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Presidential Answers, Round One 710

Okay, here we go. The first two candidates who responded to our questions were the Libertarian Party's Harry Browne and David McReynolds of the Socialist Party USA. Enjoy!

1) War on Drugs
by Tim Doran

The War on Drugs has been a consistently neglected topic in discussions surrounding this federal election. My question is, do you believe the War on Drugs has been an unqualified success, and if not, what would you change about it if elected president?

Browne:

The question I most wanted to ask Al Gore and George Bush in the debates was, "Would you be a better person today if, for your youthful indiscretions, you had spent 10 years in prison? If not, why do presume to sentence young people to punitive sentences for doing nothing more than "experimenting" with drugs as you did?"

The War on Drugs has been every bit as successful as the War on Poverty, the War on Prostitution, and the War on Gambling - meaning it's been an absolute failure. As with other wars, the War on Drugs has bred enormous crime, corruption, and expense. I want to end the nightmare of Prohibition - with its black market, criminal gangs, drive-by shootings, bootleg drugs, and corrupt law enforcement.

I'm so committed to ending this insane war on our civil liberties, that I've promised that the very first thing I will do as President, from the Inauguration stand, is sign an unconditional pardon for all non-violent drug offenders currently serving their sentence in federal prison.

McReynolds:

The war on drugs is not only a failure, it is the wrong war. Heroin is a sad addiction but one we need to accept and allow addicts to get heroin through doctors. Marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug, is not addictive, no one has died from an overdose, it is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, and it should be legalized. Unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale and from time to time still do.

I'm not sure of what to do about cocaine but one thing I know you don't do is send American helicopters into Colombia, and you don't spray crops in Bolivia, Peru, etc. The problem isn't there - it is here, in education and treatment. End the drug war.

2) Minority Religions...
by Electric Angst

What will you do to protect the rights of atheists and those who hold minority faiths, such as Wicca, Santaria, Shinto, et al?

McReynolds:

As an atheist I have an interest in this topic. (Perhaps I'm a Buddhist atheist, which is not actually a contradiction, as "orthodox Buddhists" out there will understand). All faiths, from Wicca to Shinto should be protected on the same basis as Judaism, Christianity, etc. All I could do is make clear the Bill of Rights covers this, and pledge to defend the Bill of Rights, which remains a radical document which probably could not be passed into law today. Thank God we have it. I believe in it.

Browne:

Minority faiths should vote Libertarian because we're the only party that will take away the power of government to inflict one person's values on another. This not only will make those who practice minority faiths safe from those of differing values, it will also make groups like Christians feel safe from other faiths - so each will no longer feel the need to fight the other.

Specifically, I intend to do more than talk a good game - as so many politicians have. I intend to get the federal government out of everything not authorized in the Constitution, so that all anti-religious, or religious for that matter, will be eliminated automatically.

By preaching "family values," conservative politicians like Pat Buchanan and George Bush keep you on the hook - even though they are doing nothing to actually promote such values or free you from government oppression.

I want to completely repeal the Income Tax. This would better enable individuals to live by their values, and would empower parents to choose schooling for their children that supports their values.

I am the only politician in this race who refuses to pretend I know what's best for you. I don't want to be your leader, deciding everything about your life, especially who and how you worship. That's a decision for each of the 270 million "leaders" that live in our nation.

3) Why give a tax cut?
by funkman

With the surplus, everyone has been saying "Let's have a tax cut, Let's have a tax cut." In the meantime, Alan Greenspan and friends are trying to keep inflation and the speed of the growing economy in check so it doesn't burst. Which they are doing by raising interest rates periodically. (6 times this year)

A tax cut flies in the face of what Greenspan is trying to do. A tax cut will inject more money into the economy and do what Greenspan is preventing.

Why is a tax cut so big? Wouldn't the money be better spent on the deficit so when worse times roll along, a tax cut can be easily given by not paying as much on the debt?

Browne:

What deficit? Al Gore and George Bush are both claiming we don't have a deficit? Gore says that we have no deficit because Bill Clinton managed the economy so well. Bush says we have no deficit because we had Republicans in Congress.

But the deficit does exist, and the way we know is that the national debt is still increasing. We're robbing Peter to pay Paul, or more precisely the politicians are robbing your future to pay for all their wonderful programs today. The Social Security program is currently bringing in more money than it spends, and that money is being used to pay for the current operating expenses of government.

We're really the ones paying the bill. It's not the Russians, or the Martians who will end up paying the bill -- it's you and me. That money the politicians are spending is ours.

If there were a surplus, that's money were being overtaxed. If, on the other hand, there's a deficit, that's money that's a debt our children will have to pay. Deficit spending also means higher interest rates for home, auto, consumer, and college loans. You're paying one way or the other.

There is a solution, and only I am proposing it -- not Bush, Gore, or Nader. End the Income Tax and the IRS, and replace them with nothing. Our country became the greatest, free nation in the world without an Income Tax. But the Income Tax funds all the unconstitutional programs that exist today. If we ended the Income Tax we could finance all the constitutional functions of government such as, defense, the courts and a couple other permitted functions.

But more importantly, you would be free -- free to save, invest, or spend as you see fit.

McReynolds:

I'm not for a tax cut. I'm for higher taxes, lower for the poor (in fact a "negative income tax" for those at the poverty level, which means they would get cash back) and much higher for the wealthy. I'm for an estate tax on the very rich which would confiscate the bulk of their money at the time of death - not because they were bad people, but because vast concentrations of economic power distort the fabric of democracy.

There are many projects - from expanding Amtrak to health care - which need funding. Some of that can come from the Socialist Party's proposed 50% across the board cut in military spending.

4) electoral reform
by carleton

Some people, especially those that favor '3-rd' party candidates, have called for the ending of the electoral college system to be replaced by a simple purely popular vote, or at least allowing for splitting the electoral votes by each state. The best recent example was the Bush-Clinton election. Clinton received 43% of the popular vote (but a sufficient majority of the electoral vote), whereas Perot got at least 10% of the popular vote but zero electoral votes. If memory serves, Vermont is the only state which does currently allow for its votes to be split; if someone wins 60% of the Vermont popular vote, they get 2 votes and the 40% candidate gets 1. This in contrast to California, where someone can get 51% of the popular vote, and therefore gets 53 (or whatever it is nowadays) electoral votes. What is your position on this issue?

Browne:

(no answer)

McReynolds:

First, abolish the electoral college. It discourages voting (if you live in Texas and are a Democrat why vote? If you live in New York and are a Republican, why vote?). Second, have an instant run off system for the President, which is how the Mayor of London was elected. It is very simple and "empowers" smaller parties. You would cast your ballot with, as one example, your top five choices. Let's suppose it was:

McReynolds #1
Nader #2
Gore #3
Bush #4
Hagelin #5


If Al Gore got enough #1 votes on the first count, he is the winner - end of story. But if on the first count no one gets a majority you take the lowest candidate (let's say it was me) and find out who my #2 choice was, so that is added to Nader's total. It is possible - not likely but possible - that Nader might be #2 on enough ballots that he would have a majority. But probably he wouldn't and you'd go on down the list, transferring Nader's "second choice" to the next candidate, etc.

