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by John McAlister
Candidate for U.S. Senate 2000
I don't have all the answers. I don't feel that any political party has all the answers. Because as long as man has free will to make choices, he will make bad choices. There is no way anyone can prevent someone from making bad choices and sometimes suffering the consequences of those choices. This is what religion, philosophy & ethics have been discussing for thousands of years. Politics is the end result of people's differing views of how to deal with the results of what happens when people make bad choices.
When I look at where politics has taken us over the last 100 years of our history, I am disturbed that we have gotten away from one political statement that some very wise men came up with in order to address this issue. It's called the Constitution of the United States of America.
I was a Republican for 34 years because I always believed that the politicians of that party believed as I did on the interpretation of how the Constitution should be followed in running our country. However, the Cato Institute says, "The record of the 105th Congress, Republican controlled in both Houses, was an abomination. Spending is up, no major program or agency has been eliminated, the tax code is more complex than ever, the GOP seems intent on federalizing every crime on the books and efforts to privatize Social Security are so lame as to be laughable." I totally agree.
What is a Libertarian? America's roots were founded in libertarianism. It wasn't called that then but it was the philosophy of individual rights, free markets and limited government -- the philosophy of Locke, Adam Smith and Jefferson -- sometimes referred to as "Classical Liberalism". But around 1900 the term liberal underwent a change. People who supported big government and wanted to limit and control the free market started calling themselves liberals, thus co-opting the term and turning it into the exact opposite of its original meaning.
Thomas Jefferson said, "The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." Many people today think that, indeed, we are being ruled by a small elite of "special interests" who want to carve up the government revenue pie for themselves. Come back to your roots America, vote Libertarian!
Libertarians believe as Frederic Bastiat wrote in 1848 in The Law: "The law is the collective organization of the individual's right to lawful defense of his life, liberty and property. When it is used for anything else, no matter how noble the cause, it becomes perverted and justice is weakened. Thus, the law has become perverted by stupid greed and false philanthropy."
Bastiat talks about the concept of using the law for legal plunder. He had a simple test to see if a law authorized legal plunder. He said to check and see "if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." Wouldn't one flaming example of this be Social Security? Even the Federal Fish & Wildlife Service has the power to condemn your property if it contains habitat conducive to an endangered species!
Libertarians ask the question: Does wrong become right when the majority approve? Is robbery, rape, kidnapping, murder wrong? Why? They are wrong because of unalienable rights to our lives, liberty and property. Then why do we allow the confiscation of our property in the form of income taxes, just because a majority voted on it? How many people must be in a gang of robbers so that the addition of one more, changes the immorality of robbery into the alleged rightness of taxation?
Libertarians believe that Legal Plunder Has Many Names. Again as Bastiat so aptly put it, "Legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, a right to health care? and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole -- with their common aim of legal plunder -- constitute socialism."
The Choice Before Us
In posing answers to the question of legal plunder, Bastiat said the question must be settled once and for all, and there are only three ways to settle it:
1. The few plunder the many.
2. Everybody plunders everybody.
3. Nobody plunders anybody.
Truly, is there any question as to which answer is the correct one? Libertarians believe that no legal plunder is the only answer that provides for "justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic."
Eighty years after Bastiat wrote those words, H.L. Mencken was still trying to get people to realize that, "The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods."
We have moved from James Madison's statement on the floor of Congress in 1794 that he could not "undertake to lay his finger on the article of the Federal Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Contrast that statement to Franklin Roosevelt who pleaded with the 1935 House Ways and Means Committee when he said, "I hope your committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation."
Today, it seems that Congress forgets to even consider or search the Constitution for authority before passing legislation. In a recent column Charles Crauthammer said, "We've come a long way from the Founders' vision of a government whose purpose is to secure rights and assure liberty. The purpose of 20th century government is to secure comfort and security itself."
Come back to your roots, America. Vote Libertarian!
Edward H. Crane, President of The Cato Institute, says, "There are only two basic ways to organize society: coercively, through government dictates; or voluntarily, through the myriad interactions among individuals and private associations. All the various political 'isms' -- monarchy, oligarchy, fascism, communism, conservatism, liberalism, libertarianism -- boil down to a single question: Who is going to make the decision about some particular aspect of your life, you or somebody else?"
Crane goes on to ask, "Do you spend the money you earn, or does Congress? Do you pick the school your child goes to, or does the school board? Do you decide what drugs to take when you're sick, or does the Food and Drug Administration in Washington?"
