Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The $1,000 Challenge

So, you're a Libertarian Candidate, and you want a big donation from me. Sure! I have $1,000 burning a hole in my pocket. You can claim it -- all of it.

But it isn't "free". You'll need to have some ducks in a row. Here are my requirements:

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1) You must have a written campaign platform with no substantial deviations from the LP platform or with Libertarian principles. If you're in favor of any new tax, or some form of gun control, or interfering with people trying to move from one place to another, or interfering with the right of association, or more government enforcement related to this or that victimless 'crime', well, I can donate to a bunch of Democrats and Republicans if those things interested me. Libertarianism is about *abolitionism*.

2) You should have a reasonably detailed campaign plan. I will want a copy. While each campaign should have some flexibility in the specifics discussed in its submission, I would expect to see the following information:

(a) A statement specifying the personal financial commitment you will make to your campaign.

(b) A description of the manpower resources committed to the campaign. In particular, the description should included a list of key campaign personnel, along with brief descriptions of their previous campaign experience.

- (i) I am not disposed to provide resources to any campaign that does not have both a campaign manager and a treasurer who knows something about campaign finance reporting requirements.

- (ii) The candidate should serve neither as his own campaign manager nor as his own treasurer, except in unusual circumstances.

(c) A biography of the candidate.

(d) Assessment of whether there is a reasonable chance the candidate will not be able to complete the campaign. (For example, if the candidate has been informed of a possible change in job status, such as being transferred to a different state, this should be disclosed.)

(e) A description of anticipated fundraising sources and activities, along with information about pledges from prospective donors. (As in Item 3 above, information about prospective donors will be treated with discretion. To the extent that such information is included in LPVa or local party files, it may be appropriate to redact names from such reports.)

(f) A description of campaign strategy (e.g., what issues will the campaign emphasize) and a proposed timeline for campaign activities. This description should include information such as anticipated number of votes needed to win, as well as a basic analysis of the voting patterns of the district. (For example, assuming previous data exist, what percentage of voters in the district vote Democrat, vote Republican, vote Libertarian, etc.)

(e) A description of campaign goals and performance metrics. (For example, if the candidate considers winning the election to be unlikely, what are the alternative goals of the campaign? Obtaining at least X number of votes? Causing the incumbent to be defeated? Winning the candidate's home precinct?) Personally, my preference is that all candidates use their races as an opportunity to finding and recruiting the libertarians who are already out there into becoming members, supporters, and -- candidates for next year.

Be realistic. Candidates who overblow their case and generally have absolutely unrealistic expectations aren't going to get *my* money. So many times, I've listened to LP candidates who swear that theirs is a winnable campaign. The fact that they are out-funded and out-volunteered by a factor of 5, 50, or 500 to 1 doesn't seem to faze them. If you think you're going to win, you better have some solid polling results that agree with you.

3) You must have at least the basics assembled of a campaign: a) a website that gives some sort of candidate/campaign overview as well as several high-resolution, media-quality photographs ready for download by media outlets; 2) a basic campaign flyer and yard sign, both with complementary designs to project a consistent image; and items associated with the campaign plan (for instance, if you have a treasurer, you should already have a bank account in the name of the campaign.

4) You must have reasonable credit history. Repeated personal bankruptcies, well... if you can't stay within budget, you should be a Republican or Democrat.

5) You must have a clean criminal history. I may make an exception for victimless crime convictions, but expect full disclosure.

6) You must have a reasonably clean driving record. If you've had three DUI's and been at-fault in more than one or two accidents, well, cowboy, it's time to get yourself a bicycle.

7) You must have a clean civil history. If you have made your fortune like John Edwards did, by filing lawsuits against innocents, well, you're not my candidate. Conversely, if you've been sued six or seven times, sounds to me like you need to find a safer line of work.

8) There must be a disclosure statement, concerning any potentially embarrassing or controversial aspects of the your background. This statement should include all information in items 4, 5, 6, and 7 above; and you must make it available for review by the members who attend your district nominating meeting, as well as the city or county committee and the State Central Committee, PRIOR TO any approval by any of these committees. The state and local party committees will treat these disclosures with discretion; such statements should not be available for public scrutiny.

