What Now, Libertarians?

It’s been no secret up here in the Panhandle of Florida that I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign.

From the earliest days of Gary’s public ignorance of things libertarian, to his running mate’s not so hidden infatuation with Hillary Clinton, I advocated that my fellow libertarians and I not put all our credibility eggs in Gary’s basket or risk getting a sidewalk omelet. Events confirmed my caution. In the short span of five months after the 2016 LP convention, Gary’s appeal dropped while my feelings about his run for office went from anticipation, to confusion, to frustration, to dull resignation and finally ended with a sense of betrayal at the wasted opportunities and amateurish execution of what should have been a truly historic, break out campaign.

Now it is over. Let’s ask ourselves what has Gary left the Libertarian Party going forward?

Gary did compete, and win, in an open nomination process that brought literally thousands of Libertarians together like never seen before. He gave our party a glimpse of what it may mean to have ballot access, money, media coverage and compete as a real political force to be reckoned with. That’s a lot.

He raised money in greater amounts than we’ve ever seen ($12 million). That bodes well for other libertarians seeking office.

He increased Libertarian votes nationwide from .99% in 2012 to 3.2% in 2016 and he is the most voted for Libertarian Presidential candidate ever.

It showed the Libertarian Party is actually doing something about becoming greater than where we’ve been, and that we can organize and produce at a level that merits national political attention. That brings new people in, which is critical for the future.

But He also chipped away at the bedrock of what it means to be libertarian. On such varied topics as mandatory vaccinations, banning guns from people on watch lists, carbon taxes, eminent domain, drug legalization, increasing the number of agents for the FBI, and even forcing bakers to work for those they prefer not to, Johnson made Panhandle Libertarians wince. He was apparently not paying attention to promoting a free market, making government the guarantor of individual rights, or reducing the size and influence of government as he should. He reinforced the already skewed public view of libertarians as Republicans who just want to smoke pot.

On top of that, he also allowed strong libertarian themes to be coopted by the opposition. Issues such as how the system is rigged (I can point to laws in Florida), there is no rule of law for the powers that be, immigration, lies in the poll data, lies in the economic reporting, lies in our foreign policy, lies in public testimony and lies by our legislators in general are all identified as Trump issues now. Gary ignored mortgage fraud in 2012 saying “no crimes were committed,” despite massive indictments to the contrary. Well, he ignored important issues again, and that will make it harder to bring in votes.

Lastly, he lacked political savvy, remarkable considering he is a two time Governor and two time Presidential candidate. Panhandle libertarians have to live with Gary actually offering a cabinet job to Mitt Romney; the image of Gary rolling his tongue in an indecipherable and miss delivered joke, and reinforcing his own vacuous image by lightly referring to his own mistakes as “Aleppo moments.” We have to live with him calling Hillary a fine public servant and his running mate literally vouching for her in the national news (as if she would return the favor for Libertarians). He never made a powerful and compelling image for liberty and the benefits thereof. He never made an  economic argument that stuck why libertarian ideas would bring more happiness and prosperity to the average American, especially by getting rid of barriers to entry, monopolies and regulation. All of this hurt his credibility as a leader, and by extension, hurt us.

Gary probably left us a stronger Party, but one where we have to live with a legacy stained by his verbal gaffs, mind farts, non-libertarian ideas, and wasted chances to show reliable, consistent, leadership not based in force or fraud.

Our task now is to keep finding the candidates who can do Gary one better.

 

 

 

 

 

