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Category Archives: Libertarian

Could our next president be a Libertarian? | TheHill – The Hill

Posted: September 28, 2019 at 3:44 am

As they look ahead to the 2020 election, few political pundits have considered the possibility that a Libertarian Party candidate could be elected president. Yes, I know it's a long shot, but not as long a shot as it might initially seem.

Because of the Electoral College system of voting, third-party candidates have a better chance of winning than most people think. If no candidate gets a majority of the electoral votes, the House of Representatives chooses the president from among the three candidates with the most electoral votes.

To be in the running, all that a third-party candidate must do is receive enough electoral votes to ensure that neither the Democratic nor Republican nominee wins an Electoral College majority, in which case the spoiler becomes a credible final contender. In a close race, the candidate might need to win just one state to send the election to the House of Representatives.

At that point, the third-party candidate would have to convince members of the House to vote for him or her rather than for the major-party candidates. It's unlikely, but not impossible. It depends on who's running.

Libertarian ideas on social policy appeal to Democrats, while libertarian ideas on economic policy appeal to Republicans, so a skillful pitch on those ideas might win over Representatives dissatisfied with their own partys candidates. Although the Libertarian Party is often perceived as a fringe party, libertarian ideas are about as widely held as consistent liberal or conservative views by the general public. Many Americans have views that are socially liberal and economically conservative.

Currently, its not a complete stretch to think that many Republicans might abandon their president to vote for a third-party candidate. President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhistleblower filed Trump complaint after going to CIA general counsel: report Trump campaign, GOP raise M after Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry New York Times Opinion hits Trump in Star Wars-themed video MORE is not that popular with House Republicans, judging by the significant numbers of GOP lawmakers who have announced they will not be seeking re-election. If the Democratic nominee is way outside the mainstream as is easy to picture given the partys current field of candidates then a coalition of Democrats might join with some Republicans to support the third-party candidate.

For a Libertarian to win the presidency, the first step is for the Libertarian Party to choose a candidate who appears more reasonable to Americans, and especially to members of the House of Representatives, than the major-party candidates.

The second step is to campaign in just a few key states. In a close election, a third-party candidate could win only Texas, for instance, and still prevent rivals from winning an electoral majority thus throwing the election to the House of Representatives. The candidate should publicly announce this strategy beforehand, so that voters can see that the candidate has a real chance of victory and that their Libertarian votes would not be wasted .

An attractive Libertarian candidate with only a few electoral votes would then have the same status before the House of Representatives as the major-party candidates and a coalition of disgruntled Democrats and Republicans could put a Libertarian in the White House.

Keep in mind Ross Perot. In 1992 he received 19 percent of the popular vote, but his support was spread throughout the country, so he didn't receive a single electoral vote. If he had concentrated his campaigning in a few states, however, he might have converted his popular support into enough Electoral College votes to pitch the contest to the House. And who knows what might have happened then.

Could something similar happen in 2020? It is unlikely. But if 2016 proved anything, its that we must not dismiss improbable-sounding electoral outcomes out of hand.

Randall G. Holcombe is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His latest book is Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History (Independent Institute, 2019).

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Local government and the path of least resistance – Seymour Tribune

Posted: at 3:44 am

Leo Morris Submitted photo

Those of us with libertarian instincts who want less from government less spending, less growth, less meddling with the private sector are frustrated at every level. Weve all but given up on Washington, and even state capitals seem more interested in directing their citizens than in serving them.

That leaves the local level, where residents most directly feel the effects of government actions, and where officials have the best chance to lead by bold example.

But officeholders desiring re-election and that is almost always almost all of them seldom fail to find the path of least resistance. A couple of examples cropped up in Fort Wayne recently, both in the same news cycle.

In the first example, the bold option was proposed by three brave but foolish City Council members, and immediately rejected out of hand.

The city had awarded garbage-removal service to a company clearly not up to the task. After more than a year and a half of continued missed pickups, angrier and angrier feedback from residents and thousands of dollars in fines by the city, it seemed clear that the company might never get its act together.

Look, said the three councilmen, why should the city be involved in the first place? Lets just get out of the business and let residents make their own best deals with trash-removal companies that will compete with each other to offer the best price.

