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Fighting World Hunger

A suggestion for the Badnarik campaign.

by James Leroy Wilson
June 3, 2004

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The nomination of Michael Badnarik to the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination took many by surprise. Not being at the convention, I presume that, being consistently the third choice in various libertarian polls and (non-binding) primaries, that he was the "compromise" between Gary Nolan and Aaron Russo, who came in late to the campaign but received positive notices from columnists at the popular Worldnetdaily.com and LewRockwell.com.

I was half-heartedly on the Russo bandwagon myself, assuming that he was going to get the nomination. Also, I thought that his reaching out to the American people on the War on Iraq, the Patriot Act, and the coming draft, could better draw votes away from the Left as well as from the Right.

Now, obviously, I hope I’m wrong. I know that Badnarik won’t win the general election, but I hope his message does captivate the audience who hears him, and will draw more people into the Libertarian Party. I hope he succeeds like no other LP candidate before him, wins millions of votes, and make a Ross Perot-sized impact instead of a Ralph Nader one. Perot’s chief issue, the deficit, did become a bi-partisan priority during the Clinton years. Third-party movements do matter.

But, like Perot, the candidate must draw from the the Right, from the Left, and especially, from moderates and non-voters. The Libertarian Party has to, today, "universalize" its message so that no one will think of it as a "right-wing" party. Already, some analysts from the Establishment Media are suggesting that the Libertarian Party could cost President Bush the election by drawing away conservatives and other limited-government types who normally vote Republican as the "lesser of two evils."

By even suggesting it, the Establishment is already encouraging such voters to not do so. The message Establishment is saying to potential Libertarian voters, "So, you want a President Kerry?" just as the Establishment is saying to potential Nader voters, "So, you want four more years of Bush?" The Establishment with its two Parties wants continuous war, and it seeks to crush third party opposition with the tired old "throwing your vote away" argument and exploiting long-held partisan hatreds. They do this to Ralph Nader, too. So they will continuously say that the Libertarian Party is a right-wing party that will draw votes away from Bush.

The problem with the LP is that it is not really a right-wing party, it just has that reputation. Nominating a Constitutional scholar may add to that reputation. But the Libertarian Party’s platform is not a right-wing document, and neither is the Constitution itself.

Badnarik’s campaign will hopefully go a long way towards transcending Left and Right when it comes to the President’s legitimate war powers, the PATRIOT Act, and other Constitutional issues. But there is more he could say, that might perk up the ears of long-time Democrats about the three goals of the Establishment and its Democratic and Republican Parties:

1. That they are both in favor of world empire, stationing troops around the world, even in nations perfectly capable of defending themselves, like South Korea, Japan, and Germany, at the cost of hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars per year. 

2. That they are both in favor of corporate handouts and against small business. They use the government’s "eminent domain" power to take land from innocent people and donate it to Wal-Mart. They impose complex regulations in taxes, labor practices, production, pricing, and environmental controls, that major corporations can either afford to obey, or use lobbyists to get Congress to grant exceptions for them. But these costs are major hurdles for smaller businesses, making it harder for them to compete, let alone thrive.

3. The persistence of a permanent underclass. From the warehousing of poor people in lousy schools and worse public housing, to the unemployment that is inevitable in low income, high-crime neighborhoods, vicious cycles are created that seem only to benefit the government, its employees, and its contractors. "More money for schools" ends up being more money for hiring more administrators, unionized janitors, raises for bad teachers and other waste. "War on Crime" means more construction of prisons. The losers are the poor, the taxpayers, and our freedoms.

But there is one more thing that the Libertarian Party can do. I’m not suggesting a change in principle or policy, only in message. Apply the libertarian message specifically to something that nearly everyone, left, middle, and right, is to some degree concerned about. It appeals to everyone’s sense of decency and compassion. It should be made a priority of the Badnarik campaign:

Combat hunger, both at home and abroad.

