The Unknown Future

The election has come and gone and, despite all our efforts, we fell short of 3%.  In fact, the combined total of both the Libertarian and Green Parties fell short of 3%.

What does this bode for the future?

Unknown.

By a strict reading of Ohio Election Law we should still have access until the 2020 Presidential Election, but when has government ever followed the law?

Should they deny us access yet again, what then?  Do we roll over and play dead?  De we surrender to the politics of fear that drive the mainstream Parties?

In a word, NO!

A friend of mine majored in History, with a particular interest in Church History.  One night, several months ago, he spent almost an entire hour explaining in great detail his belief that the worst thing that ever happened to the Christian Church was it being not only legalized by the Emperor Constantine but being made the official religion of the Roman Empire.  Until that time, he argued, believers had to be committed to the cause because their very lives were at stake.  Afterwards, as a legally recognized religion it became fat, lazy and corrupt in just a few generations.  He argued that the loss of religious liberty feared by so many today might be the best thing that could happen to the church because the dead wood would be cut away and only those most committed would remain.

So, if we lose ballot access will that spell our doom?

Again, NO.

Some might be tempted to walk away from the Libertarian Party in frustration, believing we will never have a chance, but those who remain will be those most committed.  And those most committed can work wonders.

Ballot access or no, our core message of liberty will remain the same. Others will say that our votes are doubly wasted and all we’re doing is shouting at brick walls, but walls have been known to crumble.

All the loss of access will mean is our task will be a little bit harder.

But worthwhile causes usually are.

Ken Holpp, Communications Director, FCLP

Liberty and the Opioid Crisis

Elections are fast approaching, and every major party candidate has a plank about the opioid crisis.  With over 4,000 dead of overdose in 2016 alone (over double the number of overdose deaths in 2012, and almost 4 times greater than the number of traffic deaths in 2016), it is an urgent issue that needs to be resolved.  However, Ohio’s current solution isn’t working.  In spite of Ohio “investing about $1 billion each year to help communities battle the scourge of drug abuse and addiction at the local level” (August 30, 2017 ODH News Release), deaths from opioids have skyrocketed.  In spite of increased police funding, resources to bust drug dealers, drug use education, and state sponsored rehabilitation programs, we saw an increase of 1000 overdose deaths in 2016.  A $170 million increase in funding for results so bad that calling them disastrous would be a compliment.

Both major party candidates don’t just have it as the first issue on their campaign websites, but offer nearly identical “solutions” to the crisis.  I would never have guessed that declaring an emergency makes things better, but I am fairly sure that we have been hearing DARE’s drug education since elementary school. I guess all we need is more cops to fix the issue.  Let’s be very clear here: this is more of the same policies that have been used as the crisis has gotten worse. This is forcing people away from prescription drugs and onto the even more dangerous fentanyl.  It is time for a wakeup call, the status quo is not working.

Rather than continuing to double down on the war on drugs that Ohio has decisively lost, we can go out around the world and pick policies with a proven track record to bring back home.  Here are a couple suggestions of the most successful policies for decreasing opioid overdoses.  And rather than costing billions, they actually save the taxpayers money.

Legalize marijuana:
How is this related?  It is well established that states which have legalized marijuana have seen an over 25% reduction in opioid deaths on average relative to similar states that didn’t.  Beyond being a less harmful and addictive pain medication for chronic problems treated with opioids, marijuana is widely known as one of the best cures of withdrawal symptoms.   There are obviously a lot of other reasons to legalize, but this one applies directly to the issue at hand.

Decriminalize all drugs:
This is a much more radical proposal but one with strong evidence, especially in the case of Portugal.  In the 90s, Portugal had over 1% of its population addicted to heroin.   In 2001, they had one of the highest overdose rates in the world, at nearly 80 people per million dying of opioid overdose.  But that year, they decriminalized the use of all drugs and have seen a dramatic change for the better.  As of 2016, there have only been 6 overdose deaths per million, well below the average in Europe (17.3), and far below the 185 overdose deaths per million in the US.  Their 90% improvement is one we can follow.  This policy also frees up law enforcement and courts to focus on real crimes, rather than what consenting adults are putting in their bodies.

While those two solutions will not end all overdoses, and I fear nothing ever will, they have a far better track record than any solution being touted out by major party candidates.  And that is in Ohio, where 1/6 people already use marijuana, the majority supports marijuana legalization, but establishment politicians still will not oven vote about legalizing marijuana or implement the medical licenses that have been promised for years.  But libertarians are the one who are pushing for the solutions that put power back in the hands of the individual.  We favor policies that don’t empty your wallet, and that actually work.

https://www.odh.ohio.gov/-/media/ODH/ASSETS/Files/health/injury-prevention/ODH-News-Release—-2016-Ohio-Drug-Overdose-Report.pdf?la=en

Zoning is Theft

Posted to Mises.org 03/21/2006

Zoning is theft, pure and simple. In his fantastic introduction to the Austrian School, Economics for Real People, Gene Callahan correctly identifies eminent domain as a form of property theft, especially noting the use of government condemnation in order to secure rightfully owned property for commercial development.