No, no, no, said the upholders of the status quo, there are too many uncertainties about such a drastic course. The uncertainties were never specified, but its easy to imagine visions of a beleaguered homeowner trying to negotiate with a rogue hauler while garbage piled up in the alley, or of that rogue company bypassing a landfill to dump his load in the Maumee River.

A less fretful imagination might have anticipated the possibility of neighborhood associations, strong in Fort Wayne, negotiating contracts for their residents that were both economical and workable.

But the city prefers known mistakes to potential ones, so it is left with three unappealing options: Make the fines much steeper, declare the contract in breach and start over, or limp along with a company that was, incredibly, given a seven-year deal.

So, limp along it will be.

In the second example, the bold solution was never even mentioned.

A local entrepreneur got approval to begin adding a 9,000-square-foot garage to a residential building. That was just a tad big for most residents automotive-parking needs, but perfectly acceptable under the citys zoning ordinance.

But it soon became obvious that the work being done was more suited for a commercial enterprise. At first, the builder said, it would be a restaurant. Then, perhaps, a shopping plaza with four units. In the end, who knows? But lots of money had been spent and the City Council was asked to please rezone the site from single-family dwelling to limited commercial, which, come on now, was the kind of zone already right next door.

Oh dear, oh dear.

Granting the rezoning, some said, would set the precedent of being able to ask the city for forgiveness rather than permission, mocking the whole zoning process. No, the mans supporters said, he has made all kinds of concessions to nearby residents, so the real precedent would be to tell developers to do things the right way or face restrictions that could cripple chances to make a profit.

Of course, the rezoning was granted, with no one quite realizing that no precedent at all had been set. The council was merely drifting along, as always, taking the easiest course in the least reflective way.

A more reflective response would have been to ask why the city was even involved. If the two zones are adjacent, as many competing interests are, why not let the private enterprise system sort it out? In fact, why have zones at all? Houston seems to have created a dynamic, thriving city without city planners fussing over where people can or cannot put their businesses.

But people capable of imagining rouge trash haulers despoiling our rivers can also easily envision someone throwing up a chicken coop or pig farm right next door to the citys fanciest restaurant. Got to keep the riffraff at bay, this aint the Beverly Hillbillies here.

It is true, unfortunately, that local governments are taking a less active role in how we live these days, but not in a good way. According to Governing magazine and the Tax Policy Center, federal funds now provide about a third of state budgets and about a quarter of city and county budgets. And that money comes with incentives and conditions lots and lots of strings.

Have you noticed a certain sameness about the direction of Indianas urban areas not just big ones like Indiana and Fort Wayne, but smaller ones as well? Lots going on in downtowns new amenities such as baseball stadiums, trendy shops in old industrial buildings, riverfront work, bicycle paths and on and on.

Thats where the money is. The Planners and they deserve the capitalization dont like the way they have spread ourselves out, so theyve decided to herd us back into downtown clusters. And our local elected officials well, the money is there for the taking. The path of least resistance wins again.

Not exactly a libertarians dream.

Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is winner of the Hoosier Press Associations award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at

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Whether Trump Stays or Goes, We Need To Rein in Presidents and Congress – Reason

Posted: at 3:44 am

As the impeachment process gets underwayand grows more partisan and frenetic with every passing minuteit's important to keep our eyes on the big picture that actually affects all Americans. For decades, the presidency has been getting more and more imperial, with Oval Office occupants openly flouting constraints on their exercise of power and Congress abdicating its role in doing anything other than spending more money and acting out of partisan interests. This process didn't begin with President Donald Trump and it won't end even if he is removed from office. From this libertarian's perspective, impeachment is a distraction from the far more importantand dauntingproblem of a government that costs more of our money and controls more of our lives with every passing year.

Does Trump deserve to get the hook? There's no question that he has acted abrasively since taking office, always pushing the envelope of acceptable behavior, decorum, and policy, whether by issuing travel bans specifically (and illegally) targeting Muslims, staffing the White House with his manifestly unqualified children and their spouses, or redirecting money to build his idiotic fence against the phantom menace of Mexican hordes bum-rushing the southern border. Is any of that, or his actions regarding Ukraine, impeachable? As Gerald Ford said in 1970, an impeachable offense "is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history." So we'll be finding out soon enough.

