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Finances & Money

Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, More Freedom

I’ll state up front: I’m an UNAFFILIATED voter. I used to be a Democrat (in spirit) growing up and in college, mostly because that’s what my family was. Then when I actually started earning some money and got more involved with the church (i.e. I went on Sundays), I registered as a Republican. But that didn’t last long either because I wasn’t very happy with the Republican record either, so I registered as “unaffiliated” before the 2004 election. Unaffiliated does not mean Independent. That’s a party, while I’m not in any party.

Since I only seem to consider my political views around election times, I didn’t give a thought to finding a party that stands up for what I believe in. Actually, it’s only recently that I’m learning more about my own beliefs and where I stand on various issues.

As you may have seen in a few of my recent articles, I’m not very happy about our current economic situation. I also question things online and offline such as America’s foreign policy, use of our tax money, and immigration policy. Well, I stumbled onto a third political party that actually seems to agree with how I see many issues.

This is not an endorsement of any political party. Rather, since I’m nervous about electing either of our major party candidates into the White House or congressional seats, I want to offer you a look into an alternate.

Voting for a Minority Party

The first thing I asked when I thought about a third party is “Wouldn’t I just be throwing my vote away?“. Well you can look at it a few ways. First, no vote is a throw-away. I voted Republican in the last presidential election, but I live in Maryland, which is strongly Democrat. You can say that if you’re a Republican in Maryland, or in California, or a Democrat in Texas, that you’re throwing your vote away.

Why even bother to go to the polling station to vote on November 4 when you know your vote won’t help your party or your candidate? Well:

Casting your vote shows that there IS a voice and interest in that party or candidate. If you truly support a candidate, then casting your vote shows them that they didn’t run for nothing. That the party, and even that candidate, should try again. And here’s another reason to vote:

There’s more on the ballot than just the presidential election. While our federal system is f-ed up with this stupid electoral college deal, our local elections aren’t, and that’s where your voice (via your vote) is heard the most. Most states also have important voting items such as allowing slot gambling in-state, or creating a state constitutional ammendment against gay marriage. This isn’t just about the president you know.

Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, More Freedom

You would think that headline should go with the Republican party, right? But with this last administration, we’ve seen our government grow incredibly, while also witnessing our freedom and “natural rights” disappear. I admit that I thought the Patriot Act was right at first because I was afraid of terrorists and wanted them rooted out. But then I learned more about our Bill of Rights and the Constitution and learned why people were up in arms about this bill.

So whose motto is that (the heading up there)? It’s the

Libertarian Party

The who? What’s a Libertarian? Yeah, I had those same questions, and I’m in the process of finding out more myself, but here’s some basics about the party and their candidate, straight from their website (www.lp.org), with my own emphasis added.

History

The Libertarian Party is America’s third largest and fastest growing political party. Libertarians engage in a variety of projects, working for everyone’s liberty on every issue.

The Libertarian Party was created in December of 1971 by people who realized that the politicians had strayed from America’s original libertarian foundation, with disastrous results. Their vision was the same as that of America’s founders — a world where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, a world of peace, harmony, opportunity, and abundance.

Libertarians are practical; we know we can’t make the world perfect. But, it can be better. Libertarians will keep working to create a better, freer society for everyone. As William Allen White said: “Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.”

Primary Goals

  • Substantially reduce the size and intrusiveness of government and cut all taxes.
  • Let peaceful, honest people offer their goods and services to willing consumers without a hassle from government.
  • Let peaceful, honest people decide for themselves what to eat, drink, read, or smoke and how to dress, medicate themselves, or make love, without fear of criminal penalties.
  • The U.S. government should defend Americans and their property in America and let the U.S. taxpayer off the hook for the defense bill of wealthy countries like Germany and Japan.

Libertarians believe in the American heritage of liberty, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Libertarians recognize the responsibility we all share to preserve this precious heritage for our children and grandchildren.

Libertarians believe that being free and independent is a great way to live. We want a system which encourages all people to choose what they want from life; that lets them live, love, work, play, and dream their own way.

The Libertarian way is a logically consistent approach to politics based on the moral principle of self-ownership. Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property. Government’s only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.

The Libertarian Party is for all who don’t want to push other people around and don’t want to be pushed around themselves. Live and let live is the Libertarian way.