This means that if you voted for a Socialist Party candidate you weren't helping elect Bush. Also means if you voted for the Libertarian candidate you wouldn't be helping elect Gore.

5)How Do You Feel About Intellectual Property?
by Phil Gregory

In this age of the Internet, intellectual property has become a very important concept to many people. Many companies make their living on the artificial scarcity provided by intellectual property laws, selling information that they have either created or aggregated. Some others, mostly in the Free Software world, make their living seemingly in spite of these laws, selling their services based on information that is freely given.

Do you feel that our current system of intellectual property is a good one? Which parts of it (e.g. trademarks, patents, copyrights) do you feel are well suited to the world of the Internet and which do you think need to be changed (and, if changes are needed, what changes are needed)?

McReynolds:

I'm not going to dodge - I'll admit I have not studied this enough to know where I stand. I certainly am against the monstrous profits going to studio chiefs, but I also want to make damn sure that poor writers are ripped off. Have to pass on this one./i>

McReynolds:

Browne:

I believe the marketplace will develop ways of protecting intellectual property if the government stays out of it. Witness the way software companies send you trial programs that automatically go dead after 30 days. Similar innovations will be found to protect other kinds of intellectual property. No, they won't be perfect, but they will work a lot better than laws written by politicians and enforced by bureaucrats.

6) Encryption....
by SquadBoy

Many tech people think that strong encryption is one of the best ways we have to protect freedom both now and for future generations. For example to preserve information that future not so friendly governments may think we don't need to have and to make sure that things we want to have remain private remain private. Given this what would you do to help preserve our right to privacy through the use of strong encryption? Also in a related question what are your thoughts and what do you plan to do about the fact that we can not export many forms of strong encryption?

Browne:

No one should prevent you from encrypting anything you want, and the government should have no access to your encrypted messages, unless you want it to.

I favor a total absence of export controls. They are not used for national security. They are used to favor those with access to political power and to harm the competitors of those with access to political power.

McReynolds:

While I doubt any form of encryption can defy decoding I think people have a right to use it, the government is wrong to try to block its use or prevent its transfer to other countries.

7) Rising Political Protests
by sterno

In the last year or so we have seen a tremendous escalation in the quantity and size of political protests against globalization and the rising power of corporate multi-nationals. Do you believe that these people have reason to be concerned? If you do believe that they have reason for concern, what steps would you take as president to deal with their concerns?

McReynolds:

Obviously they have reason to be concerned! At two levels. First, workers in this country see their jobs floating to other countries were trade unions and environmental protections are weak, wages are low, and thus profits are higher. To have a level playing field we should support the international organization of working people, so that workers in Korea or Thailand can fight for protection, increase their wages, and force the capitalist investors to settle for a lower profit. The struggle is to increase labor's share of the pie. As a socialist I am very strongly for that.

The problem is, however, much deeper. Captialist modes of production, unless controlled by strong state intervention (or unless placed under social ownership within a democratic society) exploit the resources of the world without any concern except for profit. Biggest and best example - the Tobacco Corporations, who have known for decades they were selling death, but found it profitable. The forests of Brazil are being destroyed because it is profitable. Cars instead of railroads are produced because it is profitable. The environment is threatened by industrialization and technology - but very much more so when those processes are carried out by profit-driven global corporations which are more powerful than almost any nation state.

Browne:

The greatest guarantor of peace isn't a strong military or an international organization. It is free trade among countries. When people can buy and sell freely with people in another country, they have a good reason to discourage their leaders from going to war with that country. This interdependence is a far more reliable guarantor of peace than foreign aid, arms sales, and treaties.

Winston Churchill put it very well back in 1903: . . the fact that this great trade exists between nations binds them together in spite of themselves, and has in the last thirty years done more to preserve the peace of the world than all the Ambassadors, Prime Ministers, and Foreign Secretaries and Colonial Secretaries put together. When a government excludes other countries from sources of raw materials or from markets for their wares, it undermines the economic motives for maintaining peace.

Lost Jobs?

Free trade doesn't cost jobs, it improves them. Money spent on foreign products doesn't disappear from the American economy. It's true that an American company loses a sale when an American buys a Japanese car. And if it loses enough sales to foreign competitors, it will stop hiring for a while--or even lay people off (just as it would if it lost sales to an American competitor). But the total number of American jobs doesn't decline, because the money spent abroad will come back here in one form or another.

When an American buys a foreign car (or any other foreign product), the foreign seller receives dollars. He (or some other foreigner to whom he trades the dollars) will use the money to buy an American product. Or he'll buy an American investment--which also puts the money into circulation in America. Or he'll leave it in a bank--which will lend it to someone who will spend it in America. One way or another, the money creates jobs somewhere in the American economy. When a foreign industry outsells an American industry, the lost American jobs are highly visible. But the new American jobs aren't so easy to see, because they're spread out over many different industries. So politicians can score points railing against foreign competitors--even though their arguments have no basis in reality.

Trade Aggression?

Politicians describe foreign trade as though it were a war between countries--with winners and losers. Here, for example, is a statement by one of the 1996 presidential candidates: The Japanese in the last 25 years have bought 400,000 American cars and sold us 40 million. Now if that is not trade aggression, I don't know what is. You've got to wake up and start defending the national interest of the United States and of American workers, American businesses, and American auto workers.

But every one of those 40 million Japanese cars was bought by an American who wanted it. Providing what someone wants isn't aggression. Barring Japanese companies from selling cars in America is forcibly preventing Americans from getting what they want--which is aggression. And if someone thinks Japanese sales here are aggression, what are American sales in Japan? Here are a few areas in which U.S. companies "aggressed" rather aggressively in 1994: Was this trade aggression? Should American companies be forcibly prevented from selling products they can make better than foreign companies?

Most politicians miss the whole point of international trade. It isn't a game or a battle or a war. Each transaction benefits both sides. To quote Winston Churchill again: . . both the selling and the buying of these things were profitable to us; that what we sold, we sold at a good profit, for a natural and sufficient return; that what we bought, we bought because we thought it worth our while to buy, and thought we could turn it to advantage. And in this way commerce is utterly different from war, so that the ideas and the phraseology of the one should never be applied to the other; for in war both sides lose whoever wins the victory, but the transactions of trade, like the quality of mercy, are twice blessed, and confer a benefit on both parties.

Punishing the Innocent

But what about American companies that are shut out by foreign governments? Just as the sale of foreign goods in this country blesses both buyers and sellers, a foreign government that prevents its citizens from buying American goods injures both the would-be buyer and seller. But our government's response to such wasteful policies is to double the harm by imitating them. If the Japanese government interferes with American car companies, our government wants to forcibly reduce the number of Japanese cars sold here. But why should American car-buyers be punished for the sins of the Japanese government? The politicians don't address that point because they don't care about the American buyer. But if pressed for an answer, they'd probably say it's the only way to pressure the Japanese government to open its trade doors. Hurting innocent people in order to make someone else bend to one's will is the tactic of a terrorist. Governments have been using this tactic for centur ies--which it why there still are so many trade barriers.

