Tag: small government

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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Yes, Libertarians Can Support Trump

By Atilla Sulker | United States

Recently, a fellow writer published a piece which stated that libertarians should not support Donald Trump. The article has some good insights, and it is quite obvious that President Trump is no small government advocate. However, this does not mean that to support him is to betray libertarian principles.

What does it truly mean to “support” someone? Would this mean that one’s policies are nearly or exactly in line with the candidate which they are supporting? Can one loosely back someone in an act of vengeance or in support of the “lesser of two evils”? We must ask these fundamental questions, for ignoring them would lead to confusion.

Murray Rothbard’s Support for Statists

In an attempt to answer these questions, let’s take a look at the political activist life of Murray Rothbard. Rothbard is easily one of the most staunch proponents of decentralization. But from the perspective that it is wrong to support an individual whom we may disagree with on a load of issues, Rothbard can be said to be betraying his principles.

Rothbard notably supported the efforts of the infamous Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was the epitome of the danger of government violating our Fourth Amendment and First Amendment rights. Rothbard also backed protectionist Ross Perot and Democrat Adlai Stevenson, among others. So, why exactly did Rothbard support all of these individuals, whose visions for the country differed greatly from his own?

Anti-Establishment Sympathy

Regarding McCarthy, while Rothbard strongly opposed the use of propaganda to frame individuals as communists, he also loved the fact that McCarthy was mainly targeting the establishment. Though Rothbard admits that he later saw the connection between McCarthyism and the shift of the right towards an imperialist foreign policy, he nevertheless had good reason to support him at the time.

Foreign Policy Justification

The phenomena of supporting Adlai Stevenson and Ross Perot show a more developed Rothbard. He supported these candidates, as he saw their opponents as much more volatile in regards to foreign policy. One will see that foreign policy was a very big issue to Rothbard. Likewise, it should be for all proponents of decentralization.

What we now see is that Rothbard supported those whom he viewed as being against the establishment, even if their policy proposals were drastically different from his. He would have supported the anti-establishment progressive over the establishment, imperialist conservative.

Rothbard embodied true maverick qualities, unlike the phony doctrine of McCainism. What makes the latter phony is the fact that individuals such as John McCain were anchored in the establishment. So, to cross aisles is not significant if both parties embody nearly the same principles. Rothbard, on the other hand, searched for allies who he believed would not sell out on their principles, even if he did not agree with the principles themselves.

Libertarians for Trump

It is important to make the connection between this sort of Rothbardian way of thinking and libertarians who support Trump. Libertarians must always criticize Trump for his shortcomings. However, they must always remember that Trump constitutes a much greater threat to the Washington cesspool than a moderate establishment figure or even a beltway libertarian such as Gary Johnson.

Of course, candidate Trump was quite different from President Trump. But regardless of how much of his anti-establishment sentiment Trump has followed, we must always remember that supporting such individuals does not constitute a betrayal to libertarian principles.

A Chance for Libertarians

The realm of activism is quite different from the realm of developing and staying true to your ideas. In order for decentralization to come about, we must fight the establishment, the ultimate centralizers. Ideas in favor of small government render useless if they are not also attached to fighting the establishment. This is what has led to the phenomenon of the “sellout libertarian”, not supporting individuals such as Trump.

Rothbard acknowledged the importance of populism in fighting the establishment. Before nitpicking over what specific policies to implement, we must drain the swamp and clean the mess in Washington, while still remaining true to our principles. Only then will we win this battle. This is why supporting Trump for “some good things” is different from supporting Obama or Bush for “some good things”. I am not a Trump supporter in the traditional sense. But when the deep state is in panic mode, libertarians have the opportunity to take back control.


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Barry Goldwater is Only Popular Today Because He Lost

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

The liberty movement today does not have many elected officials to look up to. Considering that a large percentage of it doesn’t believe in electing officials at all, this is not surprising. Two main theories exist in regards to why those in power often are corrupt. As philosopher John Acton puts it, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The American presidency, of course, is nearly absolute power, and thus, lends itself to a whole lot of corruption.