9) You must have already been certified as "on the ballot".

10) You must have been formally endorsed/nominated as the official LP candidate during a meeting of the members WHO RESIDE WITHIN YOUR ELECTION DISTRICT; *and* you must also be formally approved by the county or city Libertarian committee in which you live. No exceptions. This is how the major-party candidates are nominated, and we can do the same thing.

10) All of the required financial reports must be up-to-date. I'll want copies.

11) "Open Secrets" -- Campaign finance reports should be accessible online on your campaign website; or if it can be linked to VaPAP or the SBOE website, that's fine as long as there is a prominent, non-hidden menu link to that page on your site.

12) You must openly identify yourself as a Libertarian candidate in all campaign appearances, on your literature, on your website, in your media releases, and the like. I will not donate to anyone who has a history of being involved in the Republican Liberty Caucus, the Democratic Freedom Caucus, or who accepts the endorsement of any other political party. Call it being a partisan hack all you want, but I do not intend to give anyone money for sending a mixed message about the abolitionist basis of the libertarian philosophy and the political party that represents it.

13) You must *demonstrate* a thorough understanding of the necessity of recruiting new members into the LP; which means:

- submit all campaign contacts to the LP for followup on a timely basis -- preferably daily

- providing PROMINENT and EASY access to visitors to the campaign website to ask for more information about the LP

14) You must provide some evidence that you have done some serious fundraising already, on your own. I've been in the LP since 1980, and for all of that 30 years, I've observed LP candidates enter races that typically cost a winning winning candidates, oh, say $50,000 -- and then watched them give all sorts of reasons why the LP or LP members should give them thousands of dollars, even though he hasn't even raised a few hundred from friends and family.

It's fairly easy to raise at least a few thousand dollars just from friends and business associates. See:

http://lpva.com/Archives/Tips/s99/fr-quick.html

Additional campaign and party-building tips are available:

http://lpva.com/Archives/Tips/s99/

"Serious funds" means seriousness about winning the election. The LP candidate seeking election should work towards funding superiority. He should raise and spend as much or more than the COLLECTIVE opposition. Yes, that means if you're in a 3-way race, your fundraising must exceed the funds available to BOTH of your opponents. We're the only guys advocating freedom -- the other guys are BOTH advertising socialism. Unless you have enough dosh that you can drown *them* out, you're not going to win. Fundraising should be at the heart of any serious campaign. If you don't raise money, you can't advertise. If you don't advertise, you aren't going to get elected.

If you can't raise enough to give the majors a serious run for their money, then you're running for the wrong office. Try running for County Board of Supervisors, or Town Council, instead.

However, if you want to stay in the race you're in, and you are not going to win, then it had better be a campaign that directs all efforts to signing up more LP members to build the cadre for next year.

15) You must have demonstrated some ability to find volunteers for your campaign. This is almost as important as fundraising. The majors send their volunteers out to knock on doors for them, to manage their campaigns' "back office", and so on.

16) You must provide in a timely manner a reasonably detailed post-election report to all of your donors, to the LPVA State Central Committee, and to your local endorsing committee.

17) Not a formal requirement for my $1,000, but I'd appreciate provide copies of campaign material (e.g., signs, posters, flyers, bumperstickers, fundraising letters, etc.) and news coverage (e.g., newspaper clippings, video and audiotapes of media interviews) for LPVa archival purposes.

18) If you accept money from me, but you decide to withdraw from your race for any reason other than a medical condition or involuntary transfer by your employer, you shall refund my donation(s) first, before any loans are paid and before any other donors are reimbursed. In the event you have no campaign funds left, you must shall reimburse me and other donors using your own personal funds.

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That's my checklist. It's not short, and there are hoops to jump through. But there is $1,000 waiting at the end of the hoops. And, not a single one of my requirements is any less than a major-party candidate would be required to do for them. This is common-sense, party-building stuff.

