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The GOP Is Not Your Savior | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Unfortunately, the answer is that the Republicans would not have saved us, and for two reasons, one historical and the other philosophical: (1) Republicans have never saved us from the bad policies and programs of Democrats, regardless of whether they had partial or total control of the government and could have done something, and (2) Republicans are philosophically not much different from Democrats, regardless of how often and how loud they recite their conservative mantra about the Constitution, the free market, limited government, federalism, traditional values, free enterprise, a balanced budget, individual freedom, free trade, and property rights.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-gop-is-not-your-savior/

by Laurence Vance

If Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) had not gotten sick and resigned his Senate seat, then the title of this article would have been “Will the Republicans Save Us?”

After serving in the Georgia state house and senate, Isakson served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2016. Although his Senate term did not expire until January 2023, in August 2019 he announced that because of his Parkinson’s disease and other health challenges, he was resigning his Senate seat effective at the end of 2019. Under Georgia law, the governor—Brian Kemp, a Republican—was allowed to make an appointment to fill the unexpired term until the next regularly scheduled statewide election (November 3, 2020). He selected Republican Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), who had never held political office. She assumed office in January 2020.

Under Georgia election law, all candidates for a special election, regardless of their political party, compete in a “jungle primary” where every name is on the November general election ballot. If no candidate in what is usually a crowded field receives more than 50 percent of the vote, then a runoff election is conducted in January. All told, there were twenty-one candidates—including a write-in candidate who received seven votes—most of whom received less than 1 percent of the vote. Loeffler finished second in the special election with 25.9 percent of the vote. That is why she was in the January 5 runoff election for the Senate seat she held at the time. But although Loeffler claimed to be the most conservative Republican in the Senate, and was considered to be the richest member of the Senate, she lost in the runoff election to the Democrat Raphael Warnock by the slim margin of 50.8 to 49.2 percent.

It is because of this special election that Georgia was the only state to hold two Senate elections in 2020. In the Senate, the 100 senators are divided into three classes with staggered terms. Thus, only one-third of the Senate seats are contested at any election, and never more than one Senate seat in a state. In the regular Senate race in Georgia, the incumbent Republican David Perdue—the cousin of former Georgia governor and Trump administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue—was seeking a second term. But as he received only 49.7 percent of the vote (47.9 percent went for Democrat Jon Ossoff and 2.3 percent went for Libertarian Shane Hazel), Georgia law required a runoff election between the top two candidates. But in the January 5 runoff election, Ossoff defeated Perdue by a margin of 50.4 to 49.6 percent.

Winning these two Georgia Senate seats is how the Democrats wrested control of the Senate from the Republicans, who had controlled the Senate since January 2015. Prior to the Georgia runoff election, there were 50 Republicans in the Senate and 48 Democrats (including the two independent members of the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who caucus with the Democrats). So now that the Senate is tied 50-50, the Democratic vice president, the former senator Kamala Harris, gets to cast the tie-breaking vote, effectively giving Democrats control of the Senate.

The Democrats

One-party control of the government is dangerous. Gridlock in the Congress helps prevent one party — whether Democrats or Republicans — from exercising unbridled power. Thus, even if one Georgia Senate seat had been won by a Republican, it could have stopped bad legislation proposed by Democrats from passing (assuming that all of the Senate Republicans voted together). But the reality is that life under Democratic rule will be especially dangerous to privacy, liberty, and property.

Now, we know that the Democratic Party for many years has been the party of liberalism, progressivism, collectivism, socialism, paternalism, statism, environmentalism, “social justice,” economic egalitarianism, organized labor, taxpayer-funded abortion, public education, climate change, affirmative action, welfare, higher taxes on the “rich,” universal single-payer health care, increased government regulation of the economy and society, increased government spending, larger and more-intrusive government, and assorted income-transfer programs and wealth-redistribution schemes. The Democratic solution to every problem, injustice, or crisis — real, imaginary, or contrived—is invariably more government, more government intervention, or more government money.