It is easy to see government as the crowbar that influence-seekers use to jimmy locks and force private property owners from their land. Here we have the clear picture of Ma and Pa Kettle and clan fighting the law and “progress” armed only with shotguns, corn squeezing, chewing tobacco and shear grit. The flip side to eminent domain, zoning, is not so easily seen. But as Bastiat revealed, the unseen is as important as the seen.

Zoning is typically defined along the lines of a government-regulated system of land-usage imposed in order to ensure orderly development. Zoning is usually a component of the larger conceptual ideal called regional planning. Of course, planned development is really the name of the road toward planned chaos.

Zoning uses all the standard interventionist lines of thought, most notably the concepts of externalities and utility. Those who advocate zoning really believe that acting man does not have the ability to create communities that are functional and prosperous. Without plans and maps drafted and drawn by the local elected elite, developers with knowledge and foresight, and a whole lot of money to gain or lose, would purposively layout communities that are sterile and functionless. Only the marginal vote-getters — those elected — and their appointed allies are omniscient enough to peer into the crystal ball and define the perfect setting for future life and leisure. The rest of us can only marvel at their visions.

Just as the developer can use government to roll over the rights of property owners, property owners — community members — can use government to roll over the rights of developers and fellow property owners.

In Ohio, townships create zoning maps and comprehensive plans that overlay development regulations on top of current properties. Prior to the establishment of zoning regulations, a farmer could simply sell his land to the highest bidder. No one had a voice in the proposed use of the exchanged land. The sale to a new property owner incorporated full development rights, including continued farming, residential and commercial development, or parceling off pieces for home sites. Land was a commodity similar to the crops grown on it. Just as no one had a right to control the final use of the corn and soybeans reaped from the soil, no one had the right to control the next use of the land. Property rights were secure.

Zoning changed everything. The future use of existing farmland will, with the stroke of a pen, be limited in some manner by zoning regulations. The regulations could restrict future land usage to its current use — farming in this instance — or it could restrict land usage to some other form of activity.

The free market has a tool that allows a property owner to align the future use of his property with his vision, the restrictive covenant. A property owner could, for example, create a legacy by selling his land contingent on the development carrying his family name. Should the property owner be too restrictive, the value of his property will fall. He will be exchanging a psychic good, a family legacy, for cash.

Zoning is another matter altogether. Zoning restricts current landowners based on the local power brokers. In the zoning process, someone gets hurt. Had the farmers of a township wanted to keep the area as farmland, they could have signed restrictive covenants guaranteeing crops instead of homes. Property rights, and the laws that purport to protect those rights, allow individuals to act in their own best interest. Zoning, collective decision-making, use the coercive power of government to restrict usage based on the whims of those in power.

The farmer who owns this land now has his potential property rights bounded within a specific range; future use is restricted to residential developments that have no more than one house per acre. The farmer may vote, and may have voted for some of those elected, but he never agreed to the change in proposed land usage. He was robbed, and there is no means for him to restore his rights and land value; they are gone with the stroke of a pen.

I know some of those in the Chicago School will claim that the farmer implicitly agreed to the loss of land-usage rights by being born in the United States, or of naturalized American parents, or by becoming a citizen through oath. By owning property in the United States, the farmer granted majority ownership in his property to those elected and appointed, the omniscient and omnipotent. This is no way to build and run a system of secure property rights, and no way to create a free market. Rothbard is correct when he constructs his political economy on secure rights to property; anything less is the beginning of the Hayek’s Road to Serfdom.

Now we have a developer who is trying to satisfy the urgent wants of consumers, his development could include new homes, new stores, new factories, etc. The developer is a keen entrepreneur who sees a chance to turn a profit by creating a development that will be desired, and therefore profitable to him. The developer settles on a residential development and approaches the farmer from above offering to purchase his land, contingent on final zoning approval of course.

You see, the developer has been here before. He knows the ways of the local officials who approve and disapprove zoning changes on whim and fancy — or even the smallest of political pressure. The developer is not going to consummate the deal with the farmer until he knows that his proposed development is a go.

The farmer, old and worn-out, wants to retire and enjoy, along with his wife, his remaining years in leisure and comfort. This is certainly a reasonable request from someone who has worked the dirt in snow, rain, and blistering heat for decades. Who could reasonably question his desire? Commissioners and board members; those omniscient by vote and omnipotent by law.

Remember that the land was designated to be developed at only one home per acre, but the developer does not think he can make a go of it at that yield. Given the market in the area, there is no way for him to turn a profit due to the myriad of other regulatory hoops he will have to jump through in order to get approval for his development. A host of green-eyed bureaucrats see the proposed development as a tax revenue generator. The developer will have to build off-site roads and sewer improvements, donate a park or school site, and give away money to all those governments with their hands out. In addition, regional officials will balk at the proposal since it does not agree with their vision of the future.

So the developer, a Don Quixote at heart, decides to take on the zoning commission by proposing a variance to the zoning code and comprehensive plan. Mr. Developer needs to build one and a half homes per acre, a change that will require months of hearings where he will be badgered and attacked from the zoning commission and community members alike. The commissioners will request petty changes to the development’s conceptual plan based on vague building standards that they most likely do not understand. Is stucco created from natural and man-made materials a natural or artificial exterior? Does 50 microns of aluminum create a better look than 49 microns? Should sidewalks be required? How high should the entrance sign stand? Is fire-red a natural color? Is a 30-foot setback sufficient for future property values? The answers depend on which commissioner has the mike at the time.

