Friday, March 10, 2006

Don't Vote Democrat or Republican:

Perry Willis, friend of the late great Harry Browne, answers Karen's question for me in the comments section of my blog. I know my blog's template needs a reconstruction and when it's done, I'll put DownsizeDC.org in my list of hyperlinks.

The biggest problem with George Bush is his statism. Look, I'm not asking for a first-best libertarian utopian world; all I ask for is an administration who will leave government smaller when they leave it than when they got in. And no, not just "cuts" in the rate of increases that don't track inflation, but actual cuts in non-inflation adjusted dollars. When you have a Democratic party who demagogues and calls a reduction in the rate of increase in the budget, a "cut," I won't vote for them.

Though, I do flirt with "strategically" voting for Democrats or Republicans in order to foment gridlock. That is, when Clinton was in the White House and the Republicans controlled Congress, things were better then than they are now (I know they didn't have a post-911 world to deal with) because government was divided. If we had *enthusiastic* Progressives who controlled the Congress with a Clinton Presidency, we would have gotten socialized health care and what a disaster that would have been.

12 comments:

Perry Willis said...

All things considered, the best thing we could probably hope for at present would be what we had during most of the 90s – a Republican Congress and a Democrat in the White House. A Democratic President might invigorate what few small government inclinations Congressional Republicans still possess. And the Presidential veto in the hands of a Democrat would probably prevent the GOP from moving too far in a theocratic direction.

The problem is that demographics are more powerful than strategic voting. Most seats are gerrymandered to be fairly safe for one party or another, and the aging of the population (which tends to increase conservatism), has gerrymandered more-and-more seats in the Republican direction. The GOP may lose Congress for the moment, but I think the long-term trends will remain in their direction. Likewise with the Presidential race. (Would we even have had Clinton without Perot?)

I don't see much future for voting. Winner-takes-all elections, gerrymandering, ballot access laws, and campaign finance regulations, have all combined to make electoral change nearly impossible. My hope is that the inclinations of the populace, while fluid and extremely hard to define, seem to me considerably less statist than those of the politicians they elect. Institutions of social pressure are needed to make the politicians respond to those desires, regardless of party. Forcing the politicians to accept structural changes with potential broad appeal, like the “Read the Bills Act,” may be the place to start.

Perry Willis said...

I provided the wrong link for the Read the Bills Act above. Here is the correct link:
Read the Bills

Karen McL said...

Dear Perry and Jon- you're missing the Boat here. The Big picture...the complaint over a specific but in the long run small potatoes social program like a national health care policy IS not that which will make or break the entire society.

I left a comment on what I do mean below and looking for a more specific addressing of the kinds of things that can and HAVE cause societal Collapses in the past.

that is the problems to be looming and addressed on a National level.

Perry Willis said...

Dear Karen,

I went back and read your original message to Jon to see what you were most concerned about. Your concern seems to center around Jared Diamond's book “Collapse.” I admire Diamond immensely and think his “Guns, Germs, Steel” is one of the most insightful, important, and thought provoking books I have ever read. Alas, I have not read “Collapse.” I have, however, read skeptical critiques of it, and I suspect that these critiques are correct. Be that as it may . . .

I don't see the need for top-down solutions that you see. Indeed, I see such “solutions” as dangerous. They will be more likely, because politically designed, to cause a collapse, than prevent one. My biggest fear is that government's one-size-fits-all approach will strangle the more-with-less revolution that is currently occurring in the voluntary sector.

We are in the midst of a revolution of productivity and innovation. We are learning how to do more-and-more with less-and-less. I do not think it much of an exaggeration to suggest that we may, in the life times of our children, learn to do almost everything with almost nothing. The words nanotechnology and space elevator are just two of many that I might invoke to explain why I feel this way. Most of this work is being done in the voluntary sector. The capital required to pursue these potentials is well within the existing means of the voluntary sector. Coercive, top-down, politically designed, one-size-fits-all, pork laden, corporate welfare-distorted, government assistance is not needed to realize these potentials. It is PRECISELY not needed. It is a danger, not a help.

In short, I don't think we need the Democrats any more than we need the Republicans. So I don't vote. Instead, I spend my time trying to harass Congress to within an inch of their sanity, to keep them from doing mischief that would deny us the vastly better world that is just around the corner.

Karen McL said...

