Paperclippings Blog: An interview with a candidate!

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Name:
Kelly
Location:
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Kelly is the mother of 5 adorable kids--4 boys and a girl. The girl came in a package with a boy (twins). Kelly is married to a charming young man who lives and breathes computers. They are also guardians for three nieces and a nephew.

She is active in the community having served as PTA President of a local elementary school, on the board of the Salt Lake Mothers of Twins, as a district round-table trainer with the Cub Scouts, as a volunteer for Sidelines (a support network for Women on bed rest during pregnancy) and she and her husband are active in the LDS Church.

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"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

Helaman 5:12




Courtesy of Scott Kurtz


 

Monday, March 31, 2008

An interview with a candidate!

[Disclaimer: this interview does not constitute an endorsement of this candidate.]

I have here my good friend, James Baird, who is currently running as the Libertarian Candidate for the Texas House District 105. Upon learning that he was running I asked if I could interview him for my blog. He graciously accepted my request.

Kelly: James, tell my readers a little about yourself and how you got involved in the Libertarian Party in Texas.

James: I am a stay-at-home father with two sons. One is 16 and the other is 20 years of age. I currently home school my youngest. I have been a professional for most of my life, however, with 15 plus years experience working in college admissions, and much more than that working in databases and in the computing field. I am married to a wonderful lady who is also a professional, and we make a great team as well as being a great couple.

My first exposure to a serious Libertarian occurred while I was working at the University. I had long been dissatisfied with the Republican party of the 90's since they had dropped most of what Reagan had built while at the same time calling themselves conservatives.

This gentleman was, himself, not a contributing member of the LP at the time, but he talked a great game for what the LP stood for and how they were actually a serious party. I did more research, and I discovered that I identified with a great deal of the National LP Platform. I have been a contributing member of the party for many years now in both the National LP and the Texas LP.

Kelly: What do Libertarians stand for? What is their platform?

James: The LP stands for freedom. It stands by the by-line that it is the party of principle, and indeed it is. The LP believes that the role of the federal government is carefully described in the Constitution, and that it therefore has no role in monitoring and controlling our private lives. I cannot go into every detail of the platform here, but anyone that is interested can go to
http://www.lp.org/ for a more involved reading. Let me start here, though.

The preamble of the LP platform states:

"As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power."

Economically, the LP believes in free trade and the removal of government restrictions on free trade. It is not through the might of the military that freedom gains ground, it is through allowing open markets that oppressed peoples learn about freedom, and open markets are the tool that raises the standard of living. Tariffs and high taxes are currently hindering our own economy, and those things only serve to increase the power of the federal government and nothing for the average business that desires to increase demand for its goods or services. The current trend of the government spending your dollars to bail out those that have made bad decisions can sound like a good thing until you really look at it.

I hate it that people make stupid decisions, but at the same time, the money that my wife and I have earned through the sweat of our brow is ours, and it belongs to nobody else. If your neighbor makes a bad decision in the stock market, or he buys a car that does not run, or she makes an investment in property that resides in a flood plain, why should my money go to that end when we have been careful to avoid bad decisions ourselves? We are not a collective.

What we are is a society of free people that can make decisions for good or for ill. I do not want to live in a country where I have a Big Brother breathing over my shoulder to make sure that I do not make a bad decision. By nature that means that I have a more limited set of decisions that I can make as a free person.

The platform states:

"Individuals must be free to be aggressive competitors and form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association in the market place, and must enjoy no state-sponsored advantage. Those who best supply a good or service in the market will enjoy natural dominance only as long as they continue to benefit consumers. Subsidies and government-granted monopolies protect the non-competitive from market forces."

Along those same lines, the LP believes that we are a free people and have the right to live as we desire. The platform [further] states:

"Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. We must accept the right of others to choose for themselves if we are to have the same right. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices. We believe people must accept personal responsibility for the consequences of their actions."

As a result, the LP strongly opposes the federal government controlling intoxicating substances, as long as those are not used to the detriment of one's neighbors or the harming of any other individual. We oppose the use of "sin taxes" for those that wish to consume alcohol or tobacco, for example. We oppose the prohibition of marijuana, also, as it has filled our prisons to the breaking point with non-violent offenders, and has promoted a multi-billion dollar industry in the US of incarcerating people. We now have more prisoners than Communist China, and lead the world in per-capita incarceration. Yet the demand has only grown, and street crime and organized crime have grown to epic proportions.

The question frequently arises that if the federal government will not take care of the indigent and the impaired, then who will take care of them? *I would point out that those that are taken care of by private charities and by relatives fare much better than those that are dependent on government establishments There are children that I know of personally that are being cared for in a loving environment in a much better way than they could hope for in a government institution. We as a free people have to be ready to assume the responsibilities of being free people.

There are other issues that the LP feels strongly about, but these serve to illustrate the general principles of the LP.

Kelly: How do you feel about those who do not take personal responsibility for their actions?

James: Freedom is a precious commodity, and at the same time, it is a dangerous commodity. Benjamin Franklin once observed that "those that would surrender their freedom for security deserve neither." Those that do not take personal responsibility to the extent that they violate the rights of others are breaking the law, and that is the territory of the police and the courts.

Those that otherwise harm no one else have the ability to choose how to live. If they live recklessly, then they have chaotic and uncomfortable results. If, on the other hand, they choose to live wisely and take care of themselves and their families, then they will have better lives.

