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Massachusetts Progressive Politics and other news of the world

 

Libertarian Roadmap


Given this post from Jacob Levy on the VolCon, one might think that Democratic party has no chance with Libertarians. I prefer to think of it as a roadmap.

Last fall I tried to combine my various threshold tests and litmus tests and utilitarian calculations, and I asked

Can anyone name for me a candidate in a competitive race (or, really, any candidate) for either Senate or House who is a) pro-choice; b) pro-trade (supports NAFTA, TPA, and WTO without weaselly exceptions, hasn't been a force in favor of any of the dumb protectionist moves in the past few years); c) not-actively-antigay (sometimes one takes what one can get); d) generally in favor of tax cuts; e) generally in favor of spending restraint; f) generally pro-immigration; g) not guilty of demagoguing Social Security? I'd have a hard time supporting someone who suppported the campaign finance bill or a vigorous drug warrior. Supporting the death penalty is bad, but I'm willing to treat that as a litmus test for executive posts rather than legislative ones. And, obviously, actively pro-gay-rights (marriage, military) would be better than passive, and actively pro-Social Security reform would be better than passive. But I think I could stomach someone who met the named threshold tests [a-g]; and I'd actively want to encourage that person's party (whichever party it was!) to move in that person's direction. But I can't think of a single such candidate from either major party...
President Bush is (a) not pro-choice. He is (b) not pro-trade by that definition (steel tariffs) (c) Tough one. Does this make Bush actively anti-gay (From the 2000 race)?
In the current presidential race, it's George W. Bush, the Republican candidate, who actively supports anti-gay sodomy laws, doesn't think gays are fit to be parents, supports the ban on openly gay people in the military, opposes hate crimes legislation and gay and lesbian employment rights, and withholds support for domestic partnership benefits for gay and lesbian people.
(d) Generally in favor of tax-cuts -- check (so are many Democrats). (e) Generally in favor of spending restraint -- in talk, yes, in deed, no. (f) pro-immigration -- he used to be, now not so much. (g) The definition of a demagogue according to m-w:
1 : a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power
'Nuff said.

To me the key point is: "I'd actively want to encourage that person's party (whichever party it was!) to move in that person's direction.". One way is to support candidates in the party with a vote. Bush will be the GOP nominee. The nomination from the Democratic party is up for grabs. Encourage Libertarianism by voting in the Democratic primary (for Howard Dean).
4/25/2003 02:41:00 PM [Link] |
 

Tax Cuts and the Left


Yesterday, I followed up an entry with a suggestion about how to sell tax-cuts to the left. I pointed out that states with large urban centers lean to the Democratic party but are also the ones with lowest ratio of federal receipts to federal taxes paid. I am tracking down the sources right now, and I'm not done with a full analysis yet, but here's a place to start. I am checking the census sources now, so I present that as a start for now.
If some states are beneficiaries, receiving more than they send in, then naturally some states must be benefactors – those states where so much is collected in federal taxes that any federal largesse they receive is overwhelmed. With an extremely high FY 2000 federal tax burden per capita (164 percent of the national average), even above-average federal spending (102 percent of the national average) couldn't prevent Connecticut from having the lowest federal spending-to-tax ratio (0.62). The 0.62 ratio means that Connecticut only receives 62¢ in federal spending for every dollar its taxpayers send to Washington and is therefore the nation's biggest loser from federal fiscal operations. Other states that had low federal spending-to-tax ratios in FY 2000 are New Jersey (66¢), Nevada (69¢), New Hampshire (71¢), and Illinois (74¢).
Nevada and New Hampshire are red states, the rest are blue. More on this later.
4/24/2003 05:08:00 PM [Link] |
 

The Volokh Conspiracy's Left Turn


A week ago I recommended the Volokh Conspiracy even though I disagree with almost everything they say. Then, I read this post on Sen. Santorum by conspirator Jacob Levy, which concludes:
Santorum doesn't only have an outrageous view of the proper scope of state power over sex. He's also expressing, and inflaming, ugly, bigoted views about homosexuality.

And yet Republicans ask me why I'm not one of them...
Ok, I agree with that.

The post right before that one is Eugene's views on the Baseball Hall of Fame disinvitation
The chief problem here, I think, wasn't with Petroskey trying to punish Robbins for his speech; it was Petroskey using Hall of Fame events as a vehicle for his own political ideology. That's not, I think, what he was selected to do, and it's not ethical for someone who serves an apolitical institution to use it for his own personal political purposes -- especially when his actions may end up hurting the institution, precisely by making people see it as politicized.
Uh oh, I agree with that, too.

Notwithstanding this entry's title, this reflects the Libertarian bent of The Conspirators more than anything, but I think it's indicative of the alignment of interests of the Libertarians and Democrats (especially Howard Dean). I know, I know, Libertarians hate the Democratic Party's tax policy, but I hope they don't allow this administration to pay them to shut up about civil liberties.

Update: Eugene Volokh linked to this entry and says:
I much appreciate the praise, but I think this misses a very basic point about Libertarians: We think that lower taxes and lighter economic regulation are matters of civil liberties. That -- plus other issues, such as gun rights -- are a big part of why the interests of the Libertarians and the Democrats are pretty far out of alignment, on some utterly fundamental matters.
I'm all for lighter (but not no) economic regulation and I support gun rights, and I am not alone on the left. But, in my opinion, lowering taxes takes a back seat to paying off the debt, funding our government, helping out the states, and funding mandates (like "No child left behind"). If we could show that the government could function with less money before cutting taxes, it would be harder to oppose it. Looking at our country's current position, is cutting taxes really the obvious next step? That doesn't seem right to me.

Here's how to sell tax-cuts to Democrats. On this map, dark red states went to Bush in 2000 and are net receivers of federal tax, light red states are Bush states who net pay. (from PollKatz). In general, states with large urban areas (New York, New Jersey, California) favor Democrats, but net-pay taxes (so much for the welfare state). Ironically, many Senators that are the most gung-ho for tax-cuts, represent states that net-receive money from the federal government.
4/23/2003 11:45:00 AM [Link] |
 

Krugman Does the Math


Paul Krugman really outdid himself with this one today:
Not that the budget cost is minor. The average American worker earns only about $40,000 per year; why does the administration, even on its own estimates, need to offer $500,000 in tax cuts for each job created? If it's all about jobs, wouldn't it be far cheaper just to have the government hire people? Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration put the unemployed to work doing all kinds of useful things; why not do something similar now? (Hint: this would be a good time to do something serious, finally, about port security.)
Any Libertarian would cringe at the above statement, but we owe the highway system, rural electrification, the Internet and countless other public benefits to this kind of idea. And to anyone who says the Government is bad at running things, I would point to the recent success in Iraq as an example of Government aptitude (or at least many would).
4/22/2003 04:28:00 PM [Link] |