But except for sheer coarseness and vulgarity, none of this is new or shocking. Barack Obama was mostly polite and more presentable to the public, but he similarly evinced nothing but contempt for restraints on his desired aims. His signature policy accomplishment, Obamacare, was built on the novel idea that the government couldn't just regulate economic activity but could actually force individuals to buy something they didn't want. Given such a break with tradition, it's unsurprising that it was the first piece of major legislation in decades that was pushed through on the votes of a single party (a feat matched by the tax cuts passed in late 2017). Even then, it took the fecklessness and rewrite skills of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to make it constitutional. On other matters, Obama famously ruled with his "pen and phone," issuing executive orders and actions to implement policies for which he couldn't muster support from Congress. When it came to war and surveillance, he simply ignored constitutional limits on his whims or lied about his administration's commitment to transparency even as he was spying on virtually all Americans.

It's needless to say but always worth remembering that George W. Bush was not particularly different. Though Bush conjured bipartisan majorities for awful and budget-busting programs such as wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Medicare prescription drug plan, and No Child Left Behind, his administration also implemented secret torture programs overseas and mass surveillance programs domestically, all while being "pathological about secrecy," even to the point of urging federal agencies to slow down or deny Freedom of Information Act requests.

To such executive branch flexes we must add the brute reality that Congress has been mostly AWOL for all of the 21st century, apart from taking nakedly partisan jabs at chief executives from the other party. Democrats mostly went along (at least at first) with George W. Bush's big-ticket, disastrous foreign and domestic policy priorities. They only cared about limiting government when their guy wasn't sleeping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On the road to becoming the first female Speaker of the House after the 2006 elections, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised she would oversee federal budgets with "no new deficit spending," a pledge that lasted until she actually became Speaker of the House and pushed a budget-busting farm bill.

Republicans spent like drunken sailors and regulated the hell out of the economy when they controlled the purse strings and got to pick winners and losers in the economy. They only talk about cutting spending and limiting government when a Democrat is in charge. Back when Obama was president, GOP representatives and senators were constantly going on and on about "Article I projects" and the desperate need to revitalize the separation of powers and tame the presidency. That all ended the minute it became clear that Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton.

This is the essential context for the impeachment of Donald Trump. The size, scope, and spending of the federal government won't change regardless of his fate. Like his predecessors, he has arrogated more power to himself while also driving up deficits and diminishing trust and confidence in the ability of government to perform basic functions. All of the Democratic candidates for president have pledged to spend trillions of dollars on an ever-proliferating series of new programs such as Medicare for All, free college tuition, the Green New Deal, a universal basic income, and more.

All of that is why I'm less concerned with the fate of Donald Trump per se than I am about the persistence of an expansive federal government whose spending is suppressing growth and whose programs are typically inefficient at best and counterproductive at worst. Without addressing the bigger picture, the battle over Trump's fate will be an exercise in futility, a partisan plot climax that will thrill one set of partisans for a while but give no relief or release to the plurality of Americans who identify as independents.

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How Can The Libertarian Party Effect Real Change? A Soho Forum Debate – Reason

Posted: September 21, 2019 at 1:45 pm

The Libertarian Party should never again put up national candidates whose views are similar to those of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

That was the resolution of a public debate hosted by the Soho Forum in New York City on September 10, 2019. It featured comedian and podcast host Dave Smith and Nicholas Sarwark, the chairman of the Libertarian National Committee. Soho Forum Director Gene Epstein moderated.

It was an Oxford-style debate, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event, and the side that gains the most ground is victorious. Smith won the night by convincing 20 percent of the audience, while Sarwark convinced 16.8 percent.

Arguing for the affirmative was Dave Smith, host of the popular libertarian podcast Part of the Problem, and a co-host of Legion of Skanks.

Nicholas Sarwark argued for the negative. Sarwark is currently serving his third term as chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, which is the executive body of the Libertarian Party of the United States.

The Soho Forum, which is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village.

Produced by John Osterhoudt.