For example, do I really need the government to tell me that I must wear a seat-belt? I do that on my own, but I know the consequences if I get into an accident and I do not have mine on. Similarly, do we really need the government to tell local businesses who can have a smoking establishment and who cannot? Interfering with the free market disallows businesses and individuals to make personal choices that otherwise harm nobody.

Kelly: Now, for the easy ones....

James: heh

Kelly: A few months ago you were asked to represent the TX LP party as one of their candidates. What went through your mind when the idea was presented to you?

James: That was a funny thing. We had company that night, and I received a phone call from the chairman of the Texas LP asking me to run. I thought to myself "why not?" MY Uncle thought it was a great idea as "long as they could still speak to me after my head grew three hat sizes." In all actuality, I took it very seriously, and it is a daunting task. However, having the opportunity to talk to people about the LP and tell what it really stands for is a great opportunity. The two major parties have painted us as "kooks and weirdoes" at every opportunity. In reality we are calling a type of government that made this country grow into the greatest country that has ever been.

Kelly: Did you have any reservations about running?

James: I had several, of course, and not the least of which is that I do not have a big money-machine party supporting my candidacy. The LP has a weakness in that we have not been around long enough that we monetarily support candidates. I am not a rich man, after all. Another consideration is that you open yourself to personal attacks, and you have to be willing to take those. I have no problems with that. I can fight with the best of them, but I do not want my family to be unjustly scrutinized. Thirdly, the Republican incumbent is well entrenched here, and that is going to be an up-hill battle even if I had a huge war-chest.

Kelly: What does one have to do to run for office?

James: In the LP you have to first file with the State of Texas, and you have to fill out a form that examines your finances for possible conflicts of interest. That was, naturally, not a problem for me, as our finances are very pedestrian. The next step is that you have to go through a "vetting" process at the County LP Convention. That was actually a lot of fun. As you can tell from this interview, I do not mind talking. The Convention either then votes you in as an official candidate, or it does not. In my case I received a 'unanimous' positive vote. The next step is to talk to as many people as possible. I am building a web site for this and I plan on getting some flyers out and do some door-to-door advertising.

Kelly: What was it like going to the LP convention as a candidate? Were you nervous?

James: I was nervous, of course, because I knew I was going to have to go up before a camera and answer some tough questions. But I have a lot of experience as a teacher and as a college recruiter in talking in front of people. I was at ease once I got the microphone, though, and could have talked longer if we had had the time.

Kelly: How supportive has your family been?

James: My family, my friends, and business acquaintances have all been very supporting. My oldest son has been out talking to all of his friends of voting age to get out there and vote for the LP. It amazes me still how many young people are not just dumb participants. Many of them are distrustful of the government and they see through the lies and misinformation put out there by mainstream media and the main political parties. It has been this show of support that has made me believe that the LP has a great future ahead of it.

Kelly: Why do you think someone in your area ought to vote for you?

James: Let me put it this way: if you are satisfied with the way that the Texas legislature has handled issues like education, taxation, the Trans-Corridor Highway, and the prison system, then you should most definitely NOT vote for me. If you would like a change that is real and has substance, then you should not only vote for me, but you should also support and vote for the Libertarian Party.

Kelly: Is there anything else you would like to add?

James: Well, first let me thank you for giving me an opportunity to present the LP in my own words. There are a great many people that are becoming disenfranchised with both major political parties. The Republicans have done everything besides control spending and reduce the size of the federal government. We also have a Democratic Party that desires to create what would be a socialist state. The LP is fiscally conservative, and it is socially liberal. The old meaning of liberal was one of a person that believed in the rights of the individual to worship in freedom, to conduct business in freedom, and to live without the fear of government intrusion into their bedrooms, their living rooms, into their businesses and finances, into their children's education, and most importantly into the very thoughts that we are allowed to express. The LP is a call to return to a better, and more humane, government. Vote LP!

Kelly: James, thank you for the interview. It has been a pleasure to have you here today. Good luck on the campaign trail.

James: I am more than happy.


* Correction (previously said, "I would point out that those that are taken care of by government agencies and those that are taken care of by relatives and charitable organizations fare much better than those that are ‘incarcerated’ in government establishments.")

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32 Comments:

On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 9:01:00 AM, Blogger nanc wrote...

GREAT INTERVIEW!

our son claims to be a libertarian and his thinking runs along the same lines as yours, phelonius - would you prefer i call you james?

my question to libertarians would be, "what penalties, if any, would go along with a person's destructive behavior?"

you must admit, there will be those who take libertarianism to the nth degree.

guess i just don't know where the line should be drawn - i.e., drug addiction - who will ultimately pay for it when the person becomes unable to?

i didn't know you were a stay at home dad - AWESOME! and i'm not a feminist, just someone who believes one parent NEEDS to be home with the children.

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 9:54:00 AM, Blogger John wrote...

Nasnc just informed of the interview. I'll return presently.

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 10:38:00 AM, Blogger Brooke wrote...

Would that we had a few more Libertarians in the House, Senate, and Exec. branch...

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 10:45:00 AM, Blogger John wrote...

Go Baird!

Great questions and answers. Kelly, you're a woman of many talents. James, the LP has itself a great candidate. You've brought me even closer to the LP with your informative and compelling answers.

The line between federal government and the private sector has been crossed long ago and now the former overlaps the latter to a large degree. However, I'm not quite willing to banish every aspect of government presence--or action--altogether.

You said:

"Those who best supply a good or service in the market will enjoy natural dominance only as long as they continue to benefit consumers. Subsidies and government-granted monopolies protect the non-competitive from market forces."