To make your case, write me at Freedom (/at/) LPVA.com (Remove the obvious spamtrap elements).






Here are a few resources you might find useful:

Campaign Planning Manual from the Libertarian Party of Indiana

Political Resource Library, from PoliticalResources.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Litigious Americans Eyeball Toyota Loot

You know, there is only one endemic flaw to modern automotive brakes: you have to push the brake pedal down for them to work. But I digress.

Have you noticed that the reports of out-of-control Toyotas have mostly stopped? Perhaps the main reason is that the highest profile cases are all well-known now as simply pure unmitigated lies. The public has now become inured to the fact that most of these "Sudden Unintended Acceleration" stories are blown fabrications bloviated into existence by the lamestream media, rich lawyers, greedy would-be plaintiffs, "victims" who want to be absolved of their responsibility for pushing on the wrong pedal, and government bureaucrats aiming to increase their regulatory penetration of the automotive industry and to make the waters more hospitable for Government Motors (GM).

Cases in point:

- Lawsuit-lotto hopeful James Sikes of California, who went on the televised 25-mile joy ride

- Gloria Rosel, the house keeper who drove the Prius into a wall in New York

- Myrna Marseille swore she was standing on the brake pedal of her 2009 Toyota Camry when it crashed into the Sheboygan Falls YMCA on March 29

All of the above were found to be 'driver error' (although Sikes' was in reality just a hoax).

Since then, reports have tailed off and almost stopped. Was it magic that stopped the daily out-of-control Toyotas, or was it the fact that government police have -- mostly -- finally admitted the real cause (driver error) of these crashes? Did it have anything to do with the corrollary that, as a result, potential 'victims' hoping to get off scot free with a chance at a lawsuit lotto win began to understand the party was over? My guess is it wasn't magic.

Hmmmm... it is annoying to see it took government cops almost a year longer than it took skeptics to figure out the truth.

A stuck pedal does not drive you into the wall while the "victim" was 'pushing the brake pedal to the floor'. Neither does a stuck floor mat. A foot stuck on the long skinny pedal does though.

I have owned many powerful and fast cars in my lifetime, but not a single one of them can accelerate when the brakes are firmly applied. Owners of older muscle cars can attest to this: pressing on the brakes to lock up the front wheels while flooring the accelerator is a 'powerbrake'. It's how we hot rodders raise clouds of rubber-and-asphalt smoke when showing off (doing "burnouts").

The brakes on a Prius are *better* than those on those old muscle cars, and their little motors are lucky to put out about a third of the power.

Brakes against the motor? Don't make me laugh. The brakes will win every time.

And yes, it works when the cars is already at speed, also. If your accelerator really is stuck, you are in danger only until you realize it is -- a realization that should set in within three or so seconds with a *good* driver. It is a truly rare event that a stuck pedal -- like a really stuck pedal, not someone mashing the wrong pedal -- causes a crash that otherwise would not have happened. These crashes usually happen within 3 seconds of the pedal getting stuck, before a driver recognizes the problem.

The brakes will haul down that same muscle car from 80 with the gas pedal floored with little trouble.

Sudden Unintended Acceleration is a hoax now as much as it was with the Audi twenty years ago. The government agencies that are "investigating" these accidents aren't helping anyone and in fact are impeding the market's ability to "cure" itself. Abolish the NHTSA, abolish all the other federal regulatory bodies that meddle in the automotive business, move liability torts into private arbitration and mediation services, and let the market work as it should.

Sudden, Unintended Acceleration: Remember, if you heard it from the lamestream media, it's probably false.

2011-02-18 UPDATE: Another good article I discovered recently on this topic is the one by John Cook over at Gawker.com.

2013-12-06 UPDATE:  As of December 6, 2013, Toyota has settled a lawsuit with one of the hundreds of plaintiffs that filed suits in response to the scam that began in 2009; and it is looking to settle several hundred more very soon.  So people are getting rich from this media-driven scam.

