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Margaret Thatcher, Libertarianism, and the Etherization of the Single Tax – Merion West

Margaret Thatcher was a self-described libertarian from that era. She did something quite different with the single tax problem; she altered the class structure of the country.

No single piece of legislation has enabled the transfer of so much capital wealth from the State to the people. MP Michael Heseltine on the sale of publicly owned housing (Right to Buy), UK (1980)

The introduction of the Right to Buy policy in the 1980s can be considered one of the greatest intergenerational injustices in recent political history. David Kingman at the Intergenerational Foundation, UK (2017)

The Single Tax broke through in elections on two occasions. In 1886, Henry George ran for mayor of New York, leading a party of labour unions, Catholics, and Georgites with a land value tax platform. The Pope himself took part in stopping him. Then, in 1906, in Great Britain, the Liberal Party, propelled by an historic re-emergence of the land reform movement, won a landslide general election victory. The House of Lords sacrificed its legislative veto to halt land value taxation.Two elections, two crises.

The single tax (i.e. the shifting of taxes from labor and capital onto land value) had met formidable opposition. The single tax as something one can vote for ended in Great Britain soon after the Great Warat that time of revolution, imperial dissolution, regicide, epidemic and economic dislocation. Very close to home, Ireland, where the land question had raged for decades, was at war with the British Empire. From Londons point of view, it was not a time for experiments.

The [Liberal-Conservative] coalition dug the grave wide and deep. They flung into it the Land Taxes of Mr Lloyd George, the Land Valuation of Mr Lloyd George and the Land Policy of Mr Lloyd George. They dumped earth upon it. They stamped down the ground over the grave. They set up a stone to commemorate their victory for testimony to the passing stranger. Here buried forever, lies the Land Crusade.Never, it would seem, was a cause so sensationally and utterly destroyed. C. F. G. Masterman, politician and commentator (1920) quoted by FML Thompson in The Land Question in Britain, 1750-1950

Exactly the same thing happened on the Left. The Left was very closely linked to Georgism. A majority of Fabian-socialists either were or had been Georgists, and the Fabian society was formed by activists minted by Henry George himself, by his speeches and debates in the 1880s. Years of trying to reconcile Georgism and socialism followed, but the vanguard of the Left then also abruptly dropped the single tax.

The attempt to put into force any such crude universal measurewhich, it may be explained, is very far from being contemplated by the Labour Partywould inevitably jeopardise the very substance of the nation. B. and S. Webb, A Constitution for a Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain (1921),quoted in Peter dA. Jones Henry George and British Socialism.

The Representation of the People Act (1918) had added millions to the electorate. The pre-war land crusade, which was especially intense in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, had driven three general election victories in a row. What might it do now, with so many new landless voters? For the sakes of both the old right and the new left, liberalism, this thought-out, land-centric incarnation, had to be buried.

Disappearance was, indeed, achieved, but the burial was a hoax. The Single Tax to this day, lays living, etherized upon a table. The patient is tended to, kept under, by a staff of ex-devotees; lords, liberals, leftists unable to let go completely. Many were libertarians. Libertarianism was borne on the Georgist wave, just as socialism was. But unlike socialism, libertarianism naturally developed on Georgist lines: both are classically liberal and anti-monopoly. Albert J. Nock, the greatest libertarian critic of The State, had no doubt:

[Henry George] was the only [reformer] who believed in freedom, or (as far as I could see) had any approximation to an intelligent idea of what freedom is, and of the economic prerequisites to attaining it.

But post-World War II libertarianism also reached for the anaesthetic. A heavy price was paid. In order to sever roots and accept in toto the current system of state-founded, state-protected land monopoly libertarianism had to sacrifice its first principle: self-ownership. It also had to withdraw its original and most powerful critique of The State. In 1939 the author of Taxation is Robbery, Frank Chodorov,had written: The socialization of rent would destroy taxes. The State (as we know it) would disappear.

That taxation is intolerable, of course, remains central to libertarian rhetoric. But the rhetoric is thin. Does libertarianism today claim, as Chodorov did, that taxation itself can be abolished, transforming the State into something else, free of systemic privilege, i.e. minarchy? Would it say this: The [modern doctrine of taxation] does not distinguish between property acquired through privilege and property acquired through production. It cannot, must not, do that, for in so doing it would question the validity of taxation as a whole. If taxation were abolished, for instance, the cost of maintaining the social services of a community would fall on rentthere is no third sourceand the privilege of appropriating rent would disappear

The answer is no. In 1957, a former student of Georgism, Murray Rothbard, stepped in and ended the single tax debate within mainstream libertarianism. He simply denied the existence of rent: The first consequence of the single tax, then, is that no revenue would accrue from it.

Despite the misunderstanding, he got away with it. Chodorov had placed the single tax at the center of the libertarian critique of the state. The prolific Rothbard, the quietist, the etherizer, overwrites Taxation is Robbery. The meme taxation is theft was then appropriated and etherized and has become a mantra. State transformation via tax reform is a cancelled option; the most a libertarian can aspire to now is tax evasion: We should welcome every new loophole, shelter, credit, or exemption, and work, not to shut them down but to expand them to include everyone else, including ourselves.

Such was the transition to Royal Libertarianism.

Margaret Thatcher was a self-described libertarian from that era. She did something quite different with the single tax problem; she altered the class structure of the country. Before Thatcher became Prime Minister, she was grilled on land economics and the unearned increment by William F. Buckley (a Georgist) on television. She skillfully tiptoed around the subject but did, when pressed, give a nod in the direction of the single tax. She clearly understood the Georgist diagnosis of economic malaise. However, a few years later, after the election, she administered the anti-Georgist cure. The policy was called Right to Buy, the sale of publicly-owned real estate (council houses and, crucially, the value of their locations) to tenants. Around two million took up the offer. A boom in the wider real estate market followed. The government, in the Parliamentary debate on the bill, was frank: No one can dispute that the home owner in recent decades has gained immensely from the fact of ownership. The gain has accrued partially from the judgement and thrift associated with the saving to buy, but even more from the tax-free windfall gains that have accrued to virtually everyone once he has bought his own home.

Heseltine then went on to describe how the tenant paying rent (i.e. the non-landowner) is in a very different boat. The tenant receives no benefit from rising land value. On the contrary, the renter pays higher rents. This, of course, is the Georgist thesis on inequality in a nutshell, presented as common fact. But instead of using that fact to advocate for the single tax, it is used to advertise real estate:

There is in this country a deeply ingrained desire for home ownership. The Government believe that this spirit should be fostered. It reflects the wishes of the people, ensures the wide spread of wealth through societyand stimulates the attitudes of independence and self-reliance that are the bedrock of a free society.

The aim was to create an incentive society, a property owning democracy. The home-owner was a variation on libertarianisms entrepreneur ideal-type. This entrepreneur does not see Chodorovs distinction between production and privilege: between an innovator-entrepreneur (production), and a rentier-entrepreneur (privilege).

The Bill has two main objectives: first, to give people what they want, and, secondly, to reverse the trend of ever-increasing dominance of the State over the life of the individual,Heseltine said in 1980.

The language is deflecting; it is the people who want the expansion of the land windfall. Thatcher was following Rothbard to the letter; she achieved the radical expansion of a tax loophole. It was a brilliant move, and it laid in a voting block hostile (we are told) to any attempt to revive the sleeping patient.

In recent years, the results of Right to Buy have been examined. The first Right to Buy house, a two bedroomed terrace was sold in 1980 to its council tenants. Located near enough to London, this is what happened to its price:

1980: 8,000 (average wage 6,000)

2020 301,000 (average wage 36,000)

332,000 (current est.)

That price rise, that increment, was privatized in 1980, an act of enclosure. However, in widening land monopoly, Thatcher ignored the law of monopoly: The big eventually devour the small. The attempt to engineer a permanent property owning middle class has failed.

40% Of Right-To-Buy Homes Now In Hands Of Private Landlords.

In The Huffington Post, 2017

For 25-34 year-olds earning between 22k and 30k per year, home ownership fell to just 27% in 2016 from 65% two decades ago.

In The Guardian, 2018

Adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s are three times more likely to rent than 20 years ago.

In The Guardian, 2020

Margaret Thatcher engineered a new landowner class large enough to keep the Single Tax out of politics. But she used the poison as the cure. The home-owning class is now shrinking. Monopoly feeds on monopoly. The patient lays etherized.

Darren Iversen is an independent student of Georgist history in England.

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Margaret Thatcher, Libertarianism, and the Etherization of the Single Tax - Merion West

COVID-19 and . . . 2024? – National Review

President Donald Trump and Senator Tom Cotton in the White House in Washington, D.C., August 2, 2017(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Charles Fain Lehman has written an assessment for the Washington Free Beacon of the policy divide among congressional Republicans on how best to confront the economic dimension of the coronavirus outbreak. He argues that the debate maps at least partly onto pre-existing political struggles within the Republican Party, pitting those open to greater government intervention, such as senators Mitt Romney, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley, against more libertarian-leaning members.