Again, Winston Churchill in 1903 had something to say to those today who believe we can open foreign markets by closing our own: There's a feeling that England has only to retaliate and foreign tariff walls will immediately collapse. But all the great nations of the world are Protectionist; they have been for 100 years past, and perhaps for many years before that, endeavoring by every dodge of reciprocity or negotiation to force each other to reduce their tariffs in each other's respective interests. Where have they come to? Have they reached Free Trade? On the contrary, their tariffs have risen higher and higher, and at this moment Free-trade England, which does nothing, Free-trade England, with masterly inactivity, occupies in regard to the nations of the world so far as tariffs are concerned, a position of advantage to which few of the Protectionist countries have attained and which none of them has surpassed.

With virtually no tariffs of its own, England had become the world's leading exporter--while governments that used trade barriers to jockey for advantage did more harm than good to their own exporters. Too bad England eventually fell off the Free Trade wagon.

8) Asteroid Defenses
by Ethelred Unraed

Would you renew funding of programs to research and develop global defense systems against asteroids or other such threats from space?

Browne:

In 1983 Ronald Reagan made the most sensible military suggestion of the past 50 years -- that America should have protection against a missile attack. Unfortunately, he assigned the job to the Department of Defense, and now -- 17 years later -- we are no closer to being protected than we were then. The only thing the government should do is post a reward -- $25, or even $50 billion -- to be given to the first private company that can demonstrate a working, functioning, fool-proof missile defense system. Not a prototype, not a plan -- but the actual system.

Perhaps a properly functioning system could deal with "global threats from space" though that wouldn't be our first or primary objectives.

McReynolds:

An interesting idea. If this can be totally separate from the crackpot idea of a Star Wars program, and made an international program under the United Nations I would favor it.

9) The Future of the Country, and of Humanity
by 11223

I'm very concerned with the future of the country, and about what our national mission seems to be. Looking back through American history, every period seems to have a defining popular mission - like the "manifest destiny" movement in the 19th century, the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. During these times, there would be one struggle or idea that captivated the attention of the nation, sort of providing a national mission.

I'm a little confused as I look around today. What is our mission? To me, it seems to be "to watch TV and use the Internet." What would you say the defining national mission of today is? What should it be? Furthermore, how would you show this in your activities as a lawmaker? (For instance, if our national mission is the pursuit of science, then would you increase funding for scientific pursuits in the budget?)

McReynolds:

This nation doesn't have to have a "mission". The United States is an exceptional country in many ways, and certainly unique. But one problem we have is this damn "need" for a mission. Finland doesn't have a "mission". China doesn't have a "mission". Costa Rica doesn't have a "mission". Beware of missionaries! Build a good and decent country, compassionate, democratic, heading toward socialism, and make time to sniff the roses on the way. We don't need a "mission".

Browne:

This question concerns me. I have no national mission in mind and no broad plan to herd you into, as if this was the Fatherland. You're an American. That means you have a rich history handed down to you from men who risked, and in some cases lost, their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the pursuit of liberty.

Not only would I not increase scientific funding in the budget, I'd end it altogether because the truth is government doesn't work. It doesn't keep our streets safe, educate our children or provide a secure retirement. It doesn't aid progress, it hinders it. Government is politics, not progress. Government is bureaucracy, inefficiency, and brute force. It is the least desirable, least effective and least likely to succeed means of getting anything accomplished.

What is my vision for you? I want you to be free -- you and every other American. You should be free to live your life as you see fit, not as Al Gore, George Bush or Ralph Nader see fit. I want you to be able to spend, to save, or to invest all the money you earn. I want you to be responsible for your life. And if you choose to watch TV and use the Internet all day, that's ok with me, so long as the rest of us aren't required to subsidize your lifestyle choice.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Presidential Answers, Round One

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The money would come from the Constitutional excises and tariffs that Congress can levy in order to pay for govt and national defense. I'll admit that the idea is a bit strange, not paying taxes and all, but it could work and did work up until the early 20th century.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    go to www.lp.org - www.self-gov.org - www.harrybrowne.org for info on libertarian thought, yes - hes a would-be politician - but we're actually not terribly fond of typical poliicians and our modern government at large - I'm a libertarian and I think more should be - btw, we're the LARGEST third party out there - with the only real chance of qualifing for federal campaing funding, once that happens then we realisticly can stand a chance during the next election - right now we're supporting ourselves entire by donations. Harry Browne's webpage has some info comparing us to other third parties - we're more then twice as large as Nadar's Green Party (Socialists with a fluffy name, btw) and yet they get more media attention then us...we have libertarians in congress and all over the us, theres hundreds of us holding public office - literally no other third party can claim that yet our name is rarely heard in the media...perhaps because we represent a real threat and change?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "with the only real chance of qualifing for federal campaing funding, once that happens then we realisticly can stand a chance during the next election - right now we're supporting ourselves entire by donations."

    I too am a Libertarian. However, this statement is incorrect. Libertarians do not and should not accept taxpayer money to fund campaigns. In fact, this year Harry qualified for over $1 million in federal matching funds, but TURNED IT DOWN.

    It would be hypocritical to speak about binding federal government to its constitutional limits while simultaneously taking political welfare money from the hands of the taxpayers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:13AM (#673419)
    >Before I say anything, I should note that I'm a scientist on the public dole, so I'm biased.

    So am I.

    >That being said, even though I have some libertarian tendencies I think that Browne's plan to end all government scientific funding is foolish. The reason: basic research is one of the best investments you can make. It is almost guaranteed to pay off.

    All the more reason that private individuals can (and do) invest in an umbrella corporation. It pools the resources and spreads the risk.

    >Some corporate funding of research has worked well in the past (Bell Labs?), but it just doesn't seem to be feasable today.

    Yeah, there would be no way that a private company could even attempt to map the human genome.

    >Investing in basic scientific research is just too long term for most corporations.

    Those that don't, die. Those that do, have a chance at prosperity. Capitalism is messy. Change is constant.

    >Never mind "five year plans" or even retirement times for top executives, you may not be able to fund enough projects to have any statistical confidence that any but the most applied of research programs may pay off for you. And the payoffs may be something unexpected, which you will have trouble reaping the benefits of anyway.

    Like the transistor, the IC, the sticky note? If it is useful, benefits will be reaped. If not by you, then by someone else. You can then go to work for them to do more research.
  • by Erich ( 151 )
    Harry Browne is the Anti-Nader! (or is it Nader that is the Anti-Browne?)
  • If by right, you mean right wing....

    You want to end AIDS education because it somehow encourages homosexuality? Have you thought about what this means? Will it be illegal to setup www.aidsinfo.com?

    You want to ban flag burning as a legal activity? What follows that? It's dangerous precendent.

    You don't want any homosexuals defending your country, even if they're completely capable? You truly believe that a homosexual has no control nor any ability to work with non-homosexuals in an effective manner to accomplish a task?

    You want quotas ended by a guy who makes it clear that his reason for ending them is to legalize discrimination?

    You want a nationalistic leader who doesn't recognize the importance of foreign policy?