Photo credit: Brett Raney

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Erie County Libertarians knocked off ballot after nomination certificates invalidated – WBFO

Posted: at 1:45 pm

Libertarians finally gained automatic ballot access in New York state last year, but you wont see any Libertarians on the ballot for Erie County races this November.

WBFO's Tom Dinki reports.

The Erie County Board of Elections invalidated the entire party lines certificates of nomination earlier this month, saying there were deficiencies on the forms that violate state election law.

Four of the 18 would-be Libertarian nominees challenged the Board of Elections in a validation proceeding Wednesday, but state Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Sedita III upheld the decision, saying the Board of Elections simply followed state election law.

Erie County Libertarian Party Chairman Duane Whitmer told WBFO the deficiencies were technicalities that should have not been held against the party. He alleged Erie County Democrats and Republicans conspired to knock Libertarians off the ballot.

This is an example of the two parties coming together and suppressing the third parties, he said after Wednesdays court proceeding. They have the time and resources. The (elections) commissioners are paid $120,000 a year in taxpayer funds to make sure that third parties cant compete.

Whitmer specifically accuses Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner, whos faced renewed criticism in recent months for also serving as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee.

Zellner was represented in court Wednesday by Second Assistant County Attorney Jeremy Toth, who called the accusations outrageous.

There was no underhanded tricks like petitioners always complain about when they screw up their own paperwork and thats all that happened here, Toth told WBFO. The commissioners have to follow the law, and the paperwork that was put in front of them was filled with mistakes.

Erie County Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr said Libertarians met most of the requirements under state election law 6-128, which deals with new partys certificates of nomination, but did not meet two of what he called the most important requirements: a certified copy of the partys rules and sworn affidavits from party officials.

Mohr previously met with Libertarian Party officials to show them what was wrong with their certificates, and even gave them a copy of a correct certificate to follow. However, he said the forms were still not valid when the party submitted them a second time.

The deadline to submit validated certificates of nomination was Sept. 3.

Mohr, who has been elections commissioner for 24 years, said its the first time he can remember a new partys entire line being taken off the ballot in Erie County.

Thats one of the reasons why the Board of Elections in this case went out of its way to attempt to assist the Libertarian Party in filing proper certificates of nomination, he said.

At least one of the would-be Libertarian nominees agrees. Carrie Christman, who is the campaign manager for Libertarians Buffalo Common Council nominee James Kistner, puts the blame on Libertarian Party officials.

(The Board of Elections) went above and beyond reaching out to assist this (party), and they failed to step up to the plate and take care of it, she said.

Many of the 18 would-be Libertarian nominees are already cross-endorsed by the Republican Party, like county executive candidate Lynne Dixon, but some like Kistner were counting on their Libertarian nomination to get on the ballot.

Aside from Kistner, the other three Libertarian nominees to challenge the invalidation were college student Scott Wilson, who is running for Buffalo city comptroller, and incumbent Hamburg Town Councilmen Tom Best and Michael Mosey.

Best and Mosey lost in the Republican primary in June, but will appear on the ballot on the Conservative Party line.

Those involved believe Erie County is the only county in the state where Libertarians were completely knocked off the ballot this election cycle.

The Libertarian Party of New York State gained automatic ballot status after Libertarian Larry Sharpe earned more than the required 50,000 votes in last falls gubernatorial race.

Libertarians account for about 0.10% of registered voters in New York, according to the state Board of Elections. That also goes for Erie County, where just 775 of the 638,300 registered voters are Libertarians.

Whitmer said hes unsure whether any of the countys would-be Libertarian nominees will now appeal Seditas decision in state appellate court, but hopes theyll still get support either on other party lines, or as write-in candidates.

Were not going anywhere, he said. The (Erie County Libertarian Party) isnt going anywhere. The Libertarian Party of New York State isnt going anywhere. Were still going to fight. We refuse to be suppressed. We refused to be pushed away.

Election Day is Nov. 5.

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Plurality Has to be the Future of Politics – The Davidsonian

Posted: at 1:45 pm

Since high school, Ive been aware that neither of the labels Republican or Democrat quite fit me.

