does that mean? Most people know nothing about the medicines they take. That’s not their job. They’re sick and in many cases incapacitated. It’s the job of their medical team to make those decisions for them. Thats what they are trained to do.

    4. No individual or business should be forced to provide medical services for another against his will.

    Then they must refuse all medical services for themselves and their family as well, because someone else always picks up a part of the tab unless and if you pay 100% advance in cash for every test, treatment, and service. It would be unprincipled to do otherwise.

    5. End the practice of forcing some people to pay for the medical care of others against their will.

    see above.

    let me give a small shout out to all the people in the LP worldview that wished me death and hoped my cancer would kill me quick. Yesterday was 2 years to the day I keeled over, and I am still here in this world, gratefully not wasting my precious time debating nutbags about nutty things.

  61. Glen Rogers Says:

    Mr. Gordon,

    The problem might be less a lack of focus and purpose but rather having marginal characters like Mr. Holtz, Mr. Capozzi and Miss Hogarth as your spokesmen is offensive to those constituencies most drawn to the small government message. As a contributor to FEE, Cato and the Reason Foundation during the 90s, I found the Libertarian Party has lost the most distinguished and accomplished people to more distinguished organizations like the Institute for Humane Studies or Liberty Fund. The vacuum of talent and leadership is largely responsible for an inability to win mayoral races or communicate the ideas to the legions of small business people and families overburdened by taxes and zoning ordinances.

    The stridency of homosexuals like Mr. Benedict, his efforts in fighting corruption in Austin, however commendable, leaves the impression that libertinism not libertarianism is at stake. Further, I am unclear as what you wish to accomplish with funds and resources toward local races unless the candidates have a grounding in more traditional libertarian economic theory. I would hesitate to support any candidate who had not read “Capitalism and Freedom” or the collected works of Leonard Read.

    Mr. Gordon, please consider the impression that this website and others makes upon those new to libertarian ideas.

    Sincerely,

    Glen Rogers
    Plano, Tx

  62. Carl Says:

    Susan, the old platform plank you cited says the same things I said, only with a sugar coating.

    Guess what: non-libertarians are capable of seeing through the BS.

    If you can honestly make the case that a system that allows incompetents to play doctor, patients practice pharmacology and charity pick up the tab for all the indigent would be better than what we have today, then go for it. But don’t hide what you are truly advocating.

    There are plenty of negatives to the current system—regulations are indeed excessive. But resorting completely to after-the-fact jury trials vs. some preemptive action by regulators informed by science is quite problematic. We got the FDA for reasons.

    If the LP were to argue for getting rid of counter productive regulations, and provide avenues by which patients could assume more risks after proving they they know what they are getting into, then such a position would be viable. But such a position is nowhere close to “separation of medice from state.”

    One of the reasons I left the LP is because it is filled with people who believe that ordinary people are competent to own artillery and do their own brain surgery while at the same time believing that these same people are too retarded to read between the lines of a sugar coated anarchist platform.

  63. Susan Hogarth Says:

    If you can honestly make the case that a system that allows incompetents to play doctor, patients practice pharmacology and charity pick up the tab for all the indigent would be better than what we have today, then go for it.

    You say that as if the current system does not “allow incompetents to play doctor”, “patients [to] practice pharmacology,” and “charity pick[s] up the tab for all the indigent “.

    Are you living in a different world than I am? Where is this socialist utopia of which you speak? It certainly isn’t the US of A.

    One of the reasons I left the LP is because it is filled with people who believe that ordinary people are competent to own artillery and do their own brain surgery…

    One of the reasons I am no longer a statist is because statists believe that politicians are competent to decide who gets to own artillery and who gets to do brain surgery.

    News flash: politicians ARE “ordinary people”.

  64. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Brian,

    I do oppose timetables. Yes, I’d push the button to end Medicare and Medicaid immediately if the button existed. In the absence of a button, I will work to end them as time, resources, and will allow.

    On Aug 10 you wrote to Bob: “I’m not sure that any amount of goodwill or respect toward others could honestly make me call someone who embraces the idea of initiating force against others to accomplish something they desire a libertarian.” Does your statement hold even if…?

    Yes.

  65. Brian Holtz Says:

    Carl, are you saying that informed consenting adults should not be allowed to try medicines not approved by the federal government? Nobody is denying the possibility of deceit and asymmetric information in the pharmaceuticals market, but I don’t see any need for government intervention other than to police fraud and perhaps protect an extremely limited form of patent rights. Why do you think that a combination of fraud case law and secondary markets (e.g. Consumer Reports) wouldn’t eliminate the need for an FDA? You should check out http://www.fdareview.org/, a project of the brilliant libertarian economists Dan Klein and Alex Tabarrok.