Here are a few articles that support the idea that "sudden unintended acceleration" is a scam and a hoax.

The Problem is the Driver, not the Pedal:

Outside the world of trial lawyers, Democratic congressmen, and their ilk, anyone who's looked at the problem knows that the vast majority of cases of sudden unintended acceleration are the fault of the driver applying the gas pedal when s/he thinks s/he's pressing the brakes. Efforts to prove otherwise have proven to be frauds or failures. Remember the rigged 60 Minutes hatchet job on Audi back in 1989? There was no sudden unintended acceleration problem. But there was pure unadulterated journalistic fraud for which 60 Minutes brought in a trial lawyer's expert witness to provide technical assistance. "The NHTSA's official view, detailed in a 454-page 1989 report, is that the vast majority of sudden acceleration incidents in which no vehicle malfunction is present are caused by drivers mistaking the gas pedal for the brake." (WSJ)

The news media, the trial lawyers, and the [sic] Congressional allies peddle the electronic gremlin story by focusing on Toyota. But there are reports of sudden unintended acceleration about virtually every model of virtually every manufacturer. What do all those cars have in common? Drivers.
Indeed.  In addition, one of Professor Stephen Bainbridge's commenters, "Bosco", on the above article touched on one of my pet peeves: the disappearance of manual transmissions and clutches:


With a manual transmission and a clutch pedal, there is an instant solution to "runaway acceleration", just depress the clutch pedal and instantly disengage the drivetrain.
And Bob Dobalena boiled the solution down to its essence 

If you are pressing down as hard as you can on the brake and your car continues to accelerate out of control, then take you foot off the brake and put it on the pedal immediately to the left of the brake. 
In another article, "Unintended Acceleration and Other Embedded Software Bugs", Michael Barr reviewed an NHTSA study of Toyota "black boxes":

After reviewing driver and other witness statements and examining said black box data, NHTSA concluded that 39 of these 52 events were explainable as “pedal misapplications.” That’s a very nice way of saying that whenever the driver reported “stepping on the brake” he or she had pressed the accelerator pedal by mistake. Figure 5 of a supplemental report describing these facts portrays an increasing likelihood of such incidents with driver age vs. the bell curve of Camry ownership by age.
And if you are a car person, you will appreciate the hilarious comments following this Jalopnik article, "The Mechanics of ABC News' Unintended Toyota Acceleration Hoax".

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The real problem here is that without even going to court, Toyota has already lost the case.  Even if every case goes to trial and Toyota wins every one, it has already lost.  Winning the cases will still cost Toyota billions of dollars -- billions of dollars that will go to the trial lawyer industry -- both those representing Toyota and those representing the plaintiffs.

These racketeering lawyers -- and yes, some of Toyota's lawyers will be among them -- will then take their fresh billions and wine and dine their lawyer cohorts in state and federal legislatures to get them to write more laws with which they can loot more and more companies.

Eliminate the "lawyer tax" on manufacturing and product/service delivery, and prices on all goods and services would fall by a third or more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Repeal Drug Prohibition

You know, the Libertarian positions on Drug Prohibition and immigration were the two issues that stymied me for a while; so I fully understand the hesitation some have with the libertarian position on these issues.

Over time, I realized that Drug Prohibition has been the single largest cause of the loss of liberty in general and the most serious factor undermining the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights specifically. Alcohol Prohibition had the same effect while it was in force, too.

Drug Prohibition is unconstitutional; despite the inability of the Supreme Court to say so. We can't help it if law graduates don't know how to read. In any case, there was never any Amendment authorizing the federal government to regulate, much less prohibit, the recreational use of any substance.

Libertarians understand that there are costs to the individual, and to society, of drug use. No rational Libertarian advocates the abuse of any drug. That said, we believe Drug Prohibition is a "cure" that is far worse than the disease.

