Category Archives: LPAR

Can Frank Win?

This is a question I have heard over and over since Frank Gilbert announced his candidacy last year. To be honest, it is one of my favorite questions to hear a voter ask. The answer is always “yes.”

Frank has a track record of winning elections. In fact, he has held more elected offices than “front-runner” Asa Hutchinson. So, yes Frank can win; he already has. I guess the better and bigger question is, can Frank win the gubernatorial election? Once again the answer is “yes.” Will it be easy? No.

Before I go any further, I think it would be best if I defined what victory would be. The Libertarian Party is actually seeking two victories on Election Day: ballot access and a Libertarian governor. One is very much within our reach. With just 3% of the vote, the Libertarian Party will retain ballot access, ending the two-party system in Arkansas. This would be a huge victory for the Libertarian Party, saving us more than $30,000 in petition costs per election cycle.

Electing a Libertarian governor will not be easy, but it is doable. After all, the United States has been faced with more impossible challenges before. It was not an easy task for the founders to win America’s independence; in fact, it was improbable, but they did it anyway. Until Arkansas takes that same stand to declare its independence from the Republicrats and Demopublicans (as Frank likes to call them), Arkansas can never move forward.

Arkansas Republicans ran on repealing Obamacare, but instead they expanded it, along with every single Democrat in the Senate and House. Frank Gilbert is the only candidate in this race who unequivocally opposes the Obamacare “Private Option.” He is also the only candidate that supports putting parents back in the driver’s seat, by passing universal school choice.

Our quest isn’t as hard as what our founders faced. We can declare our independence through the ballot box.

But can Frank win? Perhaps a more compelling question is this: Can Arkansas win? We face the choice of a career politician, a D.C. lobbyist, or a hard-working and principled citizen like Frank Gilbert as our next governor. In my opinion, Arkansas can win only if Frank wins. And that can only happen if we stop asking questions about what is possible and start voting for the best choice, regardless of political party team-loyalty.

—Tyler Harrison, LPAR Executive Committee Member, At-Large

Replace ObamaCare with the Free Market

We have seen an historical pattern playing out in the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Democrats enact a Big Government program, with Republicans first voicing opposition, then acquiescing, and, finally, embracing it. Libertarians, on the other hand, refuse to play along.

Republicans spent far too many years voicing opposition to the increasing federal government involvement in health care (even adding to it with the unfunded Medicare Part D law) without actively pushing for true free market reforms. Consequently, their opposition to the passage of ObamaCare was ineffective.

There have been valid concerns about the coverage and delivery of health care for years in the current system, one that the United States stumbled into in the 1940s. These concerns would be better solved by the free market instead of via a top-down mandate from Washington, D.C. And there are plenty of free market solutions from which to choose, such as:

• Health care insurance should be individual, portable, while giving individual plans the same federal income tax treatment as group plans, including allowing employers to contribute to individual plans.

• Health insurance should be available across state lines.

• In addition to the benefit of portability in dealing with pre-existing conditions, health status insurance should be allowed.

• Lower the threshold for deducting medical expenses on federal income tax returns.

• Expand health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

Obviously, there must be private charity to help those in need, and even if one thinks that some government involvement is required, there is no power in the U.S. constitution for the federal government to do so. Any governmental involvement would have to be at the state and local levels, certainly not through the federal Leviathan taking over how health care insurance is provided for 310 million citizens with differing situations and needs.

If the idea of a single-payer federally-run health care program sounds attractive to you, consider the following. Would you want a single, federally run package delivery service? Would you want a single, federally run airline? Or a single TV service? Or a single telephone service? Or a single school system? If not, why would you want something as vital as your health care to be subject to the whims of the federal government and a bunch of politicians in Washington?

The Libertarian Party stands ready to assist our fellow Americans in reclaiming their liberty across the board, including the area of health care. The Republicans and Democrats won’t. Libertarians will.

—Ken Hamilton, member, LPAR Executive Committee

Coleman Supporters Welcome!

I respect the hard work and expansive spirit that made Coleman for Governor the most interesting and exciting thing to come out of the Arkansas GOP in my lifetime. But the truth is, I would cherish that work ethic and that spirit continuing with Gilbert for Governor!
—Frank Gilbert

Earlier this year, I wrote my first article for the LPAR Blog, Why I left. It was a short explanation for why I left the Republican Party to join the Libertarian Party. While not completely identical, I feel that my reasoning for swapping parties relates to what happened in Arkansas on May 20th.

