Last night I offered two motions for consideration during the regular bi-weekly meeting of the Florida Libertarian Party's Executive Committee.
I want to go over them and challenge people who are, or might be Libertarian, to think about these issues and then contact members of the Florida EC with your opinions.
The first dealt with financial fraud. As I'm sure everyone is aware I have long held that until financial fraud is punished as the crime that it is we will never have a strong economy -- or a level economic playing field. Yet fraud has become a business model for our financial sector, and the average person has been the victim of that fraud -- serially and outrageously for the last two decades.
As a result I offered the following motion:
Whereas the manipulation of LIBOR for several years surrounding the 2007/2008, both before and after the crisis, is increasingly being shown to have been an organized activity by major financial institutions;
Whereas this manipulation appears to have taken place with the knowledge of both the banks involved and Central Banks, including The Federal Reserve;
Whereas this manipulation has been documented as taking place for the purpose of making "profits" within the banks involved in a multi-hundred-trillion dollar interest rate derivative market;
Whereas derivatives, by their inherent mathematical nature, have an equal loser for each winner;
Whereas there is now evidence emerging that the average family with a $100,000 mortgage may have been damaged to the tune of between $50-100 per month during the time in question;
Whereas such manipulation, if proved, would be the largest theft of money in the history of the planet from not only the citizens of the United States but indeed on a world-wide basis, in fact being a theft totaling in excess of $100 billion annually in the United States alone;
Therefore be it resolved that:
1. The Libertarian Party of Florida hereby calls on all political candidates to demand a full and public investigation of the alleged manipulation of LIBOR, and that all parties found to be involved in willful and intentional manipulation of the LIBOR rate be fully exposed to both civil and criminal penalty, and that 100% restitution to all persons so harmed be made from both corporate and personal resources of each and every person or institution so-involved.
2. Any Libertarian candidate running in a race in which Florida voters may cast ballots who fails to so demand within 30 (thirty) days of the passage of this motion, or who fails to carry through to the fullest extent of the powers of office should he or she be elected, shall have his affiliate and/or parent party, as well as his campaign, brought before the membership at the next annual business meeting per the Standing Rules (Article VII, Section 5 and 6) for a vote to permanently disavow all further support of the party and/or candidate who so refuses for cause as a willful violator of the Party Non-Aggression Principle.
During debate on the motion a hostile amendment was offered to strike clause (2), thereby eviscerating any penalty from the resolution. In other words, the EC decided, by majority and recorded vote, that the resolution would turn from something with potential for enforcement by formal removal of support to one that is simply a "we don't like this" sort of feel-goodism.
Please note that Party Standing Rules prohibit the EC (or its committees) from disavowing a national candidate, the national party itself or its platform other than at the Annual Business Meeting by vote of the membership. This clause is proper and I support it; a decision of that sort is serious and potentially explosive in the political realm, and should not be undertaken for light, transient causes nor upon the caprice of just a few people. Rather, it is properly reserved to the general membership where it can be noticed in advance of the meeting and properly debated.
Nonetheless the removal of the penalty clause, after which the motion passed, renders the motion nothing more than a "love note" for national candidates and races. (It does, I note, remain "active" for state and federal races specifically under State Party auspices, as the EC could revoke vetting and/or endorsement without a full vote of the membership, although again without a penalty clause there's little to fear from the resolution itself.)
I fully expect Governor Johnson (and, likely, other candidates -- with the probable exception of Calen Fretts) to ignore it.
The second motion dealt with the same sort of problem within the party's position on immigration. The Florida Party platform is silent on the issue. However, the State Platform incorporates the national platform by reference and in its entirety. A recent DHS report, which I Tickered, provided evidence that legal immigrants are to a large degree at least eligible for various welfare and other social spending programs -- and are using them.
The problem here is that the National Libertarian Platform also calls for an end to these social welfare programs. That's all well and fine, but everyone knows that this is not the world we live in -- and may not be the world we ever live in. The reality of political action is that one also never gets everything you want, nor is it realistic to expect such an outcome. As such when you state a political plank that in some way intertwines with another issue or principle, you must include the conditionality that is required to prevent abuse or you will simply get the abuse.
As such I offered the following motion:
Whereas the LPF platform includes under Section XIII the National Libertarian Platform;
Whereas The National Platform, Section 3.4, states: "We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.";
Whereas open borders, as defined above, have led to on a documented basis in the last year, 76% of all immigrants granted permanent residency having no documented occupation and, excluding children, fully half of those granted permanent residence status are adults and a net drain on the social fabric of our society; (ref: http://www.dhs.gov/files/statistics/publications/LPR11.shtm);
Whereas the free flow of persons to where government handouts are available has a documented record by the government's own statistics of depressing employment and wages in our nation, and in fact those adults granted green cards are unemployed at a rate four times that of the general population;
Whereas the forced transfer of funds from one person to another via these social programs is in fact theft and thus a direct violation of the Non-Aggression Principle;
Therefore, be it resolved that:
1. The LPF shall upon passage of this motion send a letter of condemnation recommending to the National Party insisting that it modify its statement on open borders such that open borders are a goal to be enacted only if and when all social support programs that effect forced transfers of funds in the form of entitlements and welfare are first removed, citing the government statistics above, and that until this change takes place immigration controls designed to prohibit the exploitation of taxpayer-funded entitlements and welfare by immigrants are unfortunately both appropriate and necessary;
2. Should the National Party refuse to modify its position on open borders on or prior to the next annual business meeting a motion shall be heard on the calendar at that meeting to disavow the Immigration Plank of the National Platform under Standing Rules Article VII, Section 6.