One of the many concerns about our position on Drug Prohibition, is that if Prohibition is repealed, there would be a massive spike in the number of users. I tend to agree, but my personal theory is that this effect will most likely be due to congressmen, state legislators, and cops all heading en masse to their local drug store -- with teenage pages and interns in tow -- as soon as Prohibition officially ends. Don't expect any of these people to show up for work the first couple of weeks after Repeal.

In all seriousness, if you examine the trend in prohibited markets, it is always towards harder, more potent varieties of whatever the substance is. The history of Alcohol Prohibition showed this phenom very clearly: as Prohibition started, traffickers brought in anything people wanted. Over time, however, they began to gravitate towards ever-more potent hooch and other hard liquors; and of course always there was the danger of adulterated product.

After Repeal, years of persistent education pointing out the dangers of too much alcohol has led to wine coolers, non-alcoholic beers, and otherwise less and less potent varieties of social beverages.

Likewise, with Drug Prohibition, the trend has been to ever-more potent varieties of drugs, a constant search for better "delivery devices", and again adulterated product. With repeal, besides bringing street disputes (which currently end in bloodbaths) into the court system for resolution, the trend will be towards unadulterated and increasingly safe products.

In addition, keep in mind that Repeal advocates do not suggest that drug users should be permitted to operate motor vehicles irresponsibly. Everyone, even drug users in an environment without Prohibition, should still be held 100% responsible for their actions.

The side effect of Prohibition that does the most damage is that trade in illegal drugs finances terror around the world. The enemies of the United States routinely use drug trafficking to finance operations against US soldiers, civilians, and other targets (look at the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, not to mention the narcodollars propping up communist thieves Morales & Chavez in South America. We absolutely *must* remove this funding source from these crooks' toolkit. Continuing to ratchet up the drug war will do the opposite -- it will keep them in business.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time to Lift the Freon Ban

The ban on dichlorodifluoromethane, the generic name for DuPont's "Freon", was based on junk science. DuPont funded a large fraction of the agitation against Freon in 1989-1990, because it had already developed alternatives to Freon and its original patent ont he product was approaching expiration.

DuPont has a log history of getting into bed with the government to give itself a de facto monopoly on any given market. For instance, DuPont funded the agitation to prohibit hemp products in the 30's -- an activity coincident with the company's development of rayon and other patented products in the same decade.

The media spoon-fed it to us all, just like all the other chemo-scares. Apocalypse remains in high demand -- fear-mongering sells newspapers and glues eyeballs to the screen. Here's a short list of hazards overblown by the media, way beyond the bounds of sound science: PCBs, DDT, dioxin, Alar, smoking, breast implants, irradiated foods, nuclear power, high-voltage lines, radon, acid rain, pesticides, herbicides, asbestos, ozone depletion, global warming, species extinction, deforestation and overgrazing, among others. Some were later shown to be complete lies, others remain controversial.

If you heard it from the lamestream media, it's probably false.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Abolish Licensure, Prohibition, Checkpoints and Chases

I had to shake my head in sadness and anger at the front-page headline and article, "Police Chase Tragedy". Of course Darryl Harris bears primary responsibility for Mr. Taylor's death. Harris will have to live with his actions for the rest of his life.

But as a Libertarian, I cannot overlook the role government had in creating the conditions that caused Harris to run. Until Harris began endangering others with his driving, all of his actions -- from his suspended license, to the marijuana + gun possession, even to departing from the checkpoint -- were victimless crimes. Unfortunately, in our society, the *discovery* of victimless crimes result in a ruined life -- and it was fear of being discovered that made Harris run.

So let's examine the state's role in Taylor's loss.

First, there's government licensure. Harris' license was apparently suspended. That's a victimless crime.

Travel is a right, not a "privilege", as the 'authorities' continually claim. A license is a 'grant of privilege'; and thus cannot coexist with something that is a right, free and open to all, such as the right of the citizen to ride and drive over the streets of the city without charge, and without toll, provided he does so in a reasonable manner. I agree with the Supreme Court of Illinois, which, in the twenties, stated that while a government can legitimately regulate commercial activities, "no reason exists why [licensing] should apply to the owners of private vehicles used for their own individual use exclusively, in their own business, or for their own pleasure, as a means of locomotion."