    If this is what you believe, fine. It scares me, but it's your right to believe it. If you don't believe all that, please do more research into your candidate's views so you don't accidentally say something you don't mean.

    --
    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • Teaching schoolchildren to "fear" Socialism in the public schools is like teaching politicians to "fear" campaign finance reform by giving their campaigns millions of dollars in the hopes that they'll implement it.
    --
  • Free trade means he with the biggest whip wins.

    That's the bottom line. You can like it, or not. Approve of it- or not. Encourage it, or fight it. But across the board, what 'free trade' means is "if you can come up with slave labor and kill people off in your factories to undersell us union-beset industrialised nations, we'll happily punish our own companies by giving all our business to you!"

    There are some interesting variations, such as "if you can grab a copy of W2K and replicate 100,000,000 copies of it in Taiwan, we can treat you as a supplier of that product, look the other way and start buying from you rather than the official Microsoft sources". Free trade is not an automatic homerun for business- there are some nasty boobytraps in it. Primarily, however, it isn't about gray or black market- primarily it's about 'he who wields the biggest whip wins the bid', an excuse to massively reward the most ruthless industries that exist on the planet and punish anyone forced to behave more reasonably.

    Of course, the libertarian perspective can be 'spun' to make it seem like Libertarians all _want_ to remove any controls and allow the entire world to turn into a big sweatshop ruled by the most ruthless and powerful people and organisations. Not all libertarians feel that way. Some do. Which is to say, some people _like_ whips and the subjugation of the weak and powerless, and vehemently dislike the idea of protecting anyone just because they are weak or powerless.

    Oh... "which will be reflected in employee salaries"... *chuckle* no comment. *chuckle*

  • And then there's:

    Present-day capitalism: the government tells you what to do, takes all your money and gives it to giant multinational corporations which fire you and hire 6 ill-paid malaria-ridden sweatshop workers in a country whose name you can't pronounce.

    Libertarianism: the government gives up and goes home, at which point the giant multinational corporation buys your town/state/country and tells you what to do while (see above)

    I mean, come on... let's be practical...

  • What is this viewpoint on intellectual property? As a musician, I've had to re-evaluate a lot of assumptions people currently hold about intellectual property- most notably, when I decided to vote Progressive in the coming election (that's basically Green/Nader for president, and Pollina for governor of Vermont).

    One particular aspect of the Progressive platform struck me very forcibly- the idea that wealth needs to correspond to work, not position or power. Basically, if I work 18 hours a day, the deck should be stacked in my favor so that I can take home wealth. If I don't work at all but I 'own people' and my employees do all the work, currently I'd get even more wealth, and the Progressive opinion is that is inequitable.

    The thing is, intellectual property's based on the idea that my ideas or creations exist out there in some nebulous intellectual space and go on 'working' WITHOUT me. As if it made sense that I could record a super hit song, and (in theory- ha!) sit back and never lift a finger again, with my income guaranteed for the rest of my life by the fact that I'd done terrific work- once.

    Even though the industry I'm associated with is completely committed to this twisted fantasy, I personally find it inequitable- to the point that it has profoundly affected my expectations and the way I see my work.

    At this point, I see no use for intellectual property at all. I'm letting my expectations on my music change dramatically- it is not and will never be allowed to be the 'engine' for generating wealth for me. Instead, the _process_ of recording such music is the engine- I have a somewhat unusual and eclectic musical style and can work on commission, I have equipment and software resources (some of the software I wrote myself because there was nothing out there to do what I needed!) that can be used for this type of work, and most significantly the expectations for pay for this type of professional work are very decent.

    The actual music gets to be a lot freer in its expectations- I can basically guarantee a certain level of technical quality and the artistic judgements don't need to make any compromises to popular taste because the idea of THE MUSIC going out and earning money is doomed. Instead the music goes out and gets attention and mindshare, which can then be used to attract business. The role of intellectual property earning money through scarcity in a digital information economy is completely doomed...

    The one area that may or may not still warrant protection is simply authentication- if 50 guys all claim to have recorded my album, that could be a problem. Yet even here, this is not a completely persuasive argument- it simply turns into a 'caveat emptor' situation, because the sort of person who _would_ attempt to pass themselves off as a more skilled worker is not the sort of person who can actually do the work- 'stealing' credit for IP is a con and cannot be backed up by action. You'd turn to the person and say "Great! I'm sold. Now let's go to work, record me something new!" and they'd absolutely fail- and of course if the IP is valueless and ubitiquous, neither they nor I can actually sell it no matter who claims they invented it- they can only use it as leverage to win bids for other work, and there I'd have a really serious advantage. So even _authentication_ might be dispensed with- at the cost of completely rethinking what a musician's "job" is. You'd have to entirely give up on the idea of IP and fall back on a level that's much harder to fake or cheat- the ability to perform a task in the real world. Only that act would correspond to wealth- and the musician would need to do it as a consistent job, continuing to produce new material (perhaps on commission or patronage, or work for hire) in order to have consistent income. You'd have to work- you'd have to want to work. Now, I'm wondering (if you can be distracted from throwing rocks at the Eugene anarchists ;) )- how much of this sounds like your anarchist radical viewpoint on intellectual property?

  • by Enry ( 630 ) <enry@wayga . n et> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:15AM (#673435) Journal
    Okay, so Mr. Browne wants to abolish the IRS and the Income Tax (yay!). But then he wants to offer $25 or $50b to whomever comes up with the first working missile defense system.

    If not for the income tax, where will the money come from? National Sales Tax? Propery taxes? What? Are there other "necessary" projects that would be funded this way? If so, how will those get money?
  • If you vote for either of these guys, you are just plain nuts.

    The president cannot enact tax legislation--only the legislature can do that.

    Eliminate income tax. You have to be kidding me. You really do. I mean, I was dubious about Bush's plan, but that is just insane. Do you have any concept of what would happen? How many seniors (that's your grandma and grandpa) would be on the street, dying because they don't have ANY money now to try and buy drugs. Who care about Drug Plans if you don't have ANY money? What about underprivileged groups and populations? I guess it is their fault they are poor? Oh no, I get it--it's because they pay sooo much in income tax!

    I hate my tax rate. It is very high. But in an country that has built so much infrastructure (or cruft, whatever), you can't just eliminate it.

    If you think you can, I am shocked at your naivety. The fact that these canidates are popular with this crowd only further proves my theories on geek crowds: they are different just because they want to be different.

    Flame away, I really don't care. These canidates are so shocking in their plans that I am stunned that so many of you are behind them. I hate the leading canidates and only half agree with my favorite. But these people are just bad for this country.

    (And I thought I had Libertarian leanings. Thank you, Slashdot, for curing me of that illusion.)
  • To be honest with you, these are the first candidates that I've been able to understand on issues that are important to me. Gore and Bush are well trained double-speakers that will spew what they think the American people want to hear. At least Brown and McReynolds are giving you their opinions rather than the opinions of their political correctness cadre of panelists and specialists tell them they should say to get the vote. I for one applaud them for being able to take the time to respond to a small group such as ours (lets be honest, we're small) with issues that we present to them. I'm curious to see whether the &quot Majority Candidates&quot take the time to respond.
    As always, please redirect all flames to /dev/null

  • Seriously, Libertarians believe that there should be no government-funded police, and of course, no gun regulations. Therefore, you're either rich enough to hire your own private army for protection from crime, or you're hired in some rich guy's private army, because the only other alternative is funding your own arms race vs. some rich guy's army, who will pretty much be using his private army to kill you and steal all of your belongings, because, frankly, who's going to stop them?

