Tag: scott walker

Libertarians Should Support Wisconsin’s Lame Duck Bill

By Jack Parkos | United States

Following the Wisconsin 2018 gubernatorial election, which saw incumbent Governor Scott Walker lose, Republican state legislator officials got to work on a lame duck bill. The bill would limit the powers of Democrat Tony Evers, the Governor-elect of Wisconsin.

Republicans defend the bill as “balancing the powers of the legislative and executive branch”. Democrats are calling foul, claiming that Republicans are only doing it to limit Tony Evers because he is a Democrat. Democrats point out how Republicans never attempted to limit the governor’s power while Walker was in office.

The debate went on until the early hours of the morning but ultimately did pass Tuesday night. Walker, who was attending the Bush funeral, was unable to sign (or veto) the bill. Many Democrats are requesting to meet with Walker to encourage him not to pass the bill.

So it seems clear the position of each party. Majority of Republicans support the bill, while the majority of Democrats do not. Where do libertarians stand? It seems to be a difficult issue to take a stand on, but Libertarians should ultimately support the bill.

Democracy Vs. Liberty

The common attack the Democrats have on the bill is that it “undermines democracy”, which may or may not be true. Assuming this is true, the Libertarian should respond “so what?”. Liberty is paramount to democracy. They claim that because the majority wanted Evers, the bill should be vetoed. Libertarians must not fall for this trap. Ben Franklin said that democracy is no more than two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch.

This new bill will weaken the power of the new governor (who is by no means a libertarian). If one believes in libertarianism, this is a great idea. Governor-elect Tony Evers plans on making the capital a gun free zone, but the new bill will take away his power to do so.

Limiting the power of a leader is something libertarians support. Thus, they should logically support the bill, even if it is done for political reasons. It still will limit the power of a governor who is no friend to liberty. Those libertarians who may respond “it undermines democracy”, should ask themselves. Is democratic tyranny better than undemocratic liberty?

Obamacare Lawsuit

Wisconsin is part of a coalition of states planning on suing the federal government claiming the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. This is in direct correlation with the libertarian position. Meanwhile, newly elected Attorney General Josh Kaul plans on pulling Wisconsin out of this lawsuit. The new bill will require legislator support to do such a thing. The current legislation is controlled by Republicans who want to continue the lawsuit. A libertarian would support such a lawsuit that could rule Obamacare regulations unconstitutional. Logically, they should support this collation with the same goal in mind.

Politics is a dirty game. The bill is likely motivated by partisan politics. The bill will balance the power in the state government. It may stop the government from growing bigger, thus it must be seen as a necessary evil. 

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The Koch Brothers and Libertarianism

By Kenneth Casey | United States

The Koch Brothers have found themselves in the news again recently, this time by once again distancing themselves from one of the biggest policies that have defined the Trump Presidency: his support for protectionism through tariffs. The Koch brothers differ from Trump on this issue because they believe in the elimination of tariffs. President Trump sees tariffs as a necessity to compete with strength in the global economy. Due to this difference and their belief that the party has drifted more towards economic nationalism and right-populism in the age of Trump, they have threatened to not support Republican federal candidates who agree with the President on the issue of trade.

Many in the media have pointed to this conflict as one of the many examples of disillusionment between Trump Republicans and ‘libertarian’ Republicans. The Koch brothers are widely regarded as two of the biggest and most influential small-l libertarians in the country. Why are the Koch brothers so widely regarded as libertarian and do all of their political activities and money spent towards specific issues align with their libertarian beliefs? 

One of the things the Koch brothers do that earns them the approval of libertarians is their involvement with the Cato Institute, the biggest libertarian think tank in the United States and arguably the second largest right-wing think tank in the country. Charles Koch was among one of the founding members of the institute, along with libertarian activist Ed Crane and the founder of the anarcho-capitalist school of thought Murray Rothbard. There’s no denying that the Cato Institute, since its founding, has done inspired work in making the case for limited government, individual liberty and non-interventionism through policy studies and libertarianism in the United States through intellect and reason. Through the institute, The Kochs have pushed for many libertarian policies such as lower taxes, privatization of government services, civil liberties, gay marriage/marriage privatization, criminal justice reform, marijuana legalization, and much more.