Residents with property adjoining the development will complain loudly of supposed lost property values, traffic, and crime. In addition, they will attack the developer as evil incarnate bent on destroying the community. But those same voices will lose the rhetoric as soon as the developer offers all adjacent homeowners landscaping allowances. A few thousand in new trees planted in their backyard is enough to forgive any supposed loss in value, additional traffic, and hypothetical break-in.

This land is your land: $28

So the developer now agrees to build roads, upgrade sewer lines, donate parks with equipment, set aside a school site, and improve residential landscape. What is gently termed exaction is really extortion by another name. After zoning comes township trustees meetings and the process begins all over again. More exactions and more regulations, but trustee approval can be had if the developer does the dollar-dance long enough. Had the developer simply slid a rumpled paper bag of twenty’s across the table, a law would have been broken. Instead, the process occurs in the sunshine for all to see, and all to agree that more should have been given — or taken.

All agreed, with the exception of the developer and the forgotten farmer. You see, lost in all this is the simple desire of a farmer and his wife to retire and enjoy life, and maybe leave a little for their grandchildren. Every hand looking for a piece of the development pie is not robbing the developer and redistributing supposed unearned profits; those hands are robbing the farmer and his wife of their property value.

The risk of not passing zoning, the exactions, and readily available alternatives for investment are all reductions to the value the farmer could have obtained for his land absent zoning. The loss of value is recognized at the time the developer makes an offer for the land; the theft, on the other hand, occurs in front of the community that the farm family lived in for generations. It shows what damage a little money and power can cause in a community. Zoning is indeed theft.

Reprinted with kind permission from original source.

Posted to Mises.org 03/21/2006

Nowadays, Health Insurance Isn’t Really Insurance

Posted to Mises.org 07/30/2015

Due to Obamacare, my health plan has become something other than insurance. It is now, for the most part, nothing other than a wealth transfer scheme to benefit the politically connected over others.

In order to identify the difference between health insurance and government-mandated health care coverage, we can look to Human Action, in which Ludwig von Mises splits probability into class probability and case probability:

Class probability means: We know or assume to know, with regard to the problem concerned, everything about the behavior of a whole class of events or phenomena; but about the actual singular events or phenomena we know nothing but that they are elements of this class.

Case probability means: We know, with regard to a particular event, some of the factors which determine its outcome; but there are other determining factors about which we know nothing.

David Howden explains that events such as football matches and wars are events that fall under case probability. But those events do not lend themselves to insurance.

Indeed, Mises claims that only risk associated with class probability can be remediated by insurance. This is true because the number of payoffs is relatively predictable within a class, allowing premiums to be set that benefit both the insurer and the insured.

This is the way in which life insurance works, for example, as Howden explains:

Life insurance works because insurance companies can play the averages. Some people who own a life insurance policy will die before the insurance company earns enough money on the premiums to pay the death benefit. In this case the company loses money. It offsets these losses with the gains it makes on those who die long past the point where they have broken even on the premiums they have paid relative to the death benefit they will receive.

Discrimination in the life insurance market is not only a fact of life; it is fair. Every policy holder pays according to his odds of death. People are free to undertake risky activities, but they must pay the price. People who choose to live less risky lives — that is to say, avoiding those activities that increase one’s probability of death such as skydiving or smoking — lose out on the enjoyment these activities may provide, but they gain by paying less for life insurance.

Broken arms and certain diseases would also fall under class probability, and would also lend themselves toward being profitably insured in a functioning market.

But, due to changes resulting from Obamacare (as well as decades of government meddling), distortions in the market have thrown the health insurance market out of whack, and my health plan, and the plans of many others, now have high deductibles for “class probability” events such as broken arms, while providing “free” access to goodies that are only unpredictable in so far as I may or may not choose to use them, such as a “free” annual physical, birth control, and more.

As Mises knew, “insurance” that covers an event such as a voluntary checkup, bears little resemblance to what we would consider to be insurance in the proper sense. Nevertheless, the freebies (i.e., “insured” events) are numerous, not because insurance companies can calculate a way to profitably insure them, but because they are mandated, thanks to interest groups with access to legislators.

The Politics Behind Mandates

Nevertheless, because the distributed costs are minimal and unseen, while the benefits are concentrated and substantial, little opposition arises from voters to fight such transfers of wealth.

As an example, I pay an extra, say, $1 in monthly premiums so that someone else can reap $50 in benefits per month. Stack up those $1 premium increases among all payers and we begin talking real money. However, I have neither the time nor energy to oppose each $1 increase.

This process becomes obvious when, because of my high deductible, the infrequent and unpredictable accident that falls under class probability — my son breaks an arm — costs me thousands out of pocket, without any monetary benefit from my plan, while others celebrate access to goodies they should be purchasing on their own as uninsurable events.

It is as if, because of government interventions, my car insurance pays for upgrades to Sirius Satellite Radio (which I do not have), but, because of high deductibles, only pays a few thousand dollars should I have an accident that totals my car.

Insurance does still exist with regard to life, home, and auto. But it does not exist with regard to health in our present regulated economy. Health plans are wealth transfers that bestow known and predicable benefits on the few while leaving all at risk of the vagaries of life. So, let’s not claim that our system of government-regulated health care system is insurance.