    Then all the rich guys' private army's will fight eachother until only one rich guy remains.

    So, eventually, I think we'll all be working as security guards for Bill Gates. (who will win, of course, because he has the most money)

    The sales tax revenue generated by all the gun sales will fund the missile/asteroid defense.
  • If Crack were legal, the CIA would not be in the business of selling it. It would be about as profitable as aspirin.
  • BULLSHIT!

    You cannot get rich by working hard.

    You can only get rich by being born rich, or being extremely lucky. A much higher percentage of "rich" people had it fall into their laps, than people who worked hard.

    I worked my ass off at my job for 8 years. I know other people who were not as fortunate as I, working for companies that just happened to be not as successful. My company was VERY successful, and now I'm rich, because of stock options. But it had almost nothing to do with how hard I worked. I could have coasted along (like many of my colleagues) doing just what was required to not get fired - and they're just as rich as I am. I don't necessarily feel good about the money I have, but damn, it's great not being poor anymore. I probably could even retire now, and maybe, I don't work as hard as I used to before we got bought, maybe I spend a little more of my own time on my hobbies or family, but I could have done that before. But I have friends working at other companies, still putting in 12-16 hour days, and not getting anywhere financially. When you're paying your bills, you can't necessarily afford $10,000 for playing in the market.

    Working hard in this country gets you nothing but tired.
  • personally, I think that the best solution to the whole "flag burning" problem, would be if the President burned a flag as part of the official 4th of July celebration. To celebrate the fact that we are free, free even to burn the flag, and the fact that the flag is a symbol of that freedom, and that that freedom is not destroyed along with that symbol.

    First off, people would stop burning the flag as a sign of desecration or protest. Second, I think Americans would start to think a bit more deeply about the freedoms they have, and understand how to think the way the writers of the constitution were thinking when they came up with this whole idea.
  • That's because Socialism is a nice specification with no workable implementation.

    Socialism within a democracy? A democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. And even in a totalitarian regime, Socialism just becomes essentially a monarchy, where the prime minister and his cronies dictate policy - within the ideological framework, except in cases where the ideological framework can be perverted, or where the absolute power of the government can provide the necessary secrecy to function with impunity.
  • Or maybe it's a typo, and he meant "thank god", not "thank God".
  • Hmm, sounds like he's trying to get it off our ass to me...

    I think the basic point of his statement is that people live better with less government interference. The Tao Te Ching describes the ideas pretty well.

    --

  • he failed to give any answer to the question about the current electoral system.

    Browne doesn't beleve in passing (or promoting) laws that violate the constution. So he may hate the electoral system, but were he elected he would not be able to alter it. It isn't a presendital power. So I'm guessing he doesn't want to waste time talking about what he won't change when there are so many things he will (given the chance).

    Browne also fails to explain "Free Market's" naughty effect - monopolistic behavior such as that of Microsoft.

    He talks about it on his web site [browne2000.com] somewhere. I don't agree with his answer, but I agree with his positions more then the other candiates, so (baring the unexpected) I'll be voting for him.

    I agree with everything he said up to the "No income tax" part. I think that is quite irresponsible.

    Why? Once reduced to it's constutional limits the federal goverment won't really need much money at all. It won't provide much in the way of services, but that's OK, we mostly don't use them now. Those that we do will be provided by someone else, probbably cheeper too.

    The state goverments are more of a problem. The provide a lot more useful services. That means it would be much harder to live through a transition from public provided services to private provided services at the local level.

    Browne fails to explain how a lot of people will survive in his vision. If wellfare system is taken off immediately, the country will no doubt be in chaos and violence. Simply put, some people will go out and rob if they don't have food in thier hands. This is more costly than wellfare.

    He talks about it on his web pages. The short answer is private charity, which manges to do more for the poor now then the goverment does, and could do even more if people who cared actually had spare money to donate, and who would have to do even less for the working poor as theur pay checks wopuld go twice as far.

    Overall, thought. I feel that at least we are not fed with bullocks. We got honest answers to problems without any moral references. That's what I like.

    Good. Go visit his web pages. See if you still agree after you read in depth. Visit the Libertarian Party [lp.org] as well for more background.

    You won't agree with 100% of his choices. I don't. But it is wonderful to find someonw where you agree with more then 20% of the choices!

  • Yes, the phone system came about, for the most part, without government involvement. Unforntunately, it created a monopoly that lasted decades before the government stepped in and broke it up

    The monopoly was actually created by the goverment. The Bell compony conviced the goverment that a single phone compony was a must, having one phone compony hooking up doctors, and another for lawyers, and another set in the next town over was loony. Of corse they downplayed that the diffrent phone componies were in the act of hooking together (so had allready).

    We got a usable phone system out of it. Faster I think then otherwise possiable. But we got a goverment mandiated monopoly out of it.

    Or to say it Browne's way "frist the goverment broke our legs by creating a phone monopoly, then to prove how we couldn't live with out them they gave us cruches later by breaking up the Bell System -- arn't they a great bunch of guys?"

    Monopolies are even worse than the government.

    Are they? Monopolies tend not to make more monoplies (but who granted the cable compony monoplies?). Monopolies don't imprison people for doing things they don't like (but goverments will send you to jail for smoking the wrong kind of plant, or impound your car because you decided to pay by cash rather then check).

    I don't like monoplies. I fear goverments.

    A free market is supposed to be the checks and balances and your checkbook is supposed to be your vote, but by the time a monopoly is in place that system has already broken down.

    Not allways. The goverment may have haul'ed Microsoft to court and declared them guilty, but their market share appears to be eroding on it's own. IBM was never declared a monopoly by the goverment, but it imploded on it's own (well with help from Microsoft).

    In both cases there may have been help from public perception brough on by goverment's investigation, but the goverment didn't directly do anything.

  • I'll concede part of the point about AT&T being a government mandated monopoly. That was more through government inaction than government action. AT&T said "We can be a monopoly, can't we?" and the government shrugged and sure, "Sure, do whatever."

    I thought the other phone componies were forced to connect to the Bell System, or prevented from starting service in new towns (with the exception of GTE for some reason). But my recall on this is somewhat murky. Does anyone out there know? I poked around on the history channel's pages, but no dice.

    As for monopolies not being able to put you in jail, I would say they can (almost). On April 26th, there was a Slashdot article called "Get a Cable Modem...Go to Jail" (link is dead, can't find another) about a woman who signed up for Comcast@home but not Comcast cable TV. She was facing jail time for "stealing" cable despite the fact that she called both Comcasts repeatedly saying that she was not supposed to be getting cable TV. An awesome read if anyone can track down a working link.