That sounds great, but what do you think about privately-generated monopolies, and the real ills that stem out of them?

And what appears to me to be a major flaw in Libertarianism is the assumption that each and every citizen--or even most of them--will be educated, enlightened, and in round agreement enough with the philosophy to see to their end of the responsibilities required and at the same time kept safe from predatory behavior and the social chaos that can ensue from total deregulation.

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 11:50:00 AM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

John, It helped that I already knew a few things about this candidate. I had a feel for what to ask before hand.

You all have some great questions, too.

Nanc, btw...I do believe, that for this interview entry he would prefer to be called James. Although he would have to answer that himself I think that would be just in here.

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 2:47:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

Thank you everyone! I did enjoy giving the interview, as that sort of thing always makes me think hard about what I really believe. By the way, you all can call me James. Since I am an official candidate, I guess that means my name is really public record.

Nanc: "my question to libertarians would be, 'what penalties, if any, would go along with a person's destructive behavior?' You must admit, there will be those who take libertarianism to the nth degree.
Guess i just don't know where the line should be drawn - i.e., drug addiction - who will ultimately pay for it when the person becomes unable to?

>> There are basically two types of destructive behavior, and sometimes they overlap. There are behaviors that are purely self-destructive and there are behaviors that infringe on the rights of others. In any case that contributes to a crime (violating the rights of others) you have to have a good police force and a good judicial system. We have those in general.

You have to ask yourself what kinds of penalties we have for self-destructive behaviors now. What are the penalties if I become addicted to sleeping pills, alcohol or tobacco? Would you incarcerate me, or would you try to intervene in my life and point out the bad decisions that I am making? The penalties for bad decision making are usually self-evident in the person that becomes an alcoholic, for example. If I become addicted to gambling, you may not approve of gambling at all, but does that mean that I need a cop to come by and arrest me? As we all know well, no one can force another person to drop an addiction. That is always an internal decision, and the one that ultimately pays for an "uncontrollable" addiction is always the individual. AA teaches us that there really is no such thing as an uncontrollable addiction. What has to happen is the individual learns that certain behaviors are self-destructive and he or she MUST learn to avoid that behavior.

John: "'Those who best supply a good or service in the market will enjoy natural dominance only as long as they continue to benefit consumers. Subsidies and government-granted monopolies protect the non-competitive from market forces.' That sounds great, but what do you think about privately-generated monopolies, and the real ills that stem out of them?

>> A few years ago the US government accused Microsoft of unfair business practices, and attempted to force MS to change how they bundled their software. The argument was that MS provided a web browser that excluded other companies from making browsers of their own. The government action failed, and the prevalent thought was that MS was going to permanently dominate the web browsing world. What actually happened in the long run was that the market forces began to move other companies to broaden their efforts to make not just a better browser, but also to create viable alternates to the entire MS operating system. IBM now packages their computers using a Linux set-up. MS has begun to cooperate with other companies to make their OS more responsive to the demands of the market place, such as the Apple Computers that can now run both Apple software and MS software. MS continues to dominate the computing world in a lot of ways, though, because people LIKE the software. Many companies make their bread and butter writing to the MS operating system because most people do not want to change over to a Linux system, for example. I think this is a fair example of what the market can do if it is left to its own devices.

When the government steps in to control the markets, it almost always collapses in the long run. For years the agricultural industry has been under government control. The price of cotton for example, is still regulated according to tables that were written in the 1930's. One of the results of this has been the virtual disappearance of the small cotton farmer, because to make a profit you have to have vast amounts of farm land. The subsidies are now going to agricultural conglomerates rather than the small farmer they were originally intended to help. Also, look at what happened to the electricity market when Texas deregulated it. There are more companies competing for the market than there has ever been, and they appeal to a wide variety of consumers. There are markets that promote "green" electricity if you want that, and there are companies that are using their 'excellent and responsive services' to snag other consumers. The price of electricity has been very reasonable as a result here in Texas.

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 3:38:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

John: "And what appears to me to be a major flaw in Libertarianism is the assumption that each and every citizen--or even most of them--will be educated, enlightened, and in round agreement enough with the philosophy to see to their end of the responsibilities required and at the same time kept safe from predatory behavior and the social chaos that can ensue from total deregulation."

>> The very same Constitution that we live under today was conceived with that understanding. The current mode of thinking, especially amongst the far left, is that "We the People" are too stupid and too base to watch after our own interests. Many believe that we need to be under the governance of the elite and enlightened types such as the Clintons and Al Gore and Obama and the like. They wish to tell us what kind of light bulbs that we can use, they want to tell us that we should not educate our own children without government supervision, they desire to control what you eat, they wish to have health care under the government thumb, and they wish to take what you earn and spend it to the tune of a current 8 trillion dollar deficit.

That is screwed up.

Most people that I personally know are fully functioning, educated and responsible adults. They do not need a government overseer to make decisions that benefit their families and their businesses. To have a functioning Republic there is no requirement that EVERYONE be like that, but a majority of functioning, responsible adults is enough.

The LP is not against law and order in any way. What the LP maintains is that this fascination that we have in this country with the 'victim-less crime' has got to stop. When we talk about ending prohibition, for example, most people fear chaos. But chaos, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are building. The US incarcerates more people than any other place on the planet per capita. How has that helped?