I already identified as a libertarian, but I still believed that the GOP was the best vehicle to implement libertarian policies. I was wrong. After leaving the GOP, mainly because of how they treated Ron Paul at the 2012 convention, by changing the rules at the last minute to prevent him from fighting Romney for the nomination, I joined the Libertarian Party.

After being called a Paulbot by fellow Republicans, I knew that I wasn’t welcome in the GOP; only my vote was. Well, I decided that I would take my vote somewhere else. Today, I ask Coleman supporters to do the same. I cannot tell you how appalled I have been at the treatment from other Republicans towards Coleman supporters online. From calling them Colemanistas (whatever that means), to making fun of how bad they were going to lose to Asa Hutchinson, I knew how Coleman supporters must have felt.

Asa has already asked Coleman supporters to join his campaign, and Curtis has endorsed Asa (sort of). Curtis promised he would, and he is a stand up guy for keeping his word, but remember that your vote still belongs to you. You decide.

Now, I won’t pretend that there aren’t some differences between Curtis and Frank Gilbert, but they are minute when compared to the differences between Curtis and Asa. Curtis and Asa disagree on BIG issues: Obamacare, school choice, common core, and minimum wage.

Looking at what Curtis’ campaign was about (Let Arkansas Prosper), it’s clear which candidate stands closer to Curtis Coleman supporters: Frank Gilbert.

We will gladly welcome Coleman supporters to both the Gilbert campaign and the Libertarian Party of Arkansas.

—Tyler Harrison, At-Large Member, LPAR Executive Committee

Gilbert for Governor News Release – AR TV Biased?

For Immediate Release: May 28, 2014

Contact:  Frank Gilbert

501 317-5087 or Toll Free 855 662-8551

arkliberty@gmail.com

Libertarian candidate for Governor, Frank Gilbert, has accused several Arkansas television stations of bias and failure to serve the public interest.

KATV in Little Rock, KAIT in Jonesboro and KHBS/KHOG in Northwest Arkansas have announced that they will air a debate between the Republican and Democrat candidates for governor. The debate will be held on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on October 7th.

Gilbert denounced the stations for failing to include new party candidates in the debate.

“The decision to ignore and therefore silence half the candidates in this race is inexplicable,” Gilbert said. “The stations have chosen to ignore their mandate to work in the public interest. They have also ignored the majority of Arkansans who believe we need a third political party,” he continued.

Gilbert did not exclude the possibility of legal action, but concluded, “These broadcasters need to rethink their decision. Just because the old parties will be buying more advertising, is no reason to ignore other candidates.”

Gilbert and Green Party candidate Josh Drake will be on voters’ ballots in November, but not in this debate unless something changes.

A Federalist Approach to Immigration Reform

Immigration policy reform has been a subject of much debate in the United States for many years. The range of opinions has included those who want a more open border policy and those who want a much more restrictive policy. The arguments over how to deal with those living here illegally have been fierce.

A possible way out of the stalemate on immigration policy reform is to utilize a federalist approach, which would allow state-­based visa programs to direct immigrants to states and localities that want them. This idea has been pushed forward recently by Brandon Fuller and Sean Rust with the Cato Institute (“State­-Based Visa”), as well as Governor Rick Snyder (R-­MI) and Senator Rand Paul (R-­KY). There is much to recommend this policy prescriptive.

Article I, section 8, clause 4, gives the Congress the power “To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.” This allows states to be involved in areas outside of naturalization, including state­-based visa programs within guidelines drawn up by the federal government.

States are better positioned to know what type of workers are needed for their economies and to monitor compliance with the rules they set forth. States that do not want additional immigrants can refuse participation in the program and will be minimally impacted by other states’ participation. States that wish to reap the benefits on real wages and entrepreneurship from immigration should not be hamstrung by those that are more concerned with enforcement and impacts on local public services.

State­-based visa programs would also provide a systematic method of dealing with undocumented immigrants already in the United States. States could include these people already residing within their borders and those in other states. In addition, cooperation between states could be enhanced through voluntary agreements covering agricultural workers (who are mobile due to the seasonal demand for their services) so that movement between states would be facilitated.

Similar regional immigration policies in Canada and Australia show that a state­-based policy in the United States can be successful. An evaluation of the Canadian program concluded that the program was a success and should be continued. Similarly, a survey of the Australian program concluded that immigrants and employers rated the program as a success.