The Democratic Party is not just going to pick up where it left off at the end of the Obama administration. Democrats in Congress will stop at nothing to achieve their agenda. The Democratic Party of today is even more radical than it was twelve years ago during the first two years of Obama’s first term, which was the last time that Democrats had total control of the federal government (House, Senate, presidency).

What’s On the Table

In an episode of “The Libertarian Angle” recorded just two days after the Electoral College vote was certified, Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger and Citadel professor Richard Ebeling examined the question of life under Democratic control and it was not a pretty picture they painted. According to Hornberger and Ebeling, we are going to see massive increases in federal spending, and the debt ceiling rendered totally irrelevant; massive foreign intervention, since Biden is essentially owned by the national-security state; increased focus on official enemies, expansion of the role of the military in American life, expansion of the welfare state, the revitalization of Obamacare, the attempt to implement a full-fledged government health-care system, and the expansion of the war on drugs (a war that Biden supported when he was vice president and Harris supported as a prosecutor); increased federal regulations, massive welfare-state socialism, a more centrally planned economy, massive debauchery of the currency, tax increases, increased anti-trust enforcement, a national increase in the minimum wage, elements of the “green new deal,” and emphasis on equality of outcomes and proportional representation of minorities in all groups; and more money creation by the Fed, increased inflation, wage and price controls to combat inflation, and a more interventionist foreign policy. They concluded that under a Biden administration, everything is on the table that could be a danger to our liberty, privacy, income, wealth, property, and freedom in the marketplace.

To this we can certainly add increased deficit spending, further increases in the national debt, unrestricted funding for Planned Parenthood, loosened restrictions on taxpayer-funded abortions, increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, expanded gun-control laws, a federal family-leave policy, government-funded child care, increased resources devoted to fighting climate change, increased violation of privacy and civil liberties in response to the coronavirus, fewer welfare-work requirements, and increased promotion of the transgender movement.

On the basis of statements in the 2020 Democratic Party platform, the recommendations in the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations,” and statements from Biden himself, we can also look forward to extended unemployment benefits, a $15 per hour minimum wage, and more-generous refundable tax credits that give even more Americans tax refunds of money that they never paid in; increased funding for food stamps, WIC, and school-meal programs; greater “investment” in mass transit and transportation public-works projects, “fair” trade policies and deals, expanded farm and housing subsidies, a national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings and vehicles, and “environmental justice”; increases in corporate tax rates, aggressive attempts to increase the supply of “affordable” housing, increased government efforts to close the racial wealth gap, increased spending on K-12 education, tuition-free college, increased federal education grants, extended student-loan payment suspension, and student-debt relief; and making Washington, D.C., the 51st state, an increased push for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, the ending of cash bail, the passing of an Equal Rights Amendment, increased condemnation of “hate speech,” the reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act, the securing of equal pay for women, and increased funding for arts and culture.

The Republicans

Read the rest here

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation

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The Libertarian Movement Needs a Kick in the Pants – Reason.com

Posted by M. C. on January 3, 2020

Jacob Hornberger of the Foundation For Freedom says he will campaign as a Libertarian. Best news in a while.

https://reason.com/2020/01/03/the-libertarian-movement-needs-a-kick-in-the-pants/

In a provocative yet thoughtful manifesto, economist Tyler Cowen, a major figure in libertarian circles, offers a harsh assessment of his ideological confreres:

Having tracked the libertarian “movement” for much of my life, I believe it is now pretty much hollowed out, at least in terms of flow. One branch split off into Ron Paul-ism and less savory alt right directions, and another, more establishment branch remains out there in force but not really commanding new adherents.  For one thing, it doesn’t seem that old-style libertarianism can solve or even very well address a number of major problems, most significantly climate change. For another, smart people are on the internet, and the internet seems to encourage synthetic and eclectic views, at least among the smart and curious. Unlike the mass culture of the 1970s, it does not tend to breed “capital L Libertarianism.” On top of all that, the out-migration from narrowly libertarian views has been severe, most of all from educated women.

