There seems to be some attention now on possible third parties, including the Libertarian Party (LP), as an alternative to the two government parties, Republicrat and Demopublican. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s 2012 Presidential nominee and a current candidate in 2016, was interviewed on Sunday by the unbiased and honorable George Snuffleupagus. But there are other candidates seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for President besides Gary Johnson. More about some of them below. However, because of his being well-known, like Donald Trump Gary Johnson will probably get more attention (unless he doesn’t get the LP nomination).
I have written about Gary Johnson in the past, and concluded that he is a statist, or a “libertarian lite” (i.e. statist), as some people have called him. Robert Wenzel had this analysis of Johnson, considering him a “lightweight libertarian,” and gave Johnson a tough interview here. Justin Raimondo wrote about Johnson when he was launching his losing 2012 Republican Presidential campaign, prior to switching to the LP. Raimondo says that Johnson promotes waging “humanitarian” wars, whatever that means. (It means murdering innocents for their own good is what that means.)
According to this Daily Caller interview, Johnson wants to cut defense spending by “43%” but wants to continue the U.S. drone murders overseas even though he acknowledges that such criminality creates new enemies. He also said he wants to keep the unconstitutional Guantanamo torture prison open. That’s unconscionable, and completely un-libertarian! And he says that while the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan, he is not sure whether they should actually close down the U.S. military bases there.
You would think that strategically we should be in the Middle East. Should we be in the Philippines? I’m just saying that this isn’t going to be a wholesale — a 43 percent reduction, in my opinion, gets us back to 2003 funding levels and just wrings out the excess.
Huh? As opposed to Ron Paul, who was saying close down ALL foreign U.S. government military bases and bring all the troops home. Dr. Paul has been saying this since at least his 1988 Presidential campaign, and probably for years before that. So, on foreign policy, Gary Johnson is inconsistent and incoherent at best, and certainly un-libertarian, that’s for sure.
In this CNS interview, Gary Johnson says he is for legalizing marijuana, but only “decriminalizing” heroin but not legalizing heroin and other illegal drugs. He says that the states should control that. While he says he wouldn’t want his state of New Mexico to have a state-operated marijuana store, he is okay with other states doing that. Would a real libertarian really be okay with any state or local government operating any kind of store, for drugs, liquor, or otherwise? (Nope.)
The CNS interviewer, Terence Jeffrey, really gives Johnson a hard time in trying to get Johnson to clarify his views on drug legalization. It appears that Johnson is just as confused in this area as he is in foreign policy. He certainly doesn’t have a grasp on the libertarian view of drugs. See Laurence Vance’s article on the moral case for drug freedom.
In my view, it is all about self-ownership and private property rights. If you own your own body, then you have a right to put into your own body whatever the hell you want, as long as you take responsibility for the consequences of your decisions and actions. If the government (or the community or the “majority,” etc.) owns your body, then the government has a right to tell you what you may or may not put into your own body. The true libertarian position on that is that YOU own your own body! The same goes for buying and selling, growing, possessing or trading, any damn thing you want, it’s your own business as long as you don’t steal, defraud, trespass, or initiate aggression against others.
Johnson also wants a Fair Tax, or consumption tax, a 23% national sales tax on new goods and services. At the 2012 Libertarian Party nominating convention, Johnson was grilled, booed, and heckled by skeptics who fear that a national sales tax that is intended to replace the income tax will only be made in addition to the income tax. As Laurence Vance wrote in 2010 on the Fair Tax,
The FairTax creates new taxes, new taxpayers, and new tax collectors, makes it easier for the federal government to raise taxes, institutes universal welfare with its prebate check, has unknown and potential huge transition costs, could saddle us with a sales tax and a reconstituted income tax, and has a stated rate that is too low to achieve revenue neutrality, a problematic concept in itself. The federal government has an insatiable lust for Americans’ money to maintain the welfare/warfare state. All revenue-neutral tax-reform plans allow Congress to maintain its spending orgy while appearing to make taxes “fairer.”
Another LP candidate for President is John McAfee, the founder of the McAfee antivirus software now owned by Intel. When Intel took the name “McAfee” off its security brand in 2014, McAfee was quoted by BBC as stating, “I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet. These are not my words, but the words of millions of irate users.” Well, at least he’s honest about it.
