Libertarian Presidential Candidates Quizzed On Federal Budget

This email was sent on Jan 19 to the six Libertarian candidates who had so far accepted invitations to appear in debates:

Independent Political Report is asking the Libertarian Party presidential candidates for a preview of the 2013 budget they would send to Congress if elected. IPR has prepared an online spreadsheet with 20 spending categories and 10 revenue categories, along with reference figures from the most recent fiscal year that has published actuals. You can send your budget as a reply to this email, or simply add a column to spreadsheet, and IPR staff will update the locked part of the spreadsheet with your numbers. IPR will also be inviting prospective LP delegates to add their own column of answers to the unlocked part of the spreadsheet.

At this writing, numbers have been received only for Gary Johnson. The Johnson budget calls for cutting military/Medicare/Medicaid spending to eliminate the deficit, and replacing all federal income taxes with sales taxes.

54 thoughts on “Libertarian Presidential Candidates Quizzed On Federal Budget

  1. ralph swanson

    This is a very unlibertarian exercise. The correct approach is reducing tax rates and asking Congress to submit a budget with a cut target–let them figure it out.

    Looks like Johnson has fallen for this stupidity. Good work.

  2. 24/7 the T-Rex of Talk Radio

    Will the ones who answer in crayon be eliminated from the LP.ORG listings ?

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  3. paulie

    This is a very unlibertarian exercise. The correct approach is reducing tax rates and asking Congress to submit a budget with a cut target–let them figure it out.

    So what would you propose if you were in Congress? And what would you propose for tax rates – which is also part of Brian’s question?

    My answer would be to propose zero taxes and zero spending.

    If I were president (and the cow jumped over the moon), that would mean that the only taxes and spending that would pass would be items where my veto could be overriden, in other words where a supermajority of congress agreed on the item.

    If I were in congress, it would mean that the other members of congress would have to work just a tiny bit harder to pass any given item of spending and/or taxes.

  4. Robert Capozzi

    6 p, were a prez to pursue your strategy, odds are high that he/she’d be ignored, vilified, and not engaged in any negotiations, yes? Might that hurt the cause of liberty?

  5. Brian Holtz Post author

    This is a very unlibertarian exercise.

    Yes, facing reality is something that many libertarians have been reluctant to do.

    It’s easy to say “less government” or “lower taxes”. There’s already a party for those who say that while never specifying what parts of government should be cut.

  6. paulie

    were a prez to pursue your strategy, odds are high that he/she’d be ignored, vilified, and not engaged in any negotiations, yes? Might that hurt the cause of liberty?

    I don’t think so.

    I’m sure that president would be vilified, but he or she would be rather difficult to ignore.

    I presume that if such a person were elected, there would be a large constituency for cutting government as much as possible. That would probably include a sizable bloc in Congress, but there would probably be enough votes in Congress to pass some spending over the president’s veto.

    The president would also be able to use other powers such as executive orders and pardons to cut and mitigate various aspects of government monopoly.

  7. paulie

    It’s easy to say “less government” or “lower taxes”. There’s already a party for those who say that while never specifying what parts of government should be cut.

    Agreed.

  8. Brian Holtz Post author

    Bob, I don’t think any anarcholibertarian would claim we’re going to vote our way to anarchy. The point of an answer like Paulie’s is to get people to think about the counterfactual.

  9. paulie

    No, I don’t think we’ll vote our way to anarchy.

    My answer acknowledges the reality that we have a divided government.

    The other parties are going to advocate for ever more spending, regulation and taxes, differing only on the details of which constituencies they are featherbedding. Our niche in the political ecosystem should be to advocate for whatever cuts we can get, realizing that we’ll be lucky to get any at all.

  10. Robert Capozzi

    P, yes, advocating gettable cuts makes sense. Advocating ungettable, across the board zeroing out is moon positioning…

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@7

    “were a prez to pursue your strategy, odds are high that he/she’d be ignored, vilified, and not engaged in any negotiations, yes?”

    And he’d only be the 45th president to be ignored, vilified and not engaged in any negotiations on one point or another.

    Does anyone know when presidents started submitting detailed budget proposals (as opposed to line item requests) to Congress? My guess is it’s a fairly recent phenomenon.

    The president’s job is to execute what Congress legislates.

