Friday, September 12, 2008

The Most Libertarian Candidate for President...

Here is Alex at Marginal Revolution, explaining why Obama would be the best choice for libertarian supporters. At ReasonOnline, though, Radley Balko suggests that Sarah Palin, governor of a state big on individual freedoms, might be the best choice for those seeking freedom and liberty whenever possible.

My personal view is still a bit convoluted. I agree that the Republicans probably need to go out of power for a few years - this would help them re-focus on their core values. However, the idea of an Obama Administration with a heavily Democratic Congress is still a bit scary. There is a lot of legislation that could be passed if one party has a strong majority in the legislature and controls the executive branch. As Karl Rove points out, however, Obama isn't running against Palin and shouldn't try to run against her. She will be the Vice President and no matter what her personal views are, she will not be the primary policy-maker. Even if Palin would be a strong supporter of libertarian values, as the Vice President it still wouldn't show up in many government policies. I'll be curious to see if Alex runs another segment, but it seems to me that Obama is the stronger choice for America's community of libertarians.


Tim Moreland said...

Both Obama and McCain leave very very much to be desired for libertarians. Obama likes free trade... as long as he can use trade to spread his desired regulations across the world. McCain loves the idea of America... but he also would love to put everyone into military-like service programs to promote a "higher good" that he deems necessary (sounds like North Korea, not the U.S. to me). The list goes on and on of examples of how Obama and McCain want to expand the government further into our lives.

Recently, Ron Paul held an event and told his supporters to not vote for either Democrats or Republicans. He supported either voting for any of the third parties or just withholding your vote. A couple of days ago, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr invited Ron Paul to be his VP. A ticket of Bob Barr (who is doing reasonably well in polls) and Ron Paul (who had quite a large following and raised tons of money) would be a legitimate force for a third party. Both Bob Barr and Ron Paul do have some weaknesses in terms of their libertarian credentials (mainly free trade and immigration issues) but they definitely are where votes should go for those who desire smaller government.

Zachary Piso said...

I'm all for Bob Barr and Ron Paul running together, it would just screw McCain. Also, why is the idea of an Obama-Democratic Congress scary?

Here's my thoughts - I don't care how successful it is. Things would at least change. And I'm far from thinking that we have hit rock bottom and there isn't a lower to fall, but with regard to most social issues (let alone environmental ones) the public is significantly "blue". It's amazing to me, and most political analysts, that the Democrats fail to seize control considering their platform represents the majority on every hot topic other than gun control.

If Obama was more socialistic, I'd be concerned, but he is far from it given his record on fiscal issues. And having taught at University of Chicago, I imagine he'd have gone missing if he was teaching anything against the market. Given the choice between stasis and change with a decent chance of success and almost no chance of irreversible harm, I know where I stand.

Pete Abbate said...

I love Chicago, but there are plenty of faculty on staff there who aren't infatuated with the wonders of the market. And yeah, Ron Paul raised a lot of support in the Republican primary, but let's not forget his checkered past or his stated desire to return to the gold standard. I liked Paul for a bit but overall I see him as more of a dangerous extremist who will get a reactionary vote he doesn't necessarily deserve than someone who is going to make Washington a place libertarians really approve. By nature, libertarians probably should never approve of the government in place.

I tend to agree that both McCain and Obama want to increase the presence of government in our lives. In that case, the libertarian would want to vote for McCain, in hopes that he and a Democratic Congress would butt heads, and he would use his veto to prevent much legislation from being passed.

What's scary about an Obama-Democratic Congress? The executive and legislature sharing an agenda that could potentially include increased spending on social security, health care, and renewable energy, as well as tax hikes. I'm not against reform of any of these industries, but with the recent bailouts of Fannie and Freddie the government is in a terrible position to be spending money. This means taxes will need to go up and if large spending programs are implemented, it will be difficult for them to go down.