Despite being heavily involved in politics from a relatively young age, Ive always found a certain discontent with the bipartisan system that has dominated our country for so long.

While I deeply admire and respect the social justice work done by Democrats, Ive always been cautious of sweeping motions by a government that has so often failed us in the past. And while I ascribe to the economic freedom and small government values preached by Republicans, I cannot condone the continued presence of big corporations which increasingly set the partys agenda.

Eventually, I encountered a third option: libertarianism. What I mean by libertarianism is a philosophy that embodies the non-aggression principle: if what youre doing is not instigating an infringement on someones rights, it is permissible.

In practice, this principle permits a massive degree of personal freedom to lead ones best life (no matter what that may mean to an individual) as long as that person does not harm anyone else.

While some may choose to paint libertarianism as a radical and unrealistic philosophy, many of the views are fundamentally appealing. And despite the increasingly louder, polarizing voices of the far left and far right, many Americans arent interested in being forced to pick from two options.

Despite the universal appeal of libertarian ideals like freedom and equality, the Libertarian Party, like all third parties, is currently in a credibility crisis. This is due to everything from pessimism about our chances in an inherently two-party system to the repeated gaffes of our leaders (see Gary Johnson, What is Aleppo?).

Indeed, even the members of the movement have a tension with the party; many members of our organization, myself included, are not registered Libertarians. Though the movement is strong, the party is admittedly flawed.

Even though many people sympathize with the libertarian movement, it has been consistently difficult for us to get respect or even serious notice in the national sphere.

Being a libertarian has given me a different vantage point on the current political crisis our nation is facing. For those who fall within the traditional two-party dynamic, our politics can often feel like a battle.

The nature of our two-party system makes it feel like your win must come at the other persons loss, and vice versa.

As such, I hear many people, my Davidson peers included, resort to using language of good and evil rather than admitting that they merely disagree.

We no longer use the language of political compromise; instead, we call each other racists, bigots, and traitors.

Im not writing this because I think its going to make more people libertarians. Im writing because, as a libertarian, Ive seen firsthand the value that plurality can have in our discourse.

Regarding politics, I constantly hear people talk about how doomed we are and how our country will never escape the vicious fighting between Democrats and Republicans. And on my worst days, Im almost tempted to agree. However, on the aggregate, this has not been my experience.

Every week, I attend meetings at the Center for Political Engagement alongside my Democrat, Republican, and Democratic Socialist counterparts. Somehow, amidst all of the hatred and division in our country, we come together every week and have civilized and productive conversations, usually without so much as one unkind word.

We willingly come together and compromise, including making concessions to one another, without treating it as a zero-sum war.

Im not going to claim that its all peaceful or friendly; disputes between the groups on this campus can run the gamut from annoying to occasionally even scary.

Be that as it may, my general experiences have shown me that plurality can work.

Davidson College is a place that prides itself on the development of humane instincts beyond academics, athletics, and the arts. The ideal is that we use this space not merely to learn Spanish or econ, but also to refine ourselves as citizens and moral agents.

I believe that we, as a college and as a society, cannot limit our imaginations in a country of nearly 330 million people to two inherently flawed choices, election after election.

In a country that calls itself the greatest democracy in the world, we need to set our standards higher than that.

In order for us to improve our democracy, both at our school and in the U.S. at large, we need to lean into plurality, not away from it.

From the beginning, we have strengthened our society by insisting that freedom of speech and expression engenders intellectual diversity and growth, and we must never let that fight die out.

If we want to truly grow during our four years here, then we need to hear not only from the two main parties, but also libertarians, socialists, greens, and even the countless people who feel that they dont fit in anywhere.

We cannot be summarized by either a D or an R next to our names because we are all individuals with deeply intricate beliefs that rarely fall into one of two camps.

As a college and as a country that so proudly proclaim our commitment to freedom, equality, and diversity, we can all do better than checking one of two boxes.

Kieran Clark 22 is a philosophy major from Asheville, North Carolina. Contact him at

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Libertarian Think Tank Hosts Panel on Higher Education Act Renewal – Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

Posted: at 1:45 pm

September 18, 2019 | :

WASHINGTONWith the imminent renewal of the Higher Education Act, the legislation governing federal higher education programs, policymakers are wondering which issues will garner support across the aisle. A panel hosted by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, on Capitol Hill gave a glimpse into one side of that equation, featuring conservative authors on higher education.

