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Month: January 2011

Gary Johnson, the Statist Alternative to Libertarian Ron Paul

I have seen a few libertarian websites recently expressing either discouragement of Ron Paul’s candidacy for president, or just not supporting him and preferring Gary Johnson. Gary Johnson is what I call “statist lite,” and may have a somewhat good record as governor but his positions on the issues are not quite libertarian. And I don’t mean that he has to be a “pure, uncompromisingly principled libertarian,” because even Ron Paul isn’t that (e.g. immigration socialism, “secure our borders” by trusting the government to do that!, and only legalize drugs on a federal level but state governments can continue ownership of people’s bodies and dictate to them what chemicals to ingest, etc. etc.).

While I call Gary Johnson “statist lite,” Robert Wenzel has referred to him as a “lightweight libertarian.” Johnson is a “cost-benefit analysis” statist. Government programs should be determined on their “cost-benefit analysis,” their social costs, but as Wenzel points out in referencing Murray Rothbard, costs are subjective to the individual. Social costs, shmocial costs, in my opinion. We should be determining government programs by determining that they shouldn’t even exist, because it is impossible for any government programs to be run efficiently without any incentive to compete in an open marketplace.

In advancing his “lite” statism, Johnson favors the “Fair Tax,” which will hurt the poor the most, and which also gives the federal government the power to intrude in the private contracts between buyers and sellers on a federal level in addition to the state level. He also doesn’t want to get rid of the government-controlled Federal Reserve System and centralized banking cartel, which allows the counterfeiting of worthless dollars to be distributed to the banksters while causing inflation for the rest of us. Johnson believes the Fed can be “managed effectively,” i.e. he believes in monetary central planning. Because of monetary central planning, we have the economic situation that we have today.

Gary Johnson also wants to keep Gitmo open! (For the political dissenters who will be rounded up now that the military has the power to do that for our Dear Leader.) He wants to cut “43%” of the military budget, but I don’t think he wants to close all the trespassing foreign U.S. military bases, and bring all the troops home (and let them work in the private sector being productive rather than being placed overseas murdering and destroying the lives of productive people over there). And Johnson supports the idea of “humanitarian wars.” i.e. he’s an interventionist.

Legalize drugs, but only some of them. He doesn’t really understand that there’s a principle involved in that issue, that of self-ownership and that if an individual owns one’s own body, then he has a right to decide what chemicals to put into it. Giving the government the power to decide for you — at the point of a gun — what chemicals to put into your own body is giving the government ownership of your body. It also undermines the idea of personal responsibility. Some people just don’t like the idea of having the freedom to take responsibility for the consequences of one’s decisions and choices.

While he didn’t mention Gary Johnson in this post, Charles Burris referred to the two visions of libertarianism, the principled one of Ron Paul vs. what I have called the “statist lite” one, the one that Burris described as “consequentialist, cost-benefit analysis, rather than rights-based.” In my opinion, let Gary Johnson represent the statist “Libertarian” Party. They’re right for each other. Like Bob Barr who recently endorsed Newt Gingrich (barf).

And Robert Wenzel also had this post about Gary Johnson last April, with a link to this video of Johnson speaking at a 2008 Ron Paul Rally. Wenzel notes:

Of note, he said that he takes a common sense business approach toward government and that he wanted to make government more efficient. You would never catch Ron Paul saying such a thing. And it clearly suggests that Johnson has either never read, or perhaps never understood, Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, which warned that the rise of tyrants is often based on the fact that those tyrants call for more efficient government. Freedom lovers don’t want more efficient government, they want less government, a lot less.
He then explained how, while he was governor, the number of government employees declined by one thousand, but then he said, and seemed to be proud of this, and I remind you he said this to as hardcore a libertarian audience as you are likely to get in front of, that he did not fire any government employees. He was clearly tone deaf to this audience, where not firing government employees should not be carried around as a badge of honor.

He then took pride in the fact that he privatized prisons. There’s a number of problems with bringing this up to a libertarian crowd. The first being that most libertarians think there are too many people in prison that shouldn’t be there. Johnson may understand this view somewhat because he is against the criminalization of marijuana, but, if so, why is he bragging about making the prison system more efficient?…

He went on to tell this crowd that he was responsible for raising penalties for driving under the influence. This means he isn’t thinking about driving under the influence the way liberty advocate Lew Rockwell does on that topic.

Johnson also said he had “cut the growth of government” in New Mexico, which everyone in that libertarian crowd would know means that he INCREASED the size of government.
Most remarkably, he said he was against the Fed, and then went on to say that he was in favor of a strong dollar, indicating he has no clue that the end of the Fed most likely means the end of the dollar as the medium of exchange, that it may mean competing currencies and most likely a return to gold as money.

See Jacob Hornberger on libertarianism vs. statism.