Live Blogging the Utah Republican Liberty Caucus: My First Experience

It's a much smaller group than the Utah State Republican Convention I attended last week, but I am attending an equally interesting meeting--the Organizing Convention of the Utah Republican Liberty Caucus.  Come along for the ride as I discover what it's all about.
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I heard about the Republican Liberty Caucus on Facebook. It was only a 45 minute drive, and I didn't have anything better to do, so I thought I would see if I could learn something from people bound to be more intelligent than me.  My hunch was correct.  My visit to the RLC has been a bonus.

Following the singing of the national anthem and a prayer, the meeting opened with the "Are You a Socialist?" quiz.  Here are some of the questions:
  • Have you read the Constitution in the past 4 years
  • Do you support inheritance tax?
  • Do you support graduated income tax?
  • Do you support a return to a gold or other precious metals standard?
  • Do you favor a system of free public education?
  • Do the poor have claim on government for their subsistence needs?
  • Should government have the power to regulate economic activity?
  • Should there be a minimum wage?
  • Which professions should be licensed?
  • Should government be involved in soil conservation programs?
  • Do you believe there is a distinct line that divides where the government can compel people against their will and where it cannot?
Utah Representative John Dougall, who has been in the legislature for about seven years addressed the group about limited government. He advocates persuasion instead of force, which is why he is a strong advocate of the free market.  Here are some of the things he talked about:

The media claims that the Tea Partiers are barbarians at the gates. 91% wanted smaller government, but 62% still wanted federal government to run Social Security and Medicare.

How to maximize liberty (1) Respect for life, liberty, and property. If we don't respect these, how can we expect government to do it for us? (2)  Importance of self-reliance in skills and education, and the avoidance of debt. As more and more people become dependent, the more likely will be the calls for government to solve a problem that it cannot solve.  (3) Expand learning. Self reliance includes the importance of being educated throughout our lives (4) Be able to provide charity. It is incumbent upon those who have enough for themselves to help others to achieve self-reliance.

What is the difference between free trade and fair trade? Free trade presupposes liberty, but fair trade is protectionist. NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO, GATT are "fair trade" and are thus not free.  These models elevate the bureaucrat over the individual.  It is ironic that many people who recognize fair trade for the destroyer of freedom that it is, on the other hand advocate the loss of individual freedoms in the face of a supposed terrorist enemy or the protection of domestic jobs out of a sense of hyper-patriotism.

What about immigration? Shouldn't we want to share the American dream? We are all immigrants or immigrant posterity. We shouldn't exclude others simply because we are already here.Open immigration does not condone living on the welfare dole or accommodating other languages.

Former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson, is an entrepreneur who had never been involved in politics until running for and winning the governor's seat as a Republican in a predominantly Democrat state. He was elected on his promises, and he liked to think that he was re-elected because people realized that he fulfilled his promises. He left office only due to term limits laws.  He prevented billions in new spending by vetoing 750 bills, as well as thousands of line item vetoes.  He vetoed a bill requiring pole vaulters to wear helmets, even though it is a good idea to do so.  He was one of the most outspoken governors regarding bringing freedom of choice and competition to the educational system. Imagine a video game where, to advance, students must answer questions about mathematics and history, or to solve scientific problems.

Half of what we spent on law enforcement and adjudication is spent on the war on drugs.  Holland has decriminalized drugs. It is NOT true that their drug use skyrocketed, but rather it is true that it has only 60% the amount of drug use of the United States.  In Portugal drug use went down when drugs there were legalized.  Most of the drug problem (cost) in the United States is prohibition related. There is little difference between drinking alcohol and driving vs. smoking marijuana and driving, so they should be punished the same way. Violence along the US-Mexican border is directly related to the prohibitive aspect of drug use.  The drug "treatment model" does not work.  He would have vetoed recent immigration legislation in Arizona had he been governor there, because it will lead to racial profiling.  Violence would go way down with the legalization of drugs, as it did when alcohol was legalized.  Drug problems should be treated as health issues treated in courts as necessary instead of in the criminal system.