Pete, Obama Care, and the NAACP

Fellow Libertarians,
I went to an Affordable Healthcare Act information meeting sponsored by the Okaloosa Chapter of the NAACP yesterday.  (24 Sep 13)
Here are my notes in bullet form.  34 people in attendance.
Regards
Pete
The players:
Overall organization paying for this presentation…Get Covered America…a 501(C)3 org.   Private organizations assisting GCA are the NAACP, Planned Parenthood and Catholic Charities, among others.
Raymond Nelson…local NAACP chapter President (Sabu Williams, former President, will be leaving Okaloosa for work reasons on 1 Oct)
Christina Swodowski…Team leader and spokesperson with Enroll America…area of responsibility Jacksonville to Pensacola
Tony Pena…Community Organizer for Enroll America
Drew Roberts and one other unknown person are with the Barnes Insurance agency…a private firm that is apparently assisting ACA presentations
Stacey Ray…Project Director with Families Count,  based in Pensacola…an ACA “Navigator”…She gets paid by a grant from South Florida University who are in turn paid by a Federal grant to SFU.  She does not get paid by the number of applicants she finds.
The Presentation:
1) Ray Nelson – The ACA is law of the land..no debates tonight
2) Tony Pena opened with a couple of insurance nightmare stories including one about his own son who “would have died were it not for insurance”
    a) My son is now uninsurable due to a pre-existing condition (Krohn’s Disease)
    b) ACA is no longer debatable…it is law of land…
    c) ACA expands health coverage to up to 45 million people, up to 3.9 million in Florida alone
    d) Pre existing conditions go away
    e) Individuals may qualify for subsidies from the Feds based on income
    f) All approved insurance plans must cover
            – Doctor visits
            – Hospitalizations
            – maternity
            – Emergency room visits
            – Prescriptions
    g) All policy plans must be in plain language
    h) demographics on the uninsured
            – young, poor to lower middle class, Black and Hispanic, little to no college education, more men than women uninsured
    i) Mr. Pena has encountered many people with Bentleys and Jags in driveway that have no health insurance
    j) Mr. Pena said the ACA was “a sea change in the way America views health insurance.”
    k) Mr. Pena said that blacks and Hispanics without health insurance should be understood “without saying…”
    l) There are rumors in some communities the gov will implant people with chips or prosecute people because they are drug users…not true
    m) 17% of insurance applicants are denied for pre-existing conditions
    n) 60% of the uninsured do not know what their options are.
3) Christina Swodowski
    a) Those eligible…citizens, no prisoners or illegal immigrants (later…veterans with dishonorable discharges are eligible)
    b) Open enrollment starts 1 Oct 2013 and goes until 31 March 2014.  Everyone must choose a plan of some sort by then.
    c) A person can get government subsidies if their income is less than 400% of federal poverty line
            – $44,680 for single person
            – $92,240 for a family of four
    d) Insurance premium refunds come right away under the Advance Pay Federal Tax Credit (APFTC)
     e) When you apply the only health question asked is if you are a smoker
    f) Consumers choose their plan – all approved plans will be laid out together like Expedia does travel plans
            – Complete application on-line, via phone or mail and choose plan
            – Navigators will be available to provide unbiased assistance
4) Ray Nelson – much of what he said was from a prepared presentation from a Mr. McKnight who could not attend that evening
    a) Medicaid cannot continue the way it is now
    b) 4 doctors in Crestview retiring this year, 3 at Hurlburt (pjb note: although he did not say how the ACA solves this)
    c) there are more and earlier chronic diseases
    d) Exercise, eat less, cut out alcohol
    e) Take advantage of preventative health care… the ACA provides for no co-pay for the first three preventative health care visits
    f) People were using the emergency room as their primary healthcare…very expensive
Questions from the audience:
? – I have a plan, must I choose from a plan doctor?
    ans – Yes, but we do not know all the doctors that are participating in the various health plans
    ans – Barnes Insurance Agency – Florida Blue is the only currently approved health plan for Okaloosa County
? – Does Florida Blue have a monopoly?
    ans – Barnes – other counties might have other plans
? – Estimate of what plans will cost?
    ans – Barnes – rates yet to be seen, and we are only six days away from enrollment
? – I am confused.  I have a plan but my doctor said I might have to give it up.  Why?
    ans – Not all plans have approved features and will not be allowed
    ans – Sabu Williams – you may get better coverage at a cheaper price
? – How much info will be provided on companies at the “exchanges’?
    ans – Tony Pena – think of it as Expedia with all options and cost laid out side by side
    ans – Tony Pena- Costs – if your policy costs $150 per month, and your income allows a subsidy of $100, your payment is $50
    ans – Barnes – Bronze, silver, gold plans will cost more
? Everything is based on income. What if I get a job?
    ans – Stacey Ray – renewals are by year…if you have a higher income you must present documents to show it… more income at renewal time affects Florida CHIP program too
? No job – how do I get insurance?
    ans – Tony Pena – at exchange website you will be directed to Medicaid.
    ans – Stacey Ray – Florida did not expand Medicaid, so there will be a gap between Medicaid threshold and the current Federal affordable lower limit.  You my have too much money for Medicaid assistance, but too little to qualify for an                 exchange approved plan.
    ans – Stacey Ray – There will be penalties if you can afford insurance but do not purchase it
? Is there a progressive penalty for not enrolling?
    ans – Stacey Ray – If you do not enroll, you will be penalized.   Penalty rates are low in 2014 but get progressively higher until 2016  (pjb note:  a few numbers thrown around and I think I heard $600 per person in 2014 moving up to $2500 per person in 2016.  Mind you, I don’t have the world’s best ears, and a lot of side conversations got started)  [From Dave and Rebecca Sherry 25 Sep 13…A bronze plan is expected to cover 60% of out of pocket costs.  Silver, same at 70%, gold, same at 80%, and platinum is expected to cover 90%.  There is no 100% out of pocket cost option.  It was reported today that in the U.S. the average mid-level premium is expected to be $328 per person per month…Regarding the penalties.  The first year, 2014, the penalties are $95 or 1% of income, whichever is HIGHER.  In 2015, the penalty is $325 or 2% of income, whichever is HIGHER.  In 2016 the figure is $695 or 2.5% of income, whichever is HIGHER.  The figure is adjusted for inflation after 2016.]

