James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Problem of Political Calculation

I believe that the first priority of the libertarian - heck, of any American patriot - is to roll back completely the last four years' worth of wars abroad and assaults on liberty and privacy at home. The last mistake is usally the easiest to reverse. These evils are the ones we are least accustomed to, the ones we feel most inconvenienced by.

I also believe that the two fundamental reforms in Washington DC we must make are to abolish the Federal Reserve System and the Income Tax. The federal Leviathan can not exist without these.

I believe the ultimate end-game is the right of secession - not just from the union, but from our state, county, township.

I believe that libertarianism represents the best interests of home schoolers, gun owners, and small business owners, and that we'd have a winning coalition right there. But I also suspect that people in these groups (like most people in general) tend to desire more liberty for themselves in their own pursuits, but are not inclined to allow more liberty for others.

We are faced with the Austrian School concept of the subjective theory of value. People want different things at different times, and scolding them that they should be logical and consistent will not make them so.

For instance, I hate the War on Iraq and want us to pull out. I'd say that is my top priority, followed by the repeal of the PATRIOT Act and REAL ID. What's next? Ending the War on Drugs? Abolishing the Department of Education? Getting out of the UN, or NATO, or our trade agreements? Slashing welfare to corporations? Slashing welfare programs for the poor? Repealing federal obsenity statutes? Getting rid of the FDA? Cutting taxes? Slashing the military budget? Firing our legions of federal cops and attorneys?

I endorse all of these, but some are more important to me than others. Some I would prioritize because of my economic judgments, some because I don't desire sudden and harsh disruptions, particularly for the least well-off, some out of sheer revulsion (eg., I feel calling federal prosecutors "scumbags" is an insult to scumbags).

But can we afford to choose? "We can liberalize immigration laws only after we get rid of welfare," but "We should get rid of welfare only after taxes are abolished and businesses are deregulated so that the free market can really work and the poor can find jobs," but "we must only cut taxes only after the budget is balanced." Round and round it goes. Obviously, cutting government is going to (temporarily) hurt people who depend on government. We must count that cost, but it must not stop us.

The political "customers" - the voters whose wishes are reflected in polls - may not see things our way. We must jump on any and every reduction of government power and spending that the people are amenable to. It is their causes and priorities when it comes to cutting government that matters. Not mine, and not those of partisan libertarian activists. And the poll numbers are pretty clear right now. The majority is siding with libertarians on one very important issue.

In other words, let's not spend our time today protesting the Dept of Education or the Fed. Let's protest the war!

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