Libertarian New Year’s Resolutions

Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000, was among the greatest salesmen for liberty who ever lived. He wrote these Libertarian New Year’s Resolutions in 1998.

I read them every year; In 2020, they are particularly meaningful as we move into a new decade.

Libertarian New Year’s Resolutions
By Harry Browne

  • I resolve to sell liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than preaching to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.
  • I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty ­not to prove that they’re wrong.
  • I resolve to listen when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.
  • I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek ­ a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society ­ and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.
  • I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don’t have to approve of their subsidies or policies ­ but if I don’t acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problems. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.
  • I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.
  • I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government ­ not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.
  • I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.
  • I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first Libertarian someone has encountered, and it’s important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.
  • I resolve to remind myself that someone’s “stupid” opinion may be an opinion I once held. If I can grow, why can’t I help him grow?
  • I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.
  • I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free ­ and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.
  • I resolve to be civil to my opponents and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it’s important that I be a better person than my enemies.

Read more of Harry Browne’s work here.

The Myth The Rich Don’t Pay Their ‘Fair Share’ of Taxes

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have led the charge to add many zeros to what some Americans should be given at others’ expense. As a result, they have doubled (or tripled) down on an “old reliable” claim of the left that “the rich” don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. But that excuse to tax them more to line others’ pockets is obliterated whenever the highly disproportionate income tax burdens actually borne by higher earners are reported.

Rather than abandon the electorally valuable false premise that ever-more disproportionate burdens are justified, however, the political left tries to buttress their position by asserting that other taxes are regressive, so that even more progressive federal income taxes are justified. The main components of such claims are state and local sales and excise taxes and Social Security taxes. Unfortunately, those taxes must also be distorted to defend “fair share” misrepresentations.

Los Angeles Times writer Michael Hiltzik illustrated the state and local gambit in a column echoing charges that their sales and excise taxes “disproportionately hammer lower-income taxpayers,” with that alleged regressivity offsetting income tax progressivity.

That claim arises because those with lower current measured incomes spend a larger proportion of them on those taxes. However, as Edgar Browning has noted, ” … relative to lifetime income, there is very little difference in the percentage of income consumed among income classes. “

As a result, apparent regressivity based on current incomes is shown instead as “roughly proportional” to income in the more-appropriate lifetime context. Low current-income families also often consume a multiple of their income, largely financed with government transfer payments that are excluded from official income measures, which further exaggerates the share of their incomes going to such taxes.

The Social Security angle is illustrated by articles citing the fact that Social Security taxes only apply to earned incomes up to an earnings cap, currently set at $132,900. For instance, a Washington Post article summarized the result as “the more money you make, the less your effective Social Security tax rate is, making this tax about as regressive as they come.” However, Social Security treats lower-income workers far better than higher-income workers.

The CBO found that incorporating such unmeasured income actually made Social Security taxes progressive for all but the top 20 percent of earners.

Rather than being regressive, Social Security taxes are proportional to earned income up to the tax cap. So, for the vast majority of Americans who fall in that range, taxes rise apace with earnings. Beyond the cap, earnings are not subject to the tax. So for those earners, their average tax rates fall with further income. Only for that relatively small number can one claim that despite paying more in total Social Security taxes, they pay a smaller percentage of their total earnings.

When one incorporates the fact that a great deal of income for low-income households is government transfers that are not counted as official income nor subject to Social Security taxes, the picture changes. Years ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that incorporating such unmeasured income actually made Social Security taxes progressive for all but the top 20 percent of earners.

Even more important, Social Security’s supposed regressivity reflects only its taxes. But they generate retirement benefits, and accurate evaluation must incorporate both. Doing so reveals Social Security as progressive, not regressive.

For example, for a single earner retiring at 65 in 1993, Social Security replaced 59 percent of taxed income for low earners and 44 percent for average wage earners, but only 25 percent for an earner at the Social Security tax cutoff. Higher-income earners received far smaller returns on their contributions than average earners and less than half that of lower earners. Allegations that higher-income earners don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes are a mainstay misrepresentation of the political left.