? Once you have a premium, do you pay every month?
    ans Yes
? Do you have to do anything if you are covered now?
    ans – Stacey Ray – No, but if it is not an approved policy it will go away
? Most plans pay 80% of costs.  Will this pay 100%?
    ans – Stacey Ray – depends on the plan you choose (pjb note: which in Okaloosa, currently, is only Florida Blue)
? How do plans tie into catastrophic policies?
    ans – Stacey ray – Catastrophic polices may be a thing of the past, because all plans must have the basic features outlined earlier
? Some people are afraid of computers.
    ans – You can do paper and telephone applications too.  Navigators will not have access to private information, and they will be licensed.
    ans – Sabu Williams – The ACA is not insurance, it is access to insurance
? Are the plans transportable across state lines?
    ans – Tony Pena – I don’t know
    ans – Barnes – You will get an opportunity to enroll in your new state
? If I live in Okaloosa, can I enroll in another county?
    ans – No, process is based on residence zip code
? – (pjb note; my question) Will cash only doctors be allowed to operate?
    ans – Stacey Ray – “Concierge doctors” will still be allowed to operate

Okaloosa Schools: Hypocrisy On Display

By Karl Denninger
March 01, 2011 2:52 PM

Why aren’t Ruckel Middle School students allowed to sit with who they wish at lunch? What values are Okaloosa District schools actually teaching our kids?

I had to ask myself those questions after my daughter was given detention by Ruckel Middle School for merely crossing the lunch room floor and sitting with another student.

On 24 February I met with the Superintendent of Schools Ms. Tibbetts, Principal Ms. Goolsby and Assistant Principal Mr. Whiddon.

I spoke about my high school years, relating how easily a school administration can lose the respect of the students and the possible consequence of that. Respect, you see, is earned — it’s not owed.

The Principal came up with four objections as to why the students couldn’t choose where to sit in the lunchroom on their own: “they might miss the next class,” “they might not clear the table of their debris,” “there are cliques in middle school” and “we have students with food allergies.”

I asked how many kids had missed their next class when open seating was allowed and pointed out the fact that I might have to FOIA that information. Given that tardy slips are a common feature in schools and attendance is taken, there is a record. That is, if there ever was such a problem. I don’t believe it, to be blunt, and said so.

Further, cliques are a part of life. We choose our associates every day. And students who fail to clear their tables can be appropriately disciplined.

As for the food allergies, there’s a solution to that of course. You set aside one table for kids with food allergies and prohibit the common things there, the most serious of which are allergies to nuts. Oh wait, the school district already has to do that, right? These sorts of allergies are real, but punishing everyone in the class by making them sit against their will for something beyond their control is not only inappropriate, it’s Kafkaesque.