Libertarians want to set you free. We think that you should be free to keep the wages you earn. You should be the one who decides where your children go to school. You should be free to select your own retirement, to look at what you want on the Internet and be free to defend yourself. You should be free to smoke, and drink, what you want and be responsible for your own actions. You should be free to support charity as you see fit rather than being forced to pay for social programs you don't agree with. Come back to your roots America, vote Libertarian!
The Tenth Amendment says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." But as the Cato Institute's Handbook for Congress warns, "Despite their rhetorical devotion to the Tenth Amendment, Republicans have federalized everything from marriage law to building Boys and Girls Clubs, to penalties for church burning, and distribution of "date rape drugs.
"The Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency supplemental Appropriations Act was no less promiscuous than President Clinton's State of the Union Address. That billion-dollar package included such gems as:
Senators John McCain and Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed out that no member of Congress could possibly know what was in that bill, making a mockery of representative government and the deliberative process."
Lawrence Reed pointed out in "Great Myths of the Great Depression," in the 1932 Presidential election, Franklin Roosevelt blasted Hoover for: "spending and taxing too much, boosting the national debt, choking off trade, and putting millions of people on the dole. He accused the president of 'reckless and extravagant' spending, of thinking 'that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible,' and of presiding over 'the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.'"
Reed said that Roosevelt's running mate, John Nance Garner, charged Hoover with "leading the country down the path of socialism." It's too bad that Roosevelt and Garner didn't stick to their campaign promises. Those criticisms of Hoover were based on the founding principles of our country. Come back to your roots America, vote Libertarian!
Some of my Republican friends say, "But John, it's really going to matter who wins the Congress and the Presidency in the 2000 election." Oh really? My friend Harry Browne recently pointed out that "the final four budgets of the Democratic Congress enlarged the federal government by 3.4% per year, while the first four budgets of the Republican Congress have enlarged it by 3.3% per year. Should we get excited about the difference?
Again my Republican friends say that George W. Bush is going to restore Reganism back to the Party. Ah, I thought, that's great. I thought back to Regan's famous line in 1981: "If it moves, government wants to tax it. If it keeps moving, government wants to regulate it. And if it stops moving, government wants to subsidize it. I liked that kind of rhetoric. But let's see: Again as Harry Browned has pointed out: "under Bill Clinton the federal government has grown by 3.4% per year; under Ronald Reagan (with a Republican Senate for six of his eight years) it grew by 6.8% per year. After adjusting for inflation (which was much higher during the 1980s) government still grew by 2.7% a year under Ronald Reagan, and only 0.7% a year under Clinton. Should those of us who want much smaller government be eager to join either side?"
And of course, we have Dennis Hastert -- Speaker of the House and head of the Republican majority in Congress. I wonder if Dennis was the one who was able to slip in a taxpayer-funded grant for the study of caffeinated gum. Is the Stay Alert Caffeinated Gum Company in his district? Come back to your roots, America. Vote Libertarian!
Most Libertarians would agree with another quote from Cato's Handbook for Congress: "For those who go into government to improve the lives of their fellow citizens, the hardest lesson to accept may be that often there is no good reason for Congress to do anything about a problem -- such as education, crime, or church burning. Critics will object, do you want the government to just stand there and do nothing while this problem continues? Sometimes that is exactly what Congress should do. Remember the ancient wisdom imparted to physicians: First, do no harm. There is no higher duty for members of Congress than to remind us of the constitutional limits on government when we forget them."
Alexander Tyler Frasier, the British Historian & author of Fall of the Athenian Republic, said that the average age of the world's great civilizations has been but a mere two hundred years, and they proceed through the following sequence: "from BONDAGE to SPIRITUAL FAITH, from spiritual faith to GREAT COURAGE, from great courage to LIBERTY, from liberty to ABUNDANCE, from abundance to SELFISHNESS, from selfishness to COMPLACENCY, from complacency to APATHY, from apathy to DEPENDENCY, and from dependency back again to BONDAGE.
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. With the result that the voters always vote for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury. With the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."That's why the framers of the constitution designed our government as a Republic and not as a pure democracy. It's time to govern based on principles instead of polls.
Thus, as your Candidate for U.S. Senate, I say: "Do you want me to promise you benefits at the expense of your fellow Americans? Do you want me to promise you the right to commit legalized plunder all in the name of "betterment for society as a whole? Or do you want me to do nothing and/or vote against these things in the knowledge that if we continue down that same road, Fraiser's axiom as just stated will apply to us just as it has to great civilizations before?" That decision remains entirely with you the voter.
Come back to your roots America, vote Libertarian!
McAlister for U.S. Senate
Ann Leech Treasurer
2550 Corporate Exchange
Columbus, OH 43231
Last updated: 1/22/00