We take non-violent offenders that have been caught with a drug of some type, and we put them in the "University of How To Be A Criminal." Is it any wonder that most gangs are now controlled from the prisons? Little Johnny may have had a bad habit before he goes into the big house, but when he gets out he has been recruited, trained (if not killed) and tried as a gang member. We are literally spending billions and billions of dollars supporting our own 'crime camps.'

Another way to see this is that I do not really care what two consenting, free adults do in the privacy of their bedroom. I do not care if "Bubba" comes home with his wife "Fred." As long as I do not have to participate, witness or otherwise be infringed upon, it is none of my business.

Another example is that several states have decided that the majority of people there want to have marijuana available for medical needs. The federal government comes tramping in and starts arresting people and fining them and putting them in jail. Other states have decided that they want farmers to be able to grow industrial hemp, because it makes the finest rope in the world, and it is also a great alternative to cotton.

Nope, says the feds, we have a billion dollar industry with thousands of employees to support, so you cannot do that. This just does not sound like a free country when they start doing that.

At any rate, I hope that some of this clears up some of the LP's thinking of these issues.

I thank you all for your kind responses and intelligent questions.

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 7:15:00 PM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

I just want to add that we have certainly learned much about the Libertarian Party here. As John says, "You've brought me even closer to the LP with your informative and compelling answers." This country would be much better off with less government intervention. Though I dare say, a little is necessary.

What we really need is a little influence from the likes of Libertarians. It would take us a long ways in the direction we ought to be going.

James, this has really been a delight!

 
On Tuesday, April 01, 2008 7:56:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

Our ancestors lived and died under and for our Consitution in many places and under many circumstances.

Can I encourage those that have read this blog to support the NRA? You do not have to belong to the LP to love liberty, and it is like-minded people watching over our inherited rights that is going to mean SO MUCH in the next few years. And while you are supporting the NRA, support other things that support your views. And, for the love of Christ, support and get involved in the politics of this nation. Nixon's quiet majority is going to have have to shout at the top of its lungs now to get past this massive spurt of federal government growth.

Your children's children are counting on us.

 
On Wednesday, April 02, 2008 5:15:00 PM, Blogger John wrote...

Well said, James, and I wish you the best.

Two more things:

1) "The very same Constitution that we live under today was conceived with that understanding (i.e. that the greater mass of individuals are enlightened, responsible, etc.).

Yes, they made that plain, but not by an assumption that they already are, but are expected to be.

Sadly, and as you referenced in the commentary of my post "Remember," although I would not go so far as deny anyone the right to vote (as qualified by existing standards), the fact that scoundrels like the Clintons can only have come so far--and possibly return to the White House--by popular approval and support is somewhat alarming. Their chicanery and unfitness for high office should be obvious to most everyone (but apparently is not).

"The current mode of thinking, especially amongst the far left, is that 'We the People' are too stupid and too base to watch after our own interests."

Yes, obviously, they hold the commoner in contempt, but at the same time that contempt is validated because they count on them being easily manipulated to stay empowered, and continuously--and succesfully-- manipulate them with the cheapest of parlor tricks, and hence my anger that the manipulators are proven right.

I still hold out hope for the American people, though (and that hope is often not let down, especially in those times when you see the Silent Majority finally having enough and letting loose with a roar).

2) "The LP is not against law and order in any way. What the LP maintains is that this fascination that we have in this country with the 'victim-less crime' has got to stop."

You made good points using the alcoholic and smoker as examples. The cigarette Nazis have been pushing the "second-hand smoke" consequences to get around the Libertarian argument that smoking is the smoker's problem, freely chosen--but the "second-hand smoke" argument sounds as dubious to me as does the manmade global warming one.

Nevertheless, bottom line: I don't know the exact figures, but ailments and accidents inarguably resulting from smoking and/or alcohol consumption is in the billions of dollars (if not trillions, certainly over time), impacting different aspects of society and the economy (the healthcare system, for one), and it becomes other people's problems, however indirectly.

I agree that such circumstances stemming out of private failings should be kept in the domain of the individual's own conscience, or when that fails, his family and friends, or when they fail (or are non-existent), private charities and other non-governmental organizations, and for back-up to all of those, religious institutions.

However, again, just tallying up the consequences in terms of cold, hard, cash, there comes a point where the government naturally turns its head towards the source of the hemorrhaging of it, and if it can save two billion in health care costs by spending one billion on preventive programs and/or by imposing regulations, they'll do it if enough pain was caused to achieve popular support for the programs and regulations (as with M.A.D.D.).

It sounds to me that, as a Libertarian purists, your against any sort of such regulations out of noble principles, but...

...you'll have to convince many, many mothers who lost their children to drunk driving and don't want to see other mothers lose theirs, and I don't think stiffer punishments against drunk drivers alone will satisfy them, if only because it will be too late and have dubious powers of deterrance.

They prefer some kind of regulatory preemption.

 
On Wednesday, April 02, 2008 6:54:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

I have no problem against laws that punish drunk drivers. They pose a clear threat to peaceable society and the well-being of the public. I have no trouble punishing drivers that are caught under the influence of just about anything, actually. That I believe is the proper and just usage of the police and the courts.

The question of health care is a tricky one any way that you cut it up. The sad fact of our existence is that everyone, inevitably, gets sick with something and dies, or suffers an accident and dies. Mortality itself is the thing that really drives up the cost of health care premiums, for example, since that usually is related to intensive efforts and treatments to stave off the end.