Scientist David Brin, on the other hand, offers a much different theory. He says, “It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.” This idea, of course, recognizes that power does not change people much, but rather, only corrupt people seek it.

Both of these quotes, though, share a very similar critical concept. Regardless of the nature of power, and whether it is the cause of corruption, there is a strong correlation between power and corruption. Even though those in power may not have started corrupt, they quickly become that way when the opportunity presents itself.

The Actor-Turned-Corrupted Official

One of the greatest examples of this quick change is Ronald Reagan. The former actor served as both California’s governor and POTUS, in the 1960s and 1980s, respectively. Both times, he campaigned on promises of limited government leading to a thriving economy. But both times, he failed to live up to this promise.

As the governor of California, Reagan actually signed off on the largest tax increase in the state’s history. This, of course, is highly antithetical to everything that he ran on. Despite this, Americans still elected him president in 1980 with a huge margin of victory.

However, Reagan, as president, once more abandoned his alleged virtues of limited government. Though he did cut the income tax considerably, he was, in other ways, not true to his word. Admittedly, some of this was due to resistance in a Democratic Congress. But still, much of the blame falls solely on the former president. From 1981 to 1989, the national debt increased by 186%. Deficit spending increased, and the budget increased. In fact, he even raised military spending by an alarming 35% in only eight years.

For these reasons, it is impossible to view Reagan as a supporter of small government without some pretty strong rose colored glasses. Upon entering positions of power, both times, he betrayed his alleged principles. This trait is not unique to Reagan though. In fact, due to the similarity of his campaign to Barry Goldwater, it is highly likely that Goldwater would have done the same, if elected.

Barry Goldwater: The Unproven Failure

In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson handed Barry Goldwater one of the most crippling defeats in political history. After Kennedy’s assassination, there was little to no chance that the man would have been able to win. But what if he did?

Much like Reagan, Goldwater campaigned on promises of limited government intervention in the economy. He opposed FDR’s New Deal as a form of strong government overreach into the private sector, and is famous for also opposing a government strong enough to supply the citizens’ every need. Despite this strong personal position, his message would simply not have survived well in the tense political climate.

Differing from Reagan a bit, Barry Goldwater did have a track record of living up to his ideals. In his two terms as an Arizona senator, he retained most of his principles. But this is much more difficult to do as a president, especially when your ideas do not have a lot of support in the legislative body.

In 1965, Congress was heavily Democratic, with a majority in both the House and the Senate. These legislators overwhelmingly supported LBJ’s Great Society, and thus, would have fervently opposed the deregulation that Goldwater promised. So, even if he did adhere to his economic principles, it is highly unlikely that very many of them would have passed. Of course, Goldwater could have always passed some via executive order. But in doing so, he would have immediately violated his firmly held belief that a government should have very limited executive power. Thus, none of his economic ideas would come to fruition without abandoning the underlying principle behind them.

A Hypocritical Foreign Policy

Throughout the 1964 campaign, Barry Goldwater attacked LBJ relentlessly for his actions in Vietnam. Of course, it is true that Johnson lied to the American people about Vietnam, as well as needlessly brought the United States into the war. Goldwater was quick to point both of these things out, as well as call the war itself “Johnson’s war”. This all came after Johnson promised that he sought “no wider war” in Vietnam. Of course, this was not to be the case, as Johnson escalated the war and caused countless losses of American and foreign lives.

Conversely, Goldwater himself also had a very firm stance on opposing communism. Though Johnson’s allegations in the popular campaign ad “Daisy”, among others, that Goldwater would drop nuclear bombs on the North Vietnamese people were untrue, it is true that the conservative senator strongly supported action against communist regimes.

In July of 1964, Goldwater gave a speech in which he called for increased action to oppose communism. In fact, he called it “the principal disturber of peace in the world today”. He even went so far as to say that communist regimes were “enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free”, before referencing that America should become a beacon of freedom.

Without a doubt, these anti-communist sentiments imply a desire to spend considerable money opposing communist countries. Though Barry Goldwater may not have furthered the war as much as LBJ, his hawkish rhetoric suggests that any notion of small government would be crippled by increased military spending and presence throughout the world.