Reprinted with kind permission from original source.

Posted to Mises.org 07/30/2015

Free Riders: Austrian v. Public Choice

Posted to Mises.org 07/13/2005

The latest exploits of Lance Armstrong in this year’s Tour de France provide a solid backdrop for discussions contrasting the economic ideas of the Austrian School and the adherents of Public Choice.

Public Choice is predicated on the belief that individual preferences can be known and quantified. From this simplistic view of Thymology, the Public Choice school deduces supposed economic laws regarding government interventions in the market. Government is required because acting man cannot negotiate agreements effectively with other self-seeking acting men.

The Austrian School starts from an aprioristic axiom that humans act by using means to obtain ends. Their ends are individualistic and self-centered. The Austrians do not claim to know unrevealed individual preferences nor do they deduce the need for government interventionism in the market. Acting man is able to create working arrangements with other acting men that benefit all involved.

OK. Good and well. But what about the Tour? How can a bicycle race be applied in discussions of economic theory? Simple. Cycling is an excellent reflection of the market. 198 professionals begin each year’s Tour with certain unrevealed goals. Sure, some end goals are widely known. For Lance, a seventh win. For Jan Ulrich, a chance to redeem himself. But what about the 196 other riders?

As in all sports, and all human activities for that matter, there are those few who sit at the pinnacle. The rest are simply one of the bunch. Sure they dream of winning the Tour, but more than likely they are concentrating on the wearing the best-in-the-mountains jersey, the best-in-the-sprints-jersey, winning a stage, or just securing a professional contract for next year.

Public Choice assumes that every racer has the same goals and will react like any other racer in all situations. The Austrians will have none of that. It is impossible to look at a rider and know for certain what he wants to achieve during any given day of the Tour. Certainly you may guess what his team has set for him but what really lies in his heart is unseen and unknown, at least until human action reveals his preferences.

In bicycle races, individual riders will typically “attack” the main field of riders in order to gain time over those other riders and a better chance of success. Better to be 1 of 4 in a small “breakaway” group at the finish line than 1 of 198 in the large field.

In order to gain time, riders must work together by taking turns leading and blocking the wind so that the following riders can rest awaiting their turn at the front. So there you have it, 4 riders with widely divergent preferences working together for a common goal. The four have established a de facto contract that is to everyone’s benefit, even though none knows the other’s true motives.

One may assume that they all are looking to win the stage. Possible. But it’s also likely that one just wants some time in front of the cameras, another wants to pad time on rivals, a third is there just to assist his team’s goals, and the fourth wants the win so bad he can taste it.

But how do the four create this ad hoc contract? A quick glance, a nod, a wink, or a few words exchanged is all that is required for the four riders at hand to build a successful coalition. Public Choice will have none of this reality. They say that negotiation cannot be frictionless and that only through government interventions can people agree to work together.

What about the “free rider?” In Public Choice theory, the “free rider” always gums up the works. The “free rider” causes coalitions to collapse and contracts not to be formed. Think there are no “free riders’ in the Tour.

Think again. Everyone wants to ride in a breakaway group for free. Who wouldn’t? Conservation of energy is important when you are racing over 2,000 miles in three weeks. But pressures internal to the coalition typically force the “free rider” to perform. In reality no one really knows if the all racers in the breakaway are giving their fullest effort because no one really knows other’s internalized desires and abilities.

There are always “free riders” or “free loaders” in all human activities. That becomes just another datum assumed when choosing amongst alternative choices. Every racer in the Tour understands this quite clearly. Accept it and move on.

Externalities? Come on: every action creates supposed externalities. Should Lance be taxed to offset help he received during the Tour from other riders who were actively pursuing their own selfish interest? Who would create and administer the Pigovian tax structure that would offset all of Lance’s gains and loses? Can even the Cray Supercomputer solve these equations and derive a payout before the 2006 Tour begins?

OK. Individual preferences unrevealed, externalities, “free riders” everywhere, and ad hoc contracts being agreed upon without legal signatures. But what about society? What is best for the collective group of 198 riders? Can this spontaneous order (or disorder, depending on your viewpoint) be best for all? Is this even close to Pareto optimality? It all depends. If you agree that each rider has unrevealed goals, throw that neoclassical equilibrium out the window. The impossible task becomes the creation of an aggregate demand curve.

So, assume that you can create this curve. What would you have? A Tour that functioned much like the Soviet economy. As stated above, all riders want to be “free loaders”, er “riders,” in that they don’t really want to suffer over a hundred miles of mountain roads if their needs were truly going to be met otherwise. Why sweat and pound the asphalt when you can lazily ride and occasionally stop to view the sights?

A couple of problems will arise. First, all riders cannot be designated the Tour champ – the Tour is not a Kindergarten class – so all needs cannot be met. In order to correct for this, the results would have to be created in a manner that approximated the regressed preferences of the aggregate field. Lance would probably remain champ and the other riders would be slotted into their likely finishing positions – all based on creating the efficient solution.

This lead to the second problem, this manner of racing would be slow and boring. Who would watch the riders literally tour France at a leisurely pace? Other than a spouse or two, probably just a few mothers, fathers and girlfriends. The Tour would be no more and 198 riders would be out of a job, all to satisfy some odd belief in equilibrium and utility. This is not a very satisfactory solution.