Licensure would not be an issue if the government would simply get out of the business of building and owning roads. Some of our major roads in the area today, such as Brook Road, were originally developed in the 1800's by the private sector. Were our roads privately held, individuals who refuse to use them wisely would then be committing the real crime of criminal trespass.

Then there are those "stop and confess" parties that the police call "checkpoints". Checkpoints are unconstitutional and un-American. They belong in third-world dictatorships - not in a nation that thinks of itself as "the land of the free". Yes, the Supreme Court has 'deemed' checkpoints to be constitutional, but that's because we have too many lawyers who make it to the federal bench who can't read plain English. Check out the Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

"Effects" simply means "property"; and your car is property. Police searches of you or your property are unconstitutional unless they have a warrant based on sworn evidence. During a police checkpoint, police routinely demand your papers, they reach into your vehicle with electronic surveillance devices hidden in their flashlights (Google the "preliminary alcohol sensory device"), among other activities. No one should be forced to comply with a checkpoint. They are clearly unconstitutional, and no matter what kind of lipstick and hair spray the Supremes put on them, they will remain unconstitutional.

In the end, however, the events that led to Taylor's death can be laid at the feet of Drug Prohibition.

Prohibition itself is a constitutional and moral abomination. It has ruined tens of millions of lives and has cost hundreds of thousands of other lives -- millions, if you count a half-century of war, terror and aggression by global narcotics-funded religious and ideological extremist movements, along with decades of drug-related violent crime. Prohibition's toxic stew includes an aggressive and arrogant drug warrior law enforcement culture that by itself has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocents in "collateral damage". And worse, drug warriors largely don't care about the damage their war causes.

Repeal Prohibition, end the "papers, please" roadblocks, and call an immediate end to all chases except where the suspect is known to pose an immediate violent threat to others. The cost of doing otherwise is simply too high, and no spin by the Henrico PD or its 'defenders' can change that fact.

Concerned citizens across America have repeatedly warned police bureaucracies that chases are too dangerous and result in innocent deaths, to no avail. Henrico PD's statement that the chase "complied with written guidelines" is insulting and meaningless. Most people who study American policing are aware that police bureaucracies' statements that an action "followed policy" is simply code-phrasing, acknowledging "yeah, we messed up, but we're not going to do anything about it, and neither are you."

Had a private individual conducted a similar chase that ended in disaster, that person would end up facing jail time. For instance, if a security guard attempted to arrest someone at the entrance of his private, gated neighborhood, and that individual then fled with the security guard in pursuit and crashed into a park bench of children, the government police would then quickly and gleefully arrest the guard for contributing to the slaughter.

No cowboy logic justifies high-speed chases. They are stupid and dangerous in the best of conditions. They should be banned except in cases of violent individuals who present an immediate threat to additional potential victims.

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Marc Montoni is a Libertarian and a technician who resides in Henrico County. To request more information about Libertarian ideas, email or visit http://www.LP.org

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Abolish Prohibition, Checkpoints and Chases

I had to shake my head in sadness and anger at the front-page headline and article, "Police: Drugs, gun in car", in which Henrico County police tried to justify the slaying of an innocent in the course of their pursuit of a man who fled a checkpoint.

Community activists across America have repeatedly warned police bureaucracies that chases are too dangerous and result in innocent deaths, to no avail. Henrico PD's statement that the chase "complied with written guidelines" is insulting and meaningless. Most people who study American policing are aware that police bureaucracies' statements that an action "followed policy" is simply code-phrasing, acknowledging "yeah, we messed up, but we're not going to do anything about it, and neither are you."

If the same series of actions had been committed by a private individual, that private individual would end up sentenced to jail. For instance, if a security guard attempted to arrest someone at the entrance of a private, gated neighborhood, and that individual then fled with the security guard in pursuit and crashed into a park bench of children, the government police would would then quickly and gleefully arrest the guard for contributing to the slaughter.