But Perry - here's the problem I posed and questions I've asked (and its really a two parter)

First was (because I'm not stupid enough to *think* I have answers or know everything there is to know) I was asking about Libertarianism - of which I have only a Passing familiarity of the general principles:

How would Libertarianism handle what we've got here - IF it could be a viable third party to WIN control of the government - which I presume is the hope of Libertarians.

It really seems, in my limited understanding of Libertarianism, that its fit for an 18th century model of the world with State actors (countries and State/States) being the preferred model for small government and decision making bodies - But the problem with that is the 21 century understanding of the effects one country can have worldwide (ie Global warming, or Industrial polutants, or the Ozone layer depletion) or that States in the United States can have across the board.

It is simply not feasible to ignore and expect that each state actor will do that which is good for the whole - and perhaps against their own short term interests. It's repeated over and over and over- leading to the Collapses documented in Diamond's book "Collapse" (and sorry IT worth a read - but slow going cause each society is a study in sadness and horror of what must have been horrid times as they devolved into non-existence.)

And in that 18th century - one could ignore many of these effect mostly because they lacked the technology and science to even be aware of them - WE do not and can see long range what the outcome wil be from a failure to address these problems in a very intensive and Top-Down Governance fashion.

But the second part of my question was - under these two-party dominance in our system - what should a Libertarian DO and whom to vote for.

here's a quote from our own Denny Hastert here at Dennis Hastert Corner. (Bleh!)

"Our nation's economic momentum is in full swing. We've had continuous job growth. Retail sales are up. Household wealth is increasing. And the 243,000 jobs created in February represent that many Americans are working and providing a better life for their families.

"The Democrats would rather talk down the economy with the hopes of winning in November so they can raise taxes and skyrocket spending.

The House Republican Congress is committed to cutting spending and making the tax relief permanent so that American families will have more money in their pockets and businesses can hire more workers. In fact, House Republicans succeeded in preventing Democrats from adding $8 billion in new spending to the War on Terror and Disaster Supplemental during House Appropriations Committee consideration."


NOW, if you can't spot the outright mendacities and absudities in that pronouncement - and see that we must GET RID of these folks from out Government - the GAWD help ya!

And how to DO that...they must be voted out of office - one candidate at a time...with the help of everyone regardless of their *ideal views* in that *too perfect* world we don't yet have.

But should a Libertarian vote for a DEM under this sceanrio? Can the bigger picture NEED to change our governement be the impetus for helping with this cause? or not? Or do you really see it as NO change at all?

Karen McL said...

Oh...and you TOOO Jon! (Ya really haven't answered this for me either!)

:-D

Karen McL said...

Oh and sorry bout the typical typos - I have trouble reading this font (But I am the worst typist evah!)

Jonathan said...

Karen wrote:

-- It really seems, in my limited understanding of Libertarianism, that its fit for an 18th century model of the world with State actors (countries and State/States) being the preferred model for small government and decision making bodies - But the problem with that is the 21 century understanding of the effects one country can have worldwide (ie Global warming, or Industrial polutants, or the Ozone layer depletion) or that States in the United States can have across the board.

-- It is simply not feasible to ignore and expect that each state actor will do that which is good for the whole - and perhaps against their own short term interests. --

What you've describe here is what economists generally refer to as a collective action problem. It does justify to some extent government intervention. And Richard Epstein, Charles Murray, and some other libertarians support qualified environmental regulation needed to protect these "public goods."

-- It's repeated over and over and over- leading to the Collapses documented in Diamond's book "Collapse" (and sorry IT worth a read - but slow going cause each society is a study in sadness and horror of what must have been horrid times as they devolved into non-existence.) --

I don't know a whole lot about Jared Diamond. But from what I've seen recently, his theories are now being subject to some pretty serious challenge.

-- And in that 18th century - one could ignore many of these effect mostly because they lacked the technology and science to even be aware of them - WE do not and can see long range what the outcome wil be from a failure to address these problems in a very intensive and Top-Down Governance fashion. --

What problems are there that you refer to that require this Top-Down Governance or a massive bureaucratic state? In terms of depleting ourselves of resources, you sound a little bit like Paul Erhlic whose "chicken little, the sky is falling" philosophy with regard to future resources and conservation has been largely refuted by history.

If anything, the lesson of the cold war was, on economic matters and regarding the allocation of resources to the public, a Top Down command a control philosophy just makes things worse. Hayek and Friedman's economic theories have won the argument and ended the discussion on that.

