Tag: Feature

Interview With Britton Wolf: SC House District 71 Candidate

By John Keller | South Carolina

Britton Wolf is in the Republican Liberty Caucus and is running for the South Carolina State House of Representatives in the 71st District to limit government intrusion upon the people of South Carolina. He is self-described on his website:

“My name is Britton Wolf. I am a Christian, a Conservative Activist, an Ecclesiastical Leader, a Mentor, a High School Lacrosse Coach, and an Eagle Scout. I am a legacy member of Young Americans for Liberty; I am also a trained Conservative Activist by the Leadership Institute and the Foundation of Applied Conservative Leadership.”
Keller: What inspired you to pursue a career in politics?
Wolf: My family and I are originally from California and we are first-hand witnesses of the destructive nature of big government policies. More than anything I am just tired of the State that I love becoming more like the State that I escaped from.

August of 2017, I read an article about the abandonment of the V.C. Summer Project, a project to construct two nuclear power plants in South Carolina. This failed $9-billion project resulted in the loss of 5,000 jobs. I began researching more about this issue and learned about the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) which was the legislation that led up to this nuclear fiasco in my State.

After looking up the voting record of my current Representative, I found out that he voted for the BLRA. January 31st he had the opportunity to vote for a full repeal but instead he chose to abstain from voting for or against the repeal. Someone needed to step up to run against him and I answered the call.

Keller: What, to you, is libertarianism? What attracted you, and what do you think will attract voters, to its message?
Wolf: As a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, I believe that liberty extremely important, bringing liberty to South Carolina is the purpose of my campaign. The term “Liberty” is something that I have studied for the past three years of my life. I’ve read the writings of free-market economists: Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig Von Mises, Murray N. Rothbard and F. A. Hayek. The definition of liberty that I have discovered is: Liberty is that condition of man, where coercion by some over others is reduced as much as possible in society. In other words, liberty is the condition of reducing man’s ability to wield political power to coerce or force human action.
Ronald Reagan said: “If you analyze it, I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” I’ve found that voters want to be left alone but more importantly, they want to keep their hard-earned money. As a legislator, I would fight to protect our economic freedom and civil liberties. I don’t believe that there is anything moral or honorable about spending other people’s money.
Keller: You are running for your state house. What is the “State of the State” and why is there a need for change?

Wolf: Right now, South Carolina residents pay the highest electric rates of any state in the nation, the average ratepayer pays $400 more per year than the national average. This has to do with legislation passed in 2007 called the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) which charges ratepayers for the construction of two nuclear power plants and permitted the utility providers of South Carolina to pass rate hikes. In the past decade companies like SCE&G have raised rates nine times and the project to construct the nuclear power plants was abandoned in 2017. The vilest part of this legislation is that the law leaves ratepayers on the hook for paying for the $9-billion project “upon completion or abandonment,” in other words we’re still on the hook for this.

My opponent voted for the BLRA in 2007 and abstained from voting for or against amendment 2 of H. 4375, which would have resulted in a full repeal of the BLRA and gotten ratepayers off the hook for continuing to pay for the abandoned nuclear reactors.

My solution to this issue would be to sponsor legislation for a full repeal of the BLRA to get ratepayers off the hook for paying for the abandoned reactors. Then to pass legislation that would free ratepayers from the territorial monopolies held by the utility providers of my State. South Carolina needs to open up for a free market by allowing for ratepayers to pick and choose which utility providers they want to purchase electricity from. This would create competition and drive down costs for electricity.

Keller: The gun debate is gaining intense traction in American politics as a result of the tragedy in Florida. What is your stance on this policy issue?

Wolf: The gun debate is certainly a hot topic right now and my heart goes out to the victims of the events that occurred in Florida. My concern with the recent gun discussions is, the demand for legislation to protect us from those that would prey on innocent citizens of society, such laws won’t protect us but would instead treat law abiding citizens as criminals.

I believe that we have a fundamental right to protection and that the most effective means of protection is through gun ownership. I have made a promise to my supporters that as a future legislator; I would defend their right to protect their lives, families, and possessions, and I would oppose all legislation that would infringe upon their ability to possess firearms.

