"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." John Adams (1780)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Forbes Article: "Economic Forecast For A Libertarian President"

I'm amazed at the amount of mainstream press that Libertarian presidential candidates Governors Gary Johnson and William Weld are garnering. Here's a great recent example from Forbes which tries to predict the economic impact of a Gary Johnson administration: "Economic Forecast For A Libertarian President."

A few highlights:
  • You can read the whole article here."In the long run, the economy will be better off with market-oriented reforms. [...] But getting from here to there depends on how the public perceives the new president."
  • "Foreign military activity would certainly be reduced by a Libertarian president, making those defense cuts easier. But Congressional loyalty to military bases and defense contractors in their districts and states will prevent cuts from going too deep."
  • "A President Gary Johnson would veto quite often. He used this power 200 times in his first six months as governor of New Mexico, earning the nickname 'Governor Veto.'"
  • "Federal spending would fall under a Libertarian administration, but the president must spend appropriated money whether he wants to or not[.]"
You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: "The Soviet Story"

At the Libertarian Party of Iowa's state convention in March the keynote speaker, Dr. Yuri N. Maltsev, recommended watching the 2008 documentary "The Soviet Story." The film studies the fascinating relationship and similarities between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Nazi Germany. I just watched it and I too highly recommend the film. If you watch it, you will learn a lot about communism and our World War Two ally that they didn't teach you in school. It is available on Amazon video, YouTube and probably elsewhere.

The film first spends some time illustrating that communism and Nazism are not as different as many think. It shows how both are largely based on the writings of Marx & Engels. You'll see early Nazi symbology with the swastika literally between the hammer and sickle.

The film highlights the many mass extermination atrocities committed by the Soviet Union including The Holodomor, the deliberate starvation of 7 million Ukrainians in one year alone. The film attributes some 20 million total murders to Soviet communism over the course of its history. In his book "The Great Terror," researcher Robert Conquest puts that number at about 15 million. Whichever, it's a lot.

It's important that we remember and understand this bloody history, lest we repeat it. While the crimes of the Nazis have rightly been widely denounced and their ideology discredited as a result, the same can't be said for the communists. You can say, "Soviet communists made mistakes and had some excesses, but they were mostly right," among Western intelligentsia today, whereas saying the same thing about the Nazis would get you booed out of the room. While modern Germany condemns the Nazi regime, Vladimir Putin, current ruler of Russia, calls the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century." Most American millennials wouldn't know to disagree with him.

The film also spends significant time on the wartime collaboration between the USSR and Nazi Germany. I was aware the two countries had a non-aggression pact with each other initially, but was unaware of the degree that the two regimes actively aided each other. There were plans on which country would get to consume which smaller countries, Poland was split between the two, the Soviets let the Nazis use their naval base to stage their invasion of Norway, the Soviet NKVD (secret police) taught the Nazi Gestapo torture techniques and how to set up concentration camps, and the Soviets provided food and materials to the Nazi war machine. When many Jews fled to the USSR to escape the Nazis, the NKVD rounded them up and turned them over to the Gestapo.

It's obvious that Stalin and Hitler were planning on carving up Europe for themselves before the two monsters began quarreling. This is not the image of our wonderful World War Two ally that we are often presented with in the West.

Please check out this film! You'll learn a lot. This is a Latvian film (Latvia being one of the three "Baltic states" that didn't appreciate their time under the boot of Soviet oppression) and there are several different versions of the film out there in different languages. Make sure you grab one in English.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Libertarian Party of Iowa State Convention

Professor Yuri N. Matlsev delivers the keynote address.

On Saturday March 20th the Libertarian Party of Iowa held its annual state convention. Normally held in the Des Moines area, this year's convention was held in Cedar Rapids at the Clarion Hotel & Convention Center. Although I've been a dues paying Libertarian for many years I had never attended a convention before. Since this convention was on my side of the state I had no excuse to miss this one.

At 9am Iowa Party Chair Keith Laube welcomed attendees to the convention. The next few hours were spent on rather mundane party business such as amending the party's Constitution and bylaws. Although I recognize its necessity,  I have to admit the parliamentary gobbledygook isn't really my cup of tea. Wake me up when we can grab the muskets! The interesting part was hearing the reports from members of the several active county affiliate parties in the state who told about the various activities they've been involved in.

Dr. Lee Heib discussed the work of the  Harrison County Libertarian Party which has been trying to get their county to contract out (privatize) some of its roadwork. Nate Newsome spoke on the activities of the Linn County Libertarian Party. He said they hold regular meetings, write letters to the editor of local papers and even spoke to a local high school civics class. (The Republicans and Democrats were invited to speak at the school session as well but didn't show up, proving, I guess, that they have "no class.")

There was also a presidential straw poll of the members which former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson won handily. (You can read more about the straw poll here.)

The group then accepted nominations for candidates for state office. The following candidates were approved: Don Brantz for State Senate #24, Brian Cook for Senate # 48, Bob Boyle for State House #20, Joe Gleason for House # 31, Jeff Meyers for House # 38, Dr. Eric Cooper for House #45, Joshua Miller for House #78, Garrett Byrd for House #80 and Rick Stewart for Linn County Sherriff.

After lunch, awards were handed out in recognition of the 2015 candidates, the county affiliates, committee members and volunteers and lifetime members. Then it was time for the convention's two guest speakers.

First up was Cristina Kinsella, the Advocacy Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, who spoke about the work of her group that she thought would be of particular interest to libertarians.  She explained  SF 2262 which would modify current law and allow police to retain seized property only after a person has been convicted of a felony for which forfeiture is expressly authorized as a penalty. The bill is still hanging on by its fingernails in the statehouse.

She said the "warrantless detention" bill was dead for this session. This would have required Iowa sheriffs to hold prisoners beyond their approved release date if federal agencies requested it. Twenty-six sheriffs had already said they would not hold prisoners without a warrant. She also said that a medical marijuana bill was still alive at the statehouse, although was much more restrictive than the original wording. She said the ACLU of Iowa continued to fight racial profiling and increased sentencing bills.

Kinsella then fielded questions from the interested group. A couple of members asked about the ACLU's apparent lack of concern for Second Amendment rights. Ms. Kinsella graciously explained that since there was some debate  among ACLU of Iowa members as to what the Second Amendment entailed and since the Second Amendment seemed well represented by other groups, ACLU of Iowa chose to focus its resources elsewhere.

Next up was the convention's keynote speaker, Dr. Yuri N. Maltsev. A professor of economics at Carthage College in Wisconsin, Maltsev worked as an economist on Mikhail Gorbachev's economic reform team before defecting to the United States in 1989. He is a Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and serves as a member of the advisory boards of the Foundation for Economic Education, Heartland Institute and the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.

Maltsev said that the USA was much freer when he came here in 1989, noting the county's tumbling score on the Fraser Institute's annual rankings of freedom among other things. This distressed him, he joked, because he was getting "too old to defect again."

Professor Maltsev spent well over an hour laying bare the sins of Soviet Communism, then showed that it and Nazism and Socialism and modern liberalism are not opposing ideas, but basically one in the same.  When any of them get far enough along they will require massive coercive force and murder to function. That is why some 200,000,000 people were killed by "socialist" governments (of one stripe or another) during the 20th Century.

Maltsev said that "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich von Hayek was a book that changed his life. He also recommended the 2008 documentary film "The Soviet Story." I've already read von Hayek's book before, you can bet I'll be watching the film soon.

The convention closed at about 5:00 and I was glad I went.

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