There was no resolution offered by the superintendent or the school principal. Mr. Whiddon tried to argue there was a student led representative process about things like seating assignments at lunch. I pointed out the administration had previously admitted the students voted for open seating, but the policy was unilaterally changed by the administration, thus revealing the illusion of a student’s say in policy. I also pointed out that this process was like presenting a petition in the former USSR, or to Mubarak before he was deposed. Mr. Whiddon didn’t like that analogy, and the other administrators were unwilling to take responsibility for claiming there was a representative process in the student council when there in fact is not.

Clearly, there was no intent to move on the school’s part. I remained steadfast that these sorts of policies are self-destructive, disrespectful of basic human dignities and indefensible on the plain facts. Further, this not a countywide policy; Pryor Middle has open lunch seating.

But then the funniest thing happened.

My daughter and I attended registration for her high school, which she enters in the fall. One of the first items presented to both parents and incoming students in the auditorium was a program called “The Nest”, which is an opportunity for the kids entering high school to mingle and hang out with one another — and with upperclassmen — during the summer months. The first reason presented to attend? So you will have some idea of who you would like to sit with, and at which table, in the lunchroom on your first day in high school.

Excuse me?

The peanut allergies, the late class attendance, the lack of clearing of tables by the students, the cliques that are found in middle schools and the inability of perfectly-competent staff members that the school district pay a handsome salary to keep order in the lunchroom all suddenly disappear in a high school with more than twice the enrollment of the middle school literally next door when a student becomes a mere three months older?

Ruckel, drop the invented nonsense and do the right thing. Recognize fundamental human rights, including the right of peaceable assembly and conversation. Rights you should be teaching and honoring, not abrogating.

Let the kids sit where they’d like and talk to whom they want during their lunch period. Punish real wrongdoers, not everybody. Teach real responsibility to our kids.

Karl Denninger is a resident of Bluewater Bay, a well known financial analyst, and author of the Market-Ticker.

Seriously Wrong Out There

Election time is nearly upon us, and at a time like this I reflect on where Okaloosa has been and where it is going.

Despite the hard economic times, the general public still believes in its government and its leaders. There is faith that what worked in the past will probably work this time too, and soon we can all get back to our jobs, our families and the simple things in life. Choose a side, republican or democrat, make your check in the box, and move on.

But you and I both know that something is going seriously wrong out there.

I am not talking about individual corruption, or incompetence in government. That happens all the time in every age. “Scandaloosa” already knows about that.

It seems to me government has a life of its own, and doesn’t seem to know or care about being thrifty or staying out of the way. Examples are everywhere.

Recently, here in republican dominated Okaloosa, we had a school board that wanted to raise taxes on everyone $135 million dollars because they couldn’t think of anything else to do. How about opening up the state monopoly to greater real competition in education?

We have a Board of County Commissioners that kept the tax millage rate steady while increasing spending. The only way to pay for everything is an accounting trick using money from previous years.

In Fort Walton Beach, despite the best efforts of Henry Kelley and the Tea Partiers, the city council basically said, “We don’t care what you want, we are gonna raise taxes!”

North Bay Fire District is raising its tax rate. I bet others are too.

And the Mid Bay Bridge Authority created a bypass and bridge fiscal monster, rubberstamped by our Board of County Commissioners, that will never be paid off. Those commuting to work will be paying an incredible $1430 a year in tolls. Any bets that’s not going to go up in the future too?

Higher up the food chain, at the state level we will be voting on two amendments to our State Constitution where it doesn’t matter if you vote yes or no, you will be voting for intrusive government (number 4 and number 8). What a choice.

We have fraud banks selling fraud mortgages backed by fraud buyers to everyone to the tune of trillions of dollars, all supposedly regulated by our fraud state and federal governments. Honest, hardworking, people are beginning to think maybe it is a good idea to walk away from their underwater mortgages.

On Wall Street big stock traders blatantly use illegal methods, such as Goldman Sachs front-running computer programs, to stay ahead of their competition (and the individual trader) with our own government’s blessing. It’s an openly rigged market.

Our Congress bailed out banks that should have gone under, and you and I are paying for it to the tune of $45,000 for every man, woman, and child in the county.

And the Federal Reserve, entrusted by law to keep prices stable, has openly come out with inflation targets. Inflation is called the cruelest tax because pensioners, the elderly, the savers and producers (you know, you and me) will be the ones actually paying for it.

It can also melt the country down.