Libertarians and Today’s Issues

So from those snippets of information, I originally thought “hmm, interesting, but are these people just gun-toting anti-government crazies or do they really stand for something reasonable?”. Luckily that have more detailed information on many of the big hot-button topics of today. The emphasis is not my own (it’s from their website):

Taxes

The Libertarian Party is working every day to cut your taxes. By contrast, professional politicians from the other parties just want more of your money, and are busy increasing the size of government.

With less government and lower taxes, you could keep more of what you earn. It would be easier to start new businesses, build new homes, and fuel stronger economic growth.

Just Defend Our Rights

Libertarians believe that if government’s role were limited to protecting our lives, rights and property, then America would prosper and thrive as never before. Then the federal government could concentrate on protecting our Constitutional rights and defending us from foreign attack. A federal government that did only those two things, could do them better and at a small fraction of the cost.

How Can We Cut Taxes?

Instead of tending to the basics, government has grown into a bloated conglomerate of political services that gets larger every year — with no end in sight. For example, politicians spend millions of dollars to urge people not to smoke — while spending more millions to subsidize tobacco farmers. They send billions overseas for foreign aid — while the federal deficit swells. They spend millions to subsidize public art — while working families struggle to pay their taxes.

Politicians also run trains, bail out savings and loans, construct houses, sell insurance, print books, and build basketball courts — you name it! But the fact is, every service supplied by the government can be provided better and cheaper by private business.

Privatize And Cut Taxes

All over the world, governments are busy selling airlines, power plants, housing, and factories to private owners. Where inefficient government bureaucrats lost money and squandered tax dollars, hard-working private owners now make profits and create new jobs. Why can’t we do the same thing in America?

Defend America: Cut Taxes

Military expenses are over $250 billion a year! A large percentage of this is spent overseas to defend wealthy countries like Germany and Japan — who then wallop us in international trade. Let’s take them off military welfare. We can defend America better and save at least $100 billion a year in taxes.

Stop Bailing Out Industry

No one has the right to cover his losses at taxpayer expense — and yet wealthy corporations demand exactly that. The federal government has bailed out railroads, banks, and other corporations with your tax dollars. This must stop!

Replace Welfare: Cut Taxes

The bulk of your welfare tax dollars goes to pay the handsome salaries of well-educated welfare workers. The poor get little from government welfare except meager handouts and a cycle of despair. Let’s get government out of the charity business. Private charities and groups do a better and more efficient job of helping the truly needy get back on their feet.

Why An Income Tax?

Before 1913, federal income taxes were rare and short-lived. America became the most prosperous nation on earth. The U.S. Government did not try to police the world or play “nanny” to everyone from cradle to grave. People took responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is how the founders of America thought it should be. And it worked. It can again!

Social Security

Securing Your Retirement

Politicians in Washington are stealing your future. Every year, they take 12.4% of your income to prop up their failed Social Security system – a system that is heading toward bankruptcy.

If you are an American earning the median income of $31,695 per year, and were given the option of investing that same amount of money in a stock mutual fund, you would retire a millionaire – without winning the lottery or a TV game show. That million dollars would provide you with a retirement income of over $100,000 per year – about five times what you could expect from Social Security. Even a very conservative investment strategy would yield three times the benefits promised by Social Security.

Libertarians believe you should be able to opt out of Social Security and invest your money in your own personal retirement account. An account that you own and control – one that politicians can’t get their hands on.

Republicans and Democrats say it can’t be done – that your Social Security taxes are needed to pay benefits to today’s retirees. Instead of letting you invest in your own future, they want you to have faith that someone else will pay your benefits when it comes time for you to retire.

Although most won’t admit it publicly, their “solutions” to the Social Security crises all come down to some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts. Libertarians know that there’s a better way.

Countries like Chile, Mexico, Britain, and Australia have successfully made the transition from their failed Social Security systems to healthy systems based on individual retirement accounts. In Chile, over 90% of workers have opted out of the government-run system. It’s time America did as well.

The federal government owns assets worth trillions of dollars – assets that it simply doesn’t need to perform its Constitutional functions. By selling those assets over time, we can keep the promises that were made to today’s retirees, and to those nearing retirement, while freeing the rest of America from a failed Social Security system.

Libertarians will introduce and support legislation to give you that choice, and put you in control of your own retirement future.

Poverty and Welfare

From across the political and ideological spectrum, there is now almost universal acknowledgement that the American social welfare system has been a failure.