A Popular Loser

So, whether indirectly or directly, it appears Barry Goldwater would not have entirely lived up to his principles as president. Much like Reagan, corruption and bureaucracy would have crippled his ability to carry out limited government principles. American government, in a position of ultimate power, does not generally limit itself, hence the near-perpetual growth since its dawn.

Goldwater, a reasonably consistent voice for smaller government, would not have been an exception. His lack of success in 1964 ensured he could never go back on his own word, though, preserving his integrity and allowing him to become a role model for limited government advocates of today.


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True Libertarian Presidents II: Warren G. Harding

By Dane Larsen | United States

“Warren Gamaliel Harding sweeps country in a GOP landslide” (San Francisco Chronicle, November 1920). After the 1920 Presidential election, the country had high hopes for a man who promised peace, progress and prosperity. Harding won the EC with votes 404-127, and stuck to his vowed code of ethics, by keeping the government out of the economy, bringing peace to the world after WWI, and protecting citizen’s personal liberties. An enormous portion of the United States voted him in so that they could see the results in categories like such.

Economic Freedom

Being preceded by Woodrow Wilson, a man notorious for his blasphemous economic positions, Harding was set up with a massive Depression from 1920-21. It’s not a big surprise that this was one of the depressions that hit us hard, but we never hear about it in the context of some of the worst in our nation’s history. This is because the former POTUS in question had about some of the finest economic stances, that he rarely went back on. Coupled with a post-World War economy, and the creation of the Federal Reserve, Harding was arranged to fail, as the economy as we knew it, was structured on faulty foundation. One future President, and Secretary of Commerce at the time Herbert Hoover, loosely defined himself as a laissez-faire advocate, and pushed for Keynesian tactics in the wake of a 17% GNP fall off, and a raise of unemployment by 8%. Harding ignored this.

Instead, Harding changed everything he could in his power, while keeping the checks and balances in D.C. that our forefathers envisioned, and not stepping over any boundaries. The Federal Income Tax started with a cap at 7% in 1913 but at the end of WWI skyrocketed to 77%. Secretary Mellon of Harding’s cabinet proposed tax cuts that would get the economy going again, with more money in the pockets of Americans in all tax brackets you could imagine. This cut in these taxes eventually led to a rapid growth in the US citizen wealth and all. In the passing years, GNP steadily rose 4.7% annually, and unemployment fell to 6.7% in 1921, then 3.2% in the following year. Furthermore, Harding cut spending of government entities by nearly 50%, and along with his almost 40% tax reduction, him and his administration cut back the national debt, with no bail-outs, government catalyst programs, etc.

Although he did enact a small tariff known as the Fordney-McCumber protectionist laws, he only had good intentions. Only one small crack in an air-tight economist of a President, the man “always decried high taxes, government waste, and excessive governmental interference in the private sector of the economy,” as Robert Murray wrote in “The Harding Era”. He was an honest man, who just wanted to see prominence in the economy of his home country, with the people he legitimately cared about.

Non-Interventionism

Foreign policy is the regard where Hardings reputation begins to become tarnished. He was a product of his time, and it’s hard to envision anybody in power at that particular time not wanting to grab at immediate power when there were so many vulnerable assets up for grabs. The occupations of many satellite colonies in the age of Imperialism was something every power of the Western world partook in. Harding wanted to do as much as he could in power to put these activities to rest, but it’s a shame that he never developed his words into actions. During his Presidency, the affairs regarding control over territories in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua were still in tact. This cruel behavior was sinister, yes, but in the context of the 1920’s, not uncommon in the slightest. At least then, there was very little conflict or civil disruptions in the territories from 1920-22, besides the D.R. citizens fighting soldiers positioned on sight, which stopped after Harding retracted troops to ease tension.