This is true, to some extent. One can quibble somewhat with certain aspects of this analyis, however. Certainly, libertarians might resent being stuck with Senator Lindsay Graham as their ostensible philosophical representative. And when a policy expert at a think-tank Lehman describes as libertarian-leaning helps design the plan of one of the supposedly anti-libertarian members, one wonders how severe and serious the distinctions his assessment focuses on are, at least amid coronavirus. (Even if Samuel Hammond isnt exactly a libertarian.)

Theres something meaningful to the fact that no one in Congress is really arguing for the federal government to do nothing, which is not what most libertarians would be on board with now anyway. Instead, theyre arguing over the best way to increase government involvement. This is an extraordinary crisis. Government does often grow in such times in ways that linger afterward. But we have no way of knowing at this time if the attitudes and policies that emerge now will carry on into the future (or if they should). Right now, we dont even know whats going to happen next week.

Or in 2024. Yet Lehman writes:

Cotton, Hawley, and Rubio are all considered potential contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential primary. A successful run by any of them could shift the balance of power in the party away from its more libertarian, business-oriented wing and into the hands of the nascent populist, worker-focused tendency awakened by, among other things, the electoral success of President Donald Trump.

Whether this framing is correct or not, the amount of things we know for certain is, at this time, incredibly low. We dont know what Congress is going to do, whether America will successfully limit the spread of coronavirus, or how it will impact the 2020 election (or if it even will). Lehman may be right that politics isnt stopping completely during this extraordinary event, even if its singular nature suggests caution regarding its utility as a reference point for politics beyond. But whatever happens, speculating about the 2024 presidential primary seems genuinely impossible right now.

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COVID-19 and . . . 2024? - National Review

Illinois third-party candidates seek changes to ballot access amid COVID-19 pandemic – WGEM

Springfield, IL - People looking to run for public office as third-party or independent candidates are facing a new struggle to get on the ballot due to the novel coronavirus. Petitioning for alternative political parties in Illinois started this week, but candidates are struggling as they can't talk face-to-face with residents during the stay at home period.

The Libertarian Party of Illinois asked Gov. JB Pritzker's office and the State Board of Elections what they could do to help alternative party candidates appear on the November ballot. Officials from the Board of Elections said nothing can be done without action from state lawmakers.

"We're kind of screwed right now, to be quite honest. It's impossible to gather petition signatures at this time," said McLean County Libertarian Party Chairman Steve Suess. "And there's not really a time table for when it will be possible either. We only have 90 days, so we have 89 more and the clock's ticking."

The Libertarian Party says they'll continue to look for solutions with the Governor's office and Board of Elections to give every political party the opportunity to be on the November ballot. Party members say lowering the current petition signature requirements could be a good first step, but they realize it would require proposals to move quickly out of both chambers. With the General Assembly canceling their third consecutive week of scheduled session due to COVID-19, it's highly uncertain if such plans could pass before the end of session in May.

"I have hopes that they'll be in Springfield in a few weeks in April, but who knows how long this shelter in place will be in order and how long it will be before our General Assembly can get together and actually work on something," Suess exclaimed.

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Illinois third-party candidates seek changes to ballot access amid COVID-19 pandemic - WGEM

The benefits of sex after 60 – The Libertarian Republic

Life is made up of stages, and although many believe that reaching 60 means giving in to a life of rest, dont forget you can always enjoy an interesting, fulfilling life. You can go out, travel, explore new places, and there is no reason you cant have an intimate date with escorts in London and be seduced.

Theres nothing quite like arriving at a social event with a stunning and sophisticated escort on your arm with an impeccable presence. Nowadays, many people do, and its a practice that brings class to those who choose the best companions.

After a life of work, effort and dedication, this last stage doesnt have to mean distancing yourself from the activities that you were passionate about in your youth. Your body may not respond in the same way, but maintaining a balanced diet after 30 can drastically prolong your sex life.

Sex shouldnt become taboo after a certain age, as its a natural human practice. Its benefits have been proven through studies that show having an active sex life reflects in an improvement in your physical and mental state.

Couples who have been together for many years can still keep their action going in bed, even after a lot of time has passed. This doesnt often happen, and people older than 60 who maintain an active sex life are considered lucky in our society. Sex reduces the risk of prostate cancer, improves cardiac activity and significantly increases your happiness.

Your brain health can improve, and, considering that the majority of illness during this period affect the brain, it is a good way of keeping deterioration at bay. Your physical appearance will improve, and, of course, your vitality will shoot up. According to David Weeks, people who have sex look 7 years younger than they are.

Your sex drive usually awakens in certain circumstances, and it is clear that youthfulness, vitality and beautyare stimulating for anyone. Opting for an escort is a great idea for men of a certain age, as certain obstacles are skipped over and you can go straight to action.

Many dream of spending the last years of their lives travelling, so its good to have a companion who can make those moments much more pleasurable: good conversation, a night of dancing, and rounding off with great sex is something that doesnt sound so bad if you really think about it.

Nowadays, reaching a certain age is a victory, and fulfilling your desires can be a good way of injecting a little vitality into your old age. Having a gorgeous companion is undoubtedly a great way to keep the flame of passion alight.

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The benefits of sex after 60 - The Libertarian Republic

Tiger King is the weird docu-series distraction we can use right now – Q13 News Seattle

People who own big cats are unusual, were told near the outset of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, which proceeds to prove that and then some over seven jaw-dropping episodes. Netflix has made a lot of noise with unscripted programming, but its going to roar with this beyond-bizarre docu-series distraction, which demonstrates that outlandish people who love filming themselves are a formula for TV thats grrrr-reat.

Its hard to know, frankly, where to begin with all the strange twists and turns, but directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin rightly assume that its easiest to work backward from the (almost) end: Joseph Maldonado-Passage, an eccentric keeper of tigers, lions and other big cats in Oklahoma who goes by the name Joe Exotic, allegedly having orchestrated a murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin, a woman who runs a facility called Big Cat Rescue, who had lobbied to shut down operations like his.

After that, though, theres a whole lot to chew on. Big cats, it turns out, are a kind of aphrodisiac, inspiring what can only be described as cultish devotion including Joes marriage to not one but two men; another big-cat owner, Bhagavan Doc Antle, who is basically a polygamist; and Jeff Lowe, who comes into Joes orbit later and brags about using exotic pets as a come-on to find partners for threesomes.

But wait, theres more: The colorful characters that Joe attracts to work for him (including one who loses a limb to a tiger attack); Joes desire to create his own media kingdom, enlisting a former Inside Edition correspondent, Rick Kirkham, to oversee his TV efforts; and finally, Joes forays into politics, running for president before mounting a libertarian bid for governor of Oklahoma, despite being a little unclear on what a libertarian actually is.

Finally, theres Baskin, who would seemingly be the voice of reason in all this, objecting, as she does, to people housing and trading in dangerous cats. Still, she finances those efforts largely through the fortune she inherited from her late husband, who disappeared under the kind of mysterious circumstances that even a Dateline NBC producer might consider too good to be true.

Because the big-cat owners are showmen (beyond the zoo, Joe fancies himself a country-and-western singer), theres a whole lot of vamping for the cameras. They also tend to document their actions extensively, which makes the occasional use of reenactments here feel especially gratuitous.

Still, even by the standards of reality TV a genre populated by exhibitionists and those seeking their 15 minutes of fame Tiger King is so awash in hard-to-believe oddballs that lean into their image it genuinely feels like a Coen brothers movie come to life, the kind of thing any studio would return to the writer saying the screenplay was too over the top.

During the final chapter, one of Joes employees says theres a lot of drama in the zoo world. Thats about the only thing thats understated in Tiger King, which even amid the current glut of true crime is the kind of juicy morsel thats almost impossible to resist.

Tiger King premieres March 20 on Netflix.

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Tiger King is the weird docu-series distraction we can use right now - Q13 News Seattle

Jordan Keeps Coronavirus In Check With One Of The World’s Strictest Lockdowns | NPR – KCRW

Written by Jane Arraf Mar. 25, 2020

The country of Jordan has implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world to stop the spread of the coronavirus, forcing most people to stay indoors and temporarily shutting down even grocery stores and pharmacies.

The Middle Eastern country with its 10 million residents has so far arrested more than 1,600 people for breaking the five-day-old curfew, which bans even going for walks or allowing pets outdoors.

After three days of complete lockdown, the government has commandeered city buses to deliver bread and other essentials directly to neighborhoods. It had considered ensuring distribution of cigarettes to smokers in a country with one of the highest smoking rates in the world.