Te politics of the thing comes in when we ask ourselves what we as a collective society can do to help the general welfare and safety of the most citizens. The free market answer so far has been that citizens get together in voluntary collectives and contribute money in the form of insurance premiums and life insurance premiums. While there are problems present in this answer, it has arguably built the finest health care system ever seen on the face of the planet.

The much touted health care system in the UK, as a comparison, has the single lowest survival rate for cancer in the western world. The LP believes that *reducing* the amount of government involvement in the health care system would in fact improve some of the problems in our system now. I also personally believe that TORT reform would be a major influence in reducing costs.

Now as to the question of how much government involvement in our personal lives is necessary because we all do influence each other's finances indirectly, and we influence each other's health VERY directly. If I go the grocery store with a flu and I sneeze, I am directly introducing a pathogen into the air that others are breathing. The elderly and the very young could even find this interaction a fatal one. The government should step in and make that illegal perhaps?

Driving is a terribly dangerous enterprise, and it kills and maims many many people. Most people would rather die than give up their cars. All the laws and all the cops in the world are not going to eliminate accidents as long as we are free to drive when and where we will.

In this country we are facing growing numbers of fat people. Fat people eat too much, get diseases and they drive up health care premiums. How many of us want to the government to step in and start regulating what and how much of what we eat? There are those that do, but if I decide to go to the buffet line and load up on fat-encrusted bacon-wrapped wienies, I really think that the only person other than me with any say in this is my wife, who has to look at me every day.

How many millions of people that have used tobacco have died, in fact, from things that are not related to tobacco? How many billions in the history of man have used alcohol and did not, in fact, die from alcohol related deaths?

Now I know, John, that for you these questions are mostly academic. The reason that I bring them up is that the fundamental question is how much does the government have responsibility for my own longevity? My answer is a simple one.

The government has the obligation to do their best to protect me from those that would kill me either in intention or through negligence. Failing that, they have the obligation to take the perpetrator to court and punish them in whatever means and by whatever measure the legislature and the judicial system deem fit.

The government does not have the obligation to protect my voluntary cooperation in an insurance company. The government does not have the obligation to protect me from alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption, sleeping pill consumption or bacon-wrapped wienies. If I go to McDonald's and I buy the super-sized McBubble-Butt Supreme with extra cheese and a large fries with a Super-size Coke, that is nobody's business but my own (and, again, my wife.)

That being said, what happens if the free market starts to decide that it will not take people into the voluntary insurance collective if you use tobacco? Hate it or not, that is both legal and it could benefit those that do not use tobacco with lower premiums. Same for alcohol. I suspect that then there would be other companies that WOULD insure you, but at higher costs. The benefit of having a free market answer is that it still allows the individual to have a choice of many different lifestyles, but it also demands that we take PERSONAL responsibility for our decisions.

Lastly, John, I would point out that the old argument of who best governs us is a very old question. The Federalists argued for a Senate precisely because they feared (with some real points) a "mobocracy" of the unwashed masses. The Jeffersonians, of course, wanted a "House of Commons." The compromise, of course, was that we have both along with an Executive Branch that can act as a balance to those two institutions. It makes me mad as well when I see the "New Federalists" of both parties make statements and take actions that are clearly not in the interest of the Republic, but rather in their personal interests.

I would ask you to maintain an optimism in the old ideals of American Exceptionalism. My ancestors were never a part of the aristocracy, and they were the poor pioneers that volunteered and fought for the ideals of personal freedom. WE STILL HAVE IT, MAN! Once again, we are being called on to defend what we have, but it is, OH Dear God, a fight that is worthy of our sacrifices and attentions.

 
On Wednesday, April 02, 2008 8:39:00 PM, Blogger John wrote...

"I have no problem against laws that punish drunk drivers. They pose a clear threat to peaceable society and the well-being of the public. I have no trouble punishing drivers that are caught under the influence of just about anything, actually. That I believe is the proper and just usage of the police and the courts."

Right, but I would assume you have a problem with the preventive regulations imposed by government agencies that try to control when or where a person can drink.

I used the example of members in M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) as the type of people who welcome the regulations and probably want more.

Stiffer punishments--as deterrance or societal vindication--are not all they want, as they kick in after the damage is done and are of dubious deterrance.

I'm not arguing with you (above or below), just voicing the attitudes Libertarians have to contend with.

"The question of health care is a tricky one any way that you cut it up. The sad fact of our existence is that everyone, inevitably, gets sick with something and dies, or suffers an accident and dies."

Very true, but if there is perception (accurate as discerned or illusory as planted) that the powers of government can make a difference and there is a demand that it gets involved to make that difference, the politicians will indulge that demand.

"Mortality itself is the thing that really drives up the cost of health care premiums, for example, since that usually is related to intensive efforts and treatments to stave off the end."

So I take it Libertarians support euthanasia?

You have a mature outlook on the realities of life, but people will forever hold out hope for immortality here on earth (and heaven can wait), and vote the politician who best feeds that illusion.

"The politics of the thing comes in when we ask ourselves what we as a collective society can do to help the general welfare and safety of the most citizens. The free market answer so far has been that citizens get together in voluntary collectives and contribute money in the form of insurance premiums and life insurance premiums. While there are problems present in this answer, it has arguably built the finest health care system ever seen on the face of the planet."

Agreed.

"The much touted health care system in the UK, as a comparison, has the single lowest survival rate for cancer in the western world."

No surprise. When government meddles in the free market and disrupts the dynamic of competetion, usually the first thing to go is quality.

"The LP believes that *reducing* the amount of government involvement in the health care system would in fact improve some of the problems in our system now."