Taxation of benefits for higher-income retirees now increases this difference. In terms of lifetime net benefits, in 1992 dollars, a single low earner retiring in 2000 would net $27,983 from the system, an average earner, $14,833, but a high-income earner would lose $23,129.

Both approaches show Social Security does not benefit higher earners at the expense of lower earners. It actually redistributes income the other way.

Allegations that higher-income earners don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes are a mainstay misrepresentation of the political left. And when facts such as the far from justifiable disproportionate income tax burdens get in the way of that narrative, they go all-in on bogus defenses that misrepresent state and local taxes and Social Security, as well. Unfortunately, while that illustrates how important taking lots of other people’s money is to their agenda, it also illustrates how unimportant the truth is in advancing it.

Gary M. Galles
Gary M. Galles

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. His recent books include Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies (2014) and Apostle of Peace (2013). He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

For ‘Fair District’ NC Needs an Independent Redistricting Commission

The establishment parties have proven they’re not only unable but unwilling to draw district lines fairly. We need to take that power away from them, not give them another chance to abuse it.

Brian Irving, former LPNC chair

LPNC Press Release

RALEIGH (Sept. 4) – The Libertarian Party of North Carolina applauds yesterday’s ruling by a state Superior Court panel that orders changes to the state’s legislative district map. But the party also warns that sending the job back to state lawmakers is the wrong solution, and calls for the appointment of an independent commission to do the job instead.

Brian Irving, the LPNC liaison to the Fair Districts NC Coalition, issued the following statement on behalf of the party:

“The establishment parties have proven they’re not only unable but unwilling to draw district lines fairly. We need to take that power away from them, not give them another chance to abuse it.

“The proper solution is to create a fully independent redistricting commission along the lines outlined in Senate Bill 673.

“Nearly 15 years ago, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina argued that our state’s restrictive ballot access laws also violated the equal protection, free elections, and freedom of speech and assembly clauses of the state constitution. At the time, the state Supreme Court disagreed. We are grateful that this panel has ruled otherwise.

“However, placing the execution of this new ruling in the hands of the legislature is asking the foxes to redesign the henhouse―again. The point of ‘fair districts’ is to give voters fair representation, not to give two entrenched parties a fair chance to divvy up the vote. More than one-third of the state’s voters have chosen not to affiliate with either establishment party.”

To learn more about the LPNC’s position on redistricting reform, or to contact an LPNC representative for further comment, please email press@lpnc.org. Or call Brian Irving directly at (919) 538-4548.

HB 69 Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

At first glance, HB69 Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission seemed like a good bill, although far from perfect. After reading through it, now it appears further from perfect than I realized.

The N.C. League of Women Voters published a white paper last year, “Emerging Alternatives for Reasonable Redistricting Reform,” in which they outlined five basic principles for a redistricting commission. They are:

1. Include the legislature in the process, such as naming some of the commissioners.

2. Include citizens and/or impartial experts as commission members.

3. Set strict rules for the commission’s work that: applies traditional redistricting standards (compact, contiguous, keep local government units and communities of interest whole), does not allow the use of partisan data or partisan objectives, and uses voting rules that require bipartisan support for the maps.

4. Provide for extensive citizen participation and transparency.

5. Make the maps final on the commission’s vote.

I endorsed these principles when running for NC Senate 16. They appealed to me because they recognized political reality. To get anything done, a reform plan must include a role for the legislative leaders. Unfortunately, HB69 gives them too much of a role.

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True Measure of Libertarian Strength is Vote Totals

Most Libertarians look to voter registration numbers as a measure of the party’s strength in North Carolina. That may be a good measure of how well the party is doing, but it’s more of a measure of how poorly the old establishment parties are doing.

Libertarian registration has steadily increased since the Libertarian Party of North Carolina gained more-or-less permanent ballot status in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of unaffiliated (independent) voter registration has surpassed the number of registered Republicans as voter registration for both of the old parties steadily declines. Independents may soon become the largest voting block in North Carolina.

