Steve G.

George Phillies: Barr promoting Libertarian Socialism?

In Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Media, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Socialism on August 3, 2008 at 1:00 pm

The following was written by George Phillies, and is reproduced with permission of the author.

Bob Barr Press Release writes about his opponents

So, please, tell us something we don’t know! The bigger fact is that NEITHER campaign is talking about the important issues that affect the lives of Americans. Neither has a real plan that would result in lower energy costs. Neither is going to do anything about $4 a gallon gasoline, the inflation that looms ahead as well as the overall weakening of our economy….

in other words

The President should do something about prices! The President should carry out economic planning!

As afar as I can see, this is a call for socialism.

I’m sorry, but when did Libertarian Socialism become a new wing of our party?

  1. Not sure you have a clear path from “A to B” there George…

    You probably are right, but it is vaguely possible that Barr could be talking about doing libertarian acceptable items that would eventually address the issues mentioned…

    Stuff that comes to mind off-hand

    Ending the Middle-eastern war, and bringing the occupation troops home from elsewhere.

    Balancing the budget, and not engaging in further deficit spending…

    Lowering taxes…

    Reducing the size of government.

    Stopping the subsidizing of turning food into fuel…

    Allowing more refinery capacity to be built, opening up drilling, etc…

    Cancelling the bailouts of F&F-mac, and not getting into other similar bailouts.

    All of these would have serious inflation fighting effects, which would have the effects described, (probably far better than any kind of price controls) and IMHO be very libertarian acceptable.

    I’m NOT saying Barr would do these things, just that the stuff you quoted would allow for them, therefore the Libertarian Socialism charge doesn’t follow….

    ART (Having trouble believing I just said something kind of positive about Barr! )

  2. A President can have a “plan” to change government policies. This is not the same thing as “planning” the economy.

    Some changes in government policies could be expected to lower energy costs, lower gasoline prices, lower inflation, and strengthen the economy.

    Barr advocates peaceful relations with Iran, withdrawal from Iraq, opening more areas in the U.S. to drilling, reducing government spending, balancing the budget, fundamental tax reform, and more accountability for the Federal Reserve.

    I expect that he sincerely believes that these policies would lower energy costs, lower gasoline prices, lower inflation, and strengthen the economy.

    And none of these changes involve “government planning” of the economy.

  3. Wow! George is really grasping at straws.

    The new “I hate Barr” playbook: when the man can’t be caught saying un-libertarian things, pretend he did anyway.

    Now why doesn’t George talk about Barr’s un-libertarian immigration policy? Oh, that’s right. They share the same position. I also wonder why George has NEVER said a disparaging word against the Fed if he is so concerned about government planning.

    Here are some quotes from Phillies that could just as easily be interepreted as central planning: (Obviously, I’m not calling Phillies a statist. I’m just pointing out that his quotes can be maliciousy misinterpreted just as easily as he has done here.):

    “I propose we use foreign visitors to strengthen our education, science, and engineering.” (Shouldn’t this be a decision for private companies to decide?)

    “I propose we strengthen university education” (Why should the federal government have a role in university education? In fact, the federal government plays very little role. Do you want to expand that role, George?)

    “Don’t let science policy be dictated by particular religious sects.” (Why does the government need a science policy, George?)

    “I propose improvements in our medical care system.” (Why should the president have the power to improve medical care, George?)

    “some foreign governments inform our drug companies that either they sell drugs over there at some low price, a price that does not cover research and approval costs, or the patent rights to the drug will be voided. That’s piracy, pure and simple, and I will work to defend Americans against piracy.” (Do you intend to bomb these foreign nations, George? How long will you wait after inauguration to bomb Canada or sanction most of Europe?)

    These are but a few, my favorite being the last.

  4. There was another Barr press release a few days earlier. It goes into detail on what Barr would do.

    I hate Barr as much as the next libertarian does, but, look, there isn’t a lot here to rage against. He proposes a smaller government in every paragraph.

    I will continue to kick him in his brushy mustache every time he proposes state intervention in marriage rights, Wiccans in the military, extols the virtue of a racist like Jesse Helms, pushes for segregation in the military, advocates sending the military to Central and South American nations to prosecute the drug war on freedom, or engages in one of his many other authoritarian manias. However, his energy policy is not loaded down with socialism. What he states below is: get the government out of the way.

    I won’t reduce the effectiveness of my criticisms of Barr by criticising what isn’t broken.

    Balance of the text is from:

    Atlanta, GA — “As gas prices have risen, policymakers in Washington have exhibited a Jimmy Carter era mentality,” observes Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president. “They are upset that Americans use energy, and want government to take over the energy marketplace. But it is government that has left us vulnerable to reduced supplies and higher prices.”

    Adds Barr, “legislators denounce speculators, as if people never before attempted to predict future price changes. Politicians criticize oil companies, as if the firms were able to set prices at will. If so, why were prices so low for so long? Most of the so-called solutions being proposed in Congress amount to more regulations and more subsidies, and would make our energy problems worse.”