The panel, called Realistic Solutions to Big College Problems: Overhauling the Higher Education Act, explored panelists hopes for higher education policy, largely focusing on college affordability with Dr. Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institutes Center for Educational Freedom, as moderator.

Panelists included Dr. Phil Magness, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Richard Vedder, a distinguished professor of economics emeritus at Ohio University, and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Todd Zywicki, a George Mason University Foundation professor of law at the George Mason University law school.

The discussion opened with commentary by Sen. Rick Scott, former governor of Florida. As a low-income student who grew up in public housing, he said college costed him about $200 per semester.

Theres no reason we cant figure out how to do this less expensively, Scott said.

He mentioned a series of bills he plans to file, including measures which would get rid of distinctions between for-profit and non-profit schools, hold higher education institutions responsible for paying a fraction of student loan defaults, cut off schools that raise tuition from federal funding, allow Pell grants to go toward technical schools and reduce regulations for private lenders.

Scott, among others, expressed skepticism about Democratic candidates proposals to forgive student loan debt, saying these plans would bankrupt and destroy the country if implemented.

Now the Democrats have a great new solution, he said. Theyre just planning to make it all disappear. Poof, just like that cancel all student loan debt. Its going to be magic.

Still, panelists expressed a sliver of hope that Republicans and Democrats can come together on aspects of the Higher Education Act to make higher education more affordable.

While Vedder would like to get rid of federal student loans entirely, he said everyone can at least agree the FAFSA form students use to apply for financial aid is stupid and needs of reform.

No one Democrat, Republican, vegetarian, Presbyterian, whatever your orientation is agrees it makes any sense at all except for a few bureaucrats, he said.

Vedder thinks Democrats could also get behind Income Shared Agreements, student loans supplied by universities themselves, and skin in the game, which refers to policies that reward or penalize schools based on whether students can graduate and repay their loans. However, these policies may struggle to pass, he said, because theyll burden schools with low retention rates like historically Black colleges and universities, which he described as politically very sensitive.

Zywicki agreed that skin in the game policies may prove themselves more complicated, but for different reasons.

If you want to think about how higher ed will respond, put on the cap of the most sociopathic Wall Street banker who only cares about money, he said.

He worries these measures will disincentivize colleges and universities from enrolling low-income and minority students, who tend to graduate at lower rates.

This whole industry is defined by unintended consequences, he said. Higher educations affordability problem is the result of unintended consequences of well-intentioned ideas.

The bulk of the discussion focused on why tuitions have become so costly.

Magness blamed higher educations frivolous expenses with universities using fancy campus infrastructure like rock climbing walls or lazy rivers to compete with each other. He also pointed to administrative bloat, arguing colleges and universities are over-investing in disciplines which attract less students, like the humanities, and creating administrative offices that arent strictly necessary. The example he gave was an officer of environmental sustainability.

What is higher ed providing here? he said. Is it really degrees and education or is it a jobs program for administrators? Is it a jobs program for faculty?

Among other issues, Zywicki blamed accreditors for limiting consumer choice and politicians bizarre war on for-profits, schools more heavily regulated under the Obama administration for graduating students unable to repay their loan debts at high rates.

Private enterprise has been a miracle in every other industry, Zywicki said.

While many factors contribute to colleges high cost, according to Vedder, the federal government is largely to blame because student loans enable colleges and universities to raise their prices.

Being in this building, in this place he said, gesturing to the Rayburn House office building, a five-minute walk from the U.S. Capitol, we are right at the epicenter of the problem.

Sara Weissman can be reached at

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Troy mayoral candidate loses Libertarian line – Times Union

Posted: at 1:45 pm

From left, Rodney Wiltshire, Tom Reale and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden participate in a debate held at the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 in Troy, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

From left, Rodney Wiltshire, Tom Reale and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden participate in a debate held at the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 in Troy, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

Photo: Lori Van Buren, Albany Times Union

From left, Rodney Wiltshire, Tom Reale and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden participate in a debate held at the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 in Troy, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

From left, Rodney Wiltshire, Tom Reale and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden participate in a debate held at the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 in Troy, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

Troy mayoral candidate loses Libertarian line

TROY Mayoral candidate Rodney G. Wiltshire Jr. lost the Libertarian slot on the November ballot when paperwork accepting the new partys nomination was not submitted, Democratic and Republican Rensselaer County Board of Elections commissioners said Wednesday.