-- But the second part of my question was - under these two-party dominance in our system - what should a Libertarian DO and whom to vote for. --

If you can find a representative who will reign in the size of government, and is a moderate on social issues, I'd say vote for him.

-- And how to DO that...they must be voted out of office - one candidate at a time...with the help of everyone regardless of their *ideal views* in that *too perfect* world we don't yet have.

-- But should a Libertarian vote for a DEM under this sceanrio? --

Not if such a Democrat is enthusiastic about federal social programs -- we've got enough of them already. And not unless this Democrat will leave government smaller when he left it rather than larger. Remember, I'm not asking for a first best libertarian idea world where we get rid of Social Security and Medicare. Just one where Leviathan is left smaller. And I see few if any Democrats committed to this vision (few Republicans too).

Until then, Perry's idea sounds good to me. And I usually pull the lever for Libertarian as a protest vote. Therefore, you can't hold me liable for what our elected officials do.

Karen McL said...

Jon - you write:

"What problems are there that you refer to that require this Top-Down Governance or a massive bureaucratic state? In terms of depleting ourselves of resources, you sound a little bit like Paul Erhlic whose "chicken little, the sky is falling" philosophy with regard to future resources and conservation has been largely refuted by history.

I mentioned at least four serious threat to both our Nation and the World - (ie Global warming, or Industrial pollutants, or the Ozone layer depletion, or formation of a National Energy Policy) which are not "chicken-little problems*.

Just take the case of a **National Energy Policy** --

It can relate to national security issues via funding terrorist regimes worldwide through our spending massive amount on Petro-Dollars as the source for their activities (Thomas Friedman has belatedly been writing avidly on this topic)...

As well how it how our enormous use of fossil fuels Contributes to Global Warming (which is not a *myth*)...

AND- Gobal Warming which may soon reach the tipping point of no return and have devastating effects world wide and in the US (as the acceleration of the melting Arctic Ice Caps indicates)...Hurricane Katrina's devastation might look like a Day at the Beach and we'll have season after season of them to come...

But if there were a serious Governement push to develop and reward new technologies on alternative fuels for vehicles the US could provide both a new source for American productivity and NEW JOBS to replace the constant outsourcing of our employment opportunities and Jobs overseas (Have you read Lou Dobbs- "Exporting America"??)

That is just one issue SCREAMING for some TOP-Down Governance and Leadership...and we have Captain Queeg running our Ship of State. Bleh!

Oh - and I'll add yet one more to the list above - how about Stem cell researchand those potential cures to be devoloped?

OR Even WORSE is the immediate HARM being perpetrated over the fact that they HAVE a vaccine to prevent Cervical Cancer that the Fundies and Our Dear Child-In-Chief want to quash this because it should be given to young girls - who (in their warped conservative christian opinions) could see mis-use this as a lack of a deterrant to having unmarried sexual activity! These people would RATHER have NOT CURE Cervical Cancer - than allow this to become standard vaccination.

(I also say a MUST READ is "The Republican War on Science" by Chris Mooney - and I did a series of posts on that book too.)

Yikes the LIST is long Jon and growing...and this has to change! It must.

Karen McL said...

Oops more typos (but I think you can get it...I hate trying to proofread these small screens)

%-)

DSH said...

After GWB and the Republicrats, I can't envision voting Republican for a while. This is the scariest government in my lifetime, and I voted for Nixon (we're all entitled to one mistake). We've now had two delusional presidents from the Republicans, and maybe statistically, since Republicans have won the most elections, that was bound to happen. But I'm not taking any more chances.

I thought Clinton was probably the best president in the past thirty years, but maybe the divided congress had a lot to do with that. Reagan's only claim to fame (maybe "only" isn't appropriate) was his militarism and getting people to rethink positively about government (ouch to Libertarians).

While I'm not a libertarian, I was one of the original members back in the Seventies. If either "conservative" or "libertarian," I have to believe the Democrats cannot be worse than GWB, and so I'd be inclined to vote for the Democrats.

But after their dismal display in face of GWB's illegality and malfeasance, it's obvious that most of them could not govern if they were elected. I'm actually giving Feingold a look, if only because he is one person with some principle. At this point, I think "gridlock" is the only realistic strategy.

DSH said...

Sorry, divided "government," not "congress." I really should proofread more often.