As an antidote, Cowen champions what he calls “State Capacity Libertarianism,” which holds that a large, growing government does not necessarily come at the expense of fundamental individual rights, pluralism, and the sort of economic growth that leads to continuously improved living standards. Most contemporary libertarians, he avers, believe that big government and freedom are fundamentally incompatible, to which he basically answers, Look upon Denmark and despair: “Denmark should in fact have a smaller government, but it is still one of the freer and more secure places in the world, at least for Danish citizens albeit not for everybody.”

In many ways, Cowen’s post condenses his recent book Stubborn Attachments, in which he argues politics should be organized around respect for individual rights and limited government; policies that encourage long-term, sustainable economic growth; and an acknowledgement that some problems (particularly climate change) need to be addressed at the state rather than individual level. You can listen to a podcast I did with him here or read a condensed interview with him here. It’s an excellent book that will challenge readers of all ideological persuasions. There’s a ton to disagree with in it, but it’s a bold, contrarian challenge to conventional libertarian attitudes, especially the idea that growth in government necessarily diminishes living standards…

Cowen is also misguided in his call for increasing the size, scope, and spending of government. “Our governments cannot address climate change, much improve K-12 education, fix traffic congestion,” he writes, attributing such outcomes to “failures of state capacity”—both in terms of what the state can dictate and in terms of what it can spend. This is rather imprecise. Whatever your beliefs and preferences might be on a given issue, the scale (and cost) of addressing, say, climate change is massive compared to delivering basic education, and with the latter at least, there’s no reason to believe that more state control or dollars will create positive outcomes. More fundamentally, Cowen conflates libertarianism with political and partisan identities, affiliations, and outcomes. I think a better way is to define libertarian less as a noun or even a fixed, rigid political philosophy and more as an adjective or “an outlook that privileges things such as autonomy, open-mindedness, pluralism, tolerance, innovation, and voluntary cooperation over forced participation in as many parts of life as possible.” I’d argue that the libertarian movement is far more effective and appealing when it is cast in pre-political and certainly pre-partisan terms…

Our polemic, later expanded into the book The Declaration of Independents, was as much aspirational as descriptive, but it captured a sense that even as Washington was about to embark on a phenomenal growth spurt—continued and expanded by the Obama administration in all sorts of ways, from the creation of new entitlements to increases in regulation to expansions of surveillance—many aspects of our lives were improving. As conservatives and liberals went dark and apocalyptic in the face of the economic crisis and stalled-out wars and called for ever greater control over how we live and do business, libertarians brought an optimism, openness, and confidence about the future that suggested a different way forward. By the middle of 2014, The New York Times was even asking on the cover of its weekly magazine, “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment Finally Arrived?

That question was loudly answered in the negative as the bizarre 2016 presidential season got underway and Donald Trump appeared on the horizon like Thanos, blocking out the sun and destroying all that lay before him. By early 2016, George Will was looking upon the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton and declaring that we were in fact not in a libertarian moment but an authoritarian one, regardless of which of those monsters ended up in the White House. In front of 2,000 people gathered for the Students for Liberty’s annual international conference, Will told Matt and me:

[Donald Trump] believes that government we have today is not big enough and that particularly the concentration of power not just in Washington but Washington power in the executive branch has not gone far enough….Today, 67 percent of the federal budget is transfer payments….The sky is dark with money going back and forth between client groups served by an administrative state that exists to do very little else but regulate the private sector and distribute income. Where’s the libertarian moment fit in here?