On Tuesday, Jordan began allowing a limited reopening of small grocery stores for those between ages 16 and 60. It kept a ban on driving. Security forces say they have impounded more than 600 cars for breaching the ban.

The strict measures were taken after a less-severe curfew imposed the previous week was widely flouted, with some Jordanians continuing to hold weddings and other large gatherings.

"Especially in countries without very much intervention, the infection rate can rise really very fast," says Dr. Najwa Khuri-Bulos, an infectious disease specialist and adviser to Jordan's Ministry of Health. "There is a window period where you can interfere effectively. Hopefully doing these kinds of very strict measures will make it manageable."

As of Wednesday, the kingdom has 153 current confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, and the number has been rising steadily but slowly.

Jordan also hosts more than 600,000 Syrian refugees, and the global pandemic had sparked fears that the country's medical care system would be very quickly overloaded.

Last week, the country started placing arriving travelers, including Jordanians, in mandatory 14-day quarantine. About 5,000 people have been quarantined in hotels in the capital of Amman and the Dead Sea. Shortly after, it stopped all incoming and outgoing commercial flights.

The shutdown has had severe economic repercussions in the already poor country.

"Nobody is in denial about the potential economic cost of the shutdown, but authorities perhaps believe that this cost is to be paid 10 times down the line if the virus spreads further. So the main goal is to reduce the human toll," says Nasser bin Nasser, director of the Amman-based Middle East Scientific Institute for Security.

Bin Nasser says most Jordanians seem to be accepting the restrictions. "Maybe in the U.S. or other libertarian societies where freedom of movement is so ingrained in the national psyche this would be harder," he says.

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Jordan Keeps Coronavirus In Check With One Of The World's Strictest Lockdowns | NPR - KCRW

In Remembrance of Jon Basil Utley (1934-2020) | Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute

The profreedom and antiwar movement lost one of its most dedicated champions this past weekend. Jon Basil Utley was born in the Soviet Union in 1934. His Britishborn mother, Freda, had gone there as aprocommunist intellectual and writer. But after his father was spirited away to one of Stalins gulags (where he was executed in 1938), Freda fled with young Jon and became an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union, including in several bestselling books. They eventually emigrated to the United Stateswhere Freda hosted meetings of prominent anticommunists in their home. That is where Jon met many leading intellectuals and activists of the Cold War era, connections that lasted alifetime. He became an accomplished writer in his own right, as well as asuccessful businessman. He traveled extensively.

Jon was anearly ubiquitous presence at DC gatheringsand globally. He attended many events at Cato, as well as Grover Norquists Wednesday meetings at Americans for Tax Reform. He supported Reason magazine and the Reason Foundation, and many other libertarian causes. And he was proud to be associated with The American Conservative magazine, where he served on the board of directors, and as publisher.

Whenever Iencountered Jon at one of these meetings, he would always greet me with awarm toothy smile and afirm handshake. He made me feel so welcomed at these gatherings but he did the same for everyone else as well, as though he appreciated every single person in attendance.

But his warmth and affection for those around him concealed adeep and abiding hatred of Americas wars, and arelated sadness at his fellow Americans apparent disinterest in the suffering these wars caused for innocent men, women, and children all around the world. In meetings, he would often ask questions, or make comments, in his soft, almost lyrical, voice. Most of the time, his remarks conveyed his skepticism of these wars, even as he knew that many of those around him (mostly conservatives, but also some libertarians) wished desperately that he would just sit down and shut up. But that just wasnt his style.

Jon was apeacemaker within the oftenfractious liberty movement, too. His sadness about Americas wars was perhaps only exceeded by his disappointment that his friends in the antiwar movement were fighting with one another. He was anatural bridgebuilder with avery wide circle of acquaintancesand always on the lookout to make introductions and build alliances.

Last year, when it presented Jon alifetime achievement award, The American Conservative prepared afitting tribute video. Iknow and respect many of the people who offered their reflections on why Jon was worthy of such an award. TACs Executive Editor Kelly Beaucar Vlahos called him one of the bravest people that Iknow in Washington. To Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, Jon was one of the most gentle, generous men Ive ever met. My friend John Henry declared, simply, Jon is America.

This was particularly true in the post9/11 era, when conservatives, in particular, really didnt want to hear one of their own questioning the wisdom of George W. Bushs various foreign warsespecially the war in Iraq. Jon would be the only person to stand up and say the Iraq war made no sense, John Henry recalled, when everybody else was saluting, [and chanting] USA! USA!

The Heritage Foundations Lee Edwards counted Jons willingness to stand up for the truth as he sees it, regardless of what others say as his greatest achievement.

All of the wise men of the conservative movement, Edwards explained, believed that the United States should be waging war in Iraq. They would listen as Jon would question why. Then hed sit down. Afew moments of awkward silence typically ensued before the meeting moved onto the next topic.

But, after the luncheon was over, Edwards continued, people would come up to him and say Jon, keep saying that. Keep asking those questionsI havent got enough guts to do it, but you have.

Edwards noted that when the weapons of mass destruction werent found in Iraq, and most Americans came to realize that the war had been aterrible mistake, Jon didnt go around saying I was right. Itold you so and that, too, was to his great credit. Edwards congratulated Utley for speaking up when others were timid.

Jon was alongtime generous donor to the Cato Institute, and for that we are all grateful. But his influence ran much deeper that that. He was awarm and wonderful friend, and an inspiration to those of us who followed in his footsteps.

During this period of COVID-19, when all public gatherings have been postponed or canceled, we have more urgent things to attend to. But, when things return to normal, and Ifor the first time attend one of those meetings where Iwould have expected to see Jons kind smile and reassuring presence, Ifear that that is when the true depths of this loss will really be felt.

Rest in peace, my friend. Your legacy lives on.

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In Remembrance of Jon Basil Utley (1934-2020) | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute

The duties we owe to the state – The Conservative Woman

READING the comments sections ofTCWand the wider conservative media, it is evident that a war within a war is raging, as proponents of freedom from authoritarian government do battle with proponents of self-sacrifice in the national interest. Yet both are fundamental conservative principles, for conservatives value the interests of both the individual and the community. Matters are immeasurably complicated because such are the unknowns that any calculation of costs and benefits medical, economic, political, psychological is impossible.

I have argued for the lockdown, but I fully recognise that powerful arguments can be marshalled on the other side. As Trump has said, the cure may wreak more damage than the disease.

What, I wonder, would the late Sir Roger Scruton have made of it all? Scruton always veered more to the communal than the libertarian strain of conservatism. For him, the essence of conservatism was family and community, not the market. But at the same time, there was no braver or more principled opponent of communism, of the totalitarian state, or proponent of the importance of private property and of the rights of individuals to enjoy lifes pleasures.

The key to Scrutons conservatism, I think, lies in Burke, Hegel and F H Bradley. For Burke, wisdom lay not in one mans private stock of reason, but in the the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages. For Hegel, the individual is ultimately a social being. We owe an absolute obligation to the state and its institutions because the existence of civil society is conditional on the existence of a state. And for Bradley, it is only because man is first a social being that he can realise himself as an individual. We have found ourselves, writes Bradley, when we have found our station and its duties, our function as an organ in the social organism.

Libertarians and individualists might be shocked at these sentiments and they are easy to misconstrue; but they were second nature to Scruton. He particularly admired Bradleys essayMy Station and its Duties, from which the above quote is taken, and often referred to it. His early essayHegel as a Conservative Thinkerbowled me over when I stumbled across it more than twenty years ago. The subtly woven arguments are beyond my ability to summarise, but consider the import of this sentence from the final paragraph:

An understanding of the human being as a social artefact shows inequality to be natural, power to be good, and constraint to be a necessary ingredient in the only freedom we can value.

Libertarian advocates of the minimal state will heartily disagree and warn of the path to totalitarianism. But for Scruton, the guarantee of our liberties, of the liberties we might truly value,wasthe state. Not a totalitarian state, to be sure, but a state to which we owed profound obligations.

It may be that those obligations have never been greater than they are now.

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The small-government case for giving everyone a big check – The Week

The coronavirus relief checks are coming. Businesses are closing, increasingly by state mandate; unemployment claims are spiking; and as many as eight in 10 American workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, while half can't cover an unexpected $400 expense. Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington agree on the necessity of cash aid distributed directly to the public, something in the range of $1,000 per adult and $500 per child.

The major point left to be settled is means testing: Should the payments be scaled down or phased out entirely for those in higher income brackets? Perhaps the expected response from libertarians like me and fiscal conservatives more broadly is support for upfront means testing or some other barrier (requiring people to request the money, for example, or subjecting it to 2020 income taxes) to reduce the overall expenditure. Perhaps it's my cynical expectation of perpetual federal insolvency talking, but I think that would be a mistake. The scale of our national debt is already so monstrous that penny-pinching pandemic relief aid will accomplish nothing good.