    Susan, you didn’t answer my question about how Carl’s characterization of you terminating Medicare/Medicaid is “fear-mongering”. Thank you for in effect admitting you consider to be non-libertarian anyone isn’t an anarchist. You earlier gave a contradictory but much more defensible definition that “a person is more or less libertarian according to the amount of aggression (including taxation) he advocates.” I would counter that a person is more or less libertarian according to the aggregate amount of aggression that would be 1) conducted by the political structures she advocates and 2) enabled by the absence of the political structures she opposes.

    In other words, I think libertarianism is more about opposing aggression than it is about abstaining from it. For example, I don’t agree that it’s optimally libertarian to give a green light to all aggression where the damage it causes is less than the cost to the victim of targeting, contesting, winning, and enforcing a tort claim against the aggressor—assuming the victim is even able to bear those costs. Steve Kubby calls pollution taxes “the fox guarding the chicken coop”, but his alternative is to declare open season on baby chicks if they’re small enough.

    We can debate the merits of taxing aggression all you want, but the larger point here is that you apparently admit you want to monopolize the label “libertarian” for only one of the various principled schools of libertarianism—viz., anarchism. Since your Radical Caucus is devoted to “educating LP members about the Party’s core principles”, perhaps you could clarify if there are any positions regarding these 17 free variables in libertarian theory that also disqualify one from being a Hogarth-certified libertarian: http://libertarianmajority.net/free-variables-in-libertarian-theory.

    Glen Rogers wrote

    ) The problem might be less a lack of focus and purpose but rather having marginal characters like Mr. Holtz, Mr. Capozzi and Miss Hogarth as your spokesmen is offensive to those constituencies most drawn to the small government message. (

    Glen, please quote anything I’ve ever said that you think is “offensive to those constituencies most drawn to the small government message”. Regarding “economic theory”, I would love for you to point me to the places in “the collected works of Leonard Read” where he deals with developments like

    – The 1939 generalization of Pareto optimality by Kaldor and Hicks to launch modern welfare economics; – The 1950 formalization of the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the subsequent avalanche of developments in game theory; – Arrow’s 1951 impossibility theorem, leading to Sen’s 1970 liberal paradox; – The 1953 discovery of the Allais paradox, and many subsequent discoveries about bounded rationality and cognitive bias and the development of Prospect Theory by Tversky and Khaneman in 1979;
    Samuelson’s 1954 formalization of the theory of public goods; – Tiebout’s 1956 theorem about the optimal local provision of public goods;
    Coase’s 1959 proof that markets can handle negative externalities only in the absence of transaction costs; – The 1962 creation of public choice theory by Buchanan and Tullock; and
    Arrow’s 1963 formalization of the problem of asymmetric information.

  66. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    Brian those last two paragraphs have sent me to find some old texts. Whew!

    Be that as it may, I am not sure which catagory some would place me, but I did get up in front of the Chamber of Commerce in the city I was living in during 1983 and said something like ” the function of government is to insure justice and provide adequate liablity laws. All else can be provided through free and open markets”. I was running for city council at the time and got a lot of laughs, but not many votes.

    I also realize that the voters need to develop some confidence in our party before they will begin to vote for us in large enough number. Kind of like taking small step and then bigger ones. That being the case it is important for us to take the time to explain ourselves in clear language. Now is that education, or is it politicing? That was my original question and still is.

    I do think from what I have read that our platform and much of the literature needs to be written by people with some knowledge of the subject and with some writting skills. I do think that a good deal of the past work was well intentioned, but lacking. I cited the new hand out and the inadequate information on healthcare. Much of what is written in that piece is vague. The only thing that is specific is the comment about medical saving accounts.

    When we mention that occupational licensing laws need to be repealed we should support that point by mentioning studies such as the one on the American Nursing Assoc. website that suggest that nurses can do about 80% of what doctors do, or that midwives deliver about 75% of infants in Europe at lower costs and with less complications than doctors. Here in the states midwives only deliver about 10% of infants. Maybe we should specifically mention the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1948 (?) that prohibits the Federal Government from regulating insurance comapanies, but allows the states to regulate them. This may have the effect of balkanizing the industry and not just for medical insurance. We need to discuss whether repealing this one act will have an impact that benefits consumers with all the types of insurance they buy.