Since the start of the “war on poverty” in 1965, the United States has spent more than $5 trillion trying to ease the plight of the poor. What we have received for this massive investment is — primarily — more poverty.

Our welfare system is unfair to everyone: to taxpayers who must pick up the bill for failed programs; to society, whose mediating institutions of community, church and family are increasingly pushed aside; and most of all to the poor themselves, who are trapped in a system that destroys opportunity for themselves and hope for their children.

The Libertarian Party believes it is time for a new approach to fighting poverty. It is a program based on opportunity, work, and individual responsibility.

1. End Welfare

None of the proposals currently being advanced by either conservatives or liberals is likely to fix the fundamental problems with our welfare system. Current proposals for welfare reform, including block grants, job training, and “workfare” represent mere tinkering with a failed system.

It is time to recognize that welfare cannot be reformed: it should be ended.

We should eliminate the entire social welfare system. This includes eliminating AFDC, food stamps, subsidized housing, and all the rest. Individuals who are unable to fully support themselves and their families through the job market must, once again, learn to rely on supportive family, church, community, or private charity to bridge the gap.

2. Establish a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private charity

If the federal government’s attempt at charity has been a dismal failure, private efforts have been much more successful. America is the most generous nation on earth. We already contribute more than $125 billion annually to charity. However, as we phase out inefficient government welfare, private charities must be able to step up and fill the void.

To help facilitate this transfer of responsibility from government welfare to private charity, the federal government should offer a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private charities that provide social-welfare services. That is to say, if an individual gives a dollar to charity, he should be able to reduce his tax liability by a dollar.

3. Tear down barriers to entrepreneurism and economic growth

Almost everyone agrees that a job is better than any welfare program. Yet for years this country has pursued tax and regulatory policies that seem perversely designed to discourage economic growth and reduce entrepreneurial opportunities. Someone starting a business today needs a battery of lawyers just to comply with the myriad of government regulations from a virtual alphabet soup of government agencies: OSHA, EPA, FTC, CPSC, etc. Zoning and occupational licensing laws are particularly damaging to the type of small businesses that may help people work their way out of poverty.

In addition, government regulations such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits drive up the cost of employing additional workers. We call for the repeal of government regulations and taxes that are steadily cutting the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.

4. Reform education

There can be no serious attempt to solve the problem of poverty in America without addressing our failed government-run school system. Nearly forty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, America’s schools are becoming increasingly segregated, not on the basis of race, but on income. Wealthy and middle class parents are able to send their children to private schools, or at least move to a district with better public schools. Poor families are trapped — forced to send their children to a public school system that fails to educate.

It is time to break up the public education monopoly and give all parents the right to decide what school their children will attend. It is essential to restore choice and the discipline of the marketplace to education. Only a free market in education will provide the improvement in education necessary to enable millions of Americans to escape poverty.

We should not pretend that reforming our welfare system will be easy or painless. In particular it will be difficult for those people who currently use welfare the way it was intended — as a temporary support mechanism during hard times. However, these people remain on welfare for short periods of time. A compassionate society will find other ways to help people who need temporary assistance. But our current government-run welfare system is costly to taxpayers and cruel to the children born into a cycle of welfare dependency and hopelessness.

The Libertarian Party offers a positive alternative to the failed welfare state. We offer a vision of a society based on work, individual responsibility, and private charity. It is a society based on opportunity and genuine compassion It is a society built on liberty.

How do I feel about the Libertarian Party

You can see their stance on many other issues, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, gun rights, foreign policy and the environment.

I liked what I read, but I needed to learn more because these are pretty big changes compared to our current economy and culture. While we all seem to expect civil liberties and freedom to do as we wish, but with the protection offered by the government, we (myself included) tend to balk at the idea of letting private industry, or my fellow men and women, be given so much responsibility in our country’s growth and safety. But is that the right way to think?

I’ve stated through this site, before I even knew about the Libertarian Party, that I think welfare just enables the poor to stay poor. I’ve also stated that our citizens need to be more responsible and accountable for their actions and decisions. I know there’s certainly good affects in my own life regarding social security, medicare, and medicaid because it helps my grandma. But I also see she has no incentive to do much more than sit on the couch and watch TV. She’s wasting away mentally because she has no reason to get outside and stay active. There’s more to the story, but I’m using it to illustrate the good and bad of social security.