We have to slash government spending by at least 43%, because 43 cents of every dollar America spends is borrowed. The Fed inflates (prints) money to cover our drunken binge. In the next 4-10 years, a dollar today will be worth only 50 cents then. What's happening in Greece is what is going to happen here. Many U.S. state pension funds are "under water", with California being likely the one that will first fail.  States must be allowed to innovate, as the Constitution requires, but that is becoming less and less common.

The root of nearly all our problems is that the federal government is too large. We should fight back against terrorists, but we are not currently threatened. Attacking Iraq was never warranted, because we have the technology to know that Iraq didn't have Weapons of Mass Destruction. Attacking Afghanistan was initially warranted, but the target, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, is not there anymore. America makes up 5% of the world's population, but we spend 50% of the world total on military armaments.

Nobel laureate Vernon Smith and several other economists at a Chatman university symposium were confident that if TARP had not been implemented, there would have been no economic meltdown. When government intervenes, we go from one bubble to the next, which we are in now with the crisis first being manifest in Greece.

Cherilyn Eagar, former Candidate or US Senate from Utah spoke for just a moment.  She said that the campaign was exhilarating and she achieved some remarkable friends.  She appreciates the successes of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

Mike Lee, Candidate for US Senate from Utah considers Cherilyn Eagar a patriot and a friend.  America is exceptional because of our tradition of liberty. Whenever government acts, it acts at the expense of liberty.  Thus we must be mindful of what we allow the government to do. He remembers watching the 1994 election returns, thinking that it would be a happy change, but it didn't turn out that way, even with a Republican president later elected. The Republican revolution in 194 failed and has since died. We have a greater opportunity now in 2010, and we can't mess it up this time. This time we must anchor it in something that is solid and time-tested--the Constitution. If we had done this in 1994, that revolution would still be vibrant today. Limits have to mean something, especially to the people. That is why the Constitution must be understood be placing limits.  The commerce clause does not allow the federal government to regulate whatever it pleases under the guise of commerce, as it does today.  Founding fathers didn't agree on everything, but even the scope of their disagreement was far smaller than where we are today constitutionally.

It is easy to refute the progressive idea that Constitution doesn't provide real solutions: (1) put a stop to deficit spending with a Constitutional amendment, because spending determines everything else. Without a blank check, Congress will be required to have a debate about its actual Constitutional duties (2) seriously reform taxes.  Congress must not only be accountable to the people, but to ALL the people. Half of Americans don't have to pay anything. The tax system must charge one rate, which would naturally cause Congress to be more accountable. (3) Reform entitlements. Search Article I Section 8 or any other part of the constitution and you will  find no authority whatsoever for the federal government to redistribute wealth, whether to American citizens, American corporations, or foreign governments.  If we don't reform in these areas, we will become the next Greece. One voice for constitutional government can be easily marginalized, but 10 or 12 can't, and it is possible that there will be this many Constitutionalists elected to the Senate in 2010.

When government stops protecting life, liberty, and property, both anarchy and tyranny become more prevalent. We need a reversal in course as to what we expect the government to do for us.

It is not appropriate to refer to Article I Section 8 as the General Welfare Clause.  Rather it is a General Welfare limitation on the spending clause in that article. Hamilton's view, although more liberal than Madison's and Jefferson's view, was very conservative by today's standards.  Hamilton still believed that money couldn't be allocated to specific local projects.

Comments

  1. If the rest of the meeting was a dumb as the "Are you a Socialist" quiz, which asks no questions pertinent to socialism, then I am amazed anyone with above average intelligence attended. The rest of the ideas presented are even more ridiculous. What kind of morons are these people?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Charles D, uh ... you have said they are morons and provided little evidence for your opinion. Should we just assume you're the moron?

    ReplyDelete
  3. No. It shouldn't be necessary to provide evidence that patently ridiculous statements are wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The RLC statement of principles makes the most sense to me: http://www.rlc.org/statement-of-principles/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Charles: You're usually a bit more circumspect with your comments. I'm surprised, based on previous things that you have said here, that you don't provide any basis for calling us morons.

    Is there anything that I wrote in the article that you agree with?

    ReplyDelete
  6. When these kinds of ideas are presented one at a time, they sound merely misguided. When they are presented all together as a unit, they sound crazy. It's as though there's an alternate universe where people look up and call it down.

    ReplyDelete

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