    He’s constitutionally charged to “recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient,” and he has the power to veto things he doesn’t want, but there would be nothing at all wrong with him telling Congress “the budget is your job — I’ll veto it if it isn’t balanced or if it doesn’t include [list of things I think it needs],” but I’m not going to write the fucking thing for you.”

  12. paulie

    How much coercive monopoly government do I want?

    Less.

    How much less?

    The less the better.

    I’m not under any illusion that we could get all the way zero immediately, at least not peacefully, but I also realize that even in the bizarrely unlikely hypothetical where I was the potus that I still would not be the absolute monarch whose every whim is carried out.

    And, I also know there are already other people/parties advocating for each and every government program and regulation, so why do I need to help them advocate for them?

  13. Marc Montoni

    The spreadsheet would be more illustrative if the spending categories chosen held the 2011 actual and 2012 budgeted amounts. Easier to compare and figure out what responses from presidential candidates (or other individuals) are coherent with the platform.

    For instance, the LP’s position on the Incomes Tax has been to repeal it for as long as I can remember. So the obvious answer there is to zero it out.

    Tariffs, however, I can’t remember ever being specifically mentioned by the platform (although I suppose it has been at some point). I favor eliminating tariffs; however, there is no question that they are constitutional (unlike the Income Tax) — and repeal will probably take more time. So a first-year Libertarian budget proposal should zero out income tax, but leave tariffs in place at least for the first year’s budget proposal.

    Paying the interest and federal debt are other questions for which the answers might have to have some nuance. I know some Libertarian call for default and repudiation of debt. I tend to favor that view, simply because I think that is going to be the result with or without Libertarians calling for it — all governments that amass debt eventually default and simply walk away from their obligations. There are many examples in history. In the seventies and eighties, several dozen countries (Mexico, USSR, etc etc) owed the US government huge piles of cash. To my knowledge, not a single one of them ever paid. US banks have written off trillions of dollars of loans to 2nd and 3rd-world governments over the past century.

    So repudiation is on the table — and if the USG did repudiate its debt, then interest payments get zeroed out as well.

    Some obligations can certainly be covered by asset sales. There are federal properties the sale of which could close the books on all sorts of activities. For example, just The Presidio in San Francisco was estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars in the early 90’s when it was closed.

    The feds don’t even have a handle on what property is owned, where it is, and how much it’s worth. A logical first step would be to start cataloging it, and once it is catalogued, start selling it off to the highest bidder at a rate that will minimize the possibility of crashing the market.

    For that matter, think how much the US bases all over the middle east would bring if auctioned off to the highest bidder. I’m sure the commies would absolutely love to step into ready-made beachheads, and they already have all of our cash. Maybe we could talk the Chinese into forgiving half or more of the federal government’s debt in exchange for picking up all of those tar babies.

  14. Marc Montoni

    … advocating gettable cuts makes sense. Advocating ungettable, across the board zeroing out is moon positioning …

    I disagree. I think you ask for exactly what you want. If you’re loud and strong enough, the other guys will compromise *themselves* and move towards **us** a bit. Once you’ve gotten a little of what you want, ask for what you really want again next year, hopefully with a louder and stronger voice, and force them to move further towards you.

    If you are at 30 % freedom, and you loudly and powerfully demand 100% (what some continue to deride as “anarchy next Wednesday”), what you will *get* is the other guys surrendering **a little** and giving you 35%. You will have moved the ball, on your own terms, and forced them to give up some of their turf. No, “anarchy next Wednesday” is not what you will get, but you will be closer to it.

    On the other hand, if you ask for “the achievable”, say, an increase in liberty to 35% rather than 30%, they might throw you .2% of what you want — which won’t even cancel out the .3 % they gave to the sycophants of big government during the same cycle.

    This is why every time I hear that stupid canard about “anarchy next Wednesday”, I have to roll my eyes.

    I will refer again to the Virginia Citizens Defense League, whose members came back to the Virginia legislature year after year and kept asking for exactly that which they wanted: firearms freedom. It’s too early to declare victory on all fronts in that struggle, but just compared to how far down the road to gun control were were in Virginia, what VCDL has pulled off is nothing short of a miracle.

    They did not ask for compromises, they asked for what they really wanted, and kept getting it, bit by bit.

    The point is, there is no point in pussyfooting around when you’re demanding full restoration of and respect for all of the rights individuals have at birth.

