Monday, July 16, 2007

Do they know something I don't?

Excluding perennial non-contender and Rothbardite kook Dave "Contract Insurance" Hollist, I count eight contenders for nomination as the Libertarian Party's presidential candiadte in 2008, including George Phillies, Steve Kubby, and a host of newcomers. Phillies and Kubby are longtime big-L Libertarians; why the others are seeking the nomination of a Party which can't give enough support to even produce effective spoilers, let alone contenders, is a mystery to me.

A few oddballs--and I don't count Christine Smith, a progressive firmly in the libertarian end of the political spectrum, as an oddball--are in the running, among them one Daniel Imperato. Imperato bills himself as an "Independent Libertarian", which seems to mean "I'm so independent I didn't bother reading any Cato Institute whitepapers or even learning what the Libertarian Party is all about, even though, according to his pamphlet (sitting on my desk) he "solemnly swears" to "defend, abide, and deploy libertarian principles for our society as best as [he] can with [his] solutions and strategies all the way to the White House."

The strategies to which he refers are those of a cut-rate Ross Perot; Cliff Clavin-esque schemes for fixing--or not fixing--what ails us. Whereas most libertarians want to privatize Social Security before it collapses, Imperato proposes to save it through a reform of the 501(c)3 tax deduction law. To wit:

I propose a new charity system where the only charity that can receive unlimited contributions is the Social Security 501(c)3 Charitable Fund. Wealthy Americans who wish to have the largest tax deductions through charitable donations, will donate back to the American people and the Social Security Charitable Fund that will be run by we the people

In addition, this will hold the principals accountable of our current charities for their distribution of funds. It is necessary to close down the rest of them that are abusing our system. Charities that maintain honest business practices will be categorized numerically, with a rating system, and preference will be given to the ones that direct money towards America, and its people first.

It appears as though Imperato has a gripe with charities that spend too much on overhead, and moreover, charities that help (e.g.) Africans instead of Arkansans. To fix this, it seems as though he'd limit where Americans could contribute. How absurd it is to limit benevolence! "If you're going to do something nice despite having no duty to do so, you will do it for this cause or you won't do it at all!" sounds like the words of a banana-republican! Here's a "Libertarian" who could be Hugo Chavez's drinking buddy.

It gets worse: Imperato proposes that drug companies pay an "approval fee" to the "US healthcare system" for each drug which receives the FDA's nod. "In addition, a percentage will be added to the wholesale costs of the drugs that are sold around the world that will be contributed back to the healthcare system. It is about time the drug companies support our healthcare needs in order to ensure healthcare for all American citizens run by we the people.

Can anyone tell me, what does he mean by the "US healthcare system". Does he mean my doctor? My insurance company? My personal health savings account? Somebody else's? Medicare? And don't the drug companies support our healthcare needs by...developing drugs and selling them to us? Why is it about time the drug companies "ensure healthcare for all American citizens", anyway--why do they have that impossible duty?

Imperato is right about one thing here; the world is not picking up its share of the burden. The most brilliant LTE I've seen in a long time was printed in the latest issue of Reason (a publication of which I suspect Imperato is not even aware!), calling for US reimportation of drugs from First World social democracies, in order to break the pricing agreements which effectively shift development costs onto US consumers. Such a plan flies over his head. That the fee and tax scheme is all Imperato has to say about healthcare is telling. I don't think he understands the issue. If he did, he'd be proposing to restore market mechanisms and eliminate the perversion known as comprehensive care insurance.

It gets worse, with Imperato proposing a national Online Education System, addressing the immigration issue by somehow extending US labor unions to Latin America, two bits of incoherent nothing about energy and Iraq. See the campaign website if you really want to know.

I retain my belief that, if any libertarian political movement is to succeed, it must have a "big tent". I suppose that, with tents come clowns, or better still, dunk tanks. I presume that the LP delegates will give Imperato and anyone else who's nuttier than Ron Paul, let alone anyone who's platform doesn't manifest liberal values, a nice cold bath. "How do you ensure that the LP stays libertarian?" ask the small-party "purist" ideologues, a question that seems more ridiculous by the month.

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