    That was up in B'more - almost local to me. I think EEtimes had the original article. Comcast couldn't put her in jail. They had to ask the goverment to do it for them. And I don't think the goverment would have (if she had any reciepts). It was still a very unplesent situation, and Comcast acted poorly. But monopolies can't put you in jail. Only the goverment can. They will sometimes use it at the behest of monopolies, sometimes for large campaign contributors, sometimes for totally innane reasons, sometimes for good reasons.

    I could argue with you that IBM was never a monopoly. My evidence would be that the public did in fact vote them out of office using their checkbooks.

    That isn't the definition of monopoly, controling more then some percentage of the market is a monopoly. They probbably had one in mainfram class machines, depending on what percentage you argue for, and what counts as a mainframe. Amdahl, Burougs, and others notwithstanding IBM pretty much owned the mainframe world (literally -- you only leased their machines...).

  • The important thing to remember here though is that the President doesn't have the power to force any system of government onto the states.

    Oh, I didn't mean to imply that Browne as Prisident would try to mandate state policy. He is pretty dead set against it. But the Libertarian Party [lp.org] has candiates for 1500 to 2000 state and local positions as well. In fact they have 343 in office now. I was making a statment about them.

  • While I'd love to see passenger trains become common again (I _hate_ flying) it shouldn't replace highways.

    Each mode of transport has it's pros and cons.

    Trains are relaxing and fairly inexpensive. Unfortunately they're slow compared to airplanes (except when competing against shuttles like Boston - NYC), the routes are inflexible compared to cars, and they require a fairly hefty investment in laying tracks. Remember, trains are still used for a LOT of cargo, so a significant increase in passenger traffic would result in delays or the need for additional track I suspect.

    Cars are very flexible, but I think we're all well aware of the problems of traffic and the cost and social problems that have resulted from organizing most personal transportation around cars. (like having to put in the Big Dig, or that ugly bridge up by North Station) Still, there are many places in this country where cars are essential - primarily rural areas.

    Airplanes are fast as hell, except in heavy traffic areas like NYC, but are essential for long distance travel. I don't want to spend half of my annual vacation just getting to where I'm going, which would be the problem if I had to rely on trains or cars.

    (Zeppelins would be nice, but they haven't overcome a rather significant image problem, and if they were going to be cheap, they'd not only be huge, but probably need hydrogen for lift. Not as fast as planes, but better than trains IIRC)

    In cities of course, depending on the layout of the city, cars become a big liability. Public transit (buses, streetcars, monorails, subways, els) and hired transit (taxis, rental cars, private buses, pedicabs, etc.) are very important, but these cost a lot, and for best results you'd want a mix of systems. Boston does well, having a system of subways, commuter trains, streetcars and buses. Seattle, where I currently live, is only buses, though we're getting a subway (which is being poorly managed) and a lot of people want a monorail. Sadly, no one wants to connect either to the Eastside, where a LOT of suburbs are, so I doubt we'll see any great improvement.

    So let's not get stuck in the ideology of favoring rail over everything else either. There are plenty of places for everything... until teleporters come along, at any rate.
  • However, basic research, like everything else is best handled in a market environment. Individuals should be free to fund the basic research they see as the most valuable.

    How many would choose to fund Fermilab [fnal.gov]? What private concern would or could find the money to support Jet Propulsion Laboratory [nasa.gov]? Don't forget, the government funded the manned lunar landing [nasa.gov] to which we should thank for our own microcomputer industry.

    The list goes on and on and on. First, and foremost it includes the very infrastructure that supports Slashdot and everything else that matters to geeks. Without government funding there would be no Internet.

    Pshaw! No matter what your political persuasion, naive extremism is rubbish. This includes libertarianism.

  • There's actually been a case on this very point in the supreme court recently. Someone was distributing films of children which, in their framing and general presentation were clearly intended as child pornography, but which contained no evidence of kidnapping or abuse, as they'd been filmed by a secret camera in a public place. The court found they counted as pornography (fair enough), and were therefore obscene (true), and found the defendant (who was not the producer) guilty.

    My personal take on this is that, as you say, kidnapping and abuse are the problem, not pictures intended to excite perverts. Not that the pictures are not repugnant, of course, but if no actual harm is done in making them, there is a case for their not being illegal. Its a bit like gun control: should things closely correlated with harmful acts be made illegal in order to reduce the incidence of the harmful act itself ?
  • Yes, but its not exactly constitutional literalism, is it ? "We support government by the constitution, except the bits we don't like much. Oh, and by the way, states should have the right to ceceded".

    I love the way libertarians go on about how simple everything really is, with this amazing faith in the founders of the US, and "natural justice", but when pushed will cheerfully agree (implicitly) that their positions are really just as tendentious as everyone else's.
  • All the way through this I was thinking how nice it is to see candidates actually answer the questions asked and take controversial stands.

    There's a reason Gore and Bush don't do the same thing, which is that they have a chance of winning. By virtue of being ahead in the polls, Gore and Bush have a lot to lose and little to gain by taking risks. Third party candidates have nowhere to go but up in the polls; taking the chance of answering controversial questions directly and honestly helps them.

    The moral of the story: we need to broaden future debates to include more candidates, in order to get more information out and raise the standard of debate.

    Browne and McReynolds both strike me as more intelligent and intellectually involved than The Two Nitwits. I'd love to see both of these guys -- and Nader -- in the TV debates.

    (As for me, I'm voting for Browne.)

  • On the question of intellectual property Harry Browne just recites the libertarian mantra that free markets can handle it. I believe a truly freedom oriented society could live very well without copyright and patent laws. But it would still need trademark laws.

    According to libertarian principles people are free to do anything they want as long as it does not involve force or fraud. Trademark law is extremely important in facilitating a society with a lower rate of fraud. Remember that I am only talking about the original sense of trademark where you cannot sell or advertise a product that is likely to be confused with my trademark. Later perversions of trademark law not included. If you make someone buy your product or service believing it is my product or service this is fraud.

    ----
  • Bell had several (government sanctioned) patents, central among them was the patent on loading coils that reduce the high frequency rolloff on long lines. These patents protected it from competition long enough to become an extremely powerful monopoly.

    Later it got further government protection with the excuse being "universal service". The benefits it got from its government protected monopoly far exceeded the costs of having to supply telephone service to remote and unprofitable clients.

    The government only stepped in to break the monopoly it has created after decades of uninterrupted operation at unreasonable prices.

    ----
  • by bughunter ( 10093 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {retnuhgub}> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:49AM (#673492) Journal
    If not for the income tax, where will the money come from?

    From pornography.

    No, hold on a sec. I'm serious.

    Be realistic here. Yes we're talking a hypothetical situation of a libertarian-controlled federal government, but we're still responsible to make it "hard" poly-sci-fi. Just one element of fantasy - the rest has to be plausible.

    Not everyone in this country is a libertarian. If we elect Browne (fantasy element), there are going to be conservatives and moralists who are going to howl bloody murder that things like child porn and drugs are no longer prosecuted (logical repercussion). How do you shut them up?

    One answer is to tax the hell out of it: huge tax margins that make people think twice before abusing the stuff. Sure it's a regressive tax, but it's also a vice - in no way are cigarettes, pot, booze, or Natalie Portman naked and petrified necessary for existance. They're luxuries.