He was, however, an advocate of world diplomacy, at least when it came to the world superpowers. The Washington Naval Conference was put on by President Harding from November of ’21, to February of ’22, pre United Nations, here Harding brought together a lot of the powerful countries of the World, in another of the conferences of the League of Nations. Along with pushing for disarmament around the globe, being the first world consultation of arms control, it also enacted three main treaties, among others, that stood out as being a type of foreshadowing of things that the world would see in the near future. After a long time coming, China eventually launched an “open-door” foreign trade policy that would stimulate the World’s economy, only following the Nine-Power Treaty introduced and signed by none other than Warren G. Harding. Furthermore, many attribute the breakdown of Imperialism itself to Harding, who knocked over one of the first dominoes with the Four-Power Treaty, which made sure that the members of the star members of the League of Nations wouldn’t exceed their status quo of stationed troops in Oceania during colonization. This was meant as a plea to give the citizens of their homeland some breathing room.

Individual Autonomy

Through thick and thin, Americans could cont on Harding pushing for personal freedom in the oval office, on behalf of his supporters, but for the good of everyone in the country. At one time, it was him valuing freedom of speech, when he pardoned Eugene Debs, wrongly imprisoned under the Democratic President Woodrow Wilson for speaking out against the USA’s participation in WWI, whether he agreed with it or not. He thought that through free speech and advocacy of the American people, the federal government could take some notes on how to run the country that gave them their power in the first place. He seems like an honest and good-hearted politician? No wonder it sounds so foreign to us in the 21st century.

Furthermore, in a time of turmoil, post-Emancipation Proclamation and pre-Civil Right Movement, Harding was one who always pushed for legal and God-given rights to all, no matter their skin color, or potential criminal background. On one hand, he endorsed equal political rights for all, especially African Americans. He got rid of double standards when citizens in the South applied to vote. In a campaign speech in Birmingham, a notable Democratic, segregated city, Harding once said “Whether you like it or not… Unless our democracy is a lie, you must stand for that equality”, pertaining to the equal voting rights he proposed.

Furthermore, on the other hand, Harding pushed for legislation on all fronts in favor of rehabilitation over punishment as well. In a more extreme case, the POTUS signed into law an anti-lynching and/or mob violence bill, only to be hated by a Senate filibuster. Although he didn’t push for the death penalty or anything of the sort, he wanted maximum punishment for the type of people who would do these things to other humans. In some cases, lynching was a branch of the punishment, and Harding didn’t approve of such an act in his United States.

A Prosperity Story, from Rubbish to Riches

Harding’s success story aligns itself right up with the story of the USA during his tenure as President. Harding lifted himself up through the ranks of the governmental positions. Born in Ohio himself, he was elected as a State Senator, elected Ohio’s Governor four years later, and the to the US Senate in 1914. He was thought of as a gamble in the RNC and when elected in the primaries, but his fresh ideas served as a springboard for America’s success in the Roaring Twenties.

Known as one of the most prosperous time periods in the United States’ history, economically, socially, spiritually, and in every other category, Harding overlooked and set the states up for a great boom. From WWI and a body count too many to fathom at that time in the War, the USA was coming from nothing. Under Harding, the country was built on a great infrastructure, thanks to his core libertarian beliefs.

“Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little.” –Warren Gamaliel Harding


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Milton Friedman: One of the Great Libertarians

By Roman Bilan | United States

Murray Rothbard was born in 1926 and died in 1995. Milton Friedman was born in 1912 and died in 2006. Their careers almost entirely overlapped, yet one left a lasting influence on the free world, while the other died in more or less absurdity. Rothbard only influenced his own cult-like following, yet many of his anarcho-capitalists rather “throw out” Friedman’s libertarian legacy.

When it comes to twentieth century figures within the libertarian movement, there may no greater figure when it comes to influencing economics, the public, American public policy and the lives of millions.

Milton the Economist

Milton Friedman’s contributions to the science of economics cannot be understated. He was the figurehead of the Chicago School, a free market oriented school of economic thought based out of the University of Chicago. Alongside him were his prominent colleagues, Frank Knight, Ronald Coase, and Robert Lucas, to name a few.

The entire field owes a huge debt to Friedman and his crew. He overturned many of the prevailing errors brought about by the Keynesian Revolution: most notably with his critique of the Phillips Curve. Even Paul Krugman admits that Friedman did the science a great service with his contributions and critique of former Keynesian orthodoxy:

“Friedman’s critique of Keynes became so influential largely because he correctly identified Keynesianism’s weak points… I regard him as a great economist and a great man.”