What about predatory ambulance chasers and frivolous lawsuits (which greatly account for the high insurance premiums that both doctor's pay for malpractice coverage and that we pay as consumers and the dearth of OBGYNS to boot, no thanks to John Edwards)?

I'm glad Bush enacted legislation that would make it harder for those type of lawyers to prosper at the expense of the healthcare system and everyone else who uses it.

"I also personally believe that TORT reform would be a major influence in reducing costs."

Agreed.

"Now as to the question of how much government involvement in our personal lives is necessary because we all do influence each other's finances indirectly, and we influence each other's health VERY directly. If I go the grocery store with a flu and I sneeze, I am directly introducing a pathogen into the air that others are breathing. The elderly and the very young could even find this interaction a fatal one. The government should step in and make that illegal perhaps?"

That's a good question. If you *know* you have it, as a good Libertarian you would quarantine yourself, no?

What if--God forbid--a member of your family was at that grocery store and picked up a dangerous strain of the flu and got sick, and you know how because it is a rare strain and only one other person in town has it, as headlined, and it came out that he was at the store the same time your family member was, and was heard sneezing. And he knew what he had, and he didn't want to get anyone sick, but he wanted his fruit juice.

Tough break for your family member?

What if a lawyer told you that you could sue the government for millions because they failed to quarantine the carrier (who everyone knew was carrying the rare bug)?

Consider that if your family member gets so sick, the healthcare costs go through the roof and eventually force you to start selling things off (like your car and house).

Let's say you do what most people would do and sue the government for neglecting to keep you safe (when they could have by simply issuing a quarantine), and the government loses millions.

They don't want that to happen again, so they become quicker in quaranteeing cases like that and in tandem with that...make it illegal for a carrier to leave his quarantine, enter a grocery store, and sneeze.

Good or bad? (i.e. making that illegal)

"Driving is a terribly dangerous enterprise, and it kills and maims many many people. Most people would rather die than give up their cars. All the laws and all the cops in the world are not going to eliminate accidents as long as we are free to drive when and where we will."

Do you think the government should get out of that business entirely and let the national highway system become an American autobahn?

"In this country we are facing growing numbers of fat people. Fat people eat too much, get diseases and they drive up health care premiums. How many of us want to the government to step in and start regulating what and how much of what we eat? There are those that do, but if I decide to go to the buffet line and load up on fat-encrusted bacon-wrapped wienies, I really think that the only person other than me with any say in this is my wife, who has to look at me every day."

Fine, but what about the documented decline in productivity, and the driven up premiums for everyone and the strain on the health care system, all of which could be avoided if the government forced food-makers to supply healthier food?

Again, James, I'm not arguing. I personally have a thing for burgers and bacon, and even burgers with bacon (and cheese), but certainly you appreciate FDA-approved hygeine in food and eating establishments, no?

"How many millions of people that have used tobacco have died, in fact, from things that are not related to tobacco? How many billions in the history of man have used alcohol and did not, in fact, die from alcohol related deaths?"

Plenty.

"Now I know, John, that for you these questions are mostly academic. The reason that I bring them up is that the fundamental question is how much does the government have responsibility for my own longevity? My answer is a simple one.

The government has the obligation to do their best to protect me from those that would kill me either in intention or through negligence."

Like the sneezer?

How about the smoker, if second-hand smoking is proven beyond any doubt to be hazardous?

"Failing that, they have the obligation to take the perpetrator to court and punish them in whatever means and by whatever measure the legislature and the judicial system deem fit."

Agreed.

"The government does not have the obligation to protect my voluntary cooperation in an insurance company."

Agreed.

"The government does not have the obligation to protect me from alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption, sleeping pill consumption or bacon-wrapped wienies."

Agreed.

"If I go to McDonald's and I buy the super-sized McBubble-Butt Supreme with extra cheese and a large fries with a Super-size Coke..."

lol

"...that is nobody's business but my own (and, again, my wife.)"

Agreed--but I don't see evidence of the government having gone that far. Forcing McDonald's and BK & Co. to serve salads may be imperious in principle, and may burden the free enterprise, but it isn't ordering the consumer to buy the salad and forbidding the burgers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Sundays.

"That being said, what happens if the free market starts to decide that it will not take people into the voluntary insurance collective if you use tobacco?"

They're doing it, or charging you more.

"Hate it or not, that is both legal and it could benefit those that do not use tobacco with lower premiums. Same for alcohol. I suspect that then there would be other companies that WOULD insure you, but at higher costs."

That's exactly it.

"The benefit of having a free market answer is that it still allows the individual to have a choice of many different lifestyles, but it also demands that we take PERSONAL responsibility for our decisions."

I like it.

"Lastly, John, I would point out that the old argument of who best governs us is a very old question. The Federalists argued for a Senate precisely because they feared (with some real points) a "mobocracy" of the unwashed masses. The Jeffersonians, of course, wanted a "House of Commons." The compromise, of course, was that we have both along with an Executive Branch that can act as a balance to those two institutions. It makes me mad as well when I see the "New Federalists" of both parties make statements and take actions that are clearly not in the interest of the Republic, but rather in their personal interests."

Hm.

"I would ask you to maintain an optimism in the old ideals of American Exceptionalism. My ancestors were never a part of the aristocracy, and they were the poor pioneers that volunteered and fought for the ideals of personal freedom. WE STILL HAVE IT, MAN!"

We do.