I’ve seen some ads with McAfee and don’t particularly like his style. (Sorry, but I’m a Rated G kinda guy.) This in-depth analysis of McAfee tells a lot about his personal history. Very spooky guy, if you ask me. On his campaign website, he seems to understand some of the basic principles of libertarianism. However, he calls for a flat tax on income. In this interview, he states that the income tax “implies that we and the fruits of our labor somehow belong to the government, which is nuts. Ultimately we need to find some sort of system that has no income tax whatsoever. That is unrealistic to start with. A flat tax is not.” Sorry. We did have a system without an income tax for decades and decades in America. It was called freedom. That is not unrealistic.
And then there’s this young guy, Austin Petersen. Already, Petersen is against the very basis for libertarianism, the non-aggression principle, which he says, in his scholarly paper on the subject, is “pacifist anarchism.” No, the non-aggression principle is just saying, Don’t initiate aggression against others. Don’t violate the person or property of another. If someone initiates aggression against you, then of course you have a right to use aggression to protect yourself. That is not “pacifism.”
On his campaign website, Petersen wants to “reduce economic inequality by lowering barriers to entry in the marketplace, licensing, taxation, and fees.” First, there will always be economic inequality. And second, “lowering barriers”? How about totally eliminating barriers? And by “barriers” I assume he means government-imposed barriers. The libertarian position is: There shouldn’t be any government barriers!
And he writes, “Urge congress to adopt the ‘Penny Plan,’ across the board spending cuts of 1% per program.” Ooooh, a whopping 1%! Whoa, you might as well have a Cruz-style shut-down! I hope the bureaucrats can handle that one! (Note how “bureaucrat” ends in “rat.” Just sayin’.)
“Rein in the NSA, and demand accountability in our security agencies so as to protect our 4th Amendment rights.” No, “Protect our 4th Amendment rights” by abolishing the NSA!
“Reclassify the war on drugs as a medical problem, not a criminal problem. Deschedule all drugs at the federal level and end the federal War on Drugs once and for all.”
No, the war on drugs is a government problem, not a medical problem. There shouldn’t be any government “scheduling” of drugs!
On entitlements, Petersen writes, “Allow young people to opt out of Social Security.”
Allow everyone to opt out! Abolish government usurpations of the people’s right to manage their own retirements! Doh!
So these so-called “libertarians” are taking things from a government perspective, not really a freedom perspective. The libertarian, freedom perspective is that for transactions between or among the people to be moral and legitimate, such transactions must be voluntary. When the bureaucrats demand a payment from you involuntarily, or demand that you must do this or that (submit personal information, participate in a government-run retirement scheme, buy health insurance, etc.), using coercion and threats, that is a criminal act on the part of the bureaucrats. It is theft. And institutionalized theft and plunder must be abolished. Otherwise, you would have to repeal laws against theft, extortion, and racketeering to be consistent in your allowing government bureaucrats to commit those criminal acts against you.
This article on Reason describes what political hacks even these libertarians appear to be in their shenanigans. Politics really is not the answer to society’s problems. These campaigns really show themselves to be a frantic search for who will best enslave the people, be their master, and parasite off their hard labor.
Here is the full recent Libertarian Party debate moderated by John Stossel with the three aforementioned top-polling candidates.
But if you want to get a really good idea of what actual libertarianism is all about, here are some suggestions:
Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt
The Criminality of the State by Albert Jay Nock
No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner
Democracy: The God That Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Against the State by Lew Rockwell
The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt
Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s lecture on Private Law Society
Swords into Plowshares by Ron Paul
Foreign Aggression by Morris and Linda Tannehill
Libertarianism is also about human freedom, and in most arguments, human beings are assumed to have natural rights, among them the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are in ALL human beings, not just American “citizens.” And they are rights, not privileges granted to us by governments. These rights preexist the formation of any government. In many of these political discussions including the libertarian ones, it seems that such discussions are in the context of government existing prior to the people. Nope. Remember, the people created the government and they can abolish it. (And I hope they do!)