So if we're doing checks, it should be simple and democratic, with minimal bureaucracy and maximum opportunity for local redistribution.

There are several reasons why this is a good idea, none of which require affection for big government. First is the issue of speed. Means testing or requiring applications of any kind takes time. But the growing portion of those eight in 10 workers living paycheck-to-paycheck don't have time. Some live in municipalities, like New York City, where evictions and/or utilities cutoffs have been suspended, but not all. And even if their housing is temporarily safe and transport costs near zero, even the most Spartan quarantiners still have bills to pay.

Second is the reality that however much shutdowns may be the least worst option in many places the state is the party responsible for these losses of income. Eminent domain is a reasonable analogy here, and when your property is taken via eminent domain, you must be compensated. (The Fifth Amendment requires that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.") That compensation doesn't scale down for those with higher incomes, and rightly so.

Equally compelling, to my mind, is the real risk that means testing will prove destructively inaccurate. The preferred method seems to be checking income levels from 2018 tax returns but surely it's obvious that many people who were comfortable a year and a half ago are now on the brink of disaster?

I'm thinking of my friend who co-owns a local coffee shop, now shuttered indefinitely; or my friend the substitute teacher, who lost work when Minnesota closed all public schools through at least the end of the month; or my friend who works in mental health care in a hospital which could furlough her to make more room for COVID-19 patients. Whatever their 2018 tax returns said, that doesn't reflect their present reality. Here's a classic libertarian line: This isn't a call Washington will be able to make accurately. The feds aren't as smart as they think they are.

Finally, on a more hopeful note, simply sending checks to everyone allows those who don't need the extra money to give it to those who do. If "I still have a secure job" when a check shows up, tweeted Cato Institute scholar Scott Lincicome, "I'll blow it all on local restaurant gift cards and THEN donate all of those to my church." I hope to do something similar, and others will too. Thus permitting "citizens to make millions of separate and decentralized judgments about the needs in their communities will ... make the aid more effective overall," argued National Review writer and former columnist at The Week Michael Brendan Dougherty.

This is perhaps the most famous insight of libertarian economist F.A. Hayek (who, incidentally, supported a universal basic income, which these checks are on a temporary scale): No central authority can possibly collect all the local knowledge needed to plan a national economy. Indeed, "practically every individual has some advantage over all others because he possesses unique information of which beneficial use might be made," Hayek wrote in a 1945 contribution to The American Economic Review, "but of which use can be made only if the decisions depending on it are left to him or are made with his active cooperation."

The state does not know better than you or me about who in our communities is in sudden need. When and we all know there is no "if" here Washington borrows, loans, and spends enormous sums of money attempting to offset the economic distress the response to coronavirus has wrought, distributing responsibility for how that money is spent will make better use of local knowledge than any national means testing program can. The simpler and more democratic the relief spending, the more real good it will be able to do.

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The small-government case for giving everyone a big check - The Week

Libertarian Party reminds people they have 15 candidates running for president – week.com

East Peoria (WEEK) -- The Libertarian Party wants you to know they have 15 candidates running for president this year.

Ahead of next week's primary, the party is having a debate at the East Peoria Embassy Suites Friday night at 8 PM.

Local organizer Steve Suess says the party is focused on a few fronts, including anti-intervention policy, tax reform, civil liberties, and minimizing government involvement.

He's asking voters to give his party a chance.

"People won't give money to a Libertarian candidate or won't vote for a Libertarian candidate because they can't win but at the same time we're not gonna break that cycle of not winning if people don't vote and donate and volunteer for campaigns I would encourage people to do research and make the decision they feel most comfortable about in the ballot box," shares Suess.

Despite many cancellations from coronavirus concerns, Suess says they still plan to go on with the event.

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Libertarian Party reminds people they have 15 candidates running for president - week.com

Yes, There Are Libertarians in Pandemics – Reason

It's almost never a good idea to use a public health crisis to score points against your political opponentsand if you're going to do it, you really ought to try to describe the situation accurately.

Actually, that second part applies even when there's no public health crisis.

It has, however, become fashionable for certain elements of the Very Online Left to use the ongoing coronavirus outbreak as evidence that libertarians either don't actually exist or that we quickly abandon our principles in the face of a pandemic. This recent outbreak of libertarian bashingwhich makes only slightly more sense than the claims made by some on the right that libertarians are secretly running everything in Washington, D.C. and plotting to get your kids addicted to pornseems to have started with a pithy tweet from Atlantic writer Derek Thompson on March 3. But it's become a ubiquitous online "take" since Sunday afternoon, when Bloomberg opinion writer Noah Smith logged on.

The take may have achieved its final format least let's hope sowith The Atlantic's publication on Tuesday of an 800-word piece from staff writer Peter Nicholas carrying the headline (sigh) "There Are No Libertarians in a Pandemic."

Lazy? Yes. Inaccurate? Yes.

Nicholas' article opens with a scene from CPACthat's the Conservative Political Action Conference, by the wayand proceeds to detail all the ways in which the Trump administration has botched the federal response to the new coronavirus, called COVID-19. You know, the same Trump administration that is just full to the brim with libertarians. The same administration that is raising barriers to free trade, making it more difficult for people to move to America, giving bail-outs to politically favored industries, considering more bailouts to more politically favored industries, trying to regulate free speech online, suing newspapers in an attempt to curb the First Amendment, and launching missiles into foreign countries without congressional authorization. That administration? That's the libertarian one?

Nicholas tries to get away with this nonsense by setting up a false equivalency. Trump is campaigning against socialism, you see, and libertarians also dislike socialismso therefore the Trump administration must be libertarian. Right? Therefore, when Trump starts talking like a socialist himselfby promising coronavirus bailouts and the repurposing of disaster recovery funds to cover people who come down with COVID-19it is proof positive that the libertarian world has abandoned its commitment to smaller government. Voila!

Perhaps The Atlantic's editorial staff has self-quarantined from its dutieshow else to explain how an otherwise thoughtful publication could allow a headline that confuses libertarianism with anything that the Trump administration is doing? For that matter, maybe Smith and Thompson believe that an army of strawmen are an effective defense against COVID-19. I hope it works out for them.

As a libertarian in a pandemic, let me first assure you that we do in fact still exist.

And, in fact, it is the free marketand, to a lesser extent, its defenderswho will help you survive the new coronavirus. All those groceries you're stocking up on in advance of the expected collapse of civilization? They didn't end up on grocery store shelves because government officials ordered it to happen or because someone was feeling particularly generous today. That gallon jug of hand sanitizer delivered to your front door less than 48 hours after you ordered it online? It didn't show up because Trump tweeted it into existence or because the surgeon general is driving a delivery truck around the country.

Bottled water? Face masks? They're available because someone is turning a profit by making and selling them. The first latex gloves were invented in the 1880s but the disposable variety that are so useful right now have "only been available since 1964, as innovated by the private company Ansell, founded by Eric Ansell in Melbourne, Australia. Thank you international trade," notes Jeffrey Tucker, editorial director of the American Institute for Economic Research.

Sure, one consequence of the success of private enterprise in reshaping the world is an interconnected planet that allows for something like COVID-19 to spread more rapidly than would have been possible in the past. But modern technology has also allowed doctors, private enterprises, and (yes) governments to respond more quickly than ever before.

It also means that you'll have access to nearly every piece of film, television, and music ever recorded by human beings if you have to self-quarantine for a week or two. It means that humans have the ability to live far healthier lives than they did in 1918, when a global flu pandemic killed 50 million people. The people who live through the current coronavirus outbreak because of stronger immune systems made possible by steady diets won't show up on any list of statistics after the coronavirus has passed, but capitalism is at least partially to thank for their survival.

In short, if you had to pick any time in human history to live through a global pandemic, you'd be incredibly foolish not to pick the current time. And the reason you'd pick this moment in history probably has less to do with who is running the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization, and more to do with the technological and medical advances made possible by free enterprise.

"What is the mighty contribution of government these days?" asks Tucker. "To order quarantines but not to tell you whether you can step outside, how you will get groceries, how long it will last, who you can invite in, and when it will all end. Don't try to call the authorities. They have better and bigger things to worry about than your sorry plight that is causing you sleepless nights and endless worry. Thank goodness for digital technology that allows you to communicate with friends and family."

Yeah, there are libertarians in a pandemic. We're the ones willing to acknowledge how much more all of this would suck if the market didn't exist.