No cowboy logic justifies high-speed chases. They are stupid and dangerous in the best of conditions. They should be banned except in cases of violent individuals who present an immediate threat to additional potential victims.

It is arguable that the man never would have run at all if not for his justifiable fear of the unconstitutional and un-American checkpoint. They belong in third-world dictatorships, but not in a nation that thinks of itself as "the land of the free".

At its core, the events that led to Taylor's death can be attributed to Drug Prohibition - itself a constitutional and moral abomination. Prohibition has ruined tens of millions of lives and has cost hundreds of thousands of other lives - millions, if you count a half-century of war, terror and aggression by global narcotics-funded religious and ideological extremist movements, along with decades of drug-related violent crime.

Prohibition's toxic stew includes an aggressive and arrogant drug warrior culture that by itself has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocents in "collateral damage" - and drug warriors simply don't care about the damage their war causes.

Repeal Prohibition, end the "papers, please" roadblocks, and call an immediate end to all chases except where the suspect is known to pose an immediate violent threat to others. The cost of doing otherwise is simply too high, and no spin by the Henrico PD or its useful 'defenders' can change that fact.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

FairlyTaxin'

In March of 2004, the members of the Libertarian Party of Virginia voted to endorse a national retail sales tax. Here is the language adopted in 2004:
WHEREAS taxing wages, earnings, investment, savings and, death destroys individual freedom and initiative; and
WHEREAS eliminating the Internal Revenue Service is a positive step in the right direction to restoring individual liberty; and
WHEREAS the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States should be repealed; and
WHEREAS passage of H.R. 25 would change the direction of government confiscation of private property in the favor of the citizenry; and
WHEREAS the complexity of the current tax system causes arbitrary government enforcement and denies equal protection under the law; therefore be it:
RESOLVED that the Libertarian Party of Virginia (LPVA) endorses the passage of H.R. 25 as a step, and only a step, in the right direction; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED that the LPVA encourages all members to contact the Virginia delegation for their support; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED that the LPVA encourages all members to attend the first national rally to eliminate the Income Tax on May 1st in the Hampton Roads area of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
HR 25 was the "FairTax" legislation that was in congress in 2004 (I do not know if it's been reintroduced under that same number).
I have offered resolutions to overturn this endorsement at every state convention ever since. This year, 2010, was no different. At our March 6, 2010 state convention, I introduced the following resolution:
Whereas, the Libertarian Party has historically held the position that all involuntary taxation, regardless of form, function, or method of collection, is forceful and coercive in nature; and therefore represents legalized theft, and,
Whereas, the state and national governments are collecting revenue even in these depressed economic times that are double or triple what was collected just a few years before, in most cases just 7 to 8 years, and,
Whereas, this 'revenue' represents property stolen from individuals in mass quantities,
Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Libertarian Party of Virginia hereby calls on all governments, to repeal the income taxes to serve as a real 'economic stimulus' for these tough economic times; and,
Further, be it resolved that at no time should repealed taxes be replaced with new taxes, regardless of source, such as "sin", corporate, trade, licensure, or sales taxes; and,
Further, be it resolved that governments should operate under balanced budgets at all times, without incurring any debt, and should reduce expenditures to reflect current real revenue.
During debate, I outlined just a bit of the many reasons I believe advocating any new tax, particularly the FairTax, is simply bad business for the LP. Fortunately, there is a great library of excellent articles about the FairTax. Here are a few:
http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0704d.asp
http://www.fee.org/Publications/the-Freeman/article.asp?aid=5911
http://www.mises.org/story/1975
There are of course many more.
Surprisingly, at the convention this year, the question went further than it had at both of the two prior conventions -- it was only two votes shy of success in a (very) slightly amended form.
Here are a few relevant facts.
The individual income tax typically brings in about 40% of federal revenue. Last I heard, 2009 federal revenue was on-track to be about $3.2 trillion. The Individual Income Tax brought in $915 billion. Federal spending just TWO years earlier was almost that much (spending increased $500 billion in FY 2009 over 2008; $250 billion 2008 over 2007.
I don't want the tax system to be revenue-neutral. I want it to be coercion-free. When you have a $915 billion theft going on, it is simply wrong to allow that theft to continue.
I intend to keep trying, until my colleagues learn that we cannot play the FairTax game. We're not Republicans. Nor are we Democrats. We must be eternally vigilant against any stew they cook up -- and the FairTax is a thoroughly Republican stew.
I never thought I'd witness LP candidates openly advocating new taxes (some promote the FairTax, others promote carbon taxes). Yet here we are. How's that working for us? Seems like the promised land hasn't gotten any closer -- the LP is still exactly where it was a few years ago, before we started hearing Libertarians proposing any new taxes.
I do not believe promoting the FairTax gets us any closer to a free society. If I'm going to spin wheels, I'd rather spin them with a clean conscience. Advocating a new tax does not leave me with a clean conscience. The sound-good idea of the FairTax should be recognized for what it is: never-ending federal tax enslavement.
If Libertarians are afraid to walk the libertarian talk, there's not much point in working via a third party.