So who is their candidate?

Libertarian Party Candidate 2008: Bob Barr

Ok, at least I’ve heard of Bob Barr before, but where? Bob Barr was formerly a Republican representative from Georgia from 1995-2003. He has switched to the Libertarian Party for the same reason that you or I might switch: he wanted more than what the two major parties offered. While he held Republican viewpoints, he didn’t agree with how his party was acting and was recruited to the Libertarian cause.

He has come out against and apologized for some of his former votes, such as for the Defense of Marriage Act, the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq and a number of other decisions because he was “standing by his party”. I can identify with this “flip-flopping” because as more comes to light about a situation, you can make a more informed decision about it. At the time, you can only work with what you have. Granted, the “flip-flopping” was the main reason I voted against John Kerry in 2004.

I do like much of what I read about the Libertarian Party, so I watched a number of clips on YouTube from Bob Barr. I invite you to do the same to see what you think of the man and the party.

Conclusions

While I still need to read more about my various choices for this election, on the federal, state and local levels, I’m surprised that I didn’t know about the Libertarian Party before. Knowing my slow progression from liberal to conservative and now to the middle, I might not have been very receptive to the ideals of the Libertarians until now anyway.

Now that I’m seeing the effects of government intervention in my life more directly, I’m not liking it. I’m seriously worried that there’s absolutely no oversight into how my tax money is being spent, or whether I ever see its effects. I thought the Republicans were against big government, but apparently I was wrong. I like that the Democrats are for social justice and liberty, but they’re helping to kill our future economy along with the Republicans. I don’t like either party’s candidate’s credentials much.

So now I have another option, so I thought I should let you know too. See what you think for yourself and feel free to let me know.

About the author

Clever Dude

18 Comments

  • @Jerry, when I registered in MD (and unless it’s changed), I had the choice of Independent or unaffiliated. Thus, in the eyes of Maryland, at least, they’re two different things. I didn’t want any people from Nader (or any other party) contacting me, so I chose unaffiliated.

    Independent Politician definition

    You’re right that it means you’re not in any party, but from a voter perspective, I wanted to be completely unaffiliated with any candidate.

    Independent Voter definition

    Unaffiliated Voter definition

    You’re right about Ron Paul. The reason I found the Libertarian Party was to see if he was running on some other party ticket. I think he’s the closest thing the Republican party has to a real Republican.

  • I have been affiliated w/the libertarian party for many years & will be voting for Barr this year. It is not exactly that I agree with everything the LP has to offer, but that they are one of the only mostly-credible parties out there actually offering smaller government, less spending, and more privacy. The Democrats certainly don’t, and the Republicans pretend to but all you have to do is tap that veneer for it to crack. I would love it if Ron Paul had run Libertarian, because I know a lot of people who would have voted for him. Barr is a good candidate too, in my opinion. I encourage more votes for the LP! It’s awesome 😉

  • Good post, Clever Dude. I was hoping Ron Paul would win the Republican Nomination, but he didn’t come close. The libertarian movement is probably more mainstream than you think!

  • Very good post…well thought out. I think you’ll inform a lot of people with this who didn’t know about the Libertarian party or who haven’t considered that they may have another choice.

  • While the Libertarian party doesn’t really have any traction here in Canada, we do actually have more than two parties that get a reasonable number of votes. While I usually cheer for my party (one of the big two), it’s still nice to live in a democracy where there’s more than “Option A” and “Option B”.

  • I don’t get it. How can “lower taxes” solve the country’s problems? Where is the sacrifice? You need to give up something to get something. Based on this argument, if we lower the tax rate to 0%, you would solve every single problem plaguing this country. Just try doing that and see. What is the “optimal tax rate” then?

    Just saying “lowering your taxes” is an easy man’s way out to solving the problem. It doesn’t solve anything.

  • Hey, I really liked this post so I thought I’d let you know about Freedomain Radio. It has some really interesting things to say about Libertarianism and achieving liberty through rationality. I’ve found it to be very instructive. Let me know what you think!

  • I used to think lower taxes and smaller government was absolutely the best solution. That’s why I’ve always sided with either Republican or third-party candidates. Unfortunately the American population has convinced me that it is too retarded to be allowed to makes its own decisions, so for the first time ever I’ll be voting for at least one Democratic candidate in November.