"Once again, we are being called on to defend what we have, but it is, OH Dear God, a fight that is worthy of our sacrifices and attentions."

Go get 'em, James.

 
On Wednesday, April 02, 2008 9:06:00 PM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

This is a great debate, guys!! I'm having fun just watching it.

 
On Wednesday, April 02, 2008 9:48:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

John: "Right, but I would assume you have a problem with the preventive regulations imposed by government agencies that try to control when or where a person can drink. I used the example of members in M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) as the type of people who welcome the regulations and probably want more.
Stiffer punishments--as deterrance or societal vindication--are not all they want, as they kick in after the damage is done and are of dubious deterrence."

>>I am going to "up the argument" here. We had alcohol prohibition in this country once. It did not work, and it did not work to the point that we basically provided a financial base for the mafia as a result. When Prohibition went away, what we did not see was an increase in alcoholism. We did not see a decrease or an increase. The fact of the matter is that no matter what the Puritans did, humans are going to use intoxicants, and some of them are susceptible to addiction and others make better choices. We can choose, as a society, to make all behaviors illegal or we can choose to make none of them illegal. What reflects reality? We did learn that prohibition does two things. It makes enforcing laws that makes sense harder, and it makes organized crime profit.

John: "What if--God forbid--a member of your family was at that grocery store and picked up a dangerous strain of the flu and got sick, and you know how because it is a rare strain and only one other person in town has it, as headlined, and it came out that he was at the store the same time your family member was, and was heard sneezing. And he knew what he had, and he didn't want to get anyone sick, but he wanted his fruit juice."

>> I think what you are asking me here is not so much what happens in the general run of things, but what would the LP do in the case of a catastrophic illness. There are places where the interests of the community take precedence over the normal laws. The same thing can happen in a time of any national emergency. The LP would caution against catastrophic measures unless there is truly a catastrophe in the making.

John: "Do you think the government should get out of that business entirely and let the national highway system become an American autobahn?"

>> Yep. In fact, I think the federal government should get out of the highway system altogether. Texas does not need them telling us how to build our highways and holding us hostage over federal highway money. That was our money in the first place and they should let us have it and spend where we see it is necessary.

John: "Fine, but what about the documented decline in productivity, and the driven up premiums for everyone and the strain on the health care system, all of which could be avoided if the government forced food-makers to supply healthier food?"

Force WHO to do WHAT? I have been in grocery stores and I have seen what federal food stamps will buy. The craziest things I have ever seen are the people that are bringing up their mongoloid children up to the counter and they are buying ten pounds of frozen pizzas, several gallons of soft-drinks, eight gallons of ice-cream, a bottle of milk, a pound of frozen hamburger meat and they paid for the whole thing with federal food stamps.

These people are not going to McDonald's to eat themselves to death. They are killing their kids on the money that the government is taking out of your paycheck.

John: 'The government has the obligation to do their best to protect me from those that would kill me either in intention or through negligence.' Like the sneezer? How about the smoker, if second-hand smoking is proven beyond any doubt to be hazardous?

>>You outline my point very exactly. What about the huffing of the products that our cars and busses emit every day? What about the fact that the fuels that warm your house or cool your house contain carcinogens? What about the fact that the very earth that we live on emits gasses that can cause cancer? The point then, is simple. We have to decide how much liberty we are willing to sell for a false feeling of security. I, personally, am willing to take my chances because there is no evidence that the government has ever done anything to protect me from mortality. There is only one person that I know of that has survived living on this planet. Even at that, He was resurrected.

For myself, I am not willing to sell anything at all. My rights are not given to me from a government. My natural rights are given to me by the Creator, and I claim those as my natural state of being.

John: "Again, James, I'm not arguing. I personally have a thing for burgers and bacon, and even burgers with bacon (and cheese), but certainly you appreciate FDA-approved hygeine in food and eating establishments, no?"

>> This is the best argument that you have put forward. I have argued with many in the LP over this very topic. Do we as a public have the right to demand from private enterprise an expectation of safety? To some degree we do.

If I order my McBubble-Butt Supreme with extra cheese, do I also have the right to expect that it does not come with a side order of e-coli?

One of the other things that we have not discussed here in this forum is that another fundamental requirement of the government is that the government has a requirement to force the honor of private contracts. If we did not have a collective understanding of the honor of private contracts, the principle of private enterprise could not survive. If I go into a place and eat my McBubble-Butt, there is the implicit understanding that I will actually SURVIVE eating my McBubble-Butt in the short term because they have not intended to kill me either through neglect or through intension.

One place I would go is to point out that some states may have different expectations of this thing. I am not sure that the FDA should be a federal thing, but it has woirked out that it has worked pretty well, so that mayhap should stand.

 
On Wednesday, April 02, 2008 10:34:00 PM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

The FDA...It has its place...

HOWEVER, I think it goes beyond its intent. We used to have the four food groups and then we had the food pyramid and then the revamped food pyramid.

Then the government is spending our money to tell us what's good for us and what's bad for us. That's the job of the Mormons ;)..just joking here.

The FDA has its place, as I said, in helping to maintain standards of cleanliness and safety.

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 3:39:00 PM, Blogger John wrote...

"There are places where the interests of the community take precedence over the normal laws."

And the individual.

And there's the rub.

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 6:08:00 PM, Blogger John wrote...

"HOWEVER, I think it goes beyond its intent. We used to have the four food groups and then we had the food pyramid and then the revamped food pyramid."

It's been alleged that the food groups/pyramid recommendations are more economically-minded than dietary.