I agree with you, Zach, that we're nowhere close to the bottom. I'm not sure your last comparison is exactly accurate, but I still agree fundamentally that Obama is a better choice for libertarians and all of America than John McCain.

Zachary Piso said...

When you mention spending, shouldn't the cost of current programs be considered? You know, those programs that might be costing a lot of money. And I could be wrong but some of that spending would end if Obama was president, right? At least the one we are spending the most on? I mean, at least it would end in less than 100 years, correct?

Pete Abbate said...

Want a good example of someone who isn't qualified to be in charge of the US government? It's Wayne Allyn Root, VP candidate for the Libertarian Party!

Pete Abbate said...

Yes, I understand that we are pouring amazing sums of money down the drain in Iraq. But on Obama's website, he admits that his current plan - with no complications - would have all troops phased out by summer of 2010, which would be nearly halfway through his term as President. Iraq is, unfortunately, an expenditure that we can't end in a day, and a reminder of the nature of the price we pay for bad government policies.

Zachary Piso said...

That's just a shitty argument Pete. I understand your point as "Well, even though McCain want to leave all the troops over their through his entire term, Obama wants to leave some of the troops there for half his term."

And there are plenty of unqualified VP selections this year, but the good thing is that it's very unlikely that any of the current presidential nominees would die during their term.

Pete Abbate said...

That's not my argument at all. My argument is that, no matter who is President, Iraq will still cost us money. You can't say "elect Obama and we will save trillions of dollars on Iraq as compared to electing McCain." Yes, we will spend less on Iraq if Obama is President, but we're not going to be able to fund initiatives in social security, universal healthcare, and an energy/environmental initiative simply from leaving Iraq.

Zachary Piso said...

That we are not going to be able to fund those programs based on leaving Iraq is a different argument, and a better one.

Obama is against universal health care. He campaigned against Hillary with the only difference in their policies being that he supports making health care affordable to all. While I think that leaving Iraq could probably cover social security and universal healthcare (based on numbers I've heard, but its been awhile), I think that we could definitely subsidize health care by shifting money from the military-industrial complex and the Iraq War.

Most economists believe that the social security crisis has been blown significantly out of proportion. It is theoretically the result of population waves dating back to the baby boom, and based on current demographic trends (with the US birth rate close to the ideal 2.1) social security won't be an imperative in any administration.

Environmental/Energy Initiatives would pay for themselves in the long-run, while the alternative to them (Drill Here, Drill Now, I like to say) would... just, wow. Creating a renewable energy sector would create tons of jobs, so even from a growth-desiring economist it would be an improvement. Considering the current energy policy, where we subsidize fossil fuel extraction while fighting wars to preserve future supplies, a new policy would likely result in lower government spending.

I don't know what your discount rate is when considering these cost-benefit analyses in a dynamic setting, but the present value of future benefits between the two policy programs in drastically different, while the present costs are very similar.

Josh Knox said...

While Obama might be a decent anti-McCain choice, he is certainly no free market supporter.

If a galvanized libertarian voting block is not large enough to decide the election, then the question doesn't matter and libertarians might as well vote for a real libertarian, there is nothing to loose. The question of which presidential candidate is more libertarian only matters if a group of unified libertarians could attain a critical mass large enough to swing the outcome of the election to their desired candidate (this solidarity in voting would be the oxymoronic libertarian collective action).

In this event either A) the more libertarian candidate would have won without their support, in which case they might as used their vote expressively to show their support for Bob Barr, or B) the unified libertarian voting block could cause the election which would have gone to the less libertarian candidate in their absence to be won by the more libertarian candidate, allowing them to glean the marginal benefits of his policies.

The probability of B is so small, and the additional liberty from an Obama presidency over a McCain presidency or vice versa so minimal that figuring out the “second most libertarian candidate” and voting for him does not seem like a rational voting strategy. If I vote, it is hard for me to imagine voting for someone other than Bob Barr.