However, a better indication of how well Libertarians are doing are voting totals – how many North Carolinians actually vote for a Libertarian candidate. After all, the primary purpose of a political party is to get people to vote for that party’s candidates.

Many more people vote libertarian than register Libertarian.

During the years when the LPNC needed to get three percent of the vote in order to retain ballot access, their focus was on that race. The LPNC broke that barrier in 2008, the first time in NC history that any “third party” achieve this. And they did it again in 2008 and 2016.

What is even more interesting is that in every gubernatorial election since 2004, the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor outpolled the candidate for governor. In two elections during that period, another statewide Libertarian candidate also out polled the party’s candidate for governor.

Michael Monaco ran for state Court of Appeals in 2018 and now holds the record for the highest number of Libertarian votes cast for a statewide office (167,748). He was also the first Libertarian candidate for any judicial seat. That achievement is doubly noteworthy because judicial races generally draw fewer votes than other statewide races. They are listed on the back of the ballot, and many people don’t even bother to flip their ballots over.

The 2018 election was a unique, “blue-moon election,” meaning there were no contests for president, governor or U.S. Senate to attract voters. The only statewide races were judicial races. Pundits predicted low voter turnout. But that was not the case. Voter turnout was the highest for an off-year election since 1990 (53%).

The 2016 election is still the high water mark for Libertarian votes in North Carolina. U.S. Senate candidate Sean Haugh got the highest number of Libertarian votes for a federal office (165,171 votes). That surpassed the votes for Lon Cecil got for governor (101,050), Jacki Cole earned for lieutenant governor (130,253), and Gary Johnson received for president (127,746).

The most important outcome of the 2016 election for the LPNC, however, was that for the first time in party history both the gubernatorial and presidential candidates exceeded the number of votes the party needed to retain ballot statues. And all three candidates received the highest vote totals any Libertarian has ever earned for these offices.

The number of people who vote Libertarian is more important than the number of people who register Libertarian. That holds even if you consider 10 percent of unaffiliated voters as “Libertarian.” Either way the numbers are low – but a substantially larger number of people vote Libertarian than register Libertarian.

So when asked, “How many Libertarians are there in North Carolina,” a Libertarian shouldn’t answer, “35,000 (Libertarian registration as of January 26), but “in 2018 more than 167,000 people voted Libertarian, and more and more people vote Libertarian every election.”

USAA Donates to U.S. Coast Guard Families

USAA is helping federal employees affected by the government “shutdown.” What are the federal employee unions doing? They are suing. Maybe I missed something in civics class, but wasn’t one of the reasons unions were formed in the first place to help union members when they were out of work?

Federal unions sue the Trump administration to get paid for shutdown work

The Hill: Federal employee unions sue over shutdown

Of course, USAA is a private, voluntary organization and federal unions are not voluntary.

When I was in the U.S. Air Force, went through one government “shutdown,” but there was never any talk of walking out by fellow airman. We took the words “public service” seriously. I know people who work for the government who will be hurt by this “shutdown.” I sympathize with them. Getting back pay after the fact is little consolation. Their bills are due now.

But let’s not get distracted by the real problem. First, this entire shutdown is a “manufactured crisis” created by a narcissistic president and irresponsible Congress. The U.S. Congress abrogated its responsibility on just about all it duties — including not passing an actual budget in more than 20 years. Democrats were in favor of border barriers before they were against them. The $5 or $6 million in question is a drop in the bucket compared to other wasteful federal government projects including our perpetual wars.

Irving for NC Senate 16 – People. not Politics

I am standing for NC Senate District 16 because I believe in the people of North Carolina. I believe in their spirit, their integrity, and their compassion.

Our state is a place where individuals succeed through voluntary social cooperation solving our most critical challenges through free-market innovation with dignity, respect, and understanding. That’s why I chose to retire here.