    And I don’t know if any of you are aware of the diaper free movement amongst some parents, but some have suggested that diapers are not good for children. Now is placing a diaper on a child an act of aggression? In all seriousness the discussion can devolve to those types of issues, or we can build something and work to improve it as we go along and develop some confidence with the voters.

    Hope to see many of you in Denver. My question on education is still unanswered from what I read. BTW Benjamin Rush the first Surgeon General of the U.S. was against occupational licensing and occupational licensing laws were part of the post Civil War Black Codes. They were and are intended to keep out the competition and maybe we should refer to them as the last of the Jim Crow Laws. That might get us a bit of P.R.

    One step at a time, but let’s keep stepping out.

    MHW

  67. timothy west Says:

    “Thank you for in effect admitting you consider to be non-libertarian anyone isn’t an anarchist.”

    An anarchist cannot admit to considering political structures as viable and needed,
    if they do they’re not an anarchist.

    hence the eternal LP enigma. How do people who dont believe in nationhood, government, the rule of law, etc. run candidates for the very governmental offices they despise?

  68. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Holtz,
    Carl’s characterization is (in my opinion, of course) fear-mongering because it stresses the risks that come with freedom over the benefits. I prefer to emphasize the benefits and the moral rightness of freedom. I prefer to speak to hope rather than to fear. I’m a hope-monger, I guess.

    Holtz writes:

    ...I don’t agree that it’s optimally libertarian to give a green light to all aggression where the damage it causes is less than the cost to the victim ….

    I believe you are confounding the idea of ‘freedom’ with ‘giv[ing] a green light to all aggression’. Allowing people the freedom to aggress is not the same thing as encouraging aggression.

    Holtz writes:

    I would counter that a person is more or less libertarian according to the aggregate amount of aggression that would be 1) conducted by the political structures she advocates and 2) enabled by the absence of the political structures she opposes.

    That might be a good definition for an omniscient being who could See All and Know All and understand perfectly the interplay between cause-and-effect perfectly – oh, and who could predict how individual humans with their supposedly free will would react as well. But you’ve got to wonder how such a being could be so clever and yet find it necessary to slaughter innocents to minimize ‘the aggregate amount of aggression’.

    But I’m afraid my Magic 8 Ball isn’t good enough for that sort of moral calculus, so I’ll have to content myself with trying not to aggress at all. I guess I just don’t have the moral fortitude necessary in your opinion to murder tens of thousands of innocents to save what I might believe to be hundreds of thousands of other innocents (ref: Nagasaki, Hiroshima). I’ll have to leave that sort of moral superiority to you and Mr Truman:

    blog.360.yahoo.com/knowinghumans?p=187

    and will instead stick with the simple belief that it’s wrong to aggress against innocents. I think the world would be better with more non-aggressors than Trumans. I can only strive to add a “+1” to the non-aggressors column, and convince others to join me.

  69. Carl Says:

    Brian, I don’t think new, poorly tested drugs should be on the same shelves as the old cold remedies and the vitamins. The number of people who love to play Shaman is huge. See http://www.vibemachine.com for a particularly silly example.

    That said, I agree that nurses, PAs and midwifes can do much that currently requires a full fledged doctor. But these still require considerable training.

    And I think that very ill people should be able to experiment on themselves with new drugs after jumping through some hoops to make it clear that they know what they are getting into. And I don’t think antibiotics should be over the counter; indiscriminate use of antibiotics is a form of germ warfare. In fact, I’d even crack down on overuse of antibiotics in farm animals.

    It is silly that we don’t accept drugs for approval after they have already been on the market for years in other first world countries. And we need an easier track for approval of new uses for old drugs.
    —-

    A good criterion for whether to regulate/license is reversibility. A bad haircut is reversable. Licensing of barbers and beauticians should be limited to safety concerns such as how to avoid spreading lice.
    ——
    Susan: emphasizing the good side of a proposal works for a few seconds. Then, people figure out the full implications of what is being said. Ignoring the fact that governments do perform useful services doesn’t mean those services don’t exist.

    The real test of a proposal is what is the net benefit. For every government program there are costs. For many there are also benefits. Statists focus on the benefits; you focus on the costs.

    Let’s try being honest and look at both with as much objectivity as possible. Get out of the Spin Zone.