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 6:27:00 PM, Blogger John wrote...

"The LP would caution against catastrophic measures unless there is truly a catastrophe in the making."

I understand what your definition of "catastrophe" is: a catastrophe, but, as Farmer John linked at my blog (i.e. Orwell's assessmenmt of the state of the English language), a "catastrophe" can--and has and still is--be spun to mean many things that are hardly catastrophes (or "crises")but must be spun so to justify government intervention.

You know that, and I know that, but a great many people--obviously--don't.

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 6:58:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

John: "'There are places where the interests of the community take precedence over the normal laws.'And the individual. And there's the rub."

>> I would say that those are rare and important circumstances that we cannot ignore because in wartime we may have to do things like declare martial law in certain places. We may have to carefully criticize and watch over certain elements. We may have to do things like authorize violence against a foreign power. There is a clear evidence that if we are too free with the use of military might, then we pay harmful dividends as a result. There is clear evidence that we cannot become a dictatorship in order to fight a dictatorship and still proclaim that we are the home of the free.

The LP has never maintained that we should suffer the ignominious punishments of a dictator here or abroad without our right to shoot the bastards. In fact, the LP has been a major supporter of things like the NRA, because whether someone is entering our home or our place of business with the intention of taking away our goods or our lives they should at least encounter a well-armed citizenry. In a similar vein, the feds should have some measure of trepidation about entering our private lives and property without due course of the courts and the law.

There is no rub. We, and I mean MY ancestors and MY people, founded this nation on the principles of personal responsibility, and it was no easier then than it is now. They had charities in those days, and they had them because some people could not cope with reality. That is not going to change.

What we have to be able to withstand is the propaganda that tells us that we are too weak. That the old ideals of personal responsibility and exceptionalism are outdated. Maybe we should not have a winner in the Super-Bowl because that is unfair to the losing team.

I have to tell you, John, that I am just as ready as my ancestors were to load my gun and fight for the liberties that the press tells us are outdated and of no use. I am not willing to sell my inheritance for a bowl of pottage. Literally, I am willing to fight and to die before I am willing to give up the rights of my grandchildren to live as free people. My scotch-irish ancestors fought for the United States against the UK. We fought the Mexican government for these rights. We fought the damned Nazis and the Japanese Empire, and I am serious in saying that we may have to fight here in this great country again to preserve our rights. If that happens than so be it.

I am dead damned serious in saying that if we have to do it, then we can fight DC again.

That is not what I *want,* at all, but our precious freedoms are worth that sacrifice. THAT is how important our freedoms are. THAT is what makes this an argument that is not academic. I have made a point of teaching my children that the first and most important place to fight these battles is at the ballot box. I still maintain that.

I know many many people like myself that are not going to surrender their rights. There are many many people, like you, that know that giving up our rights for the perception of security is a lost cause before it begins. That is the singular thing that gives me hope that we can continue the American dream without having to resort to violence of any kind.

Pray God that it continues to be so.

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 7:18:00 PM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

When I said, "put your personality into it," James, this is what I was talking about. This is the James I have been listening to.

YUP!!!

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 7:30:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

Thank you Kelly.

We in this country are not sheep.

We are men. As men, we will in fact defend our families and their inheritance.

Crow watches carefully, but Crow keeps a quiver of arrows ready to kill what he may have to kill.

Hoka Hey!

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 7:44:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

Is it not a good day to die?

 
On Thursday, April 03, 2008 8:27:00 PM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

James, no we are not sheep...just as Crow watches, Cat moves to protect what is hers.

:)

 
On Friday, April 04, 2008 8:59:00 AM, Blogger nanc wrote...

LITTLE BIG MAN!

i enjoyed the interview, james.

 
On Friday, April 04, 2008 10:13:00 AM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

Thanks Kelly, Nanc.

This has sure been a new experience for me. Unlike the Obama camp, I think that you have to have a program with real substance if you are going to go for a political office. Merely stating the obvious and plagiarizing ideals does not entertain me at all.

 
On Friday, April 04, 2008 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

OH, John....didn't mean to leave you out of that. You have a sharp mind and good values and you are a great sounding post for me to try out my "ideals" against "real world" criticism. It seems more often than not that you and I have a real exchange of ideas rather than flat out arguments, and you have made me think hard about what I believe and why. I very much appreciate that.

 
On Friday, April 04, 2008 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

James, I had ideas of what this interview would do for you...and how it would benefit me, as well. But, I never imagined just how well this would turn out.

John, you helped make it that way.

Nanc, thanks for putting in the plug over at John's blog. I had thought about mentioning it over there, but by the time I logged on the next day he already knew.

 
On Saturday, April 05, 2008 8:26:00 AM, Blogger John wrote...

You've made me think too. Thank you.

 
On Saturday, April 05, 2008 3:29:00 PM, Blogger nanc wrote...

well, we HAVE turned into a quadruple! i guess with farmer john along, we're now a quintuple?

*8]

p.s. i want my bargholz to come back!

 
On Saturday, April 05, 2008 3:51:00 PM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

Nanc, :)

 
On Monday, April 07, 2008 10:24:00 PM, Blogger IOpian wrote...

Top notch post Kelly.

 
On Tuesday, April 08, 2008 12:35:00 AM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

IOpian...thanks for coming by to read this interview. Though I don't completely agree with some of the platform of the Libertarian party, I have come to see it in a different light.

James is a good guy with a great head on his shoulders.

 

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