By the way, nobody big goes to jail. That is reserved exclusively for the little guy.

Where are we going? It’s becoming clear that we are going to a place where playing by the rules is a sucker’s game.

It is what happens when libertarian principles are ignored, such as thrift, competition, the rule of law, and government staying out of the way. It is what happens when government is used as a source of favors instead of a protector of individual rights.

It is a dangerous path. It creates two classes of people, one composed of those who have government influence, and the vast majority of those who don’t. Thank 150 years of the republicans and democrats for this development.

So, this year, don’t just check the box and move on. The only way back is by supporting liberty, and the only party that truly supports liberty are the Libertarians.

4 July 1821

An address by John Quincy Adams 4 July 1821

Presumably responding to a comment from Britain as to “What has America done for Mankind?”

“And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world [Britain], the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this:

America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government.

America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.

She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights.

She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart.

She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right.

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force….She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….

[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace…

This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.

John Quincy Adams served as U. S. Secretary of State, he delivered this speech to the U.S. House of Representatives on July 4, 1821, in celebration of American Independence Day.

Real Political Competition

Americans like to compete. It validates what works, and gradually eliminates that which doesn’t.

Libertarians believe in competition. The greatest amount of happiness and prosperity come from people being able to compete in a free market where their individual rights are preserved by a government that is limited in its power. This leads to lasting benefits for both individuals and society.

Most people would agree. But for the last 150 years, from Okaloosa County all the way to the Congress, our leaders can come from only the Republican or Democrat Parties. In a group of four Americans you will find five different opinions, but somehow come election time we all just fall in line behind two major parties. As ridiculous as it seems, every solution, every possibility, every good, comes from either column R or column D, and no where else.

That, of course, is not by accident. Supposed competitors, the major parties are more like an old married couple that through hard experience know what to argue about, and what not to. Over time, by the skillful use of laws they created and the timely bribing of voters with their own money, these parties have suppressed political competition to their mutual advantage. They made people more dependent on government than ever before, increased the power of government over them and reduced individual opportunities in life. When election time comes people become afraid to vote for something different because it would remove the benefits the government gives them.

You pay a huge cost for this cozy political arrangement. Whether it is under the Republican President Reagan, or the Democrat President Clinton, or even in our own county, government has grown like a weed. Your taxes are higher, there are more bureaucrats who can tell you what to do with your property under penalty of law, the wars on poverty, drugs and terror regularly consume trillions of American’s wealth, and each of us ends up carrying a share of Federal government debt to the tune of $600,000. Government promises of Social security and Medicare will be worth nothing, either because the government will not pay or the money will be made worthless by inflation. Today your financial activities are monitored, your travel restricted, and even putting up a sign on your own property saying you like candidate such-and-such without telling the government could land you in jail for a year (FS 106.071). The FBI has conducted more than 200,000 warrantless searches on Americans citizens and the Inspector General of the Justice Department says 724,000 Americans are on the government’s terrorism watch list which is growing by 20,000 a month. There is no area of life where the government cannot monitor, regulate, or intervene. As said in the movie “The Patriot” we have replaced one tyrant 3000 miles away with 3000 tyrants one mile away. And all the while the Republicans and Democrats talk about change while supporting greater government power as they always have.

Libertarians know America can do better. In our hearts, Americans cherish Libertarian values. No one thinks about their future and says “Oh, I look forward to the day for the day the government confiscates my land, gives me what they see fit for it, tells me how to use it, gives me financial support, gives me permission to travel, searches where they like, tells me how I can speak on political matters, monitors my finances, taxes my income, and tells me what I can do with my body” but that is where we are. Every solution, every good, every possibility does not come from government, but from individuals who put the time, sweat, caring and personal risk into a project to make it better. Libertarians are about making it possible to do for yourself, and allow others to do for themselves as much as possible.

Instead of debating how big a tax increase should be, the debate should be about eliminating government spending. Instead of creating bureaucracies that seem to think of themselves first, there should be serious thought about eliminating them. Instead of meekly accepting that government can do anything, lawmakers must be limited in what they can do. Let people decide matters for themselves as long as they do not use force or fraud on each other. The end result is less costs and more options; in a word, freedom.

Only a Libertarian can say that, and that is real political competition.