Friday, February 05, 2010

FREELIBERTYPAC.COM RELEASE: Virginia Budget Chicanery

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NEWS FROM FREELIBERTYPAC.COM
THE "LIBERTARIAN WING" OF THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
World Wide Web: http://www.FreeLibertyPAC.com
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For release: February 5, 2010
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For additional information:
Marc Montoni, Founder, FreeLibertyPAC.com
Phone: (804) 592-6066
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Despite the myths government officials distribute, reports of "budget crises" are mostly hogwash. The problem is not revenue; many government bodies are collecting revenues that are only one or two percentage points off their peak, and some are collecting more this year than last -- the economy be damned.

The problem is that governments spend cash like drunken sailors. When was the last year a government budget -- in real dollars -- was smaller than the previous year?

Governments viciously suck up every spare penny they can find. Just from 2000 to 2009, Virginia's state spending has increased by 28% over the rate of inflation and population growth. From 1982 to 2007, Virginia government spending has increased at an average of about 7 per cent annually. How many wage earners have seen the same sort of increases?

Every time a federal, state, or local government declares some sort of "budget crisis", a quick fact check reveals "crisis" revenues are usually about the same as the revenue collected two or three years prior. So the question must be asked -- were government employees -- now the best-paid people in the job market -- begging on street corners those previous years?

Hardly.

Citizens and taxpayers are the ones being hit hard by economic conditions, not governments. Governments normally do their level best to increase the hardship, rather than relieve it -- their greed and avariciousness only increases during economic downturns. In their desire to steal ever more wealth from the private sector, governments raise tax rates to extract more wealth at gunpoint (try not paying and see who shows up).

Here are some budget ideas that would actually wrench Virginia's economy into rapid and sustainable growth: 1) Abolish the state income tax. 2) Initiate a hiring freeze at the state level; and initiate layoffs of employees whose functions do not directly protect the rights of individuals (we don't need the state government running ports or courier services, for example). 3) Repeal most regulations and taxes on starting businesses, such as the outdated and entrepreneurship-crushing BPOL tax. 4) Abolish zoning laws that crush the formation of garage businesses.

There are many more similar reforms that could be made. Unfortunately, however, governments never willingly give up money or power -- so we're destined to continue on the slow march to economic oblivion.

Sources:

JLARC Spending Synopsis: http://jlarc.state.va.us/inbrf/Inb392.htm

JLARC Spending increases from 1982: http://jlarc.state.va.us/fau/Data/Expend_Func.xls


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Marc Montoni is a network technician and a frequent columnist on the issue of individual liberty, Drug Prohibition, gun laws, and land-use regulation. He currently serves as the Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Virginia and publishes a commentary blog at FreeVirginia.blogspot.com.

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FreeLibertyPAC.com http://www.FreeLibertyPAC.com
PO Box 71106 voice: 804-288-2766
Richmond VA 23255-1106 fax: 804-592-6066
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