Enforceability of state-­based visas is made easier by offering a path to permanent residency that would be forfeited if the state designed conditions were violated. The increase in lawful opportunities for immigrants through state­-based visas instead of employment-­based visas would offer more freedom of choice and increase the chances of a successful program.

While the federal government would retain jurisdiction over naturalization, states are much better positioned than Washington to determine the economic demand for immigrants and the numbers and skills that are needed. Also, states are better able to mitigate any adverse consequences from immigration and to enlist and maintain public support.

A further step that would help advance immigration policy reform would be to shift responsibility to states and localities for expenditures on welfare, education, and other public services. A one­-size-­fits-­all, top-down policy from Washington is not the best option on this issue (or any other) and is not in accord with the vision of our nation’s founders, as set forth in the U.S. Constitution and the federal system it established.

—Ken Hamilton

Reforming the Electoral System Now

In Plato’s treatise, “The Republic,” several different practical forms of government are discussed, including a criticism of democracy. During Plato’s lifetime, the Greek city-state of Athens had already practiced a direct-democracy style of government for many generations, and Plato had some very unflattering opinions concerning democratic politics. In summary, Plato theorized that only those individuals who are motivated by influence and control would seek power in a democratic society and that most citizens would relinquish their decision-making authority to a political class of demagogues. Similarly, Socrates also professed the sentiment that a democracy based on lawlessness is dangerous. In the dialogue, “Gorgias,” Socrates theorizes that everyone participating in the political process can suffer greatly if the society agrees to commit heinous acts such an unjustified military action against another nation for the sake of resources. Plato and Socrates agreed that the ideal ruler of a government is a philosopher concerned with the welfare of all the nation’s citizens and the pursuit of wisdom rather than wealth and power.

In the American experiment of government with a constitutional republic and democratic elections, it is crucial that those individuals seeking elected office are endowed with the wisdom to serve and help rather than the desire to rule and control. Otherwise, this experiment with democratic government is doomed to failure, as history has demonstrated in the classical republics of Greece and Rome. While many are unaware, all American citizens are potentially very politically influential. This heavy influence occurs because the decisions made by our leaders can directly affect the whole world. This moral imperative creates a responsibility to select leaders that will make thoughtful and wise judgments. Therefore, narcissistic, egotistical, and self-promoting leaders are the most dangerous enemies to a democratic form of government. They represent the ruin of a free society.

As Americans, it is our duty to be engaged in some form of leadership, even if it is simply staying informed about international events and domestic policies. To otherwise disregard this sacred duty is a perilous act of negligence. However, what is most discouraging is that ordinary Americans, outside of the political aristocracy, are no longer allowed to participate in the electoral system. In the United States, the elections only allow for two political parties to participate, which creates a basic duopoly on power and access to the government. While a majority of voting Americans may actually like the current two party system, it is not a legal or justified political arrangement, because it eliminates minority representation. This is the kind of democracy that Plato warned us about, and this is how a democracy turns into tyranny for those individuals who seek to speak the truth instead of what is politically advantageous.

As an American, it is no longer my right to run for public office unless I have the blessings of the plutocratic mafia that currently controls the two major political parties. Thus, to say that our elections in America are free would be an outright lie or a misunderstanding of the democratic process. Currently, only the well-vetted insider is allowed to even run as a political candidate, and no outside voices of dissent are allowed to seriously participate. This current system is allowed to exist through unconstitutional ballot access laws and by auxiliary devious means of bureaucratic control. These have the effect of banning and discouraging other political parties from engaging in elections. If this outrageous trend is allowed to continue, our democratic system of elections is doomed to only produce tyrannical and narcissistic leadership and to serve the interests of a powerful elite against the will of the people.

In my opinion, Americans should demand that this electoral system be reformed immediately, to allow all political parties and citizens to participate, regardless of economic or ideological disposition. Otherwise, the distant warnings of the past regarding the evils of democratic tyranny will haunt the United States, and the citizens of this country will be enslaved in governance by oligarchy.

—Jacob Holloway, LPAR candidate for Secretary of State

What To Do about Taxes?

