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Monday, May 5, 2008

George Phillies: Sensible Answers to Tough Questions, Part 1

LP presidential contender George Phillies unveiled the first part of his "Sensitive Answers to Tough Questions," which he contrasts his positions with and disagrees with Mary Ruwart at the same time.

We Can Politely Disagree:

Sensible Answers to Tough Questions, Part 1

Having urged civil disagreement between candidates, I now enumerate a few points where Mary Ruwart and I take different stands on issues. The following are issues that have significant national interest: The National debt. National defense. Climate Change. Pollution. Our answers differ a great deal. Which do you prefer? That choice is up to you.

Dr. Ruwart describes herself as being from the libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party. I view myself as being from the centrist wing of the Libertarian Party: I'm not Republican Lite, and I'm not an anarchist.

#1 What is the Libertarian response to handling the National Debt?

*Ruwart* (pp. 91-92, Short Answers to the Tough Questions by Mary J. Ruwart): The national debt represents loans to government secured by its willingness to tax (steal from) its citizens. Thus, some Libertarians view buying government bonds as encouraging a thief and have no qualms about repudiating the debt. Others believe that government property (including over 40% of the U.S. landmass) should be liquidated to repay the debt, wholly or in part.

*Phillies*: Three choices for solving the national debt are paying it, selling assets, and repudiating it. I say that we should eliminate the National debt by paying it. Can we? It's exactly like paying off a house mortgage. If you want to
pay off a mortgage over 30 years, your monthly payment on the principal starts near a tenth of a percent of initial debt. We have nine trillion dollars of national debt. A budget surplus around $100 billion a year and constant future payments makes our funded national debt go away by 2040. What about alternative solutions?

Sell Federal lands? That won't work. Why? America has around a billion acres of Federal land. Parts of that land, such as the Grand Canyon, simply will not be sold. To pay off the national debt by selling the rest, we'd need to clear around $10,000 an acre. In contrast, in eastern Kansas and Western Missouri, real estate ads show farmland for one or two thousand dollars per acre. Selling all our Federal lands might raise, being optimistic about central Alaska, perhaps a trillion dollars, ignoring what happens to real estate prices if 40% of our land area hits the market. A trillion dollars is barely a tenth of the funded National debt.

Repudiate the national Debt? Ask yourself: What happens next? Huge numbers of Americans bought T-Bills for their retirement. Their retirement savings are wiped out. Foreign governments hold dollar reserves in Treasury bonds. The value of the dollar vanishes. Banks hold financial reserves in Treasury bonds. Those banks are insolvent; their doors close. The economy collapses. Furthermore, no one -- neither foreign governments nor our own citizens would be willing to lend the U.S. money again since by this point we would have established that we renege on our obligations.

My good friend Mike Badnarik always asks: 'Is it Constitutional?' No, repudiation is not constitutional. The 14th Amendment says so. And the opposition parties chant 'Repudiation is Theft'.

#2: Libertarian National Defense

*Ruwart*: Free trade is the best national defense we could ever have. No country bombs their trading partners. (page 77)

*Phillies*: A real defense requires real defenses. Trade is no defense. Countries that trade with each other go to war regularly. A few examples:

Consider the Latin American countries attacked and occupied, sometimes repeatedly, by their major trade partner, the United States. World War I was fought between countries that had traded substantially with each other. In 1937, Japan invaded major trade partner China. In 1941, when Germany invaded Russia, and 1945, when
Russia invaded Manjukuo, each country attacked a major trading partner. In 1943, Italy declared war on Germany, which had been not only its largest trade partner but its primary military ally.

National defense requires a real national defense policy, such as the national defense policy that I have previously proposed [here].

[Hip tip to TPW for its posting on this as well.]