    “One of the worst ideas comes from Republican Sen. John Warner, who wants the federal government to again set a national speed limit. The greatest nonrenewable resource is time, which is why Americans routinely broke the Washington-imposed 55 mph speed limit between 1974 and 1995. Sen. Warner may believe his time is worth nothing, but the Constitution does not empower him and his colleagues to decide how fast people can drive on every road in America. One reason we have state and local governments is to enact traffic laws. That is not the federal government’s responsibility,” explains Barr.

    Instead, Congress should get out of the way of energy development. “America’s Outer Continental Shelf is thought to hold some 86 billion barrels of oil. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has some eight billion barrels. Oil shale deposits in America’s west could contain the equivalent of as much as 1 trillion or more barrels of petroleum. It’s time we allowed Americans to develop America’s energy resources,” says Barr.

    “Congress also needs to reduce the regulatory barriers to new refinery construction, and change environmental rules which mandate the sale of different formulations of gasoline in different regions,” Barr adds. “These government controls drive up gasoline prices. We couldn’t afford the cost during good times. We certainly can’t afford to pay more for unnecessary regulation now.”

    For years “Democrats and many Republicans have blocked responsible energy development in America,” says Barr.

  5. However, Barr was complaining about Obama and McCain not advocating their proposals, which are likely to involve more government, and advocating for them to advocate for more government is a step in the wrong direction.

    Barr’s proposals referring to mineral exploitation have somewhat less merit than they sound. For example, there are already substantial amounts of oil shale privately held. You do not see them being used for oil production because it’s not that great a source.

    Now, calling for the Bureau of Land Management to reverse its recent rules banning solar concentrating sites from Federal land would be a positive step.

  6. But there is plenty of private land for solar concentrating, isn’t there?

    There’s no question that oil shale isn’t as useful as oil sands. But, he isn’t calling for the government to develop them.

    I think he was pointing out in his other press release that the other two candidates could care less. Even The Libertarian Enterprise has a “one dollar gas, vote libertarian” slogan on its home page.

  7. “One reason we have state and local governments is to enact traffic laws. That is not the federal government’s responsibility,” explains Barr.”

    More “federalism” from Barr, plus I’m not sure where the “libertarianism” in this statement is hiding. It would have to be hiding and be found, because at first and second glance, I don’t see it. Will someone explain to me where the “libertarianism” is?

    I also guess that Barr’s other “reasons for “state and local governments” are:

    1-Keep drugs out of people’s hands and bodies;

    2-Be responsible for education;

    3-Legislate and enforce child “protective”, and age of consent laws;

    4-Determine who can and cannot contract to be married;

    5-Continue presence in all of our lives with a massive police state to ensure “order” . . .

    amongst many other “legitimate” functions of government, I’m sure.

    Will someone please explain to me and others who are following the Barr’s “libertarian” campaign, where is the libertarianism in Barr’s “federalism” position?

  8. As I have written and said many times in the past, Ron Paul, thought I believe he is wrong on a few issues, would first give the “federalism” argument against laws or proposed action by the federal government, but he would then give the philosophical, libertarian principle as to why such law, legislation or proposed action by government is wrong.

    Barr doesn’t do this . . . and for good reason. He doesn’t know the libertarian principle!

  9. George, how do you propose to enforce American drug companies patent rights in foreign countries? Please be specific.

  10. Let us start with one:

    We insist that intellectual property rights are indivisible. Either these places respect ours, or we will invalidate theirs here. Indeed, there was one foreign country that has threatened to do this to us, though that is cranking its way the last I heard through the WTO. I agree in advance that the party’s doormat wing will not like this.

  11. Art,

    I somehow don’t think that Barr expected McCain to follow your sensible suggestions.

    The three of them appear to believe this nonsense about drilling our way to energy independence.


  12. I seem to recall Barr recently chastising Congress for not subsidizing offshore oil exploration, but that aside I think you’re straining at gnats here, George.

    Libertarian socialism was the first political form of libertarianism to use the name. I don’t know if it constitutes a “wing” or “faction” of the Libertarian Party, but there’s certainly a long-existing libertarian socialist “tendency,” especially of the anarcho-syndicalist variety, in the LP (some of us are or have been Wobblies, for example).

  13. Jim,

    Actually, I rather suspect that most of the land best-suited for solar concentrating on an industrial/grid-provision scale (as opposed to individual rooftop units and such) is government-controlled.

    For example, the feds claim to “own” about 85% of the land in Nevada, 57% in Utah, 48% in Arizona, 45% in California, and 41% in New Mexico. If I had to guess, I’d also guess that the government-“owned” land in those states is disproportionately high in open desert acreage as compared to privately owned land.