With the 2020 election season kicking into high gear, apocalypticism on all sides will only become more intense than it already is…

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Deceived in Liberty: The Curse of American Nationalism – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 16, 2019

Hamilton was the most despotic in this regard. Rothbard quotes him as saying, “We must establish a general and national government, completely sovereign, and annihilate the state distinctions and state operations.”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/11/thomas-dilorenzo/deceived-in-liberty-the-curse-of-american-nationalism/

By

All governmental power is propped up by an avalanche of myths and superstitions about the alleged benevolence, omniscience, honesty, selflessness, and magnanimity of the state, coupled with critiques if not outright demonization of private property, free market voluntarism, private enterprise, limited government, the rule of law, the free society, and all those who educate about and advance such concepts.  Your author once co-authored a book entitled Official Lies: How Washington Misleads Us, about mountains of such myths and superstitions.  A case can be made that at the top of the list of statist myths and superstitions is the myth of American nationalism — about the supposed “superiority” of a virtually unlimited, centralized and consolidated government, coupled with the never-ending hatred and demonization of federalism, states’ rights, nullification and secession, and anything else that challenges the notion of the “supremacy” of the central government.

In this regard American “nationalism” has nothing to do with the older concept of a people with a common language and culture, living within the borders of their own nation state.  The unique American version of “nationalism” was invented at the time of the founding by a group of conniving, Machiavellian politicians who sought to overthrow the results of the American Revolution – the casting off of the centralized, oppressive, mercantilist/crony capitalist British empire – and adopt the very same system in America – the British empire without the British.  There is nothing wrong with a corrupt, tyrannical, mercantilist empire that uses the coercive powers of the state to enrich the ruling class at the expense of the working class, these men said, confident that they would naturally assume the position of the ruling class.

These men were led by the likes of Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Sam Adams, John Hancock, Thomas Paine, and other “Federalists,” many of who were “defectors” to the cause of liberty – the cause of the American Revolution – as Murray Rothbard wrote in Conceived in Liberty: The New Republic: 1784-1791.

The “triumph” of these “nationalists” with the adoption of the centralizing U.S. Constitution is the  theme of the latter two-thirds of Rothbard’s latest great work of scholarship, made possible by the heroic efforts of Patrick Newman in painstakingly (with the emphasis on “pain”) translating Murray’s handwriting of nearly the entire manuscript, which is 319 pages long in print.  The nationalists, wrote Rothbard, “wanted a strong central power that would control an aggressive national army and navy, wield a national taxing power to decimate the rights of the states and individuals, and federally assume public debts and army pensions.”  In doing so they hoped to “destroy the original individualist and decentralized program of the American Revolution.”  Conceived in Liberty tells the story, chapter and verse, of how these men subverted and overthrew the principles of American freedom that inspired the American Revolution with their “devious and sinister machinations.”

These “machinations” were employed to rig the constitutional convention with a lopsided majority of delegates from “the wealthy and eminent” and “also from the urban commercial interest, merchants, and artisans, the majority of commercial farmers, and leading urban-exporters.  In short, nationalist strength came from men who supported centralizing tariffs and navigation laws, raising the value of public securities, and an aggressive foreign policy, all at the expense of the taxpaying inland farmer.”  In seven of the twelve states represented at the constitutional convention there was no representation at all by the inland farmers.

This point calls to mind another statist superstition – that Alexander Hamilton was some kind of educated genius when it came to economic theory, whereas his political nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, was sort of a dopey agrarian dreamer on the subject who supposedly wanted all of America to be “a nation of farmers.”  Exactly the opposite is true: In his biography of Hamilton William Graham Sumner described his writings as a jumble of British mercantilists superstitions copied from propaganda pamphlets written by publicists for protectionists and other mercantilists.  When Hamilton’s political sponsor, Robert Morris, told George Washington that he wanted Hamilton to be the first Treasury Secretary, Washington told Hamilton that he didn’t know that he knew anything about finance since they never talked about it, as described in Ron Chernow’s Pulitzer prize-winning biography of Hamilton.

Jefferson, on the other hand, had read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and translated the writings of French physiocrat Jacques Turgot, the French finance minister and precursor of the free-market Austrian School of economics.  To this day, a bust of Turgot is at the entrance of Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

What Jefferson opposed was not industrialization but the use of governmental power to tax farmers in order to subsidize the corporate merchant class.  He opposed, in other words, the nationalist project of using the coercive powers of the state to plunder the farmers of America for the benefit of the merchant class.  It is an insidious, nationalist lie that Jefferson opposed business and industrialization per se.