Keller: The Drug War has been going on for over thirty years with no end in sight. What role do you want to play in the Drug War in the South Carolina, and how will you work with state policy and federal mandates? In other words, where do you stand on medical cannabis?
Wolf: I support the legalization of medical cannabis, right now there is a proposed bill in my State called the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (H. 3541/S. 212). This legislation would allow for qualifying patients with debilitating medical conditions and a written recommendation from a physician, access to medical cannabis to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease and more life-altering diseases. I believe that patients should have access to or the ability to consult with a medical professional about medicine that could help alleviate their suffering.
Recently, the SC House leadership blocked the SC Compassionate Care Act from coming up for a vote because this session falls upon an election year. To me, it’s a tragedy that my State’s elected representatives would play these political games, over granting suffering patients access to medicine. If elected, I will work with Rep. Jonathan Hill, Rep. Josiah Magnuson, and other sitting House members to help alleviate human suffering!
Keller: What do you hope to accomplish once elected? In other words, what three policies and stances define your campaign?
Wolf: Once elected I would like to focus my efforts on three issues:
  1. Repealing the Base Load Review Act; this would get ratepayers off the hook for paying for abandoned $9 dollar nuclear reactors. Sponsor legislation to remove the utility providers monopoly so that ratepayers can pick which provider to purchase electricity from, this competition would cause electric rates to decrease.
  2. Tax reform; I want to cut the State sales tax in half from 6% to 3%. Last year, the Republicans in my state voted to raise the State gas tax from 12.75 cents/gallon to 28.75 cents/gallon. If throwing more money at the problem solved problems then
  3.  Constitutional Carry; I believe that we have a God-given right to be able to bear arms, I don’t support licensing to exercise rights.
Keller: Do you have any concluding remarks for the readers and voters?

Wolf: If I were to say anything to readers or voters it would be that South Carolina is prime for liberty; and if elected, I will stand as a principled statesman like Rep. Jonathon Hill and Sen. Tom Davis. Liberty is the goal and we need more advocates for liberty to infiltrate our State legislature.

I would like to thank Britton Wolf for his time in conducting this interview. For more information visit his Facebook page and be sure to donate! His campaign is only $2,000 of the quarterly fundraising goal with YAL.


Bernie Would Slaughter

I really do not like Bernie Sanders. And I mean really.

As ferociously as I promote civil, well-reasoned, dispassionate political discourse, I admit that I have a hard time keeping my cool when the Vermont Senator is a part of the subject matter at hand.

Bernie Sanders politics are almost entirely antithetical to what I believe in. Even when we overlap, it tends to be for wildly different reasons.

In February, Sanders proposed legislation to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceuticals from abroad (it would eventually fail in the Senate). At the moment, many of these purchases are abridged or prohibited due to trade barriers that are in place thanks to lobbying from Big Pharma. The result of this protectionism is artificially high drug prices at home in the US. I imagine that Sanders wants to tear down these walls as a way to punish Big Pharma and because, in this instance, he feels there are benefits to permitting consumer choice.

I, on the other hand, believe that government has no business telling Americans what they can and cannot buy nor whom they can buy from, so Bernie Sanders’s seal of approval should be irrelevant. Free trade is a boom to economic growth and keeps prices low in general. Sanders thinks government should determine when to allow the free exchange of goods and services across national borders because big government knows best.

Beyond politics, I believe Bernie is a hypocrite, a horrendous role model, and a demagogic snake.

Sanders claims to stand for the working class and the poor, yet he owns three houses and has never had a real job. Instead of getting his hands dirty as a public school teacher, putting his life on the line as a fireman, or otherwise directly contributing to making the world a better place, Sanders has spent nearly four decades collecting a generous, tax-payer-funded paycheck in various positions of government. He earned over a million dollars in 2016.

I want to believe that to the general public of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders is as much of a joke as he is to me. I also want to believe that America could never fall for the manipulations and obfuscations of a weasley democratic socialist. Furthermore, I want to believe that Americans understand their rights and are aware of the devastation Sandersian policies have caused throughout the 20th Century. In fact, these same policies are on display now in Venezuela, and are failing again.

But I don’t.

I don’t believe any of those things intuitively, and I don’t believe them based on the available data.

The Mainstream Media, suffering from massive quantities of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, have compensated for their false assumptions and failed polling data by manufacturing fictions about Nazi uprisings and Russian meddling to explain Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

But the way I see it, the story is quite simple:

After 16 years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the American people, especially lower-income Republicans and Progressives, were angry.