All three mayoral candidates' names will now each appear twice on the Nov. 5 ballot as they go head-to-head in the election.

The paperwork was not filed, Republican Elections Commissioner Jason Schofield said. Democratic Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough confirmed it.

Wiltshire, an enrolled Democrat, will appear on the Green and Independence lines. Incumbent Mayor Patrick Madden is the Democratic and Working Families candidate. Thomas A. Reale will be on the Republican and Conservative lines.

The citys Democrats enjoy a nearly a three-to-one enrollment edge over the Republicans, giving Madden a significant head start as the party candidate. Republican candidates have generally attempted to collect as many minor party lines as possible to try and offset the Democrats majority.

This will be the second time that Madden runs in a three-way race for mayor. In the 2015 contest, the now incumbent mayor ran successfully on the Democratic line against Wiltshire, who was then the City Council president, and former Republican Councilman Jim Gordon.

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RIP Earl Ravenal (1931-2019) | Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute

Posted: at 1:45 pm

I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Earl Ravenal, a one-time member of Cato's board of directors, long-time senior fellow and distinguished senior fellow, and an important voice in the development of the case against global interventionism in the 1970s and 1980s.

He taught international affairs for many years at Georgetown University, and was the author of several books and monographs, as well as countless papers and articles, including Never Again: Learning From America's Foreign Policy Failures (Temple University Press, 1978), and this gem, from way back in the Cato archives, "Reagan's 1983 Defense Budget: An Analysis and an Alternative" (Policy Analysis no. 10).

In his sweeping history of the libertarian movement, Radicals for Capitalism, Brian Doherty describes Ravenal as "a foreign policy intellectual of real-world heft." He was active in Libertarian Party politics, and was responsible for writing LP presidential candidate Ed Clark's campaign statement on foreign and defense policies in 1980.

Ted Galen Carpenter, who preceded me as Cato's vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, recalls "Earl was nearly unique in the 1970s and 1980s in being regarded as a serious scholar by much of the foreign policy establishment, despite his unorthodox views. That status made him a true trailblazer for those of us who reinforced the case for realism and restraint. Without his pioneering work, our task would have been far more difficult."

Another Cato colleague remembers Earl's dogged effort to assess the share of the Pentagon's budget that was geared toward defending Europe and Asia during the waning days of the Cold War. This was a daunting task, given that such spending is fungible, and the things that it buys mobile. A ship in Norfolk can be deployed to the Mediterranean, but also to the Persian Gulf, or even the Pacific Ocean (it just takes longer). Planes fly. Even troops can be relocated -- though their bases less easily. In the face of such complexity, most people simply shrugged their shoulders: "Who knows?" Ravenal improved public understanding of America's military posture in the early 1980s by forcing a discussion of these costs into the debate.

As a young Cato fan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I encountered many of Ravenal's books and articles on foreign and defense policy. The most influential was arguably Designing Defense for a New World Order, published in 1991. I (somehow) managed to locate it on my bookshelf, and discovered countless highlighted passages, and earnest comments and questions in the margins.

Earl's family reports that he passed away on August 31, 2019. He was 88 years old. I extend to them my sincere condolences.

A memorial service will be held in his honor next month at the Cosmos Club on Sunday, October 27 at 2 pm. The public is welcome.


RIP Earl Ravenal (1931-2019) | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute

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Tulsi Gabbard: Taxation Is Theft (When…) – The Libertarian Republic

Posted: at 1:45 pm

Tulsi Gabbard is, I think its safe to say, the pragmatic libertarians favorite in the Democratic primary.

Sure, shes not a libertarian. Thats granted. There are plenty of policy positions she holds that simply dont overlap with the libertarian position at all. It would take more than my two hands to recite them. Some of these are understandably deal-killers depending on ones focus, and many dont even care much about Democratic primaries.