    And (I have to get this off my chest) never forget that socialism, libertarianism, conservatism, liberalism, and any other 'ism' are ideals and that in practice, government is going to be a compromise between them. You're never going to have a purely libertarian government, despite what the Libertarian Party promotes. It seems that a lot of people forget this. Until Libertarians, Socialists, and other third party men-on-a-mission admit this to themselves and the voters, they don't have a chance in hell of getting elected.

  • People do have the time to make decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, we don't have the time to fight against the decisions made for us.



    Surfing the net and other cliches...
  • by Syberghost ( 10557 ) <syberghost@@@syberghost...com> on Friday October 27, 2000 @01:18AM (#673496) Homepage
    If not for the income tax, where will the money come from?

    Eliminating the income tax would cut the federal income immediately to around a trillion dollars a year.

    That's before the massive increase in income from excise taxes etc. that would follow in the wake of the massive growth of the economy that would occur as 270 million people suddenly had double their old effective income.

    A trillion dollars a year is plenty to fund the Constitutionally-permissible functions of government, such as defense.

    -
  • Which points out the reason people of a certain stripe don't like mass transit -- it not only can whisk you downtown, but it can whisk the great unwashed uptown.
    I sorta doubt that. I happen to live on Philadelphia's so-called "Main Line", which is basically like the Seattle's east side only bigger, wealthier, and older. There is a well established commuter railway here that serves the community well. A lot of the locals take advantage of it. Proximity to the various stops is even a selling advantage on the real estate market. I've never seen nor heard of any complaints of the "wrong element" commuting in. If anything the railway helps bring labor in from outside, which is important. I think most people here realize this.

    Anyways, I used to live in Seattle too, and though I don't know the particular local politics today, I suspect the primary reason for resistance from east siders would be the "not in my backyard" syndrome. No one wants to have their houses taken by the government or their immediate neighborhood trafficed, etc. It may be best for the larger neighorhood, but no one wants to bear the cost themselves. While almost no one wants it in their backyard, it's fair to say that more affluent neighborhoods tend to be more sensitive to any percieved threat against their real estate and, of course, they've got more political and legal clout which they can fight it with. It's silly and destructive, I know, but that's a distinctly seperate reason.
  • by FallLine ( 12211 ) <fallline@operam[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:07AM (#673503)
    I wouldn't want to vote for any of them over Bush, or even Gore (though I wouldn't vote for him either). If you were to include McCain and Ventura, I'd still vote for Bush, but McCain would be my second choice. The point is that not everyone is just settling for the candidates because they think they'd be "wasting" their vote or what have you. Bush isn't perfect by any means, but the alternatives are even less desirable. It's not inherently evil to not get everything you want--in a democracy/republic it's simply impossible to give everyone everything they want.
  • by FallLine ( 12211 ) <fallline@operam[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:24AM (#673504)
    You certainly can't eliminate taxes, they're unquestionably necessary. I agree that both of these candidates are wacko. However, one thing I'd like to point out lowering taxes doesn't necessarily mean that the governments tax revenues will go down. In fact, the empirical evidence demonstrates much the opposite in almost every case in the modern developed world, especially in the United States. From JFK's to Reagan's tax cuts, the government tax revenue actually _increased_ significantly. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it's a well documented fact.

    That being said, Bush's tax cut obviously is not nearly as large as those historical cuts, so we probably wouldn't see such a tremendous jump. Though I'm voting for Bush, I disagree with his tax cuts because I think there is _some_ danger of it overheating the economy (not because I think it means we're going to have to make drastic cuts in expenditures).
  • Does anyone think in 200 years time we will still be living in a capitalist society (serious question)?
    Most certainly. Socialists think that "capitalism" means "a system of control by the rich". But it is not that. It is the private ownership of the means of production. Look it up.

    I don't think anyone will disagree that the future will be as free or freer than the present, as the world gets rich and war fades away. The drug war will end, in time, and be looked back on with mortal embarrassment, as we now look back on, say, segregation. Diversity will continue to bedevil states until they let people be free. Taxes and militaries will decline.

    Well, combine private property and freedom, and you have capitalism. It is a very, very stable system; it took decades for socialists in this country to effect the changes they did, and that with the full compliance of every politician, and almost every intellectual of any note in the society, including almost all the economists.

    In the future, things will be different.

    Even now, almost any reputable economist will tell you: capitalism/freedom is good. Public ownership of almost everything is bad. They don't put in such simple terms, but there it is.

    In the future, this concensus will become more and more obvious, spreading out from economists into the social sciences, and to the people, and then, finally, to the politicians.

  • by BeBoxer ( 14448 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @10:01AM (#673510)
    Using the Internet as a model of free enterprise is a joke. The "market" was busy building AOL and CompuServe while government funding was deploying the Internet. No company would have ever dumped the funding necessary to deploy the Internet without doing something to assure their future control over it. Even now most companies are doing their damnest to replace open protocols with closed. TCP/IP, HTTP, SMTP, along with the orginal web browsers and servers all came out of government funded institutions. It would do you well to remember that companies do not invent things to help people. Companies don't give a rat's ass about helping people. They exist to make money. Period. If they can make money helping people, they will. If they can make more money screwing people, they will do that instead.

    Don't get me wrong, I voted for Browne in '96. And while I still consider myself a libertaian on social issues such as religion, war on some-drugs, etc, I have come to believe that their economic policy would turn this country into a shithole. The already disturbing amount of power that corporations would wield would increase dramatically. Pollution would increase. Poverty would increase (almost certainly increasing crime at the same time.) This would not be a pretty place to live.

    The only part of this theory that doesn't fit is the almost total lack of donations the Libertarians get from large corporations. You would think their pro-business stance would get them millions in corporate donations, but that isn't happening. You can argue it's because they are a small party, but the money that corporations have available could create a viable third pary out of thin air. My main theory is that more large corporations believe that they are much better off with government regulation than without. Let's face it, the government spends trillions of dollars, large amounts of which are used to buy things from corporations. How many defense contractors would even exist if the budget was cut drastically? How many billions would the telecommunications giants lose if the goverment actually got smaller? In many industries, government regulation greatly increases the barrier to entry, decreasing competition and increasing corporate profits. All the rules and regulations also make the marketplace more stable. Changes get slowed down, which helps multi-nationals keep pace. Companies don't want no regulations. They want regulations which benefit them and hurt their competetors. For that matter, companies don't like competetion. Oh sure, they claim they do, but that's only when they are not the dominant player in a market. Once a company is dominant, it wants to be a monopoly since that allows for the highest profits.
  • But my original question is still unanswered. If Atheism is the belief in no god then "a god of reason" or "a god that is reason" is still a "god" and seems to violate the principles of Atheism. Even if he was speaking metaphorically, i still find it an interesting and paradoxical statement.

    Think of it as an analogy like in the SAT:

    Christian::God
    Athiest::Reason

    capiche?