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Yes, There Are Libertarians in Pandemics - Reason

Tired: There Are No Libertarians in a Pandemic. Wired: There Are Only Libertarians in a Pandemic. – Reason

Man, it seems like only a few days ago that the smart set was writing off small-government types (again!) in articles with such snarky headlines as "There Are No Libertarians in a Pandemic."

By now it might be more correct to believe there are only libertarians in a pandemic, including officials who are suddenly willing and able to waive all sorts of ostensibly important rules and procedures in the name of helping people out.

How else to explain the decision by the much-loathed and irrelevant-to-safety Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to allow family-sized jugs of hand sanitizer onto planes? The TSA isn't going full Milton Friedmanit's reminding visitors to its website "that all other liquids, gels and aerosols brought to a checkpoint continue to be allowed at the limit of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters carried in a one quart-size bag." But it's a start.

Something similar is going on in Massachusetts, a state well-known for high levels of regulation, including of the medical sector. Expecting a crush in medical care needs due the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker has seen the light and agreed to streamline the Bay State's recognition of "nurses and other medical professionals" who are registered in other parts of the United States, something that 34 states do on a regular basis.

As Walter Olson of the Cato Institute observes,

That's agood idea, which should help get medical professionals to where they are most needed, and it is one of many good ideas that should be kept on as policy after the pandemic emergency passes. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, by contrast, when stormravaged oceanside homeowners badly needed skilled labor to restore their premises to usable condition, local laws in places like Long Island forbade them to bring in skilled electricians even from other counties of New York, let along other states.

And over at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), bureaucrats have suddenly decided to approve overnight a coronavirus test that its former chief, Scott Gottlieb, has described as a "fairly routine technology."

The Roche test is 10 times faster than the process currently being used, but the FDA didn't approve it until this past Fridayand then only for this particular emergency. But even with that delay and that limited application, this is a welcome shift.

As Reason's Ronald Bailey has noted, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "stymied private and academic development of diagnostic tests that might have provided an early warning and a head start on controlling the epidemic that is now spreading across the country."

You can probably see where I'm going with this: If the policies and decisions above are worth tossing out in an emergency, maybe they ought to be sidelined during normal times too.

Situations like the 9/11 attacks and the coronavirus outbreak often open the door to naked power grabs whose terrible consequences that stick around long after the events that inspired them (looking at you, TSA!). Governments rarely return power once they've amassed it. But if you listen carefully, you can hear them telling us what stuff they realize can be safely tossed. When the infection rates come down and the theaters and schools and everything else get back to normal, it may be tempting just to go back to the way we were. Resist the temptation: A lot of the rules we put up with every day are worth reevaluating, and not only during an emergency.

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Tired: There Are No Libertarians in a Pandemic. Wired: There Are Only Libertarians in a Pandemic. - Reason

There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic – The Atlantic

Speaking to reporters at the White House yesterday, Trump said he wants to shore up businesses and aid people whose finances have been hit. Were going to be working with a lot of companies so they dont get penalized for something thats not their fault, he said. Worried about the slumping travel industry, the White House is now considering tax deferrals for airlines and cruise lines. The administration has been weighing whether to use funds from a disaster program to pay for treatment of uninsured people who have become infected, The Wall Street Journal reported. And Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, said the administration might dust off a Korean Warera law called the Defense Production Act to ensure rapid manufacturing of medical supplies in the private sector.

Thats not free-market capitalism, says Jean Cohen, a political-theory professor at Columbia University, referring to the measures the White House has contemplated as the virus spreads. You can choose the term: Its regulated capitalism, or its the interventionist state, or its democratic socialism. If you want to serve the public good instead of private profit making, you need government to come in and make sure thats done.

Whatever the term, the Trump administrations handling of the outbreak amounts to government activism in the face of a national crisis. Its nothing new and, as may well prove the case this time around, its often necessary. Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called on American industry to outproduce the Axis powers during World War II, retooling whole sectors to meet ambitious manufacturing goals for tanks and planes. George W. Bush, a Republican, sunk hundreds of billions of dollars into a bailout program meant to keep the banking industry afloat after the 2008 financial crisis. I decided that the only way to preserve the free market in the long run was to intervene in the short run, Bush wrote in his 2010 book, Decision Points.

Read: The strongest evidence yet that America is botching coronavirus testing

In Trumps case, he may try to have it both ways: using socialism as a convenient campaign slogan, while battling the coronavirus with extraordinary measures comparable to what other modern presidents have done to beat back a crisis. Critics have panned his methods so far. As infections spread, hes kept up his golf outings and fundraising schedule, while downplaying a virus that could have reached his outstretched hand: At CPAC, he greeted Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who was in contact with the infected participant.

Trumpworld would like the 2020 general election to be a referendum on socialism; the Democrats want it to be a referendum on Trump. We will have it out, Kudlow said at CPAC. President Trump is more than prepared to show the world why what he called the American model of free enterprise will whip socialism every time.

Trump, though, is no doctrinaire economic conservative. His political brand is rooted in personality and celebrity, and hes bent on capturing a second term. If he decides that the quickest path to quashing the coronavirus is activist, interventionist government, free-market doctrine is unlikely to get in his way. If theres some dissonance in his reelection message and his practices, hell live with it.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

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There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic - The Atlantic

Seeking change and acceptance: Sex worker and political candidate riles things up in Orleans and beyond – The Daily News Online

ALBION To describe Chase Tkach is a daunting task, much like the one she faced when running as a third-party candidate for a seat on Orleans County Legislature last fall.

Shes a grade-school dropout. A third-year college student. A mother. A rebel. A politician. Founder and Head of the Orleans Libertarian Party.

Oh, and she happens to make her living in the always-thriving sex industry, both as a for-hire dominatrix and a porn star.

She also happens to be a friendly, articulate young woman with a passion for politics and change and who wont back down when challenged.

To say Chase Tkach is shaking things up in the rural, vastly conservative Orleans County is an understatement.

Shes quite a character, said Tony DOrazio, vice chairman of the State Libertarian Party. Were a party full of characters. We have people who are very professional and then we have people like Chase. She is very much not a farmer but she has been able to go in and get things done.

The main thing, for Libertarians, is that Tkach was able to establish a presence in Orleans.

We tried to get that going for years and she came in and got it done, DOrazio said.

Tkach is just 24 and has been living in Orleans County for six years.

She was born in Brockport and moved to Florida at the age of 2.

She dropped out of school in Orlando after seventh grade, got her GED and moved back to New York when she became pregnant at 18.

I have family here I havent seen in years and I wanted to reconnect with them, she said. And I didnt want to raise my child in Florida. I was in Miami and it was really bad. I didnt want my child growing up in that atmosphere.

Tkach lived in Medina, renting an apartment, and at age 20 bought a house in Carlton.

Politics came easy as her family was always talking politics.

At first, I was a registered Republican because thats what I thought my family was, Tkach said. I never heard of Libertarian. I called my dad one day and said its funny that you say youre a Republican but half of your values are not Republican values. He said Im not a Republican. Im whats called a Libertarian. I had no idea!

I started getting really into it and said this is the best thing ever. This is completely me.

She began searching for other like-minded people and found them in Monroe County, which has the largest number of members of any Libertarian chapter in the state.

She met with DOrazio and told me she wanted to form a chapter in Orleans.

First, she got elected to the state committee and two years later, in September, officially formed the Orleans chapter, of which she is chairperson.

In the meantime, she ran for an at-large seat on the county Legislature, challenging incumbent Republican Don Allport.

It started with me going to a legislature meeting and my opponent was talking about how marijuana was dangerous and should be kept illegal, she said. I said youre wrong for keeping it from people who need it. So I want to take his spot because he shouldnt be there.

With that, Tkach throws her head back and laughs, which she does often.

She is personable, intelligent and easy to talk to, something that helped her grab more than 700 votes in a losing effort against Allport. That was the most third-party votes of any candidate last year or any other year for that matter.

The Libertarian message self responsibility, personal freedom and minimum government resonates with people, especially in rural counties.

Orleans, oddly enough, had the highest number of people, percentage wise, in the state who voted for Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe in 2018.

Still, Tkach, heavily tattooed and pierced, did create quite a stir when she ran against Allport.

I did, she laughs. I do that a lot. Thats how I get my way in. Hey! I look this way. Come talk to me and then Im like Im educated. Lets talk about politics.

The status quo, the leaders of the Republican and Democrat parties, didnt want anything to do with me.

It didnt bother Tkach one bit.

Ive never looked at people in higher positions than me, I never put them above me, she said. It never worried or bothered me. Im like, I feel like I know more than you and Im going to go ahead and do this and take my shot and keep going until I win. If Im that confident in what I know, I dont feel like they can stop me.

Tkach certainly exudes confidence. It helps that she could not care less about what people think of her lifestyle.