But shes got a laser sharp focus on the issues of overlap as her major concerns: A pro-peace, anti-war foreign policy thats at least more pure than her competitors and undeniably smart and informed by both intelligence and experience. A support for civil liberties and transparency from a place of actual sincerity. A willingness to call out wrong as she sees it regardless of where it originates.

And, lets face it look at her competition. Its one thing to say shes not libertarian enough for libertarian support in a general election. Im sure that even if Marianne blessed her with a miracle and she somehow became the nominee, the eventual libertarian candidate would have her beat on libertarian cred. But who else is running in the race shes currently in that could hold a candle to her?

Just having her in the debates is an easy way to show how awful her competition is on issues that Democrats are supposed to be good on because shes actually willing to call them out. We all want to see her torch other Democrats on that stage the way she decimated Harris in the last debate she participated in. And it was just yesterday on Twitter that she wrote Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabias bitch is not America First. which just warms my heart.

This weekend, Tulsi held a townhall in Ankeny, IA where she took questions from the audience. One of those audience members is a man named Seth (God bless you, Seth). He asked her about the good old libertarian bumper sticker slogan of taxation is theft.

Her response deserves more context than the first sentence that can fit on a meme, and is as follows

Seth: Hello. My name is Seth.

Tulsi: Hi Seth.

Seth: Im one of the libertarians in this coalition that youre building. And I want to say that youve already sold me on your thing. Im voting for you, Tulsi 2020. Were going.

Tulsi: Thank you.

Seth: But as a libertarian in this election space, Im curious as to what each candidate thinks. I wonder do you have any ethical problems with taxation? Whether or not its theft or whether or not its permissible even if it is theft, or just where are your thoughts on this subject?

Tulsi: Taxation is theft when our taxes are being used toward things that do not serve our interests.

Yall work hard every day. When you pay those taxes, you should have faith and trust that they will be used for things like making sure youve got safe roads to drive on. To make sure that your kids are getting a good education in these public schools. To make sure that your firefighters have what they need in order to make sure your house doesnt burn down if something happens. There are basic needs that we have in this country, and our taxes are meant to serve those needs.

Not to fund needless layers and layers and layers of bureaucracy. Certainly not to fund these wasteful wars and nuclear weapons that are making us in the world less safe. This gets to the heart of what Im talking about here.

It is about fiscal responsibility. And it is about accountability.

And making sure that our hard-earned taxpayer dollars are redirected away from this kind of waste and abuse and used to serve the interests of our people.

Obviously, there are issues that libertarians could find with this. Taxation is theft when? Public schools? How would she serve the interests of our people, and is there a more effective solution than government? Is government really serving our interests at all when it acts outside of a role that protects life, liberty, and property and what does that entail compared to her plans? That kind of thing that fills the headspace of all real libertarians rent-free. These are, of course, real questions and concerns. But

She acknowledged a negative moral component to excessive taxation and implied that its nature was involuntary. She may have agreed taxation was theft only when the ROI was in the red, but in some ways thats in line with classical liberal thought even if her cost/benefit analysis on when government is serving our interests enough to justify some degree of theft is in reality worlds apart.

When painting a picture of the kinds of things worth the necessity of taxation, she described muh roads, schools, and firefighters rather than expansive welfare states in mixed economies (even if she does advocate for some of those same policies elsewhere). She spoke against bureaucracy and war, and for fiscal responsibility and government accountability. Its hard to imagine some of her competition even using words like fiscal responsibility for lip service without bursting into flames.

As a libertarian who believes taxation is theft, and a classical liberal who believes that there are things worse than theft, maybe Im too sympathetic when giving credit for what I view as a great answer (politically speaking) that threads the needle she needs to thread for her coalition brilliantly. Maybe Im not as critical as I would be if she were running in another party but isnt that the point?

Id ask the following, though: Is there another Democrat running who could have possibly given a better answer from a liberty point of view?

Her answer can be viewed here, roughly 35 minutes in.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore

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Tulsi Gabbard: Taxation Is Theft (When...) - The Libertarian Republic

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