As you enjoy the Tour on TV remember that riders from many countries, speaking a host of different languages, are able to negotiate productive contracts that are mutually beneficial to both riders and viewers.

Reprinted with kind permission from original source.

Posted to Mises.org 07/13/2005

What does the Second Amendment mean and why do we have it?

Whenever there is a tragedy like school shootings and public gatherings being sprayed with bullets, we see two reactions. First, we see the inevitable cries by “gun control” groups pushing for more ways to control (or outright ban) firearms. Then, we see the inevitable backlash by “gun rights” groups pushing for a strict defense of the Constitution. Like most of our political system, we are stuck in the strange land of being presented only binary choices – “gun control” or “no gun control”. But, what does the Second Amendment mean and why do we have it?

A few housekeeping items. In the late 1700s, “militia” had the same common meaning as today – a non-professional fighting force comprised of citizens of a political territory. The term “regulate” has several definitions but the most useful from the 18th century is “to bring into conformity by training to principles and rules.”

Using this housekeeping, the Second Amendment states: “A well (trained fighting force of non-professional citizen soldiers) being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Unlike the rest of the amendments within the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment comes with a clause providing an explanation for it’s inclusion. This is unique to the Second Amendment not found in the rest of the Bill of Rights, which are provided directly and with assumed obvious need of it.

Born from Revolution, the Founders believed that the right of the people to keep and bear arms was fundamental to security from tyranny both foreign and domestic. Remember, the revolution was to throw off the tyranny of their own country and separate from it. An armed citizenry provides a great deterrent to would-be despots and invaders. If the deterrence fails, then we have the Arms to repel the aggressor. And they lived, much as we do now, in a world with aggressive regimes globally. This is also why the word used is Arms – not rifle, not musket, not firearms. All these terms were available in popular speech of the period which enhances the use of the broader term meant for instruments of war and personal protection – Arms.

The founders were tremendously fearful of standing armies and State control of Arms. The Founders embraced the Enlightenment ideal that standing armies are dangerous for many reasons including the high propensity to use it against others. Today, we have limited civilian ownership of Arms while we support a broad military with bases in over 70 countries and soldiers in over 150.

The philosophy of liberty does not come naturally to political leaders. Unfortunately, the use of control through power is nearly universal in government. An armed populace which knows how to use Arms makes those in power think twice about the cost to control citizens through aggression.

In the text, we see the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to keep and bear Arms will not be infringed, subject to being “well-regulated”. I don’t see a libertarian issue with the need to demonstrate training in the use of firearms. The demonstration of those skills needs to be to the citizenry itself and not through State sanctioning. Those lacking the mental temperament to control themselves lack the ability to demonstrate that they can be well-regulated. And lack of this ability to regulate oneself diminishes the ability of the rest to protect liberty through the deterrence effect preserved by the Second Amendment.

Johnny Miller answers the Candidate Forum Questions.

Planned Questions for Candidates – Johnny Miller

Ohio Congressional District 15 Candidates Forum this Sunday, March 18th, from 2pm to 4pm.