All libertarians argue for cutting taxes, but they don’t always agree on how or how much. My preference would be to eliminate all taxes and let Americans make voluntary donations to any government programs they would like to see continued. Two of the most talked about plans are the Flat Tax and the Fair Tax. I believe either plan would be an improvement over the current system, but popular forms of each leave much to be desired for libertarians.

The Flat Tax would create one rate that would apply to taxpayers at all income levels, while eliminating most or all deductions and exemptions. There are various proposals, some of which retain some deductions and provide exemptions for low-income Americans. Rates of 10%-17% are being discussed.

The Fair Tax would eliminate the income tax and create in its place a national sales tax. One of the biggest benefits would be making the IRS obsolete, since income would no longer be taxed and tax returns would no longer need to be file. The Fair Tax proposal offers a tax rate of 23% on all consumption, with a monthly pre-paid rebate paid to all lawful residents of the U.S. with a valid Social Security number. (Those willing to forego the rebate and Social Security benefits could presumably work without having one.)

Either proposal would be a big improvement over the current system. I think all libertarians can agree on that. Both proposals would free Americans from filing complicated tax returns, estimated to cost the average taxpayer nearly 27 hours to complete. Both eliminate double-taxation of certain income that is occurring under current tax law. Both would bring an improvement in economic growth. Both would stop the social engineering and spending manipulations that are rampant in current tax law.

The biggest benefit of the Fair Tax, in my opinion, would be the elimination of the IRS, along with all the civil liberties violations the IRS brings to the table. No longer would the government have any need to know about our income or to snoop into our bank accounts and our business activities. Employers would no longer have to work as tax collectors.

Most of the benefits of the Flat Tax over the Fair Tax center on the easier political road it faces, since flat taxes have been tried. There is also concern that a national sales tax could be created without ending the threat down the road of a new income tax on top of it. There are many arguments in favor of each proposal over the other, but I won’t go into all of those here. For more information along those lines, you might find these three articles of interest:

http://www.freedomworks.org/content/flat-tax-vs-fair-tax

http://ivn.us/2013/01/23/fairtax-vs-flat-tax-seven-reasons-to-support-the-fairtax-2/

http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/04/fair-tax-or-flat-tax/

But I also see problems with both. Proposals from both camps have a tendency to try way too hard to be basically revenue-neutral. With the level of taxation as high as it is today, why would we want revenue neutrality? We need to CUT taxes, STOP the printing presses at the Fed, and CUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING!

The Flat Tax leaves the IRS in existence. A big negative of the Fair Tax, in addition to the too-high rate being proposed, is its name. The FAIR Tax? Really? The only fair tax would be NO tax, and if that’s what we’re hoping to work toward, I can’t see any strategic sense in calling this the Fair Tax.

It’s one thing for libertarians to be ready to vote for either proposal as a step on the road toward greater freedom, but I think libertarians need to be looking at more radical proposals—proposals where revenue neutrality is not a concern.

—Kathleen Wikstrom, LPAR Vice-Chair

A Reasonable Foreign Policy

Of all the money spent by governments on this planet for military expenditures, 40% of it is spent by the United States government. The only two nations considered to be potential adversaries, Russia and China, spend 12% of that total—combined; that’s less than one-third of U.S. expenditures. Such an advantage well used would be a good thing. Such an advantage misused can have disastrous consequences.

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States was the sole nuclear power in the world. It used this position to orchestrate the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953 and to place Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in power. This grievous foreign policy mistake led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the Iranian and American governments have been at odds with each other ever since.

Neoconservatives in the Bush administration convinced the United States, the sole superpower for a decade, to invade Iraq. The idea behind it was to create a western-style democracy that would lead to the remaking of the Middle East. Again, it proved to be a grievous foreign policy mistake, resulting in the deaths of more than 4,000 Americans and trillions of dollars in expenditures (the cost of the war itself, plus benefits to be paid to veterans). In addition, it contributed to the deaths of approximately 500,000 Iraqi civilians. And now, after all this loss of life and treasure, there continue to be seemingly daily bombings in Iraq, with even more civilians being killed. Islamic militants, who held no sway prior to the U.S. invasion, are surging in Iraq.

Where do we go from here?

The United States is $17.5 trillion in debt, having increased the national debt by $774 billion in just the first six and a half months of the 2014 fiscal year. The economy has not seen any real growth for 14 years. Real wages for the middle class have been stagnant for 40 years. None of the current trends should lead anyone to think that the U.S. government can continue financing 40% of all of the military spending in the world.