The Libertarian Party’s policy toward combating hunger involves four main themes:

1. Removing government policies, from regulations, to subsidies, to paying farmers for destroying food, to imposing tariffs on foreign-made food, that keeps food prices artificially high. This will not only make food cheaper for America’s poor mothers and their children, it will also open the American market to the developing world’s agricultural growers.

2. Removing government taxes, regulations, tariffs, and other policies that prevent people from earning a living. Not only food producers, but other foreign workers will have access to the American market to alleviate their hunger needs. America’s poor will enjoy lower prices. With the tax cuts and fewer regulations, America’s businesses will be able to hire more Americans and be less inclined to set up factories overseas.

3. Abolishing the Federal Reserve banking monopoly. This would ignite a world revolution in banking and government monetary policy, and money will be based on weights of a precious earth resource, such as gold. Price inflation would only happen when more gold is discovered and mined; otherwise greater production from lower taxes and greater economic freedom will lead to ever-falling prices, ultimately benefiting the poor in greater and greater numbers.

4. Abolishing all foreign aid to all governments and other foreign or international organizations. While not all of these recipients are corrupt, and some not as corrupt as others, two principles must be preserved. The first is that the American taxpayer’s dollar should be spent by someone ultimately accountable to the American people, which foreign dictators and UN bureaucrats are not. The second, and more important for the world’s poor, is that our dollars encourage the greater growth of government in foreign lands, not the growth of freedom and prosperity in foreign lands.

When cutting off foreign aid, we can also suggest to (but in no way force) our former recipients two things. The first, is to encourage these governments to follow the acclaimed Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto and grant actual legal land titles to the homeowners and farmers who, in fact, occupy the land. The problem is that they are there by "squatting," by homesteading virgin land without legal grant, or by inheriting, by tradition, the place their father’s family lived on. The government did not provide the minimum that civil government is supposed to do, established property titles, and without that, the people can’t sell their land, or borrow money from the bank to expand their business, using the land as collateral. People work the land, but they don’t own property; no one "legally" owns it except the government and its army. De Soto’s recommendations are already influencing some developing countries. Free markets and prosperity ultimately depend on private property.

The second recommendation for foreign governments receiving our aid, is to instead receive our investment. To open their own borders to foreign goods and foreign investment produced by our privately-owned companies. Not only would free trade among countries expand the markets and opportunities for both peoples, it also encourages peace and reduce tensions and grievances between them. This, too, will reduce world hunger.

The Libertarian Party is for the unemployed man in Chicago who is denied using his own car as a taxicab because of his city government’s regulations and license fees. The Libertarian Party is for the single mother with young children trying to stretch her dollar to feed her children, which has been distorted by the federal government-created New England dairy cartel and tariffs on foreign foods.

The Libertarian Party, and only the Libertarian Party, will provide more opportunities for employment and lower prices for the poor, both here and throughout the world.

This is not a Left or Right issue. It is a justice issue. Can the government justly prevent a person who wants a job from having it, or deny permission to someone who wants to start a business? Can the government justly take property away from small landholders? Can the government justly impose policies that artificially raise prices on goods, especially basic necessities?

The Libertarian Party must not just appeal toward the Right’s sense of limited government, but also to the Left’s sense of social and economic justice, to the moderates sense of disgusted helplessness, and to the non-voter’s hope for reform.

If Kerry wins the election, let it not be said that it was because the "Libertarian vote" went against Bush. The LP should take from Kerry voters, Bush voters, "undecided" (between Bush and Kerry) voters, and otherwise non-voters (those who wouldn’t have voted at all were it not for the LP or Badnarik).

Green Party and Nader voters are too counter-cultural and anti-free-market; the Constitution Party is too Christian conservative for wide appeal and regrettably, economically nationalistic and militaristic.

Only the Libertarian Party can draw votes from both the Left and the Right, on policies grounded in individual rights, economic freedom with justice for the little guy, and an anti-Empire foreign policy. Only the Libertarian Party stands for the United States of America that Americans thought it stood for and actually want it to be.

Let’s hope Michael Badnarik rises up to the challenge.

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