Additionally, David Koch founded Citizens for a Sound Economy, which has since split into two organizations: FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. FreedomWorks is a conservative and libertarian advocacy group that supports like-minded candidates for office and produces a scorecard which grades Congressmen on how often they vote in line with the libertarian principles FreedomWorks embodies. Americans for Prosperity serves much of the same purpose as FreedomWorks – electing like-minded liberty-friendly candidates – but is under different leadership.

Furthermore, they’ve also voiced their opinions and spent money towards fighting legislation like the Patriot Act, in which they gave an amount of money Reason Magazine declared to be around $20 million to the ACLU to promote opposition to the Patriot Act and government surveillance in general (to be completely fair, in an update to the article, Reason announced they were unable to confirm the amount the Koch Brothers gave to the ACLU, or that it existed). They were also one of the biggest vocal opponents of the Affordable Care Act and promoted a free-market approach to health care, in which they used their funds towards Americans for Prosperity to run anti-Obamacare ads worth around $3 million.

Based all of this, I’d say it’s fair to come to the conclusion that their political activities within their supported organizations have done much good for the cause of liberty and limited government, and it’s great that libertarianism has such powerful allies in that sense.

But what about the thing you hear in regards to the Koch brothers the most – their involvement in elections and their support of a plethora of Republican candidates? Based off everything else I’ve written so far, you might assume that the Kochs have a strict qualification for candidates and only support those who consistently align with their views of limited government and philosophical libertarianism, but that’s not always (and not usually) the case.

Most the money the Kochs spend in elections goes towards supporting establishment-friendly mainstream Republicans. According to the website OpenSecrets, the top 10 candidates for election in 2018 that have received the most money from the Koch Brothers are Marsha Blackburn, Orrin Hatch, Lee Zeldin, Ron Estes, Karen Handel, Patrick Morrisey, John Barrasso, Ralph Norman, Claudia Tenney, and Mimi Walters. All of these ten candidates, besides perhaps Morrisey, are establishment-backed Republicans who are nowhere close to representing the libertarian values the Koch Brothers hold dear.

To their credit, I have to note that the Kochs do also support and have donated to the very few libertarians in Congress like Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie, but there’s no doubt the money they’ve given to establishment big government Republicans outnumbers the money they’ve given to true small-l libertarians. Even when America had the chance to elect Rand Paul, who no doubt represented libertarian the best in the Republican primaries, they decided not to get involved whilst stating they had a favorable view of Rand as well as Ted Cruz and establishment favorites Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker (whom many speculated was their preferred candidate, even over Rand).

One thing is clear from all this: they’re not interested in electing liberty candidates, they’re just interested in electing Republicans. They support Republican leaders such as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell many of whom are to blame for the scope of government still getting bigger even under a Republican president and a Republican majority in Congress.

The issue I find with this is that if we keep electing the type of Republicans the Koch brothers have shown the most support to, how will we ever get the country to become more libertarian as the Kochs apparently obviously desire? They’re supporting the same wing of the Republican Party that have advanced authoritarian big government policies such as unnecessary wars overseas, the Patriot Act, big spending bills, and the war on drugs. It is a fair argument that voting isn’t the best ways to change society’s outlook on government and certain issues, but in my opinion, to not focus on elections is wasting an opportunity to see liberty in our lifetime.

If we look at legislation that’s in favor of big government, some Koch-backed candidates have often sided with raising the scope of government instead of the positions the Koch Brothers take on limited government. 3 of the Republicans who voted against the partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 which the Koch Brothers enthusiastically supported, have received funding from the Koch Brothers in the past: Dean Heller, Shelley Moore Capito, and Rob Portman.

Another piece of legislation that raises the scope of government that has been enacted under the Trump administration was the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed with some Koch funded candidates backing it in the Senate such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, Marco Rubio, Rob Portman, Tim Scott, among many others (you can see how everyone in the Senate voted on it here). Instead of putting their efforts towards recruiting candidates who actually align with libertarian values and want to shrink government and end the wars, they’ve spent money on candidates like those I mentioned who want bigger government almost as much as the Democrats do.

The Koch brothers have done a lot of good for libertarianism by funding institutes and organizations that promote the idea of liberty. Rand Paul declared “The Koch brothers’ investment in freedom-loving think tanks will carry on for generations”, this is true and while libertarians should be grateful for their contributions in that regard, their involvement in the American election process and candidates they’ve thrown their support behind could be so much better for the cause of liberty, but we’ll see what’s more effective long-term in making our country freer.