  1. What do you think can be done realistically to address the epidemic of gun violence in America?
    1. In 2012, 64% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides. Maybe we should focus on mental health a little more
    2. Ostracize media outlets for unscrupulously using bad poll results as accurate depictions of public opinions to push a political agenda
    3. Murder is horrible plain and simple. Let’s stop romanticizing it and start looking at how to actually make people safer instead of just focusing on gun control
  2. What do you think would be the optimal healthcare system for the country?
    1. Free Market
  3. Over 3 million women marched on January 2018 for various reasons. What do you think are the top 3 issues concerning women’s rights? What do you plan to accomplish to address these issues?
    1. The feminist movement as it is today is a blight on women’s rights in America
      1. Education should be a priority here instead of governmental interference
    2. The mental health issues go widely untalked about despite women taking more than twice as many suicide attempts as men with a much lower success rate
      1. Education reform
    3. The concept that wearing a costume shaped like female genitalia is somehow empowering
      1. Let us educate our children to be functioning members of society instead of crying foul every time our feeling get hurt by something someone said
  4. According to some sources, parts of District 15 are being devastated by the opioid addiction epidemic. Do you believe that drugs, particularly opioids, are a problem in the district? If so, should it be addressed at the federal level? If not, what is your perspective?
    1. I don’t believe drugs to be the root of the problem
    2. I do believe that the lack of a regulated drug supply to be A problem but still not THE problem
    3. The descheduling of cannabis at the federal level is the first step in combating the opioid crisis
  5. If your party is in the minority, what can you do to be an effective member of Congress? What issues do you think are available for cooperation between Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and Green Party representatives?
    1. Present legislation designed to make life better instead of trying to push a political agenda
  6. Do you believe that humans are causing climate change? If so, how would you balance the increasingly imminent concerns of climate change against the energy needs of the economy? What would you be able to accomplish that would move the country toward that policy?
    1. Are we causing it? No…but I would like to get politics out of the scientific community and let them do their thing and find out if we are influencing it
    2. The bias in this question is noteworthy
  7. With competition from natural gas, solar and other forms of energy, the Coal industry is on the decline.  As a significant employer in southern Ohio, including some counties in this District, what is your strategy for addressing the coal industry and employment?  Do you support the expanded subsidies for the coal industry?
    1. I do not support subsidies to push political agendas nor do I support intervention from the government to manipulate the market
  8. Healthcare facilities and providers are difficult to maintain in rural areas. Does the government have a role in shoring up rural healthcare and, if so, what would you advocate?
    1. No, I do not believe the government has a significant place in our healthcare
    2. Yes, I do believe that many if not all of our healthcare woes can be attributed to failed government intervention
  9. What are your three biggest priorities and what tangible ways will this impact the district?
    1. Deschedule cannabis
      1. This would let us create a legitimate business out of an already booming industry
    2. Abolish the IRS
      1. Eliminating the income tax would allow local money to stay local instead of the federal government siphoning money out of small, local, separated economies
    3. Bring the troops home
      1. We are a proud district and bring our troops home would be a great benefit to the morale of the people within the district
  10. What specific methods will you commit to for acquiring input from your constituents? Describe specifically how you will obtain input and provide information on an ongoing basis as well as how you will do so for major legislation that is before the Congress.
    1. Beings that this is the tech age I will have a much more connected approach and while the specifics are not set in stone I will do MUCH more than our current representative
  11. How big of a problem do you think the deficit, and the debt that is growing out of it is? What, if anything, should we do to bring this under control and how would you accomplish that?
    1. The deficit is a huge problem and the $21T in debt will be my generation’s problem…we are spending away our children’s futures for our political fortune and fame
    2. We need to cut spending by more than just a couple percent…
  12. Do you believe we need to strength the Social Security program?  If so, how would you do so? If not, what is the alternative for elderly and disabled Americans?
    1. Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme and needs to be abolished in a manner as to not jeopardize the lives of our elderly and disabled
  13. If your party is the majority in the House, what will your priorities be for legislative action?
    1. Corruption and transparency, ending the ongoing wars, auditing the governmental agencies, enforcing constitutional limitations, etc
  14. The great recession has not ended for the rural areas of our district.  Is it appropriate that Congress help the rural economy recover?  If so, what goals would you have for that effort? If not, what other things would you do as a representative to help these areas?
    1. I would support efforts by local organizations to improve the area…I do not believe federal intervention is necessary or beneficial
  15. What is your position on the minimum wage (and upon what is it based)?
    1. End it…allow people to decide for themselves how much they want to pay employees
  16. What, if anything, do you think that Congress can do about gerrymandering across the country? Would ending partisan gerrymandering help voters? Help other political parties than Democrats and Republicans?
    1. The gerrymandering is a more relevant issue in election manipulation than the incessant Russian probe…but because the DNC is equally at fault, the amount of media coverage it gets is limited to independent outlets or in reports not usually viewed by normal voters
    2. Most voters have no idea what gerrymandering even means
  17. What, if anything, do you like about the new income tax law that was passed at the end of last year? What, if anything, would you change and how would you accomplish that?
    1. I like that it reduced taxes a bit
    2. I would’ve reduced taxes further and along with that defunded many aspects of the federal government
  18. Do you believe that there is a problem with voter fraud in the US? In Ohio? If so, what steps should be implemented to address it? If not, what of the current anti-voter fraud actions do you believe are the most damaging to access to voting?
    1. I have a skeleton plan for implementing a comprehensive voting procedure reform that I will release at a later time
    2. Yes I do believe there is voter fraud and vote manipulation
  19. How will you balance priorities of the different demographics of the rural, suburban, and urban areas in the district? What ties them together and what is unique for specific areas?
    1. We are all Americans, most of us want to have a successful life and are constantly bombarded with legal red tape and the fear of fines
  20. What is your opinion of farm subsidies in their current form? If you think that changes should be made, how would you accomplish them?
    1. I do not support subsidies
  21. What do you think is the best approach to dealing with marijuana in the United States? What would you be able to accomplish that would move the country toward that policy?
    1. I think the most reasonable answer to this is to deschedule it and allow the states and individuals to exercise their 10th amendment rights

Moving from “It’s Complicated” to “It’s Manageable” on 2A

“We have to do something”, “There ought to be a law” and “It’s complicated”; these are clichés that by their actions people are applying to the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As far as the first one goes, we have far too many instances of applying the wrong solution to a problem and making it worse instead of better. As far as the second, you don’t hear that cliché much anymore; probably for the same reason. “It’s complicated” – now there is a statement that is certainly true in this case, but if you listen to enough ideas (there are plenty of them out there), and think logically about how to apply them while still respecting the 2nd Amendment and our civil liberties, the path becomes clear and the complicated becomes manageable.

The first time I ever shot a rifle, I was about ten or eleven years old. I wasn’t a Boy Scout, at least not literally. This was at church camp! No thought about killing anything crossed my mind. It was all about target practice. It was a lot of fun, just getting better at it. I’ve shot more bullets as ten and eleven year old than I have as an adult.