    Not, of course, that I advocate having the BLM “manage” that land so as to maximize its use for solar energy production. Rather, I’d like to see that land auctioned and/or or made freely available to homesteaders at the same time the BLM auctions off all its non-land assets under the big “Going Out Of Business” banner.

  14. Why in the world would you want to concentrate solar generation? In the energy world that’s called unproductive. For solar, decentralized production and distrbution is the way to go. Stick solar cells on every roof and an inverter on every power line and you’re good to go.

    The fundamental problem of the hub-and-spoke system of a centralized energy system is that it cannot effectively work with a distributed resource like sunlight. It works for fossil fools (yes, that’s not a typo!) and for wind, hydro, and nuclear, but not solar. The fundamental benefit of this system is the grid infrastructure, which can be used to not only send power from plants to homes and businesses, but vice versa.

  15. Steve, I believe Barr does know the libertarian arguments, and does not believe them. Barr is an authoritarian, a law and order scumbag. He wants an orderly society more than a free one. Which is why he would be a candidate appropriate to a conservative party, but is not a candidate appropriate to any libertarian party.

  16. Tom, please enjoy the work of challenging fed ownership of lands. In addition, please have good luck in getting those lands properly owned by the government (see Andrew Jackson’s veto message on the renewal of the Second Bank for the constitutional issues) sold off. The king does not sell his forest, ever.

    As to where the best land is, the West is a patch work. If a solar concentrator project has trouble finding land, they aren’t looking very hard.

    Michael, believe it or not there are concentrated power applications outside of your home. You may not value industry. But, some of us like forged steel tools. You may not have any interest in making circuit boards or chips or anything, but some people do. Not everything can be decentralised and still function.

    George makes the interesting point that the battery problem with solar concentration has been solved, by fire brick.

  17. Jim, I was referring to concentrated power *generation* plants, not *use* of that power by others. Your argument is based in that misconception.

    You also completely missed the point that every rooftop can be a solar generator that can send energy onto the grid. Whether the occupants of building under those rooftops are net generators or users of grid electricity is a different issue.

    And please don’t act like an idiot by implying things like me , “not valuing industry” and making the obviously absurd statement of “Not everything can be decentralized and still function” when the proportion of centralization:decentralization is simply a function of the product or service being produced. You’re smarter than that.

  18. Solar concentrating systems use mirrors to generate a hot fluid. For electrical systems using stored heat for night power generation, you want a large system, because the heat loss from the storage unit goes as the square of its linear dimension, while the stored energy goes as the cube.

    Solar cells as a replacement have a wide range of challenges, notably there are no good ways to store really big amounts of electrical energy, above what we are already doing. In contrast, thermal storage for later generation of electricity is already commercially available. Also, solar cells remain seriously noncompetitive in price at this time with other power sources.

    On the other hand, wind generation is currently competitive with orthodox power generation means, but there are challenges with using the wind as a baseline; the wind may not be blowing over too large a part of the country. Wind storage via compressed air has some challenging thermodynamic difficulties.

  19. Solar cells are currently still quite/very expensive. The price first has to come down drastically for the average person to afford it and to make it worthwhile, and this will still take several years, at least.
    The solution probably lies in a plurality of energy sources.

  20. “Libertarian Socialism” sounds like an oxymoron, even more as “big government conservative”.

  21. Mr. Seebeck, there are economies of scale and there are physical laws. Trying to teach you physics is probably not going to work out, though George, who does it professionally, has given it a shot.

    You may have heard of the inverse squared law. Have you heard of I squared R? If not, then you really don’t know what you are talking about with regard to feeding the grid.

    I know a number of people who have numerically controlled production systems, who seem to believe as you do that everything can be decentralised. Perhaps they can, theoretically, but a number of issues make it impractical, among them the desire of business owners to make a profit. There is no difference, in theory, between theory and practice. In practice, there are vast differences.

    I am not a fan of centralising anything, most especially authority. But, there are reasons for industrial plants as they exist, as they consume energy, as they produce products. You might want to understand them before you blithely suppose that the energy they use can be replaced by a few square yards of solar cells on the rooftops of your neighbors.

    Despite all the pronouncements of the green crowd, the Second Law of Thermodynamics remains in effect. Water won’t flow uphill. Concentrated power is still essential for many applications.

  22. What I really admire about Jim is how he never condescends to people.

    Anyway, it sounds to me as if Michael is talking about distributed production combined with centralized storage and distribution – that is, a grid-tied production system. I don’t care for the idea much, for several reasons.

    I think large multi-consumer power plants may always have a role, but I would like to see much more decentralization of production, storage, and consumption.

    I wants a better capacitor!

    But for now, I adore our batteries:

    Wow; over two years old already. We forgot to throw them a birthday party 🙂

  23. I caught the same leap of logic as the first commenter: “doing something’ does not equate to “economic planning.” But I thought it was deliberate parody of Independent Political Report’s story about Barr supporting the bailouts of Fannie and Freddie, which relied on the same faulty logic.

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