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Interview with Reese Wood for WI State Assembly

Reese Wood is the libertarian candidate for  the 45th District of the Wisconsin State Assembly. He was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, and graduated from the University of Ashford. Other than running for office, he works for Vivi Media LLC. This interview was conducted to get an insight on running for office, as well as show voters that there is a sane alternative to the two party duopoly.

Keller: What inspired you to run for office?

Wood: Family, friends, and the potential future of Wisconsin. I’m a 32 year old father with four daughters, inspiration is never in short supply.

Keller: When entering politics, what attracted you to the Libertarian Party over that of the two major parties?

Wood: I supported the Obama administration and their campaign as a result of my dissatisfaction with Bush administration policies and agendas. Shortly into the first term of the Obama administration I realized the same policies I disliked under the Bush administration were in fact continuing under our newly elected administration. In 2012 I realized a genuine effort was being made by the Libertarian party to get regular people elected to office at all levels of government. Both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson’s campaign’s attracted me to the Libertarian party, but seeing state and congressional Libertarian campaigns in Wisconsin really convinced me. The Libertarian party has created a momentum, I think many people are taking notice.

Keller: If you had to explain liberty to someone who had never heard of it before, what would say? In other words, what is Libertarianism all about?

Wood: When explaining liberty I remind people to consider the pursuit of happiness. Are you pursuing happiness? If not, why?  Libertarianism, like other political affiliations contains a spectrum of different philosophies. More freedom and less government always seems to explain it well. 

Keller: What are the three most important issues to you?

Wood: The three most important issues to me are education mandates and funding, decriminalization of hemp and marijuana, and criminal justice reform. Wisconsin’s Home-Based Private Educational Program (commonly referred to as homeschooling), is a good example of simply allowing choice. No funding is provided to home school parents, and no tax or legal requirement is imposed on them, other than a free annual state application for each student. Funding for local public education should be a decision entirely up to local governments.

The State of Wisconsin has a complex problem with criminalizing people who are simply seeking to live in peace. Both parties are responsible for the incarceration in our state, which has become the largest in the US. Democrats and republicans will continue to offer hemp and marijuana policy that involves needless taxation and discriminate permit requirements. 

Keller: The two parties have long frozen political thought by creating an illusion that Americans must either be Republican or Democrat. What makes the message is liberty so attractive as a viable third option?

Wood: The message of liberty doesn’t lie, and honesty appeals to most people. Many people understand a need for diverse independent voices among our elected representatives. The libertarian party has worked to reach the ballot, to be included in debates, and to continue civil political discussions. Voters looking for common sense solutions are turning to the LP. 

Keller: The Foxconn deal has been highly controversial not only in Wisconsin, but in America. What are your thoughts on the Foxconn Deal Scott Walker made?

Wood: The Foxconn deal has brought attention to governmental abuse’s against free market solutions. Not only is the Foxconn deal an interference with the free market, the $4.5 in tax money being spent is a complete giveaway. Wisconsin voters will have a chance in November 2018 to elect candidates who appose crony capitalism. 

Keller: If elected, what would your first act be? In other words, what is the first piece of legislation you would like to pass?

Wood: The emergence of the hemp and marijuana industry in Wisconsin could mean peace and prosperity for all of us. If elected, I will work to offer an alternative to Wisconsin’s recently passed SB119 Hemp bill, SB38 regarding medical marijuana, and other legislative efforts that distort the right of Wisconsin people to pursue personal use and possession. 50 years ago we began a discriminate drug war, we can look at our prison populations and lack of economy to see the results. This is one issue that should have been addressed long ago. 

Keller: How can people get involved with your campaign and with the Libertarian Party?

Wood: Social media likes and shares always help. The campaign on Facebook is Reese Wood for Assembly, Twitter @RW4WI, and website reesewood.com is launching in February. 

Keller: Do you have any final remarks for the readers, supporters, and potential voters?

Wood: Social and fiscal responsibility relies on our ability as individuals to engage freely without coercion. If elected I will work to give local governments more authority in Wisconsin. More freedom, less government.

I would like to again thank Reese Wood for his time. Follow him on twitter @RW4WI and be sure to visit his website, reesewood.com when it launches in February 2018.