  15. Robert Capozzi

    in my case, I don’t want zero tomorrow, since that would likely be more dysfunctional than even now. Think Somali warlords with nukes and an air force.

    I’d like to think that a really able, wise L in the WH could craft a glide path toward liberty by creating thoughtful transitions and tradeoffs that minimized resistance and maximized buy in while rolling back the State. Single issue absolutism – even if successful – isn’t even slightly comparable to the multiplicity of issues involved in unwinding the State toward even semi-functional levels.

  16. Tom Blanton

    in my case, I don’t want zero tomorrow, since that would likely be more dysfunctional than even now. Think Somali warlords with nukes and an air force.

    It least that would be a change from American warlords with nukes and an air force.

    I’m asking for 200% freedom, but I’ll settle for 100%. I’ll take 50%, if it’s free.

  17. Brian Holtz Post author

    My wife and I negotiated a discount on a couple new cars on Sunday. We forgot to tell the dealership that our starting price is $0. Boy, do I feel foolish now…

  18. paulie

    “Buying” government is more like buying a used car. Start by asking the dealer how much he’ll pay you to cart that rusting piece of junk off his lot.

  19. Robert Capozzi

    20 tb: It least that would be a change from American warlords with nukes and an air force.

    me: Right. Agreed. It WOULD be a “change.” Is it a change you can believe in, Brother B? Is it your judgment that the current configuration is more threatening than a post-button-pushed, zero government tomorrow? Flip arguments seem utterly unpersuasive, FYI…

    22 p, oh, have you used that approach when buying used cars? Ya know, I’d love to do a study of 100 “buyers” using the Paulie method and 100 savvy buyers using more normal negotiating approaches and see the results. I love ya, Paulie, but on this issue, your are sounding a bit “Rebar” to me.

  20. Robert Capozzi

    24 rb: I’ll take the FY 1913 budget…

    me: You’ll “take”? What does that MEAN? You’d find that budget “acceptable”? If so, that’s good for you, but it doesn’t seem to be all that relevant. It seems more relevant to ask what sort of budget is likely to move people to vote L? Zero, 1913, 43% cuts…they are all calibrated to trigger SOME sort of result.

    Unless one is not interested in results…

  21. thefuturemanifesto

    The Future Manifesto

    Let the federal government provide only 5 services for the citizenry: public options for health care, education and citizen wage (a basic cost-of-living allowance available to all adults, depending on income), protection from invasion, and a limited criminal justice system. Everything else should be up to the citizens. If its not, then that sets the stage for fascism. Hint hint. If people aren’t all worthy of health care, education and citizen wage, then I don’t understand the point of government at all, unless they just like the power and money. Oh!

    Have a free market/free trade economy. Let us not impose limitations on markets or trade through the government. It should be up to businesses what products they choose to import and export and to the people what products they want and ultimately, how much they are willing to pay for them. By over-regulating citizens and businesses, the government actually encourages more deception. The scary thing is, they undoubtedly know this and approve of it because it propels them to an imaginary higher standard, allowing the criminal justice system to make hordes of money, and thereby creating the power hierarchy that allows the government to stay in control.

    Ban foreign interventionism, unless voted on by the people in a national referendum. And if we do go to war, then only the members of the military that choose to go should have to and anytime they wanna come home, they can if at all possible at the time (and if they can’t come home at the time, they should certainly be able to stop fighting). It shouldn’t be mandatory for whoever is chosen of them to go or stay…just think if this was true, would we have ever even gone to Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq? If we are going to have a military, give them the freedom to do as they please, each and every one of them, don’t treat them like ants.

    Ban banks, loan companies and credit card companies(in other words any businesses that handle money with fees or loan with interest), because like government bureaucracy and the criminal justice system, these three institutions’ main purpose for existence is to take as much power and money from you while giving as little care as possible. They are three keys to the modern capitalist ethic and bad apples. And we all know what happens to bad apples.

    Ban the sale of goods and services(including houses and cars)on credit. We live in a country ruled by a debt-driven economic system that everyone buys into and then complains about. It’s time to bring an end to the debt economy.

    Ban all government lobbying by corporations and corporate backed organizations. Caveat emptor.

    Ban the stock market. Public stock exchange is perhaps the biggest corporate scam in history, using the possibility of getting rich as a manipulative device to finance corporations themselves(only private stock should be allowed).