    Also, here’s hoping the Democratic party adopts my suggested slogan of “Saving America from its greatest enemy: the 300 million stupid people who live in it.”

  • In fact I agree with your argument that most Americans are wasting their votes. I wrote a post about the subject: http://moneyandsuch.blogspot.com/2008/10/voting-with-my-money.html

    Our political system means that only a relatively tiny portion of Americans cast votes that matter and the rest of us are wasting our time and effort. It’s not just the matter of the electoral college that is causing this disgrace, it’s also political re-districting that has only one purpose: protect incumbents of both parties.

    Our political system is simply broken. Calling this a democracy is a mockery.

    I share your disillusionment with both the Democrats and the Republicans, however, in this election I am voting for Obama because I sincerely believe that he can cause a dramatic change for the better in this country across a wide range of issues. For me this is a personal vote, not a party vote. I too am unaffiliated politically.

  • I have worked in the mental health fields with people, counselors, and have seen real needs for people who can’t work and depend on medicines, therapy and services. I agree there is a lot of people using the system. I believe there is poor who is in need and there are those who can work but don’t and have some sort of disability. Taking everything away I feel isn’t the solution, finding a way to help each person function is the answer. So I vote the issues and who I feel is the right one to handle the problems. That’s why I don’t like any of the political parties.

  • I personally subscribe to many libertarian beliefs, but voting for one this time around isn’t practical. Being a resident of a toss up state, I feel that my vote is better served to a candidate who has a chance, where my vote may actually have a real, tangible immediate impact. The one thing I disagree with on libertarians with is taxing. When you live in a country this big, with so many problems, it’s a necessary evil. Would I like to see less taxes? Sure. Does much of the money taxpayers contribute get lost in the system? Absolutely. But at the same time there are many people who are genuinely in need of government programs who wouldn’t get the help they needed, if taxes were slashed the way libertarians would like to.

  • @Nick, so you’re going to vote for someone because that’s who you think everyone else is voting for, not because you believe in him? That’s just wrong and sheepish. The point of voting is to vote for the candidate who stands up for what you value most, not who you think is the most popular in your state.

    As for taxes, no libertarian would be able to implement fully lower taxes in his/her administration. It would be a progressive thing that would take years. But as you said, much of our money is wasted or lost. That obviously means the government doesn’t need that money! Let us keep it and let the government get back to what it’s supposed to do. Protecting us.

  • I vote for minority parties in the UK all the time, and have never seen it as wasting my vote. Locally, it’s very un-American the two largest parties are centre-left (think left side of the Democratic party), and left (think socialist). As it happens, I’m a liberal and tend to vote for either the Lib Dems or Green..

    I’d personally never vote for the Libertarian party because I seem to disagree with them about almost everything (other than the non-erosion of civil liberties) but I think that it’s great that you’ve found candidates that you can support. I hope you’ll still remain unaffiliated and choose afresh at each election.

  • @plonkee: You’re right that I will stay unaffiliated.

    I’m not sure how it is in your side of the world, but here we got this stupid electoral college, which you’re probably familiar with thanks to the debacle in 2000 (Gore won the popular vote, but not the election). If your state is normally Democrat or Republican (no state is ever majority third-party), your vote won’t help your candidate win the election if they’re considered the minority in your state. We need to get rid of this method of counting votes as it means not all the votes are heard or equal.

    But as I said, you’re not throwing away your vote because you’re still letting people know that you care about that party’s stance and support them for future elections or even considerations and decisions by the elected officials.

  • @Clever Dude:
    Yeah, we heard about the electoral college, not sure that it’s the world’s greatest idea.

    Although it’s not the same system at all over here, ours has some of the same flaws. In the national elections your vote is only likely to make a difference if you live somewhere that isn’t a Labour/Conservative/LibDem stronghold. OTOH sometimes you can indulge in tactical voting which can bring surprising results.

  • I’m tired of seeing them say one thing and then doing the other..
    talking about Democrats!!! I like this write up very Eye Opener..
    how can people think that more Govt., in ones life equals more freedom? HOW HOW HOW??? Don’t they teach History? does anyone learn from the past ????? we need more open thinking with eyes wide not cold minded day dreaming people in the river of life just going with the flow … look forwards way forwards there maybe a HUGE water fall ahead … and its NO fun going over the falls…. its too late then!

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