This turned out to be considerably more-contentious. After friendly amendments the language was lightly modified to read as above (changes as highlighted in blue), which I had no quarrel with.
Then a motion was raised to suspend the motion until the next meeting, which passed, ending consideration until two weeks from last night.
Now here's the problem that our Party has, and which I argue it must resolve.
We refuse to take on the tough linkages and issues that we have in our positions as a party, and as a consequence we're not taken seriously.
For example (and this is not an exhaustive list):
- It's great to support the free flow of labor. However, as things stand today (1) other nations don't agree and will not allow free migration of our labor to their nation and (2) our social "safety net" is a drawing card for people who are poorer than the level of support it can provide in other countries, making it explicitly profitable for those people to come here seeking handouts. It is perfectly fine to support the free flow of labor conditioned on both the removal of those safety nets and other nations' equal behavior, but to fail to condition the proposal is identical to demanding that Americans leave their bank accounts and homes open to be pillaged by anyone from Mexico or elsewhere who chooses to do so. This is flatly unacceptable to nearly everyone in America. Worse, it's utter hypocrisy in the context of the Libertarian Non-Aggression Principle -- theft is theft, and the worst sort of theft is that enabled and countenanced by governments as you have no recourse before the law when the government steals from you.
- So-called "Free Trade" boils down to the same issue. Free and open borders for the passage of goods and services are fine and well between nations that (1) do not manipulate their currencies to obtain an unfair advantage, (2) do not steal intellectual and physical property as a means of gaining advantage and (3) do not use environmental destruction or effective enslavement of their labor force as a means of gaining advantage. The Constitution provides a nice lawful means of addressing 1-3 above called "tariffs." It is regrettable that such a mechanism is necessary, but unfortunately it is because other nations do not share our way of life, or values or our sense of fairness -- and under a Libertarian government that won't change. The intentional refusal to place a predicate on the Libertarian Platform's "Free Trade" admonition tying the free and un-tariffed flow of goods and services to intellectual and physical property rights, the rule of law, free and unfettered exchange rates and the lack of environmental destruction and enslavement as competitive weapons is untenable. Again the Party must choose -- are we a bunch of hypocrites or do we mean it? If the Non-Aggression Principle is real then it must apply to all conduct, including that which takes place "over there", and therefore conditionality must be applied to "free trade."
- Governor Johnson has made a big deal out of "gay marriage." A big part of the reason gay people want "marriage equality" is for its economic benefits, specifically, tax benefits. The problem is that Governor Johnson also supports The Fair Tax, which if enacted would remove all marriage penalties and benefits from the tax code in the first place, rendering that argument moot. In addition it is a poor argument to make that one should consider the solution to Statist intrusion into straight couples' lives the addition of that same intrusion into gay couples' lives! Anyone who has gone through a nasty divorce knows exactly what I'm talking about in this regard. An actual Libertarian position is that it's none of the Federal Government's damn business who you live with; if you want to be married go see a Priest in the Church of your choice. The government's proper role is simply to adjudicate contract disputes; you and your Church are free to form whatever contract you wish and the courts should be there to adjudicate all such agreements without fear or favor.
- Governor Johnson also puts forward a balanced budget -- a 43% cut in all federal spending. However, he fails to link it to the root cause of the federal spending explosion in the first place -- the ridiculous growth rate of medical spending. This medical spending expansion has occurred in the economy as a whole (including the Government) specifically due to the passage of laws that make monopoly and cost-shifting behavior possible, including EMTALA, prohibitions on drug reimportation, laws permitting gouging where people are billed after the fact (with no ability to negotiate or object) 2, 5, 10 or even 100 times what someone else pays for the same procedure or device, differentiated only by how they pay and more. Without conditionality -- that is, a removal of those laws so that the market can force the collapse of medical costs -- not only will this offered budget fail but parts of his alleged program such as "block granting" Medicare and Medicaid en-masse will force the collapse of state budgets as well! State Medicaid spending this year is expected to grow at 20%. That's a double every 3.6 years and simply cannot be sustained.
The Libertarian Party has the opportunity to offer a true alternative to the present two-party system. It has a message which can be powerful and which can win elections.
But much of that power and empowerment is lost when the party ducks issues such as fraud and felony in the financial system, a major cause of the recession we have been in since 2007.
It's even worse when necessary conditionality is ignored and simple-minded policy pronouncements are made without regard for how we got into the mess we're in today.
We cannot continue down the path we are on -- economically or socially. For the Libertarian Party to take the lead on policy where it both can and should it must insist on the conditionality of policy that respects the party Non-Aggression Principle without fear, favor, or exception.
After all, it's the "exceptions" that have led to the manipulation of interest rate indices and what is arguably the largest theft in the history of mankind, the loss of over 2 million homes in the United States, two serial stock market crashes in a decade and ridiculous debasement of American purchasing power.
I call upon Libertarians everywhere to contact the Florida Libertarian Party Executive Committee members and urge it to pass Motion LP 120712-50, suspended until the Executive Committee meeting of 7/29, and to take up upon motion re-instatement of the penalty clause in the "Motion In Support of Honest Markets" that was struck during Executive Committee debate on 7/15.
Karl Denninger is an at-large Executive Committee member of the Florida Libertarian Party. The opinions expressed are his own.