Republicans were angered by Bush’s complete failure to be a Conservative as well as his sending their children off to fight pointless, endless wars. They were angry at Obama for his Global-Citizen (as opposed to patriotic American) speeches, his palling around with people who ridicule them, and his policies and warmongering in general.

Progressives were angry at Bush for everything, and they were angry that Obama did not bring about the Utopia of “Hope and Change” they had been promised.

As a result of this anger, Trump’s populism won the GOP nomination, and Sanders’ populism came close to taking down the seemingly unbeatable Clinton machine.

In the general election, Trump and Clinton both lost sizeable shares of their parties. Aside from those, like Dennis Prager, who believe that Leftism is such a great danger to America that any Republican would suffice, or, in other words, aside from those who subscribe to the acceptance of the lesser-of-two-evils, Constitutional Conservatives, movement Conservatives, and Liberty-leaning Republicans refused to vote for Trump in droves. Some, like P.J. O’Rourke, preferred Clinton as the devil you know, some went for third-party candidates like Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin, and some probably didn’t vote at all.

Clinton lost Progressives who couldn’t stomach her interventionism or support for multinational trade agreements, minorities who only voted for Obama because of his race, and some of the disappointed youth voters that Sanders had energized.

Likely most consequently, Clinton lost a chunk of white working class voters who supported Obama four and eight years earlier. These voters are fearful of traditionally Conservative economic policies that sometimes cost them their livelihoods, but also fear mass immigration for the same and other more tribal reasons. Moreover, these Americans are not persuaded by multiculturalism or hyper-progressive social initiatives like allowing children to choose which school restroom to use based on what gender they feel they are.

While it’s unlikely that Trump picked up many members of the first three demographics I mentioned, he got the working-class whites. By making immigration and trade reform his most prominent issues, by promising to leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid intact, and by saying he’d swap American interventionism for “America First,” Trump had put together a winning formula. He even managed to get one out of every ten Bernie Bros according to the available polling data and, to be fair, common sense.

But Trump is no lock to win again in 2020.

If Bernie Sanders decides to run again and wins the Democratic Primary in 2020, even if he’s 150 years old, he’ll beat Trump in an absolute landslide.

Bernie Sanders would bring together the automatic Democrats, the principled Progressives, the Obama minorities, the frustrated youth, and the white working class. Every left-leaning demographic that Hillary Clinton lost and every unprincipled demographic that Trump and Bernie agitated into the political sphere in 2016 would be Feeling the Bern.

Trump’s support would be reduced to automatic Republicans, anti-Progressive nationalists, Trump diehards, and those who feel that anything is better than Socialism. And that will not be enough to constitute a voting majority in the purple states.

The only thing that could derail a Sanders presidency if he decides to run for and wins the DNC nomination (neither of which are guarantees) would be a Jill Stein from the other side. In other words, if the Democratic Party were fractured by an insurgent anti-Sanders group, it could peel away enough voters to give Trump the edge.

What kind of insurgency would this be? I imagine a third-way feminist revolt. Sanders and his supporters were smeared as sexists from within their own party during and after the last election, and this tactic will be used again. If some on the left are too committed to getting a woman or minority into office, Trump will have a shot at beating Bernie.

I write none of this in celebration. There is no glee in these words. But I am committed to telling what I believe to be the truth. And the truth is that the America our Founding Fathers fought and died for is seldom persuasive to a voting majority of human beings in America or anywhere else around the world.

Let’s hope I’m wrong.


Image Source DonKeyHotey on Flickr

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Conservation Offers Reasons For Conditional Optimism, But We Seem To Prefer Feeling Glum

Craig Axford | United States

It’s become fashionable to depict our species as a greedy, stupid, and unprincipled killing machine. Unquestioning acceptance of the idea that everywhere we go we leave nothing but death and destruction in our wake has become almost compulsory in many circles.

This one-sided view of humanity is dispiriting to say the least. In addition to failing to consider the big picture or take the long view, it’s a narrative that tends to undermine the very values those proclaiming it claim to hold dear.

Consider the “obituary” published for the Great Barrier Reef in the October 11, 2016 issue of Outside Magazine.This unfortunate commentary will hopefully go down in history as one of the greatest premature pronouncements in history.