  70. random reader Says:

    Regulated drugs, medicine, antibiotics. Carl would have been ok with timothy dying just as long as no alternative medicine was used. Got it. Glad the assholistic libertarian is on the side of the brain tumor.

  71. Carl Says:

    Random reader: learn how to read. Timothy is alive because he was taken care of by qualified licensed practitioners, who had serious training.

    Alternative medicine for recommending diet, vitamins, etc. is acceptable because the effects are slow one way or another. Reversibility. Ditto for most herbs on the market.

    I am quite a fan of natural diets and other bits of alternative medicine. This is why I am as familiar as I am with the number of whack jobs practicing alternative medicine, people who are clueless regarding the scientific method. (And even with diets, some people end up killing themselves with alternative dietary fanaticism. See http://www.beyondveg.com/ a very interesting site.)

    If the practicioner is calling for more carrot juice, it’s not that big a deal if carrot juice proves ineffective. Carrot juice have a very lot toxicity and is generally healthy in moderate doses. New drugs out of the labs are a whole nuther story.

    Unless a drug is incredibly effective (like penicillin), double-blind studies are required to determine efficacy. Placebo effects and other noise can swamp the signal. The FDA understands this problem more than the average consumer.

    That said, the shamanic method also finds useful drugs. But it also finds false positives—which can be very dangerous when you are talking synthetic drugs.

    I recommend reading Forbes magazine regularly. Quite often a promising new drug featured one month will turn out to be a dud upon further study.

  72. Susan Hogarth Says:

    The real test of a proposal is what is the net benefit. For every government program there are costs. For many there are also benefits. Statists focus on the benefits; you focus on the costs.

    The real test of a proposal – from a libertarian viewpoint – is whether it is voluntary or involuntary.

  73. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    Well so far no progress here. Of to do some real work.

    MHW

  74. Brian Holtz Says:

    Susan, you can spin it all you want, but the bottom line is that you don’t have the courage of your convictions if you call it “fear-mongering” for Carl to straightforwardly report that you would terminate Medicare and Medicaid next week if you could.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree over whether it’s “encouraging” micro-aggression when you announce that henceforth, micro-aggression will only be policed when its victims are willing to pay for targeting, contesting, winning, and enforcing a tort claim the cost of which is many orders of magnitude higher than the cost of the damages involved. This one is just too obvious to bother debating.

    It’s also simply laughable to suggest that it would require “an omniscient being who could See All and Know All and understand perfectly the interplay between cause-and-effect perfectly” to know whether letting tailpipe emissions go un-taxed would lead to more of them than otherwise. If the future is such an impenetrable opaque void to you, maybe you should end your campaign for LNC and leave the steering of the Party to people who can see far enough into the future to anticipate whether maybe—just maybe—the sun might rise tomorrow morning.

    We’re talking about taxing gasoline so that a million micro-aggressing commuters don’t create so much of the smog I see as I type this looking out over Silicon Valley. Your comment about “murder[ing] tens of thousands of innocents” is of course a red-herring attempt to change the subject, but I’m happy to point readers to the debate you lost with me over how/whether to end the Japanese empire’s genocidal war of aggression: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marketliberal/message/2393.

    I completely agree that the “only” thing you advocate doing against aggression is “add[ing] a ‘+1’ to the non-aggressors column”—and that’s why I think you’re not as libertarian as I am. I know you feel the opposite is the case. The most important difference between us remains that you think the LP’s foundational texts should declare your clean-hands principles to be more libertarian than my anti-aggression principles, whereas I hold that the LP should be more ecumenical in cases where people like you and me each think that the other hasn’t come far enough on the path of libertarian intellectual development.

  75. Brian Holtz Says:

    Carl, if putting two drugs together on the same shelf is a bad idea, it’s bad because doing so is fraudulently deceptive, and so can be handled simply by policing fraud.

    Indiscriminate use of antibiotics isn’t quite “germ warfare”, but I agree it involves a negative externality that can qualify as aggression. The flip side of that coin is encouraging contagion by not fighting germs hard enough. Prevention of contagion and conflagration and floods, by addressing the “holdout” market failure, is one of the very few forms of pure public goods (like national defense) that in my judgment merit government intervention. For details, see the handy table at http://libertarianmajority.net/public-and-private-goods.