Like all criminal schemers, the nationalists decided “to hold the entire [constitutional] convention in strictest secrecy in order to make sure that the public would not know what was going on.”  This of course begs the question:  If what they were up to was in “the public interest,” as Hamilton laughingly argued, then why was it so important to hide it all from the public?

The main objective of the nationalists, Rothbard explains, was to “place the all-powerful national government beyond popular control.”  James Madison was one of the chief nationalist theorists who concocted the theory that a large, centralized government would somehow prevent the abuse of electoral minorities by majorities, the main argument of Federalist #10.  Rothbard correctly points out that exactly the opposite is true, as has been proven time and again by history.  It is decentralization that makes “the oppression of minorities” more difficult, not consolidation.  Nevertheless, the nationalists sought to crush the states altogether, for that is how the vaunted “people” had their only means of exerting any kind of control over the central government – as political communities organized at the state and local levels.

Hamilton was the most despotic in this regard. Rothbard quotes him as saying, “We must establish a general and national government, completely sovereign, and annihilate the state distinctions and state operations.” To Hamilton, “British monarchical government” was “the model for the American framers to follow,” even though they had just fought a bloody revolution to escape from such a system. Hamilton’s “ideal polity,” wrote Rothbard, was such that “no clearer blueprint could have been devised for absolute despotism.” (This perhaps is why the Broadway play “Hamilton” has been so wildly popular among today’s American statist class).

The Hamiltonian nationalists mastered the dark art of “fake news” some 230 years before Donald Trump made it a part of the American lexicon. Rothbard describes how most postmasters were Federalists who had a “stranglehold” over the nation’s press (newspapers were all delivered by mail). Consequently, they were able to “dictate the news at will” by censoring out opposition to the nationalist agenda while broadcasting it far and wide, giving the nation the false impression that there was not opposition to it. Many other means of what Rothbard labeled “the depths of chicanery” were employed by the nationalists to rig the ratification votes in most states. They even employed “outright bribery,” as Rothbard documents.

All in all, the new constitution was not the charter of freedom that generations of conservatives have insisted. The nationalists, said Rothbard, used “propaganda, chicanery, fraud, malapportionment of delegates, blackmail threats of secession, and even coercive laws to get enough delegates to defy the wishes of the majority of the American people . . .” A “new super government was emerging and carrying out on a national scale the mercantilist principle of taxation, regulation, and special privilege for the benefit of favored groups.” They even protected slavery with the Three-Fifths Clause and the Fugitive Slave Clause in order to get their consolidating, mercantilist constitution. The Constitution was in reality “a counterrevolutionary reaction to the libertarianism and decentralization embodied in the American Revolution” that would “institute a British-style mercantilism over the country.”

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The Tyranny of Conservatism – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 19, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/03/laurence-m-vance/the-tyranny-of-conservatism/

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Conservatives say they believe in the Constitution, limited government, federalism, free enterprise, individual freedom, private property, and the free market. But, of course, this means absolutely nothing since they say they believe in these things even when their actions show that they don’t believe in any of them.

Consider the drug war.

Does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have a war on drugs? Of course not. But that doesn’t stop conservatives from supporting the DEA and the federal drug war.

Is a government limited to reasonable defense, judicial, and policing activities compatible with government interest in the eating, drinking, smoking, medical, and recreational habits of Americans? Of course not. The only limited government that conservatives seek is one limited to control by conservatives.

Do conservatives believe that all drug polices should be instituted on the state level and that the federal government should have nothing to do with prohibiting or regulating drugs? Of course not. Conservatives only believe in federalism when the federal government does something they don’t like.

Do conservatives believe that free enterprise includes the freedom to buy and sell drugs? Of course not. They want the government to prohibit people from peacefully buying and selling drugs. Read the rest of this entry »

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