L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 274, June 6, 2004
What do we need ... what do we not need?
A Stable Platform
Exclusive to TLE
I have a button that says, "Taxation is theft. Conscription is slavery. War is murder. Any questions?" I can think of no more succinct way of stating what I wish Michael Badnarik's campaign to emphasize.
The war in Iraq is, by any objective standard, the elephant in the living room. It is the monster issue right now, and (barring some rabbit-from-the-hat miracle) will remain so throughout the presidential campaign. President Bush the Younger has forgotten a major rule of politics (and life), to wit: When you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING! He and his neocon advisors (to use a polite euphemism for handlers or puppeteers) have misread the situation from the beginning, and for a variety of reasons. Hubris, bad intelligence, being duped by disinformation, and lack of understanding of the main cultures of Iraq are just the tip of the iceberg, the most visible reasons for the mess over there. Incidents like the shameful activities at Abu Graib prison are symptoms of these "illnesses."
I strongly urge the Badnarik campaign to make immediate withdrawal from Iraq the centerpiece of his platform. I know that he has stated this as a policy; but it needs to be front and center, grabbing attention from all sides. Some jingoistic types will call him names, like "traitor" and "anti-American," but that will attract others that will seek out the moral and ethical high ground that this position holds. The war, from the beginning, was a repudiation of nearly everything that the American ideal should bean aggressive war, waged against an enemy that had no realistic chance of attacking the United States, without a formal declaration of war, fought with stolen money (taxes) to hopefully steal Iraqi oil revenues (for their own good, of course). We have met the enemy, and he is us, to quote Pogo. Immediate withdrawal is the moral, and certainly libertarian, course of action. Not a staged withdrawal, either; just like pulling off a Band-Aid, quickly is less painful than slowly.
As a corollary to the anti-war plank, adamant opposition to a resumption of conscription needs to be set forth. Aside from the obvious (involuntary servitude), conscription would have the same effect on military adventurism as more tax dollars have on government spending. Plus, no matter how it would be set up, people with money and/or power would game the system to keep their sons and daughters out of harms way. Which would create even more divisiveness among Americans, and is probably part of the strategy of those advocating this immoral idea. And for those of us (like me) who are old enough to remember the last time we had a draft, and served in the military along with both volunteers and draftees, it was not a good idea for the military, either. Yes, some small percentage of draftees turned out to like the military, or to "grow" as a person in that environment, but the majority reacted like any other slave: they did the absolute minimum to get by. Conscription is both evil and stupid, which is why, I guess, there is bipartisan support for it. Badnarik needs to proclaim his opposition to conscription as loudly and as often as to the Iraq war, since they are related.
Which brings me to taxation. This is a topic that causes even some otherwise sharp libertarians to get wobbly. We hear some talk of a flat tax, consumption tax, or whatever. Let's remember, the lesser of two evils is still evil! You can't be a little pregnant, and you can't have a "fair" or moral tax. Taxation is theft! It is NOT the price we pay for civilization; to the contrary, taxation is a major cause of the fall of civilizations. Taxes grow government, which results in a vicious upward spiral of spending and taxation, where more and more people end up as tax receivers, until the tax payers are a minority and the end is near. For either the productive people will leave (either physically or by "going underground") or they will stop producing, and we wonder why it's getting so hot and why are we in this basket. If you want to kill an invulnerable monster, you starve it to death: end taxes and the government has to scale back and in some areas shut down. It will consume itself, cannibalizing its own "body" as its lifeblood is cut off. (For those who have read Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, my email address may provide a hint as to my beliefs on this topic.) No compromise on thisabolish taxes!
To wrap this up in a pretty package, I think we can agree that a campaign needs to pound away at from one to three topics in order to concentrate its efforts and so as not to confuse the electorate. Yes, the KISS rule. I think that three is optimum. If it is one issue only, you can be accused of being a "one-trick pony." Two issues, especially if they are related, can be attacked by the opposition using the sound bite, "All they talk about is A and B." But three issues, connected by a moral philosophical/ethical framework have the stability of a three-legged stool. It is nearly impossible to tip over, and provides a solid platform from which to campaign. No taxation, no conscription, no war = No theft, no slavery, no murder! It can be our version of "Just say no."