Tuesday, September 21, 2004

You Must Be At Least THIS Stupid to Be the Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate 

Slashdot interviewed Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, the other day. I started reading it, and after reading the second question, I just couldn't take it anymore and had to stop reading.

I fully support the Libertarian platform and ideals and I have every intention of voting for you in November. My only beef with the libertarian approach is timing. You've stated that in your first couple months of holding office you'll eliminate the federal reserve, kick the U.N. out of the country, and bring as many of our troops home as possible, among other radical (but good) changes. My question is this: how do you plan to handle the societal impact of these changes? Eliminating the federal reserve is not something I'd expect to go over lightly in the financial markets, for example. Much of the Libertarian platform is a severe departure from the current state of the nation -- I feel that society would need time to adapt to these changes.

I guess my first response to that has to be that for a Libertarian to be elected to the White House right now would indicate massive social upheaval already. Yes, my ideas are radical -- but my election would prove that America is ready for radical solutions.

You're right, though. It isn't as simple as that. Stating my goals and what I'd attempt to do is not the same as stating what would happen. The presidency is an office of limited power, and I'd actually spend a good deal of time struggling with Congress and the courts to get my solutions implemented, giving Americans time to prepare for the changes.

Of course, with some of the changes I'm proposing, I've set a longer timeline on anyway. With American troops in more than 135 countries around the globe, I don't plan to just buy them all airline tickets and tell them to catch the next plane home. My plan for Iraq is a 90-day phased withdrawal concentrating on the physical security of the troops. For drawing down the US military presence in Germany, Korea, Japan and elsewhere, I've proposed a two-year timeline, with the first actual troop pullouts beginning at the end of the first year. That's quicker than George W. Bush's 10-year timeline, but it isn't unduly hasty.

My expectation is that if we eliminate the Fed's monopoly on currency provision, the Fed will continue exist -- it will just have to compete with other currency options on a truly level playing field without the government demanding that its currency be accepted instead of others. People can decide whether they want to hold their wealth in green pieces of paper backed only by seven trillion dollars in debt, or in currency coined of, or backed by, some scarce commodity. I'm not planning to haul Alan Greenspan and the Board of Governors off to Indiana for death by lethal injection or anything like that.

My job as a candidate is to articulate a vision of the changes I propose and to argue forcefully for their implementation. The checks and balances which our nation's founders wrote into the Constitution provide a framework in which those changes can be implemented with the minimum possible chaos.

I feel like I really shouldn't have to comment on this, it mostly speaks for itself. However, it's that penultimate paragraph that got my attention. How the hell does the Fed have a monopoly on currency provision? You can already hold your wealth however you want. United States currency is legal tender, for all debts public and private, but nothing is forcing you to use it. You and I can hold whatever kinds of currency we want. Right here, right now, on US soil, you and I can buy things from each other in Euros or GBP or gold or little pellets of lapis lazuli.

Allow me to quote snopes.com here, they explain it really well:

Title 31 (Money and Finance), Subtitle IV (Money), Chapter 51 (Coins and Currency), Subchapter I (Monetary System), Section 5103 (Legal Tender) of the United States Code states:

United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.

What this statute means, in the words of the United States Treasury, is that "[A]ll United States money . . . is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal law mandating that a person or organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services."

That's it. All this means is that the Federal Reserve System must honor U.S. currency and coins, not necessarily anyone else. U.S. currency and coins can be used for making payments, but a debtor does not have to pay in legal tender, nor does a creditor have to accept legal tender. If a shoemaker wants to sell his products for 8000 jelly beans per pair, he's entitled to do so; the buyer cannot demand that he accept the equivalent value in legal tender instead. However, legal tender is the default method of payment assumed in contractual agreements involving payments for goods or services unless otherwise specified.

Furthermore, the fact that he doesn't realize the gains from having a common unit of measurement for value is a serious strike against him. Should we also do away with the government's Constitutional "monopoly" on setting the system of weights and measures? We should really be free to measure things with whatever system we want, shouldn't we?

Oh wait, I think we already are.

Nice post.

But I have a nit: let's say that I buy your iPod from you for $100 via a check, and then that check bounces. At that point, I have a private debt to you of $100. Say then that you decide only to accept payment via paypal. I instead offer you a hundred dollar bill. The law states that you should accept that bill and you cannot force the paypal payment, because I already owe you the money, and thus it is a debt. You could take me to court, and the judgement would be that of $100.

This is different than if you say "I'll sell you the iPod, but I only want to be paid through paypal." Because I wouldn't owe you the money, you could do so. It's the same thing with bus tokens: they are allowed to accept only tokens instead of legal tender bills because it's not a debt.

So, this is a slight modification of your point. It's more than just the Fed that must honor currency; it's also people who are owed money from goods and services already provided.
Originally I had a short paragraph after the Snopes quote pointing out that one case, and then asking "But who the heck is outraged about that?" I removed it because it wasn't long enough to stand on its own, and was repetitive of the Snopes quote.
I've been reading his other replies. One actually got me to say "Oh! My! God!": He wants stock holders to be held personally accountable for the actions of the companies they hold. This guy is just all over the map. It's amazing.

Anyway, that one thing was just a minor nit anyway. Maybe I should contact Snopes about it, though.
Thanks for sharing. My own iste is about coin collecting
Come visit.
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