There is nothing in the track records of the Republicans or Democrats in our nation’s capital, nor in the track record of the banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve, that should lead anyone to believe that they will find a way out of this mess they have created. Therefore, we will have to reduce, in real dollars, our military expenditures and our overseas commitments. We cannot afford to keep engaging in elective military engagements and meddling in the affairs of other nations.

We would do well to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson at his first inaugural:

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.

We need to end all foreign aid, military and economic. Our allies in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere should increase their own military spending. How can we afford to be the ATM for the world, when our infrastructure is in need of repair and our economy is in desperate need of reductions in federal spending, federal taxes, and federal regulations?

We need to close all of our foreign military bases and bring all military personnel stationed there home. If there is truly a need for a few of these bases, then let that case be made within the context of a reasonable foreign policy; but we do not need to have a military presence in countries all over the world. The true purpose of our military policy should be to protect the American people and to keep the sea lanes open for our economy’s commercial activities.

A reasonable foreign policy will require fewer personnel and less money from hardworking Americans, while making it easier to keep our financial commitments to the veterans who have borne the brunt of the personal cost of the policies of the last two administrations.

2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson stated:

Protecting America with a strong national defense and a rational foreign policy is our leaders’ most basic responsibility. But let us not confuse national security with senseless intervention where our interests are clearly not being served.

I could not agree more.

—Ken Hamilton, LPAR Executive Committee member

Campaign Season is here!

I’d like to encourage all Libertarian Party of Arkansas members to be active campaigners for the many Libertarian candidates we have on the ballot in Arkansas this year. It took a lot of hard work and money to achieve ballot status for our candidates, and we need to make sure that effort was for a good reason.

You can find our list of Libertarian candidates at the LPAR web site. Pick out at least one campaign (or more) that you can commit to work for. There are many ways that you can help—from telling your friends, to door-to-door campaigning, to making a financial donation, to arranging events for the candidate, to attending events with the candidate, and much more.

Our candidate for Governor, Frank Gilbert, will provide the LPAR with continued ballot status if he receives at least 3% of the vote in November. That would save us a lot of time, effort, and money. It’s up to us to do what we can to make that happen. So let’s GET INVOLVED!

—Kathleen Wikstrom, LPAR Vice-Chair

Sebelius v Hobby Lobby was decided in 2010… with Citizens United

Many people are anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court decision on the Sebelius v Hobby Lobby case. But in reality, the case was already decided back in 2010 with the Citizens United decision.

The Hobby Lobby case centers around the First Amendment guaranteed right to the free exercise of religion. The free exercise of religion includes objecting on religious, moral, or conscientious grounds to being compelled or prohibited from performing certain actions by the government.

Basically, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, is seeking to use government force to compel the Hobby Lobby Corporation to provide abortion-inducing birth control medication to their employees as part of their Obamacare-approved health insurance coverage. Hobby Lobby, which was founded and is owned by deeply religious people, has objected to providing these certain abortion-inducing medications on religious grounds.

The government is arguing that Hobby Lobby can’t claim a religious objection, because they are a corporation. They are making the claim that corporations do not retain the freedom of religion.

Enter the Citizens United case. The Supreme Court decided in Citizens United that corporations have the First Amendment protected right to free speech, especially political speech. The majority argument claimed, in part, that corporations are nothing more than a collection of individuals and, therefore, retain the same rights that individuals do.

So one must wonder: If corporations are considered as people for the sake of freedom of speech, are they not also considered as people for other rights listed in the very same Amendment as free speech, particularly the free expression of religion as in the case of Hobby Lobby?

I would submit that Citizens United, whether one personally agrees that corporations are people or not, has in fact set the precedent that they should be considered as such. In as much, Citizens United then also sets the precedent that corporations retain all the same rights as individuals. Therefore, the corporation of Hobby Lobby has the exact same rights of freedom of religion as the corporation’s owners do.

Sebelius v Hobby Lobby is, in essence, a moot point. It was already decided nearly four years ago and should have never made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Hobby Lobby, and any other corporation, has the right to claim exception and to object on religious, moral, or conscientious grounds to any mandate imposed upon them by the government. Furthermore, Hobby Lobby should file a counter suit against Kathleen Sebelius for damaging their reputation; threatening their business and livelihood; and wasting their time, their money, and the taxpayer’s money while pursuing this case.

—Ben Marquis