The Libertarian presidential ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld tell us that they really want Americans to “live free.” How great is that? When these two former Republicans (yes, they both were good GOPers until a few years ago) move into the White House, we’ll all be free to do whatever we want without any interference from the big, bad government. Smoke a joint? Yeah! Carry your gun anywhere? Sure! Pay no taxes? Perfect!
Pardon me for bursting the Johnson/Weld balloon, but these guys are just the latest in a long line of GOPers who wave the libertarian banner while pretending that it’s all about freedom. In fact, it’s all about selling Americans a radical right-wing, anti-government agenda.
Why do I say this?
Boil down the libertarian platform from 1980 to 2016 and you get this:
- Taxes are tyranny.
- Government regulation destroys freedom.
- Social programs must be repealed and replaced with private charity.
These ideas have been promoted for years by two of the richest and most radical right-wingers: David and Charles Koch.
David and Charles had their bone-deep hatred of government beaten into them by their father, Fred Koch, one of the original founding members of the radical right, anti-government John Birch Society. Birch doctrine declares that the federal government is essentially evil and requires that every single progressive program passed since FDR be eliminated. They don’t stop there. They demand the dismantling of our central bank and a return to the gold standard. They insist that everything the federal government does that is not specifically defined in our constitution is illegal. To put this in perspective, the John Birch Society says that our federal government can only do FOUR things:
- Run the post office
- Conduct foreign policy
- Raise an army in time of war
- Coin money
If the Birch agenda were implemented, most of the federal government would be dismantled, sold-off, and privatized. It’s not a surprise that the vast majority of Americans don’t buy these radical ideas.
Realizing how unpopular their ideas were, the Kochs took a different tack. They decided to create the changes they wanted by building a vast, powerful political network. Their web of foundations, think tanks, and political organizations worked for decades to make their anti-government and anti-tax ideas palatable to Americans. The Kochs have succeeded. Today, a large majority of Americans hold negative views of the government.
“Waste, fraud, and abuse” and “out-of-control spending” are the mantras of the anti-government crowd. They’ve pushed for tax cuts and then more tax cuts regardless of the impact on the economy. While this was going on, the Kochs and their GOP friends grabbed every kind of government welfare including tax cuts for the wealthy, tax benefits for their corporations, government contracts pulling in billions for their industries, and a host of other “deals.”
While the Kochs and their wealthy friends have grown rich beyond measure, most American families have not shared in the largesse. Despite this, these people continue to push the same ideas: tax cuts, cutting the safety net, cutting regulations, and more tax cuts. It’s more of the trickle-down fiction that has been the backbone of every single GOP candidate from Reagan to Trump. And, let’s not forget, this is libertarian gospel.
To prove my point, let’s look at the proposals of the libertarian candidates in 2016.
- Repeal the income tax, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, eliminate of all corporate taxes.
- Repeal the 16th Amendment to prevent a reintroduction of income taxes by a different administration.
- Replace all taxation with a 28% consumption tax – called the Fair Tax by other GOPers.
- Eliminate all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.
- Pass a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.
- Cut the federal government by 43% immediately. Cut Medicare by 43% immediately. Cut Social Security by 43%.
- Education is best provided by the free market. Cut the Dept of Education and end all federal money for education.
- Repeal Obamacare and replace with a free-market health care system.
- Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system.
- Replace all welfare programs with the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.
- Eliminate all unnecessary regulation.
- The free market is perfect.
Imagine Our Country
Before you hitch your wagon to the Libertarian horse, decide if you want to live in a country governed by the Kochs, the John Birch Society, and Libertarians. Most Americans can’t afford to live in such a country. The idea that we’ll all suddenly wake up rich when the federal government collects no taxes is nonsense. Think of all the new costs we’ll have to absorb when the libertarians are in charge. Among them: all retirement costs, all healthcare costs, all expenses for maintaining roads and bridges, rising state and local taxes, all cost of education. And that’s just a start.
Imagine our country with no regulation of water or air. Imagine our country with no licensing for doctors and health providers. Imagine our country with no FDA and no monitoring of food or drug safety. Imagine our country turned back into the old libertarian paradise of 1900. For all of their talk of “living free,” only rich folks will be doing much living in a libertarian utopia. Don’t fall for the Johnson-Weld ticket. They are old radical right-wing, anti-government guys just like the Kochs, the John Birch Society, and a big part of the GOP..