    Ban the Federal Reserve, which is only tangentially related to the government itself anyway (!). Let all money that is printed go to business loans to small and big businesses (with no minimum and a cap of 10 million dollars) including businesses that are just starting up and ones that are already established, citizen wage, and government workers. If the owner or co-owners of the business that borrowed the money don’t pay the money back within 7 years then they are charged with loan default.

    Ban income tax, property tax, and all other taxes except sales tax. Let citizens pay a higher sales tax of 25% or higher (similar to FairTax) to cover part of the public health care and education costs and all of the justice system and military costs. The rest of the funding for health care and education would be paid for by those who choose to partake of those programs according to their individual needs and depending on their income level, with additional funds procured for a while by the extra money left over from all the other government programs which will have been rightfully abandoned, and using a higher sales tax(no higher than 50%) and printed money only if absolutely necessary.

    Abolish judges and publicly vote to appoint overseers of trials. All trials concerning misdemeanors or felonies should be decided on by a jury. Abolish lawyers. Let each competent adult speak in their own defense, using whatever witnesses and evidence they can, while the police and detectives who handle the case against them may do the same. Any minor may use a competent parent or adult friend as a defender for them. Likewise, anyone with an I.Q. under 85 (partially or totally incompetent) may do the same.

    Open the borders and when a new person wishing to be a citizen enters, if they say they choose to be citizens, then they are automatically given proof of citizenship and within 2 weeks get their first citizen wage, if they want it. By opening our borders and encouraging people to come and go as they please, we begin to erode the irrational fear of outsiders and encourage inclusiveness, which is what our country was built on originally. Welcome one and all.

    Ban animal testing and enforce stricter laws protecting animals from human violence. As well as protecting our citizens, we should also protect animals from unnecessary harm, even if it benefits us (namely animal testing for any purposes). Otherwise we take the same elitist stance that the government does against us, over animals we feel are “inferior”.

    Ban the death penalty. The death penalty is an extreme negative in that it encourages revenge and violence in the populace. It teaches us that there are things which the government decides people should die for, which is nothing if not a totalitarian judgment over that most sacred thing of all – life. The mindset of the death penalty is kept in place because it helps the government retain control of us by celebrating the idea of violent opposition which is so very important to warmongers of all stripes.

    Let gay marriage be decided by the ministers/rabbis/etc. performing the ceremony, not the government. Weddings and marriages (and divorces) should not be determined by the government, but by the very people who preside over the ceremony, the participants and the performer. When government starts dictating our relationships, it may be time to question many, many things about how our lives are being manipulated and controlled.

    Ban police patrolling. It is one of the most fascist things we have. Keep them at the station until they are needed, like firemen. Paradoxically, if we did this, I think we might actually have more policemen at the station and less violent crime. The police state fuels the justice system. Of course.

    Land (real property) rights should be moderated by legally allowing anyone to come on your land and do as they please anytime as long as they don’t steal anything, destroy property or harass you (which includes spying on you, causing an audio disturbance of some kind, entering your home without your permission, or building and/or leaving materials on your property without your permission). Let the land belong to the people, as well as the individual. Free the land. And intellectual property rights concerning free distribution of property should be lifted because it was always a false concept, for the intellect should benefit all, not just the ones with money. Free your mind and the rest will follow.

    National, state and local parks should all be taken care of by volunteers, unless voted on differently by localities and states. This would provide several benefits, including encouraging people to take part in the understanding and maintenance of the natural world, as well as saving money. Parks should stay open 24 hours a day for anyone and everyone, but if anyone builds anything on them, then anyone who uses the park should be able to use those facilities however they see fit without the hindrance of locks or barriers of any kind. In this way, they will be true and truly free public parks.

    Other issues: abortion and euthanasia should be left up to the voters of the individual states and localities, as should firefighting and road services/construction and procuring the means to pay for them. Ideally, drugs, prostitution and guns (but not gun violence) should probably all be allowed, but those issues and their specifics would be up to the states as well, as should most issues.

    I think these proposals should be sincerely considered (and encouraged if found to be relevant) by citizens and politicians – because of the intense brainwashing that corporations and government have perpetrated on the populace – in order for them to see the possible viability of these humanistic alternatives. Until such time in which society is confidently ready to handle the responsibility of banishing representative government and implementing direct democracy, I believe that these proposals offer hope in the midst of a country (U.S) in which an obvious fascist oligarchy has slowly been taking shape, as well as to the rest of a world constantly consumed by monopolizing superpowers.