The obit for the largest coral reef ecosystem on the planet declared that after 25 million years in existence that included numerous environmental changes, at least a few of which were pretty stressful even relative to current events, Homo sapiens proved to be too much for the reef to handle. According to the article “The Great Barrier Reef was predeceased by the South Pacific’s Coral Triangle, the Florida Reef off the Florida Keys, and most other coral reefs on earth.” In the final sentence the author asks mourners to send donations to the Ocean Ark Alliance “in lieu of flowers”.

But why would anyone bother with a donation to a conservation organization dedicated to saving ecosystems that have just been declared dead? Even if this piece of hyperbole was intended to scare people into action, as presumably it was, the only reasonable emotional response to this sort of rhetoric is a paralyzing mortification.

Coral reefs are, of course, vital ocean ecosystems that are facing increasing stress from climate change, pollution, and other impacts associated with human activity. That we need to do more to protect these and other areas isn’t in dispute. However, urging people to act by falsely advertising the moment to save a particular ecosystem has passed is like including a solicitation for funds to facilitate grandma’s recovery with a premature announcement of her memorial service.

Humans have been having a profound impact upon the environment for quite some time. For example, a major extinction event on the continent of Australia has been strongly linked to the arrival of people there roughly 45,000 years ago. That the first humans to arrive in North America may have pushed much of the megafauna there over the edge has also long been the subject of considerable speculation. It’s widely understood that before European settlers arrived indigenous peoples in the Americas engaged in intensive agriculture.

However, it’s important that past interactions with the environment be considered in context. The state of human knowledge at the time is relevant to any judgment we might care to make regarding past human activities. To say that concepts like population biology and ecology were merely foreign to our ancestors is to risk underestimating the degree of human ignorance relative to our own throughout most of human history. They lacked the information needed to even speculate about the possibility of many of the theories that we take for granted today. Just 200 years ago the idea that humans might actually be able to engage in agricultural and industrial activity on a scale that would change the global climate would have been extremely difficult to imagine and impossible to demonstrate using the available data.

The good news is that as our understanding of the natural world has grown, our desire to protect it has generally increased as well. Just in the United States alone the Endangered Species ActWilderness ActNational Environmental Policy ActClean Air ActClean Water Act, Antiquities Act, and the creation of the National Park Service all serve as prominent examples of legislation that reflect changes in values that can be directly linked to increases in our knowledge.

Globally efforts to protect habitat and conserve resources have also seen dramatic advances. According to the World Bank, between 1990 and 2016 the amount of land under some form of protected status rose from 8.2% to 14.4%. Terrestrial and marine areas combined receiving some form of protection increased from 6.2% to 12.8% between 1990 and 2014.

Though greater optimism is justified, it shouldn’t be unconditional or uninformed. Realistic evaluations of the challenges we face and accurate assessments of both our progress and our failures are necessary to building and maintaining any momentum we might achieve. However, we have fallen into the habit of focusing almost exclusively upon our failures while minimizing, ignoring, or even denying our progress. The environmental movement, in particular, seems to have turned cheerleading for pessimism into a kind of dystopian art.

This toxic atmosphere of continually pending disaster has left people increasingly convinced that government is a failure and other institutions are utterly unresponsive to growth in human knowledge or evolving social values. To see the cost of this distrust and cynicism one need look no further than the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Humanity has, to be sure, failed at times. Like its individual members, our species makes mistakes. Sometimes we need to make them a number of times before the lesson of those mistakes begins to sink in. Positive change doesn’t occur everywhere at once or at the same pace everywhere it is happening. But celebrating our successes is as essential to persuading others to join us as data. Happy warriors are much better at recruiting new soldiers than those urging people to join a lost cause. The world could use a few more happy warriors at the moment.

Photo by Michael LaRosa on Unsplash

Other recent articles by Craig include: Winter Is Pub Season, But The Rest Of The Year Belongs To Nature & Equality: The Yeast That Makes Liberty Rise

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him at Medium.com

Winter Is Pub Season, But The Rest Of The Year Belongs To Nature

Craig Axford | United States

I’ve never been much of a winter person. I don’t like having to get all bundled up to go outside, and camping in frigid temperatures for me usually means a miserable sleepless night.

I have gone snowshoeing a couple of times, and alpine skiing a few additional times. I briefly organized monthly trips to a local nordic center. Each full moon the center would line the groomed trail around a nearby frozen lake with luminaries. The moonlight reflecting off the snow gave the whole world a kind of silver aura which seemed particularly magical after a couple of hot toddies.