    Susan is correct to criticize you for suggesting “net benefit” as the way to evaluate any government intervention. I wouldn’t even agree that a government intervention is justified merely because it is Kaldor-Hicks efficient. However, her anarchistic criterion of “voluntariness” is inadequate too. The way for a libertarian to judge a government intervention is to ask whether it is both 1) Kaldor-Hicks efficient and 2) effective at protecting life, liberty, and property. This combines both your idea and Susan’s, while avoiding the Scylla of nanny-statism and the Charybdis of anarchism.

    Alas, concepts like Kaldor-Hicks efficiency and pure public goods require about 100 words to explain, and so they are much less politically viable than concepts like “provide any net benefit” or “never initiate force”. The real trick in politics is to design political institutions and processes that 1) implement the political principles that the local primates would want if they understood them while 2) not disenfranchising them.

  76. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Holtz:
    It’s also simply laughable to suggest that it would require “an omniscient being who could See All and Know All and understand perfectly the interplay between cause-and-effect perfectly” to know whether letting tailpipe emissions go un-taxed would lead to more of them than otherwise. ...
    We’re talking about taxing gasoline so that a million micro-aggressing commuters don’t create so much of the smog I see as I type this looking out over Silicon Valley.

    Yes, and there could not possibly be any unintended consequences of making pollution a major revenue source for the state.

  77. Brian Holtz Says:

    Susan Hogarth wrote:
    SH) there could not possibly be any unintended consequences of making pollution a major revenue source for the state. (SH
    Nice try. Unfortunately, the theory of government failure says just that governments TEND to suffer certain failures, whereas the theory of market failure demonstrates that markets CANNOT AVOID certain failures—like the pollution negative externalities that pretty much everybody but you knows are inevitable if regulated only by torts.

    Sorry, but you’ve picked precisely the worst possible place and time in all of human history to peddle the theory that systematic government failure is more inevitable and more ruinous than systematic market failure in the area of environmental negative externalities. You’re asking for a complete overturning of how this polity—uniquely successful in all of human history—provides for its common defense and secures its members’ right to life, liberty, and property. According to the three leading indices of freedom, only 13 nations (out of almost 200) are currently more free than America. America’s constitutional republican framework has been by far the most successful in human history. It has been increasing personal and civil liberties almost monotonically for two centuries, and we are among the most economically free nations in the world, with a per-capita GDP exceeded only by Norway and Luxembourg. Our 300 million people live and work in a continent-wide nation with a $13 trillion economy built on a twenty-first century technological infrastructure. By contrast, anarcholibertarians can merely wave toward a couple of medieval island nations with populations and population densities four orders of magnitude less than those of modern industrialized states. As great as America is, we have detailed, redundant, and current empirical evidence backing up the mainstream findings of modern economic science about how market-oriented reforms within the statist framework can make America even more free and even more prosperous. Anarcholibertarians have nothing of the kind to support their moralizing a priori claim that America would be a better place if we completely dismantled our system of rights protection in favor of a promise by liberty-lovers to set a good example of aggression abstinence.
    It would be untenable to deny that history provides many examples of situations in which there was no functioning monopoly on force-initiation over a significant region for a significant period of time, for any non-embarrassing standard of significance. I’ve never heard of a single case in the entire history of organized crime across hundreds of cities in scores of nations over multiple decades in which the unregulated market for protection behaved remotely like what is predicted by anarcholibertarian theory. This track record becomes even more dismal if you include all the cases in history in which there have been regions lacking effective sovereignty by a central authority. This amounts to an empirical falsification of the anarcholibertarian theory of protection markets that by the standards of social science is spectacularly conclusive.

    Every single episode in which there wasn’t a monopoly on force-initiation over a region becomes a test case for anarcholibertarianism. Despite the literally hundreds of such test cases, the only purported successes advanced for the theory involve a few thousand pre-industrial farmers sprinkled sparsely across medieval Iceland and the frontier of colonial Pennsylvania. In contrast to how even bastard forms of minarchism have been so spectacularly successful compared to all other significant social experiments, the track record of anarcholibertarianism is simply embarrassing.

  78. Susan Hogarth Says:

    As great as America is, we have detailed, redundant, and current empirical evidence backing up the mainstream findings of modern economic science about how market-oriented reforms within the statist framework can make America even more free and even more prosperous.

    But will the trains run on time?

  79. Brian Holtz Says:

    Nothing self-certifies one’s non-seriousness like invoking American “fascism” or “Islamo-fascism” or “Outright Nazis” etc. Move over Godwin, you’ve been superceded by what I hereby dub Hogarth’s Law: “As a libertarian discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving fascism approaches one.”

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