    When society is ready: Let all laws be voted on by the people (not the government) on a state by state and/or national basis, through a monthly voting day(s), based on individual or group proposals that gain wide support determined by paper and internet petitions. Direct democracy is the only true kind of democracy, and we need to make our way to it eventually. Its pretty silly to think the majority of citizens are too dumb to represent themselves. Of course, the government would like you to believe that, so they can “represent” you, when what they are really doing is representing themselves and corporate interests. When the time is right, abolish the president, congress, and the supreme court, basically abolish representative government period and take back our rights from the tyranny of representation.

    Of course the ultimate goal for this manifesto and human society (I believe) is to work toward the total annex of the government and a return to anarchy, which would probably be far less chaotic than you might think, when the time is right to do it. Though I don’t think we are anywhere near ready to do that again on the social evolutionary scale -because the industrial revolution has set back much of human progress so drastically- I do think we’ll get back on the right track soon (by the way don’t ask me what soon means: it could be anywhere from decades to hundreds of years). Before, during or after we achieve anarchy, hopefully, we will forgo the need for currency itself, which makes us only indebted to each other in order to get the goods and services we want or need, the total opposite of freedom. My ultimate goal then is freedom, not utopia nor paradise, but simple, humanistic, relief-rendering freedom, like a long, blissful exhale after a long, arduous journey, which is what it would be. Change, freedom, possibility. Welcome to the future.

  22. Marc Montoni

    My wife and I negotiated a discount on a couple new cars on Sunday. We forgot to tell the dealership that our starting price is $0. Boy, do I feel foolish now…

    Well, you should have waited fifteen years or so, and whoever owned it at that time would probably have let you take it away for free. Happens all the time.

    But seriously, an economic trade (negotiation) is quite different than a political negotiation. For one thing, in a dealership, you’re haggling with someone who actually works on his two feet and must work in order to feed his family. In a political negotiation, you’re dealing with a cheap $5 crack-addicted prostitute who will do anything to get another “fix” (term in office).

  23. Tom Blanton

    My wife and I negotiated a discount on a couple new cars on Sunday. We forgot to tell the dealership that our starting price is $0. Boy, do I feel foolish now…

    Let me know when you sell your old cars. I’m sure you’ll offer them for sale at half of what you want and then try to ask for more after you make the sale.

  24. Tom Blanton

    Is it your judgment that the current configuration is more threatening than a post-button-pushed, zero government tomorrow?

    No, it is my judgment that the federal government should go into a form of receivership and liquidated over a period of time. However, I do believe this process should begin immediately.

    This would be preferable to waking up to a zero government suddenly due to a total collapse, which at this point may be inevitable.

    The most horrifying thing would be to wake up to a total state under martial law and this already seems to be happening incrementally as “libertarians” fret over begging the masters for too much freedom. But, I suspect that the ruling elite will try to contain their empire by force at the verge of its collapse.

    Then it should be the job of “libertarians” to persuade the rubes still suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome not to implement a new leviathan. Of course, there will be those “freedom lovers” who cling to the fallacy that big government protects them from rednecks building nukes in their garages and other paranoid delusions.

    But, I still believe in asking for what you want and being upfront about it instead of formulating foolish “strategies” that have been shown to fail over and over again.

  25. Tom Blanton

    @26 I don’t think thefuturemanifesto would know what a free market is if it crawled up his bung hole. Another failed strategy of using bogus buzzwords to sell bad ideas.

  26. thefuturemanifesto

    As far as I know, a free market basically means one unencumbered by government regulations. If it means something other than that, please enlighten me. I could care less about bogus buzzwords myself and how exactly are my ideas bad?

  27. Brian Holtz Post author

    @28 I’m not sure what suggestion you mean. FY2010 is the most recent year for which I’ve seen actuals.

    There are interesting arguments for advocating anarcholibertarianism through electoral politics. That doing so is a shrewd negotiating strategy is not one of them.