So why not ban assault weapons? Most of you know the answer to this, so I won’t spend much time on it. The bottom line is, you ask anyone who advocates banning assault weapons to define an assault weapon, and the answer will generally be that it’s a gun that looks mean and scary. The A in AR-15 doesn’t even stand for assault. It stands for Armalite, the original designer of the AR-15. Basically, the AR-15, now manufactured by Colt, is a rifle that is lightweight because it uses lighter alloys. The legal version of the Semi-Automatic AR-15 shoots one bullet for each pull of the trigger. The main reason it has become the most popular rifle is because it is light weight and accurate. Banning the AR-15 would be banning a weapon that most people would find effective, and is pretty much like banning the modern rifle.

Let’s talk first about the 2nd Amendment. One talk show host pointed out the irony that many of his liberal friends who consider Donald Trump an autocrat who could easily become a tyrant, yet they want a gun ban. That is precisely when someone should NOT want a gun ban. The primary reason for the 2nd Amendment is a check on government. If you only look at the second half of the 2nd Amendment, and take it literally, you would think that there is no reasonable regulation on weapons. However, the first part of the 2nd Amendment makes it clear that the purpose behind the Amendment is a check on tyrannical government. “Well-Regulated” implies that the Amendment is not meant for violent anarchists that want to destroy all government. It implies responsibility in gun ownership, and the ability to replace a bad government with a good government. However, you can’t infringe on the right of gun ownership to the point where a tyrannical government can preserve itself at the expense of life and liberty of its opponents. We have a scary government right now. We should be very concerned about preserving this freedom because of that fact.

We live in scary times as well. That is the reason we have gun violence; the guns aren’t the reason. If you take away the means of self-protection, you leave a vulnerable population defenseless. This is not the time for emotional and illogical regulations on gun ownership. “Those calling for gun control have little interest in taking real steps to promote public safety and well-being”, said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, “Instead, they use gun control as a political hammer to … organizations like ours. It’s a disingenuous tactic to do fundraising, but they are doing nothing at all to address real-world problems.”

One “real-world problem” is that “Gun Free Zones” simply invite killers to attack. Killers tend to avoid locations where it is made known that armed personnel are present. Are there any reasonable steps that can be created to protect our children in school? There has been a lot of talk centered on big, expensive government programs that involve police officers, security guards and physical barriers similar to public airports. We may not have any choice but to go this route if we don’t change some of the fundamental issues in our society, but there are a lot of problems with it. For one, it definitely does not seem like a good environment to educate children about civil liberty and a free society. However, Florida has already announced a $500 Million program. We will see this approach tested. Maybe we’ll get used to it.

The second problem is worse: debt. Our state governments are generally in precarious financial position. Our public schools are in worse position. The Federal government is in debt more than at any time in history. This has to be funded at the local level, which means additional property taxes or a drastic cut back in educational opportunities and extracurricular activities. What we are faced with in our very large public school systems is just becoming day care prison for children that provides very weak educational opportunities.

There is another way if a school district and state are willing to embrace self-reliance and individual responsibility. A second talk show host educated us on the fact that First Responder, a term first used by Jimmy Carter, is a misnomer. The real First Responders are those who are already on the scene. Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of four minutes for law enforcement to arrive on the scene of a crime. One of the students of Stoneman Douglas said that his coach, who died in the shooting, would have confronted the gunman had he been able to carry his firearm to school. It has been shown that harm is greatly mitigated when permit holders are allowed to carry concealed firearms in schools.

Many states have been very successful taking this approach. Argyle School Independent School District in Texas decided in 2014 to allow highly trained members of their teachers and staff to carry guns on campus to prevent mass shootings. Sheriff Paul Cairney described the process on MSNBC after the Stoneman shootings. “At Argyle, everyone is a volunteer; no one is forced to carry a weapon. The volunteer has to be approved by the principle. Next, the sheriff conducts a one on one interview with the applicant to determine their mental ability and motivation to carry out the task. Finally, the volunteer gets a psychological evaluation, the same one given to sheriff’s deputies. After passing those checks, the volunteer moves on to 3-5 days of very intense formal weapons training.” The Tom Woods podcast episode 1101 interviews novelist and former firearms instructor Larry Correia, who does a great job explaining the success of similar programs in his home state of Utah.

Ohio also has regulations which allow a school district to authorize teachers to carry weapons. Again, from Dean Reick, “the fact is, gun owners ARE doing something. We’ve been doing something for years.” One program featured on their website, “FASTER Saves Lives” is the obvious example. FASTER provides educators with intensive violence response and trauma first aid training. Classes are provided at no cost to schools, funded through private donations. To date, more than 1,300 teachers and staff from 225 districts across 12 states have received this training, including educators in 76 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Up to 400 additional educators are set to go through training in 2018.” At one point it looked like Governor Kasich was leaning in this direction. It might be a ruse. A politician who thinks they are the only adult in the room is a pretty scary person.

Maybe Washington can do a few things to placate the anti-gun proponents, but it is not promising. Trump asked a logical question. Why are handguns restricted to 21-year-olds but an 18-year-old can buy a rifle like the one that was used in Parkland? Unfortunately, I think he probably has the logic backwards. I believe Trump is implying that any weapon should be restricted for purchase only to 21-year-olds. Someone should ask him right back, why should someone’s 18-year-old daughter, trained in firearm use, who has a restraining order against an abusive ex-boyfriend, not be able to defend herself with a handgun? If Washington passes a law that makes room for younger people to use and train with a weapon, even if they don’t own it, with ability of the parent or guardian to allow them to borrow their weapon, and with shooting ranges allowing weapons to be rented, it may be OK. I’m not sure you should hold your breath. It would be better to get on the phone and call your representatives.