But if I’m being honest, those monthly trips were more social events than moonlit escapes into nature. It wasn’t the kind of thing I ever seemed inclined to do on my own. Winter for me, as for so many people, is spent predominantly indoors. It takes special circumstances to lure me outside for any significant length of time from December to March, and I always reserve the right to cancel on account of the weather.

Experiences accumulate like fat during the other three seasons of the year. During the winter this stored energy is burnt off in various essays and a few other creative pursuits, for better or for worse. Time is spent trying to stretch the supply of experiential material hopefully accumulated during the warmer part of the year when the only item of clothing not technically optional was a pair of hiking boots. Winter was ideally made for research, typing up and reviewing notes, and scribbling short grey days and long cold nights away.

. . .

I have a table at a local pub that I use to get through the colder months. Generally, I visit it only one day a week, though two has not been unheard of. Weekdays are preferable to weekends. Mondays or Tuesdays are the best.

The bar is usually pretty empty early in the week. Just about everyone else has a liver exhausted from a weekend of over-indulgence and is back to their regular 9–5 routine. I’m blessed (or cursed) with a routine that is out of sync with most of the employed world, and so can’t tax my liver on the same schedule.

Regardless, I like having the pub almost exclusively to myself. Sometimes there’s just me and the staff huddling nearby for their weekly meeting. There’s a plug for the computer, and I bring a backpack filled with notes and books to fill the afternoon while casually eavesdropping to learn which beers and liquors were most popular over the course of the previous week.

The TV in the corner behind the bar provides a mild visual distraction, though I can’t hear it over the music. The setting is familiar, but not too familiar. The bartenders have come to know me and to expect I’ll be staying a while. They are polite but respectfully keep their distance knowing the only interruptions I expect or will long endure are those necessary to keep the pints coming. It’s as though I’m a fixture, and I like it that way.

Though my regular Monday and/or Tuesday table would seem about as far removed from nature as one could get — especially being situated, as it is, at a window overlooked by a busy city sidewalk — it plays a similar role. The pub, like treks into the nearby mountains and deserts, provides the occasional necessary change of scenery to keep the creative process on track.

It is often said that the discipline a daily routine imposes is essential to every would be writer, artist, scholar and/or scientist. But everything is poison at a certain dose. Creativity requires breaks from the usual surroundings, even if these changes are themselves a predictable part of a regular schedule. If five or six days are spent working largely alone staring at the same four walls, introducing the mildly unpredictable ruckus of a pub and some different faces to look at now and then can lubricate the gears a little. Of course, the beer helps too.

. . .

But now it’s mid-March. In just a few days spring officially gets underway. This may qualify as a fifth season of the year: the anticipatory season. Thoughts increasingly turn toward the chance to really get away. The eyes begin to scan the nearby mountains more and more to assess how much longer the snow-pack will interfere with the chance to go for a hike.

Text messages with particular friends during these final days of winter inevitably include the possibility of near future day hikes and camping trips. We know that many of these will never take place. A lack of time and resources will squeeze the possibility out of most of these schemes before they have a chance to become reality.

But that’s not the point. Just imagining weekends or even whole weeks away is itself a kind of mini vacation. Researching new places to go on the internet and sharing the findings with friends that likewise find sitting around campfires, scrambling over rocks, or climbing unfamiliar mountain peaks intoxicating brings its own rewards. Indulging these fantasies is essential to maintaining the outward appearance that we are fully engaged with reality that polite society generally expects.

Corona Arch outside of Moab Utah. Taken by author during last autumn trip of 2017.

But at least a few of these fantasies will materialize into experiences more tangible than bucket lists and daydreams. “Wisdom often wanders,” Robert Moor writes in his book On Trails: An Exploration. “St. Augustine, Siddhartha, Li Po, Thomas Merton, Maya Angelou — the insight of each was deepened by wild and meandering youth.” I’m not exactly youthful anymore. Nor do I claim to be particularly wise. That said, I’m looking forward to leaving this winter’s pub table for another season of wandering of both the imaginary and real variety. Perhaps in the process, I’ll get lucky and gain some wisdom that will make its way to paper next pub season.

Cover Image by author along Canada’s West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him at Medium.com