I dont hide anything from anybody. Ive always been that way. Im not scared of what people think about me. The more that I see people being themselves, it makes me more comfortable being myself. I feel like I want to do that for other people who are struggling to be open about who they are.

She freely talks about her work as a porn actress (using the name Molly Smash) and dominatrix, something that obviously takes people aback.

She met with the sheriff and District Attorney Joseph Cardone as a kind of pre-emptive strike.

I informed them that this is what I do, she said. I have contracts and Im doing this legally. Everything I do is consensual and I told them I dont want to worry out but just let you know that this is what Im doing. I want to be normalized, not stigmatized. Sometimes when youre open and honest about it, that goes a long way. They were both very understanding people.

She also is open and honest and forceful in beliefs that all drugs should be legalized and, just as important, that sex work should be legalized. She is a protector of rights, especially when it comes to the Second Amendment. That, too, resonates with people in rural counties.

If I had it my way, you would be able to buy guns out of a vending machine, she said, half joking. I want to decriminalize all drugs, not just marijuana. Let the police focus on murder and rape and leave it alone. Theres only so much I can do to convince them, but there is proof and evidence that decriminalization works. Same thing for sex workers. Its a victimless crime. Consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want, as long as no one gets hurt.

Criminalizing drugs and sex work makes it more dangerous, she said.

She does her homework and speaks as if she knows what shes talking about. Because, she does.

Ive met her a few times and we agree on a lot of issues, such as the Second Amendment and we disagree om some issues, which is fine, said Orleans County Sheriff Christopher Bourke, who also was on the campaign trail last year. Shes very intelligent and a kind person.

Tkach did make some friends while campaigning, one being Fred Miller, who serves as the minority leader for the Legislature.

I had a long conversation with her once and found her quite interesting and refreshing, Miller said. The biggest thing is, with young people especially, people make judgements, especially in the political field. I think its refreshing for any young person to be interested in politics. I wish more young people would get involved. Its difficult for them. Ive learned that in my time with the legislature that so much happens during the day and people dont have the time.

I give her credit. Many people sit back and criticize and dont have the guts to do something about it. She does, and thats refreshing.

Tkach wont be going away, she promises. She is in her third year as a political science major at Brockport College. She plans on seeking a position on the planning board in Carlton, where she lives with her boyfriend and two children, 2 and 5, and is spending this year campaigning for Duane Whitmer, the Libertarian candidate for the 27th Congressional District.

She also plans on running again for the county at-large seat in two years.

More than anything, I want to change the culture of this place, she said. This place is dying. Its run to the ground. Taxes are too high. Im a homeowner and taxes are outrageous. There are simple things we can do. Let people beautify their homes without worrying their taxes will go up. We need to get more people to move here.

Ive met a lot of friends around here, redneck friends and urban friends and were all here for the same reason: We value privacy. Keep the government out of our lives. We value your privacy and we dont always have to agree on the same thing. We can drastically disagree. But we dont need the government forcing my values onto yours. Thats what makes Libertarians so unique, is that there are so many opinions. We dont want everybody looking the same, talking the same or thinking the same.

Her goal? Ditch the two-party system.

Its not fair, she said. Get out of this two-party duopoly and move on from that. Its 2020! We dont have time for this anymore.

Your time is coming. Eventually, you are going to get tired of this and Im still going to be running. I want to do this because I want to see a change in my life, my familys and everyone around here. Im serious about what Im doing and Im sticking to it.

The fork ratings are based primarily on food quality and preparation, with service and atmosphere factored into the final decision. Reviews are based on one unsolicited, unannounced visit to the restaurant.

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Seeking change and acceptance: Sex worker and political candidate riles things up in Orleans and beyond - The Daily News Online

Petition to ban sanctuary cities approved on Winnacunnet school ballot – Seacoastonline.com

SEABROOK - A citizens petition opposing "sanctuary cities" passed by more than 1,200 votes across four towns Tuesday, though the article created a rift between its author and the Libertarian Party.

School officials were perplexed when Libertarian state Rep. Max Abramson of Seabrook put the non-binding petition on the Winnacunnet Cooperative School District ballot for Tuesday's Town Meeting. The article asked voters to agree that no school district nor town official shall establish Sanctuary Cities policies that prevent immigration laws from being enforced.

Abramson said he put the article on the school ballot to get the question in front of voters in multiple towns rather than one. It passed in Hampton, North Hampton, Seabrook and Hampton Falls by a cumulative vote of 3,519 to 2,306. It passed 1,716 to 1,187 in Hampton, 454 to 295 in Hampton Falls, 588 to 443 in North Hampton and 761 to 381 in Seabrook.

"It shows overwhelming opposition to sanctuary cities and finally allowed the public to have their say on it," said Abramson, who added before the vote that immigration affects voters "more than probably any other single one policy issue."

Abramson previously cosponsored legislation banning sanctuary cities statewide. The bill was killed last year, but he said he plans to file or support similar legislation in the future.

The petition drew praise from conservatives like Hampton Selectman Regina Barnes, who recently announced her run for state Senate as a Republican this year. It also drew criticism from members of the Libertarian Party, whose platform embraces open borders. Abramson switched to being Libertarian after being elected as a Republican in 2018, and he announced last year he was running for the Libertarian presidential nomination.

Brian Shields, chair of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, said party members felt convinced Abramson's beliefs did not align enough with the party platform. The recent petition regarding sanctuary cities, he said, was viewed as further confirmation.

"Max Abramson deserves to be censured by the state party for his continued opposition to the platform and principles of the Libertarian Party," read a letter to the editor from Darryl Perry, former chair of the Libertarian Party in New Hampshire (LPNH). Shields said Perry also directly requested LPNH take such action, and they were considering it when Abramson decided to withdraw from the party.

"My reason is simple: the abusiveness and bullying that I've seen from some activists, trolls and Antifa thugs who now claim to speak for all Libertarians has reached a point where we cannot recruit and keep people in the LP," Abramson wrote in a post on Facebook about his departure.

"He claims we were too mean," Shields said. Abramson's censure, he said, could have entailed the party separating itself from Abramson's actions, as well as calling for the removal of his membership or candidacy.

Shields said Abramson's petition violated the "freedom of movement," a core belief for the Libertarian Party, and supported statewide prohibitions on local action - enacting sanctuary city policies. He said that also went against the party's beliefs.

"He left the party while we were in the middle of a vote for it," Shields said. "If he had stayed, we most likely would have censured him."

Shields said Abramson is currently listed as a Democrat on the New Hampshire secretary of state's online voter lookup page, though Abramson said that was only the case because he wanted to vote for Tulsi Gabbard in the New Hampshire Primary.

The New Hampshire General Court website still listed Abramson as Libertarian this week, but Abramson said he currently has no party affiliation. He had been running a campaign for the Libertarian presidential nomination, and he said he is now encouraging people to vote for him as an independent.

"I'm a man without a party," Abramson said, "but still just vote with my district as a legislator."

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Petition to ban sanctuary cities approved on Winnacunnet school ballot - Seacoastonline.com

Tech think tank chief to step down after Trump death tweet – POLITICO

Szka and TechFreedom, which receives funding from at least one tech giant, Google, have been relentless allies of Silicon Valley, particularly as it has faced calls for increased regulation in Washington in recent years. The group has opposed efforts to create more stringent rules for privacy and online speech, among other issues.

But Szka has also been a frequent critic of the president, delivering at times scathing rebukes of his actions on social media.

The planned shake-up comes just four days after Szka prompted a firestorm of criticism online by suggesting that the president succumbing to the virus would be fitting.

Serious question: could there possibly [sic] any greater poetic justice in the universe than for Trump to die of the #CPACvirus? Szka tweeted late Monday.

Recent reports that an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference was later diagnosed with Covid-19 sparked fears that the president may have been exposed to the virus. Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) had contact with the president as well before entering self-quarantine due to possible exposure.

The Szka tweet immediately drew condemnations online, racking up hundreds of negative replies within minutes and some calls for his resignation. Szka later deleted the tweet, and has since issued an apology.

Earlier this week, I sent a thoughtless tweet making an inappropriate comment about the President that I deeply regret, he tweeted Thursday. I was wrong to tweet it and deleted it. Again, I apologize.

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Tech think tank chief to step down after Trump death tweet - POLITICO

When Should Lay Voters Defer to the Views of Scientists? – Reason

In the midst of the current crisis over the coronavirus pandemic, we often face decisions about the extent to which weas ordinary citizens and voters with little or no scientific expertiseshould defer to the views of scientists. Back in 2015, I wrote an in-depth post assessing this question (see here for non-paywall version), based in part on my academic work on political ignorance. I reprint it here in is entirely in the hopes it might be useful to at least some readers in these difficult times.