We can be proud of the many ways neighbors help neighbors, families encourage families, and how our people are strengthened when coming together in mutual respect and understanding. We welcome diversity and change, respecting the dignity of all individuals.

Government far too often stifles innovation through regulation, subverts compassion through bureaucracy, and suppresses achievement through economic manipulation. That’s because the establishment parties manipulate government to maintain their power and benefit their special interests – not to serve all the people of North Carolina.

State, county, and local governments should never be allowed to stand as obstacles to the people, obstacles to who we are, who we can be, and what we can achieve.

Libertarians believe that if someone is peaceful, they should be welcome to immigrate to the United States

From LP.org

Libertarians believe that people should be able to travel freely as long as they are peaceful. We welcome immigrants who come seeking a better life. The vast majority of immigrants are very peaceful and highly productive.

Indeed, the United States is a country of immigrants, of all backgrounds and walks of life…some families have just been here for more generations than others. Newcomers bring great vitality to our society.

A truly free market requires the free movement of people, not just products and ideas.

Whether they are from India or Mexico, whether they have advanced degrees or very little education, immigrants have one great thing in common: they bravely left their familiar surroundings in search of a better life. Many are fleeing extreme poverty and violence and are searching for a free and safe place to try to build their lives. We respect and admire their courage and are proud that they see the United States as a place of freedom, stability, and prosperity.

Of course, if someone has a record of violence, credible plans for violence, or acts violently, then Libertarians support blocking their entry, deporting, and/or prosecuting and imprisoning them, depending on the offense.

Libertarians do not support classifying undocumented immigrants as criminals. Our current immigration system is an embarrassment. People who would like to follow the legal procedures are unable to because these procedures are so complex and expensive and lengthy. If Americans want immigrants to enter through legal channels, we need to make those channels fair, reasonable, and accessible.

NC Legislature Overrides Veto of Most Significant Ballot Access Bill in Decades

The NC General Assembly has overridden Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the most significant ballot access bill passed by that body in decades.It will become law Jan. 1, 2018.

North Carolina’s Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties issued this statement hailing the vote::

“SB 656 Electoral Freedom Act is the most significant ballot access bill passed by the legislature in decades. It dramatically lowers the barriers for new political parties and independent candidates to get on the ballot, thus giving all North Carolinians more freedom of choice on election day,” the statement said.

“The bill will allow new parties to attain ballot access by collecting signatures from registered voters equal in number to 0.25% of the total number of voters who voted in the most recent general election for Governor. This aligns NC election laws with the majority of states.

“A party will also be able to get on the ballot if it had a presidential candidate on the ballot in 35 states in the previous election.

“Our state’s election laws have long imposed excessive and unreasonable requirements on new political parties and unaffiliated candidates far and above the standard in most states. A viable and vibrant democratic process requires that ballot access laws encourage and promote – not limit – the individual’s right to self-government by securing their right to free choice at the ballot box. It’s about time North Carolina reduced those burdens.

“At its heart, this is a voting rights bill. It is unfortunate that the media has ignored the most significant parts of this bill. The judicial primary provision is only a minor part of the bill and it only affects one election in one year. The bulk of this bill will give voters more choices in more elections for many more years.

“This is the most dramatic improvement in ballot access anywhere in the nation in 20 years, when Florida reduced its petition barrier for offices, other than president, for both minor parties and independents from three percent of the number of registered voters to zero, according to ballot access expert Richard Winger.

“This bill could also influence policy across the nation. Republican-majority legislatures in Tennessee and Indiana, and perhaps Alabama, may pass similar bills.

“Our three parties have been working together on this issue for decades, despite our differences on other issues. We’ve also had the support of individual Democrats and Republicans, as well as public policy groups from across the political spectrum, most notably Free the Vote North Carolina.

“We are also grateful to former Sen. Andrew Brock who introduced this bill, and thank all those Republicans and Democrats who supported the bill.”

Susan Hogarth
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

Jan Martell and Tony Ndege
Co-chairs, North Carolina Green Party

Al Pisano
Chair, Constitution Party of North Carolina