-Paul Krugman

Regardless of how you feel about his political inclinations, he believed in them because of his economic thought. And his thought is arguably one of the most profound things to be produced in the 20th century. It is completely unfair to dismiss, much less “throw out,” someone because of minor disagreements on theory. Friedman is one of the greatest intellectuals of his time and libertarians should wholeheartedly embrace him as one of their own.

Milton the Public Intellectual

As was written in his obituary for FEE, “Friedman did more than any single person in our time to teach the public the merits of deregulation, privatization, low taxes, and free trade. His work inspired the economic agendas of President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as well as the liberalization of economies in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.”

Take Capitalism and Freedom, for example. Read by over half a million in eighteen different languages, it introduced ideas like school vouchers and pushed for lower and flatter taxes.

Similarly, Free to Choose was the best selling nonfiction book in 1980 and was watched by millions. Only F.A. Hayek could boast a similar public reach for a libertarian.

Additionally, Friedman wrote over 300 op-eds for Newsweek, 121 op-eds for the Wall Street Journal and another twenty-two for the New York Times. But maybe he would have been been better off preaching to the libertarian choir instead of engaging with the public at large?

Milton Ends the Draft

In 1940, the United States began its third and final draft. On March 27, 1969 President Richard Nixon formed the Gates Commission to look at the possibility of an All-Volunteer Armed Forces– Friedman was one of its most prominent members. The commision of fifteen members had five members in favor of an all-volunteer armed forces while the other ten were split evenly between being against the idea and neutral towards it. In less than a year, the Commission came to a unanimous 14-0 recommendation (one member was unable to vote on the specifics, although he did support an all-volunteer military) to end the draft.

Three years later, the draft was gone.

Milton Influences Estonia

On August 20, 1991, Estonians left the darkness of the Iron Curtain and joined the free world as the Republic of Estonia replaced the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. Mart Laar was the first Prime Minister of Estonia after the interim government. He led from 1992 to 1994 and again from 1999 to 2002. As noted in Foreign Policy,

“In barely two years, from 1992 to 1994, the radical reforming Estonian government of Mart Laar introduced a flat tax, privatized most national industry in transparent public tenders, abolished tariffs and subsidies, stabilized the economy, balanced the budget, and perhaps most crucially, restored the prewar kroon and pegged it to the rock-solid deutsche mark. As a result, Estonia became one of the most open and transparent economies in Europe, and with growth came political stability: Russian troops left the Baltic region by 1994, fears of Balkan-style ethnic conflicts receded, and Soviet noncitizens in Estonia and Latvia began to assimilate.”

Before Laar became Prime Minister he read one book: Free to Choose by Milton Friedman. A few years later, he was in D.C., talking with US Representative Dick Armey. Armey asked how the Estonian government was able to be so successful with their free market reforms. Laar’s answer was simple, “We read Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek”.

Milton Friedman: Common Complaints

No, Milton Friedman was not an Austrian, but Austrian Economics is not synonymous with libertarianism. Libertarians can be non-Austrian and Austrians can be non-libertarian.

No, Milton Friedman did not believe in Praxeology, but Praxeology is also not a necessity for libertarianism, nor is its veracity without question. Even F.A. Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises’s greatest student, broke from Praxeological orthodoxy.

No, Milton Friedman is not an anarcho-capitalist. He believes in a state, but anarcho-capitalism is only one part of the broader libertarian ideology. As Hayek said, “Our general views on what is desired and what is not are almost identical until we get on to money.”

The greatness of a libertarian should not be defined by their purity, but by how much they advance liberty. Libertarians like Murray Rothbard win the purity test but do little to advance libertarianism. As Paul Krugman wrote in 1994, Friedman waged a campaign “Goliath of Big Government” that “eventually bore fruit in radical changes in both economic ideology and real-world economic policy.”

Whether it be his direct or indirect influence on Republican administration, pushing free market policies in other countries, advocating for drug legalization, getting the state out of education, loosening licensing laws, giving less power to central banks or cutting taxes and spending, Milton Friedman’s legacy is one of promoting freedom and liberty. Thus, libertarians should be proud to share an intellectual home with him.


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