The post contains a number of nuances and qualifications. But the bottom line is that we should indeed defer to scientists on technical issues within their expertise, especially if there seems to be a cross-ideological consensus among the relevant experts. That most definitely applies to the epidemiological aspects of coronavirus (rate of spread, death rate, how it's more dangerous than the common flu, etc.).

On the other hand, there are issues of policy and morality that cannot be resolved by scientific/technical expertise alone and/or that require the expertise of economists and other social scientists as much or more than "hard scientists." Those issues likely include a number of the policy questions surrounding how best to respond to the pandemic. "Hard" science is an essential component of those decisions, but not the only component.

I would add that these precepts are especially difficult to followbut also especially importantwhen the expert scientific consensus goes against our ideological priors. In the 2015 post, I noted one such example where I try to practice what I preach (global warming). Coronavirus is another. It would be ideologically convenient for me, as a libertarian, if this pandemic were no more dangerous than the flu. That conclusion would significantly weaken the case for using massive government intervention to address the crisis. But I nonetheless believe it unwarranted to challenge the broad expert consensus that says coronavirus is indeed much more dangerous than either the flu or various other recent epidemics.

What follows is the 2015 post reprinted in full:

A recent Pew Research Center study shows that scientists and the general public disagree on a wide range of science-related public policy issues. For example, the survey finds that 87 percent of scientists, but only 37 percent of the general public believe that it is safe to eat genetically modified foods; 68 percent of scientists believe it is safe to eat food treated with pesticides, compared to only 28 percent of the public. Relative to the public, scientists are much more supportive of nuclear power and the use of animals in scientific research, and much less supportive of offshore drilling. Also, some 87 percent of scientists believe that climate change is mostly due to human activity, a view shared by only 50 percent of the public.

I. The Case for Deferring to Scientists.

This raises the question of whether voters should defer to majority scientific opinion on these issues. Given my research on political ignorance, it is tempting for me to conclude that the answer is almost always "yes." The majority of the public is often ignorant about basic facts about government and politics, and their scientific knowledge is also far from impressive. You don't have to believe that scientists are always right about scientific issues to conclude that they are on average more likely to be right than generally ignorant voters are. To the extent that this is true, an electorate that defers to majority scientific opinion on these issues would make fewer mistakes than one that does not, even though neither would be completely error free.

The above reasoning has some merit. But it is important to avoid conflating two different kinds of "scientific" issues. Some of the questions addressed in the Pew survey are almost purely technical questions. For example, the issue of whether GMO foods or foods treated with pesticides are safe, or the issue of whether human activity is the main cause of climate change. On these sorts of technical matters, scientists are indeed likely to know much more than most ordinary people, and there is a good case for deferring to them. But some seemingly scientific policy issues actually include major nontechnical components on which scientists are not likely to have specialized knowledge.

II. The Limits of Scientific Expertise.

Some of the questions raised in the Pew study are actually mixed questions of scientific facts and moral values. For example, the issue of whether animals should be used in scientific research partly depends on the scientific benefits of using thema question on which scientists have special expertise. But it also depends on the moral status of the animals in question, and whether it is ethically permissible to inflict certain types of harm on them. On that latter issue, scientists have no special knowledge. If there is a group of experts that does, it is likely to be moral philosophers and political theorists; and these groups areon average more sympathetic to animal rights arguments than the general public is.

Other issues on the survey raise questions of political economy rather than pure science. For example, many more scientists (82 percent) than ordinary people (59 percent) believe that growing population will be a "major" problem in the future. Whether it will be or not depends largely on whether the possible costs of population growth (e.g.environmental externalities) will outweigh the benefits, such as increased innovation and a greater division of labor. On these latter questions, economists are likely to be more expert than natural scientists are, and economists tend to be much more skeptical of Malthusian arguments than either natural scientists or the general population. They like to point out that Malthusian predictions have proven wrong for some two hundred years, which does not prove that they will always be wrong, but does suggest reason for imposing a high burden of proof on them.

Even on issues when scientists really are expert, there is occasionally a case for discounting their views based on ideological bias, or narrow self-interest. For example, if we find that scientists are in favor of increased government subsidies for science, their position could be based purely on disinterested expertise; but it could also be special interest pleading.

But it would be a mistake to dismiss all or most expert opinion on such grounds. Many of the issues on which experts and the public diverge have little direct connection to the self-interest of the former. Large lay-expert disagreements persist even in studies that control for self-interest and ideology, as Bryan Caplan did in his work comparing the views of economists and lay people on economic issues, and we have in our joint work comparing the views of laypeople and political scientists on political influence (coauthored with Eric Crampton and Wayne Grove).

In the case of the Pew survey, it is striking that scientists endorse what are usually considered "right wing" positions on nuclear power, GMO foods, and pesticides, even though scientists are generally much more left-wing in their political views than the average voter is. The scientists could be wrong about these issues. But if so it's not because of ideological bias.

Cynics will argue that I'm only advocating deferring to scientists when they happen to agree with my own libertarian views. Not so. There is indeed congruence between my views and those of the scientists on GMOs and pesticides. On the other hand, it would be very convenient for me and other libertarians if global warming were not a serious problem or were not caused by human activity. One of the standard libertarian arguments against government intervention is that the problem people want the government to solve doesn't really exist in the first place. Nonetheless, I am sufficiently impressed by the majority view of scientists on this question that I think libertarians should avoid the temptation to ignore or dismiss it. Recognizing that the scientists are likely right about the nature of the problem does not mean that they are also right about possible solutions (which will often depend on considerations of ethics and political economy on which scientists are not very expert). But it is still an important issue on which scientists are likely to know much more than laypeople. Unless and until the scientific consensus shifts, libertarians who are not themselves scientific experts should defer to the majority scientific view on the extent and causes of global warming.

In sum, it makes good sense to defer to the views of experts on areas that are actually within their expertise. But not on questions that may seem related, but actually are distinct. Telling the difference isn't always easy. Here, as elsewhere, being a responsible, well-informed voter turns out to be a lot harder than we might think.

Finally, I should note that I recognize that many people believe that voters have an absolute right to make decisions based on ignorance, regardless of whether deference to scientists or some other strategy could enable them to make better-informed choices. I disagree with that view of the ethics of voting for reasons outlined here and here.

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When Should Lay Voters Defer to the Views of Scientists? - Reason

Ben Shapiro: What coronavirus should teach us – Grand Forks Herald

As the markets have plummeted over global fears surrounding the fallout from the new coronavirus, political pundits have taken up the call: Find some meaning in the coronavirus outbreak and response. And where there is a demand for speculative opinion, there's never a shortage of supply. Thus we've seen the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, be blamed on President Donald Trump. We've seen government-managed response, which has varied widely in terms of success by country, touted as a final rebuttal of libertarian precepts. We've seen the coronavirus' economic impact cited as a rationale for breaking global supply chains and pursuing industrial autarky instead.

None of these takeaways are particularly compelling. The Trump administration's response has been about as strong as prior federal attempts to deal with public epidemics, ranging from SARS to swine flu. While Trump himself hasn't exactly projected a sense of calming administrative competence, those around him, ranging from Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, are fully capable of performing as needed. Libertarianism does not suggest that collective action ought to be out of bounds in the case of public emergencies with serious externalities -- few libertarians oppose police departments or proper environmental regulations, for example -- and the record of government competence has been, at best, rather mixed. The solution to vulnerable supply chains running through authoritarian countries is, first, for Western countries to consider security threats when formulating trade policy, and second, for companies to harden their supply chains by diversifying those chains even further.

So, what are the real lessons to be learned from the coronavirus?

First, we should favor governments that are transparent in their distribution of information. China has been celebrated for its extraordinary crackdown on public life, which has brought transmissions down dramatically. But if it were not for China's propagandistic efforts to quash news about the coronavirus in the first place, the epidemic probably would not have become a pandemic.

Second, we must stop humoring anti-scientific rumormongering about issues like vaccines. The curbing of the coronavirus will be reliant on the development of a vaccine, and Americans should understand that vaccines work, and that misinformation about vaccinations should generally be rejected.

Third, we should remember that crises exacerbate underlying issues; they rarely create them. Economic volatility in the aftermath of the coronavirus has merely exposed the underlying weaknesses of the Chinese and European economies; those systemic problems won't be solved through Band-Aid solutions. The public health issues with homelessness will likely be exposed dramatically in the United States; they won't go away when the coronavirus ends. The coronavirus should underscore the necessity for action in the absence of crisis.

Finally, we should remember that charity and local community support matter. Large-scale government response will never be as efficient or as personal as local response. Care for our neighbors. Care for our families. Implement personal behavior that lowers risk. And then wait for more information. Perhaps that's the best lesson from all of this: Jumping to conclusions based on lack of information is a serious mistake.

Ben Shapiro is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work regularly appears in the Herald.