As much as possible, we should leave Washington and the state capitol out of it. This is a problem that should be dealt with on a local basis. If the security of the school where your kids go is not satisfactory, you must find another school or gather parents together who will insist that the current one changes its policies. Find a smaller school where teachers know the students better. Lobby to break up the big school districts. Stoneman Douglas High School has over 3,100 students, a massive school where it would be easy for a disturbed youth to fall through the cracks and go off the deep end. Private schools and home schools where there the teachers and administrators know their students should be much more available. These mass shootings never seem to happen in a private school, and they obviously don’t happen in an on-line school. We need to lobby for a change in the tax laws so that parents can deduct the money spent on private schooling from their local taxes, thereby encouraging the growth and development of small private schools. Private schools are not restricted by separation of church and state. Religious instruction seems to be sorely needed in our country.

This conversation needs to go beyond guns to answer the question of what we are about as a nation and how we lost our way. The same questions need to be asked and answered about our educational system. Another talk show host mentioned the fact that all the first day news coverage of the Parkland shooting spoke about how Nikolas Jacob Cruz was probably the victim of bullying, and grew up in a very troubled young life. Then, that description was dropped because it didn’t fit the media narrative. Why can’t we make changes in curriculum that would encourage and develop understanding and compassion? There is a terrible shortage of trained social workers in this country. Classes in Social Work could pave the way for a job and career, and have the added benefit of teaching the students the scientific causes and cures of destructive behavior. How about other classes that encourage self-respect and actualization in students? Why do we as a nation believe in self-defense? The actor Richard Dreyfus is deeply disturbed by the elimination of civics curriculum in schools. He has formed a non-profit organization called The Dreyfuss Initiative to push for change, and he makes a tremendous case for why this should be done. (See his Ted Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACYXYaLp6KE ).

Fixing this problem is complicated. There is no easy solution, no one size fits all solution, but there are several good ones. You probably won’t find many of them in Washington. The federal government is one institution that has not earned the right to interfere in this issue. That is also true for our state government, but, unfortunately, state laws can interfere with doing the right thing at the local level so some laws may have to be changed. The educational system needs to be transformed. An industrial age bureaucratic educational system does not work today. At the same time, some curriculum, such as civics, were abandoned and need to be restored. Let’s roll up our sleeves and start the change from the ground up.

More at http://americanactionnews.com/articles/sheriff-who-allows-teachers-to-pack-heat-mops-the-floor-with-msnbc-host#4cBxU5tgEJmpt9Xa.99

John Stewart, Member At-Large
Franklin County Libertarian Executive Committee

Two epiphanies that can change the world!

An epiphany is “an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.” Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Bruce Jaynes shared with me two epiphanies that could radically change our understanding of politics.

The first came from talking with a friend who is a Republican elected official. The friend was saying that he ran against a Libertarian who just “stole” votes from him. Bruce corrected him, saying that Libertarians don’t steal votes, they just earn them. On reflection, his friend agreed that he was right, but that Republicans train their candidates and officials to believe that.

The second came from Bruce learning from a psychologist that Americans are politically dysfunctional. In our natural desire to avoid pain, we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned in two dysfunctional beliefs. Changing those beliefs is painful for us. They are: “American government can never change” and “All politicians are corrupt once elected.”

We Libertarians cannot get our message across until we make others aware that all three beliefs are false. Here is the truth:

  • Libertarians cannot steal votes. The only way to steal a vote is through some highly sophisticated election fraud – and the systems in place make that almost impossible. Libertarians earn votes with strong candidates and sound beliefs.
  • Governments at all levels can and do change when enough people believe that change is needed. In the last fifty years, we have ensured that people of both sexes, and all races and sexual orientations, can enjoy basic civil and voting rights; increased transparency in government through information access (“sunshine”) laws; taken the first steps to end the drug wars; and ensured districts are equal in size for legislative and congressional offices. Change is hard, but it is not impossible. We ended one war (Vietnam) and greatly cut back the scope of two others (Afghanistan and Iraq) through protests and political action.
  • Too many politicians do look after their own interests once elected, but not all. Some refund all or part of their salaries to government – others work tirelessly for the people at a time in life when they could enrich themselves far more in the private sector. Some even make good on promises to serve only one term in office.

Political change sounds like a lot of work. And it is. But we can make that work easier once we show people how their preconceived notions are untrue, and how our ideas will lead to better lives for all of us.

 

  • Harold Thomas

A Message for 2018

Now that 2017 had come to a close and 2018 has begun we at the Franklin County Libertarian Party would like to give all of our supporters a word of thanks and a wish for a happy new year.  We have big plans for 2018 and beyond and they will require support from all of our friends, not just financial but in volunteering as well.
We plan to continue our ballot access petition drive as well as petitions drives and support for any Libertarian candidates who choose to run for office.  For these efforts we will need “boots on the ground” as it were.
We plan to continue with our monthly Social Meetings at various locations around the Columbus area along with a few special events in the works.
It is our sincere hope that you will continue to stand with us as we continue to fight for all of your freedoms all of the time.