  28. Robert Capozzi

    30 tb: This would be preferable to waking up to a zero government suddenly due to a total collapse, which at this point may be inevitable.

    me: Hmm, ya know, if I were expecting total collapse, I might consider gettin’ me some benzos. I hear tell they’re great for such pronounced anxiety. If total collapse does happen, then terms like “conservative,” “liberal,” “libertarian” and “anarchist” will be of no use. We’ll all be living moment to moment in search of food and water or perhaps cyanide pills.

    tb: Of course, there will be those “freedom lovers” who cling to the fallacy that big government protects them from rednecks building nukes in their garages and other paranoid delusions.

    me: This may be poetic overstatement on your part, or it may be severe confusion, since I’ve not heard of anyone fretting about such an unlikely event. I certainly don’t know any freedom lovers who advocate “big” government; we advocate less government. We’ve seen a big government (USSR) that possessed WMD break apart into territorially smaller big governments, and so far that experiment has not led to any major mishaps. If the USSR had collapsed into a large anarcho zone, personally I’d think that would be a heck of a lot riskier for not only the former Soviet citizenry, but pretty much the entire earth.

    I don’t worry about anything (the eternal Tao’s got our back), much less rednecks magically becoming able to fashion advanced weaponry. I have no concern about the State spontaneously disappearing due to the persuasive skills of a few thousand anarchoLs prevailing on the multitude’s better angels. I DO feedback to my brethren that their ideas about negotiating seem naive at best and kooky at worst.

    Yet, I have to admit that, when read closely, the LP’s SoP is camouflaged anarchism. Sandy foundations lead to derelict edifices.

    “Now put the wallet on the counter,” indeed! ;-)

  29. paulie

    have you used that approach when buying used cars?

    Yes.

    I’ve also gotten bums to give me money and even had a hooker pay me for sex.

    True story.

  30. paulie

    Hmm, ya know, if I were expecting total collapse, I might consider gettin’ me some benzos. I hear tell they’re great for such pronounced anxiety. I

    I don’t like the side effects. And, they are extremely habit forming. The withdrawals can literally be lethal.

  31. paulie

    I certainly don’t know any freedom lovers who advocate “big” government; we advocate less government.

    We had a big government 10, 20, 30 years ago. Going down to those levels would be less, but it would still be big.

  32. paulie

    If the USSR had collapsed into a large anarcho zone, personally I’d think that would be a heck of a lot riskier for not only the former Soviet citizenry, but pretty much the entire earth.

    The existence of a nominal government means little on the ground. The “free market” (such as it is) can pay former Soviet nuclear scientists and materials handlers far better than the state or its licensed business organizations.

    If someone paid me enough, I’d be able to get them whatever weaponry the USSR ever had. Someone once tried to get me to do that, but I didn’t have confidence that I was not being set up to be killed or imprisoned, so I declined. Also, I had moral qualms about what their intentions could possibly be.

  33. paulie

    I have no concern about the State spontaneously disappearing due to the persuasive skills of a few thousand anarchoLs prevailing on the multitude’s better angels. I DO feedback to my brethren that their ideas about negotiating seem naive at best and kooky at worst.

    The question was what budget would I propose if I was president. To get that point, other than the constitutional requirement of US birth and my rather shady personal background, I’d have to get past the problem of getting enough support to be elected.

    So, the question presupposes already having a substantial level of support in the country, even if not quite a majority. I’m assuming the scenario is one where Libertarians eke out a plurality against at least two other large parties.

  34. Robert Capozzi

    41 p: …the question presupposes already having a substantial level of support in the country…

    me: Oh, well, sure. Let’s make it Knapp or Blanton, who are I think native born. If they actually got elected, then, yes, a zero budget might not be all that bracing and counter-productive, since they’d likely have campaigned holding high the black banner.

    However, I think the SPIRIT of the question is better captured by asking what would you advise a L prez candidate running in 2012 to advocate were he or she to win. It’s quite a bit less speculative.

    For ex., I suspect that GJ has overshot the mark with his 43% cut. I think RP has the optically better position of $1T in cuts. We live in a 9-9-9 world, where simple round numbers communicate more effectively to the multitudes who, by and large, are not familiar with public finance as practiced currently.

    Still, at this point, GJ should probably stick with his plan, which is at least sufficiently thought through, with enough specifics to be semi-credible….

  35. Robert Capozzi

    40 p: If someone paid me enough, I’d be able to get them whatever weaponry the USSR ever had.

    me: Right. Probably if one could get paid “enough,” one could get US weaponry, too. That’s the point. States create a barrier to entry, a high barrier. Myself, I like that the barrier to owning WMD of the thermonuclear kind is very high. The notion of a free market in nukes is not something I care to see come to be.

