Next was Q&A. One of the first questions was asked by Starchild. I don’t know the proper pronoun to use here, and I don’t want to be offensive, so I’ll say SC. SC asked the candidates, [note: please assume all quotes are paraphrased], “Do you believe the core of libertarianism is that you should be able to do what you want with your own body, life, and property, so long as you infringe on no one else?” They (Link, Mary Ruwart, Kubby, Gravel and Jingo all raised their hands). “Okay, then how can some of you support coercive taxation to fund education.” It was targeted to Gravel, of course.
I’ll skip the blow by blow and tell you that Gravel and Starchild had a rather length exchange. Stardchild kept SC’s cool, but dismissively (and deservedly) shook SC’s head and smiled at some of Gravel’s outlandishly statist propositions, but Gravel got fuming mad, shouting down SC. Gravel said you can’t have liberty without education and that without government schools, everyone would be dumb. And of course, we are too dumb now precisely because government schools are too decentralized. SC pointed out Gravel’s many contradictions which made the old man rage. “What do you want?” he asked, “voluntary education?” YES!, the crowd roared. “Show me where that has worked,” Gravel demanded.
At this point, Andy got into the act. “Right here in this country,” he said. Gravel disagreed. Andy set him straight. “FINE!” Gravel barked. “You want to go back to the 18th century, go right ahead.” Andy rejoined: “It’s not going back to the 18th century, it’s going back to freedom.” (That was a direct quote). The crowd erupted in cheers while the Maoist Gravel cohort sat on their hands.
Finally, Jim Duesning made Gravel shut up and let Steve Kubby speak. “There’s never a justification for using force to achieve goals,” he said. Short and sweet. Jingo said the same thing (he may have said it before Kubby, actually), and I waned to ask him how he saw protectionism as non-coercive.
There were a lot of questions on which Gravel’s anti-libertarian colors were exposed. At one point, he literally ridiculed libertarians for never getting anything done. Mary Ruwart pointed out that libertarians have changed people’s attitudes. This did not register with Gravel, who thinks change can only come through coercion.
A gentleman asked a question about the Fed and central banking. Link had disappeared by now and no one noticed. Jingo recalled a conversation with the Liberty Dollar founder (Bernand something) and agreed with him that a competing currency would destroy the Fed in a less tumultuous manner than an outright abolition. Jingo pointed out that saying “let’s allow competing currencies” seems completely logical to average voters.
Kubby and Ruwart gave predictably sound answers. Kubby pointed out that the dollar’s value, when compared to the loony, has halved. Ruwart blamed regulations for gold-standard-era depressions.
Gravel’s answer was thoroughly statist. He said gold and silver were dumb because Russia and South Africa had all the gold and silver (as if that matters). He then lionized that great libertarian, Abe Lincoln, as the pioneer of fiat money, with his government-issued greenbacks. Gravel thought it was great that these helped fund the War Against Southern Independence. He wants more authority for the government over money.
Oh, and I should mention that Jim Duesning said, “I wish George Phillies were here to answer this question.” Phillies, of course, supports the Fed’s monetary fascism. It was the second potshot at Phillies. Earlier, someone asked, “Where’s Bob Barr?” Duesning said all candidates had been invited and that anyone who did not think 9/11 needed an investigation, who trusted the government, was not a libertarian. He specifically mentioned the names Phillies, Root, and Barr (although allowed for as how they may have had legitimate commitments to other events).
Andy asked the next question: What do you think of the Fair Tax and the NAU. No one really talked about NAU, but a FairTax debate erupted, with Gravel supporting it strongly. Kubby made a whole new set of arguments against the FairTax that I had not even considered — as if that even needed to be done! Mary Ruwart said, “the only FairTax is NO TAX.” The crowd liked that. Gravel rambled on about how the LP was a “half-percent party” because of things like this. He is Dear Leader, and if we only follow him, we will win. What a hollow victory that would be.
There was some other mild drama, although I don’t remember when. A weird guy tried to take the stage, and Jim Duesning had to have him thrown out. “Don’t make me come off this stage!” he yelled at the dude. I felt bad for Duesning. He put on a good event.