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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tweaking The Draft St. Louis Accord

1) Who counts as a “fundamentalist” depends on what counts as the foundation. For example, we geominarchist fundamentalists say that everybody else is weak on recognizing that pollution and appropriating ground rent are aggressions that should not be sanctioned by the absence of an adequate institutional framework to police them. Let’s not smuggle into a discussion about ecumenicism an assumption that some Pope of Libertarianism has identified the One True Fundamental Faith. :-) The lack of agreement about such is the very reason we’re having this discussion.Otherwise, we could have the Pope issue a detailed encyclical, and all of us libertarian sinners could redouble our efforts to conform to her infallible guidance, and Big Tent becomes just “love the sinner but hate the sin”. Of course, Pope Ruwart The First would be a cool name for a pope… :-)

2) Since the Bylaws already talk about “Purposes”, it’s indeed better not to use this word. “Role” seems a little vague, and while some vagueness in this text is by design, I’d be willing to rankle my pragmatist friends and use “mission” here. I don’t quite agree with my friends who say that the mission of the LP is simply to put L’s into office. That’s not the only way to use electoral politics to move public policy in a libertarian direction.

3) Tom in fact makes the same pragmatists’ mistake back in the first paragraph of his uncut blog posting, where he says: “To give the ‘pragmatists’ their due, if the fundamental beliefs in question — and the party pitching them– can’t be sold to a plurality of voters in a given electoral contest, those beliefs and $3.49 plus tax will get you an iced latte at McDonald’s, politically speaking.” That gives away too much to the pragmatists. If LP candidates started consistently claiming the votes of even half of the 13%-19% of Americans who poll in the libertarian quadrant, it would surely result in moving public policy in a libertarian direction. Even though I hold elective office, my plan of record for the LP is get our policies co-opted. D/R politicians love power too much to stand on their nanny-state “principles” and thus lose elections to L politicians. They will give us however much freedom they think they have to give us in order for them to stay in office. They’re not about to go down with the ship (of nanny state). They’re politicians, not ogres. This is Public Choice 101.

4) Re: “electoral choices and policy proposals” — a bit broad. I think it was Susan Hogarth who has suggested something like “electoral and legislative choices” here, pointing out that our voting power should also be used to herd the policy-makers we elect. Any one of these three options is fine with me.

5) I’m too much of a radical to be happy with merely rallying “behind choices which move public policy in a libertarian direction”. However, I acknowledge the epistemological problem in saying “which most move public policy”. I can live with this change if so-called radicals can, but I’d like to see something less timid.

6) Re: size/scope/power — grafting in Tom’s World’s Smallest Political Platform here seems a bit wordy, and I don’t see how it changes the meaning. If the worry here is that it doesn’t say we want to undo the growth that happened against our opposition, I just don’t think that anybody would read it that way. But if others have that worry, then maybe instead of “united in opposing government’s growth…”, we could say “united in resisting and reversing government’s growth…