  36. paulie

    @44 By “enough”, I don’t mean anything astronomical. As of the last time I took a serious look at it – late 90s/early 2000s – the amount of zeroes involved in the US dollar figure could be counted on the fingers of one normal human hand.

    In other words, the Russian Federation/CIS and other former soviet states did not present an overly high barrier to entry.

    One potential problem, however, was that the exit route went through some very dicey areas of the world.

  37. paulie

    For ex., I suspect that GJ has overshot the mark with his 43% cut. I think RP has the optically better position of $1T in cuts. We live in a 9-9-9 world, where simple round numbers communicate more effectively to the multitudes who, by and large, are not familiar with public finance as practiced currently.

    I agree.

    Still, at this point, GJ should probably stick with his plan, which is at least sufficiently thought through, with enough specifics to be semi-credible….

    The spending part of his plan is not so terrible. I don’t like his tax plan. I prefer Brian’s idea of letting states come up with their own plans of paying off the feds better. I also liked Browne’s idea of asset sales, even though it is trafficking in illegitimately owned property – as a practical matter, homesteading it or trying to find the rightful owners (how?) doesn’t seem better.

  38. Robert Capozzi

    p, free market or black market? Do you know for a fact that private parties are buying and selling nukes?

  39. paulie

    Black market, yes.

    I don’t know for a fact that it has been done, only that it could be, and that the last time I examined the particulars my conclusion was that the actual cost on my end would not be beyond the price range of a prospective client. Even adding a couple of zeroes for my risk, time and profit margin, they could still afford it, as could quite a few others. That would involve two normal human hands, but there would be more than one finger left over.

  40. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@43,

    “Let’s make it Knapp or Blanton, who are I think native born. If they actually got elected, then, yes, a zero budget might not be all that bracing and counter-productive, since they’d likely have campaigned holding high the black banner.”

    Um, no — when I run for office, I do so on the premise of actually fulfilling the duties of said office, not abolishing the state.

    As I allude to above, if I were POTUS, I would not propose a zero budget — I would not propose a budget at all.

    I might make specific suggestions to Congress (“if you want to keep the Marine Corps, it’s going to cost more than the $1.49 the budget committee currently has penciled in”), and I’d certainly brandish the veto versus any deficit spending, but I would also make it clear that budgeting is their job, not POTUS’s.

    “States create a barrier to entry [into owning thermonuclear WMD], a high barrier”

    Um, no — states lower the barrier to entry.

    Every thermonuclear weapon ever built to date that we know of was built by, or at the behest/with the financing of, a state, and there’s no particular reason to believe that they would have come into existence without the large R&D investment that only a state can swing absent a reasonable profit expectation.

    Absent the state, the barrier would be total, because there wouldn’t be any of the things to own.

  41. Robert Capozzi

    tk 50: Um, no — states lower the barrier to entry…. Absent the state, the barrier would be total, because there wouldn’t be any of the things to own.

    me: States in The Club lower it for themselves, yes. Absent gravity, there’d probably not be ANYthing to own. We have gravity, we have States, and some of them have nukes. It might be fun to fantasize about a world without nukes and/or a world without States, but it’s not clear whether such fantasizing makes either more likely to occur.

    States in The Club want to keep it small and the barriers high for new entrants. In that case, I support their goal, at least as a general proposition.

  42. Tom Blanton

    “Let’s make it Knapp or Blanton, who are I think native born. If they actually got elected, then, yes, a zero budget might not be all that bracing and counter-productive, since they’d likely have campaigned holding high the black banner.”

    When I run for office, it will be a very cold day in hell.

  43. Ad Hoc

    Robert Capozzi // Feb 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    24 rb: I’ll take the FY 1913 budget…

    me: You’ll “take”? What does that MEAN? You’d find that budget “acceptable”? If so, that’s good for you, but it doesn’t seem to be all that relevant.

    Why does it not seem relevant? And does anyone have the FY 1913 figures available?

  44. Robert Capozzi

    53 ah, relevance – like everything – is subjective. In my estimation, the GJ 43% cut is barely on the edge of relevancy. Any thing more and we’re into the irrelevant fringes…

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