As a public service, we've opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.

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Ben Shapiro: What coronavirus should teach us - Grand Forks Herald

Candidates who filed for office in Nevada – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Here is a list of all the candidates for federal, state and local office who filed for office by Fridays deadline. (Incumbents are denoted with an asterisk.)

Congressional District 1 (Las Vegas)

Kamau Bakari, Independent American Party

Joyce Bentley, Republican

Josh Elliott, Republican

Eddie MrLasVegas Hamilton, Republican

Citlaly Larios-Elias, Republican

Joseph Maridon, no political party

Allen Rheinhart, Democrat

Robert Van Strawder Jr., Libertarian

Anthony Thomas, Jr., Democrat

Dina Titus, Democrat*

Congressional District 2 (Reno, Northern Nevada)

Patricia Ackerman, Democrat

Mark Amodei, Republican*

Joel Paul Beck, Republican

Ed Cohen, Democrat

Richard Dunn III, no political party

Janine Hansen, Independent American Party

Reynaldo Hernandez, Democrat

Clint Koble, Democrat

Ian Luetkehans, Democrat

Steve Pragmatic Schiffman, Democrat

Rick Shepherd, Democrat

Congressional District 3 (Las Vegas, Henderson)

Ed S. Bridges II, Independent American Party

Steve Brown, Libertarian

Gary Crispin, no political party

Susie Lee, Democrat*

Brian Nadell, Republican

Corwin Cory Newberry, Republican

Mindy Robinson, Republican

Dan Big Dan Rodimer, Republican

Dan Schwartz, Republican

Dennis Sullivan, Democrat

Tiffany Ann Watson, Democrat

Victor R. Willert, Republican

Congressional District 4 (North Las Vegas, Nye, Lincoln, White Pine counties)

Rosalie Bingham, Republican

Leo Blundo, Republican

George Brucato, Democrat

Christopher Kendall Colley, Democrat

Steffanie Gabrielle DAyr, Democrat

Jennifer Eason, Democrat

Jonathan Royce Esteban, Libertarian

Steven Horsford, Democrat*

Gregory Kempton, Democrat

Jim Marchant, Republican

Charles Navarro, Republican

Sam Peters, Republican

Randi Reed, Republican

Barry Rubinson, Independent American Party

Lisa Song Sutton, Republican

Rebecca Wood, Republican

Senate District 1 (North Las Vegas)

Patricia Pat Spearman, Democrat*

Senate District 3 (Las Vegas)

Chris Brooks, Democrat*

Senate District 4 (North Las Vegas, Las Vegas)

Esper M. Hickman, Republican

Dina Neal, Democrat

Senate District 5 (Henderson)

Carrie Buck, Republican

Tim Hagan, Libertarian

Joshua Heers, Republican

Kristee Watson, Democrat

Senate District 6 (Las Vegas)

April Becker, Republican

Nicole Jeanette Cannizzaro, Democrat*

Senate District 7 (Las Vegas)

Richard Carrillo, Democrat

Roberta Lange, Democrat

Ellen Spiegel, Democrat

Senate District 11 (Las Vegas)

Joshua Dowden, Republican

Dallas Harris, Democrat*

Edgar Galindo Miron Galindo, Republican

Senate District 15 (Reno)

Catana L. Barnes, no political party

Heidi Seevers Gansert, Republican*

Wendy Jauregui-Jackins, Democrat

Kristie A. Strejc, Democrat

Senate District 18 (Las Vegas)

Liz Becker, Democrat

Ronald Ron Bilodeau, Democrat

Scott T. Hammond, Republican*

Senate District 19 (Elko, Eureka, White Pine, Nye, Lincoln and rural Clark counties)

Pete Goicoechea, Republican*

Tiffany Seeback, Independent American Party

Assembly District 1 (North Las Vegas)

Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Democrat*

Assembly District 2 (Las Vegas)

Heidi Kasama, Republican

Garrett LeDuff, no political party

Eva Littman, Democrat

Taylor McArthur, Republican

Christian Morehead, Republican

Radhika RPK Kunnel, Democrat

Erik Sexton, Republican

Jennie Sherwood, Democrat

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Candidates who filed for office in Nevada - Las Vegas Review-Journal

The conservative movement is a public health hazard – The Week

It is by now beyond any question that President Trump has bungled the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic about as badly as one could possibly imagine. Senegal, a country with a per-capita GDP of about $3,500, is conducting mass tests for the virus and getting results within 4 hours, while the tiny handful of Americans who can even access tests have to wait days or even weeks. On Friday, a single Chinese oligarch announced he was donating to America on the order of 30 times more test kits than there had been tests conducted across the entire United States since the start of the outbreak up to that point.

It has been clear since 1980 that under Republican rule, the federal government decays. But under Trump, it has gotten full-blown administrative gangrene. Compared to what is needed to combat the crisis, Trump has done basically nothing. Meanwhile, he and his allies in conservative media have pushed an avalanche of misinformation that will only accelerate the spread of the disease. This is what the conservative movement has become: a gigantic public health hazard for America and the world.

There are two main ways in which conservatives have dissolved the bones of American government. The first is ideological. For decades, Republicans have been pushing a libertarian economic vision that can be summarized as "Government Bad." By this view, the government is a largely-pointless hindrance to private enterprise, and basically all regulations and social welfare programs should be done away with. (Prisons and the military can stay, of course.)

But there are many, many things, like public health emergencies, in which private businesses simply cannot handle things on their own. Nothing but the federal government can carry out the rapid and extensive actions needed to coordinate a response to a galloping nationwide viral pandemic, and the federal government is by far best able to finance one. As The New Republic's Alex Pareene writes, the right-wing extremists in the Trump administration have reacted with a sort of slack-jawed disbelief at the private sector completely failing to rise to the coronavirus challenge.

Second and more importantly, there is the conservative propaganda machine. The American right-wing media is without question the most unhinged, hysterical, irresponsible, and conspiracy-addled major press complex in the world. The right-wing media in the U.K. and Australia come close (probably because of shared language and ownership), but nobody beats Fox News in their combination of wide reach and utterly shameless propaganda.

On the one hand, Fox News, The Federalist, Rush Limbaugh, and so on are akin to the state media in a communist dictatorship. The movement is never wrong, Republican politicians are always right, and their political enemies are loathsome traitors who hate freedom, puppies, and apple pie. News that reflects badly on Trump is either made up or the product of a dastardly foreign or left-wing conspiracy. Aging white people across the country have turned their brains to pudding watching Sean Hannity yell insane racist nonsense at them night after night.

But on the other, a dominant faction of Republican politicians, including President Trump, are themselves melt-brained propaganda addicts. This is not how dictatorships usually work. In communist China, the top political leadership sets the party line coming out of the agitprop press, rather than the other way around. Leaders are influenced by party ideology, of course, but they still have wide latitude to change course like when the initial line that the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan was in hand turned out to be drastically mistaken, the Chinese Communist Party turned on a dime and started mass quarantines and lockdowns.

Trump, by contrast, has been loyally watching and live-tweeting Fox News while the epidemic spreads like wildfire, and doing almost nothing to stop it. The line coming from that network and the rest of conservative media is largely that the coronavirus is either fake, a foreign bioweapon, or a Democratic Party/mainstream media conspiracy to undermine the GOP. Rush Limbaugh said the virus was just the "common cold" that was being "weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump." Hannity suggested it might be entirely a fraud. (To be fair, Tucker Carlson and Michael Savage have tried to raise the alarm, but they are outliers.)

In another alarming public address Friday, Trump insisted he and his cronies were doing an "incredible job," despite the ongoing failure to test remotely adequately or pass anything to deal with the developing economic crisis. (He did however boast that America has many large companies.)

The remarkable thing about the denial-and-downplay strategy is that conservative Americans, being disproportionately elderly, are also disproportionately at risk from novel coronavirus. Limbaugh himself is 69 years old and has lung cancer. It could be that, given how utterly incompetent Trump is, furious spinning is the only strategy available.

But there is another important part of the story: conservative media is run by horrible monsters who constantly grift their own viewers and listeners. Whipping up foaming hysteria about liberals is a great opportunity to trick elderly retirees out of a piece of their retirement savings, it turns out. Even as the coronavirus scythe blade descends towards thousands of nursing and retirement homes where Fox News is on every minute of the day, these disgusting scum are using it to hawk garbage investment guides and quack snake oil cures.

First, the conservative movement dissolved the brains of its membership, then those people ended up in charge and dissolved the American government. Now that destruction is going to create quite possibly the worst outbreak of coronavirus in the entire world. Perhaps if the conservative movement suffers thousands of casualties among its own ranks it will finally try some introspection. But I would bet they'll just blame Barack Obama instead.

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The conservative movement is a public health hazard - The Week


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