    -------
  • The money would come from the Constitutional excises and tariffs that Congress can levy....
    I thought Libertarians favored free trade. Why is eliminating income taxes better than eliminating tariffs and excises?
    --
  • Capitalism:
    Take from the worker, give to the owner (money gathers money, since you can hire people, build industries, etc)

    Socialism:
    Take from the successfull workers and give to the not-so-sucessfull ones (regardless of if the reason is lazieness or unability).

    All economic and political system thusfar have killed a lot of people. People kill people.
  • See the thing is that Gore is playing to populist rhetoric to win the liberal left voters. He's especially playing it up now because Nader threatens to steal those votes away from him. On the other hand McReynolds is a SOCIALIST. He wants a system like they have in the Scandinavian countries where there is a strong social wellfare system and huge taxes for the rich to pay for it. Personally I agree with him but that's an entirely different discussion.

    ---

  • Okay so his proposal is one that won't fly in the United States unless something changes dramatically. But you have to respect the fact that he's willing to take a stand for something he believes in even if it isn't popular. Look at Bush and Gore. They run on the platform that will get them elected. If they thought that proclaiming themselves as canibals would get them into office, they'd be bombarding us with press releases containing great barbequeing recipes for pundits.

    ---

  • Well, the only thing that can end (or reduce) government is government. That's one of the real work from the inside issues. A government should regulate trade between the states and nations, defend our asses, then get the hell out of our lives. In order for this to happen, politicians have to decide on it.

    That is, unless we want to take up guns and revolt. I'm a pretty bad shot, so that's out. naught.out

  • Last year, nominations were opened up, and a total of 216 names were submitted (including some that have since withdrawn, such as McCain and Bradley).

    According to this page http://fecweb1.fec.gov/pages/2000geballot.htm there are 16 candidates who are on the ballot in at least one state. 7 of these are on the ballot in enough states to make it mathematically possible for them to win the election. Without Gush and Bore, you still have a 5-way race.

    Browne
    Buchannon
    Hagelin
    Nader
    Phillips

    Back to my original question, which of these 5 would you vote for, if they were the only ones running, and you had to vote.
  • According to this page [fec.gov], there are 16 candidates for President who will appear on the ballot in at least one state. They are:

    Cathy Gordon Brown (TN Only)
    Harry Browne (All except AZ & PR)
    Patrick J. Buchanan (All except DC, MI & PR)
    George Dubya Bush (All 52)
    Earl Dodge (CO Only)
    Al Gore (All 52)
    John Hagelin (38 States)
    James Harris (14 States)
    Denny Lane (VT Only)
    David McReynolds (CO, FL, IA, NJ, RI, VT, WA)
    Monica Moorehead (FL, RI, WA, WI)
    Ralph Nader (44 States)
    Howard Phillips (41 States)
    L. Neil Smith (AZ Only)
    Randall Venson (TN Only)
    Louie G. Youngkeit (UT Only)

    So of these 16 candidates, 7 have a mathematical chance of winning. Why not have a debate between the 5 who are not Gush and Bore? That would be an interesting debate... probably a source of some ideas that we would never hear from the Republicrats. Has anyone made an effort to get these 5 people (Browne, Buchanan, Hagelin, Nader and Phillips) all together in one place? Make it a choice between them!
  • by CokeBear ( 16811 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:28AM (#673531) Journal
    What if, instead of asking "Who are you going to vote for?" one poll was done that simply asked:
    "Of the 216 candidates for President, who would you prefer the winner to be?"

    I bet the numbers for Nader would be alot higher. Maybe even higher than for Gore.
    If people started to realize that it was Gore who was taking the votes away from Nader, and not the other way around, things might be very different.

    (Same might apply for Browne or Buchannon vs Bush)
  • by HerbieTMac ( 17830 ) <5excelroa001@sneakemail.com> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:38AM (#673534)
    I love it when socialists pretend to understand economics:
    McReynolds I'm not for a tax cut. I'm for higher taxes, lower for the poor (in fact a "negative income tax" for those at the poverty level, which means they would get cash back) and much higher for the wealthy

    Looking at this statement, he supports giving additional money to people who are at the poverty level. Let's say I make $10,000/year. Under his plan, I would get perhaps $5,000/year from a "negative tax" to bring me up to some pre-set standard.

    Now, let's say that I get a raise. I am now making $15,000/year. Now I am no longer at the poverty line, so I do not get nearly as much of a "negative tax" as before. Let's say that I only get $1,000 now.

    Before I was making $15,000/year after taxes. I worked my ass off to get a raise and now I make $16,000/year. That is a marginal tax of 80%! I would have been much happier to not work as hard and stay at $15,000 than to work myself to the bone for a measly $1,000.

    Don't be fooled by Socialist economics. They will do nothing but keep the poor poor.

    But what about the rich, they say. McReynolds is for much higher taxes for the rich and almost complete estate tax at death. The argument goes that then we will have sooo much money to give back to the poor.

    I call BS

    If I have a couple million dollars in the bank, I can afford lawyers and accountants. In fact, I can afford lawyers and accountants in multiple countries. See where I am going with this? If the US starts to tax people's assets at death, the rich will simply displace the assets into non-taxables. Whether that be fixed capital (buildings, land, machines) or foreign assets, if you are rich, you can afford to move your money around. In fact, if you spend a couple of months of the year outside of the US, you don't pay taxes. You could live on Euros or Loonies paid to you through a bank account in Switzerland for which you have a VISA check card.

    Do you think the poor or middle-income families in America can do this? Not a chance. They are stuck here with their mid-level mediocrity enforced by the income tax/gift tax/estate tax and everything else that McReynolds wants to institute in his Socialist utopia.

  • by warpeightbot ( 19472 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:22AM (#673538) Homepage
    One question for Mr Browne. Can he name a single major technology invented in the last 100 years that hasn't been a direct result of government funding in science?
    As a card-carrying Libertarian, I can.

    The Bell System.

    Plain Old Telephone Service was developed at Bell Labs, funded entirely by American Telephone and Telegraph, nary a dime of Uncle Sam's money. (The things they did develop for the government were add-ons, like encryption and wiretap devices and such.) The ubiquitous telephone, the sine qua non of business the world over, was developed by a company who then was broken up by the American government not once but twice.... IMHO the latest time, happening even as we speak, the result of the sheer weight of government regulation, forcing old "T" to break itself up along regulatory lines.

    Actually, I just thought of another one... the commodity PC. It can be argued that there were various levels of involvement and interference, but the bottom line is that once the court system told the Patent Orifice to STICK IT and let the cloners reverse engineer, the market went ballistic, thus enabling Linus....

    Oh, jeeze. UNIX, for Seldon's sake.

    And one more, for good measure. The Internet. Yeah, it was *invented* by DARPA... but it wasn't until they killed funding for NSFNet and the various commercial network companies came to the fore that the Web made like unto a mushroom cloud....

    So, there, Mr. AC, the telephone, the PC, Unix, and the Internet as we know it. All those things that are absolutely necessary for business today were either done sans government, or enabled by government getting the hell out the way.

    That's why I'm voting Libertarian.

    --
    "See, you not only have to be a good coder to create a system like Linux, you have to be a sneaky bastard too." -- Linus Torvalds


  • Oh come on, what's more insane, voting for some politician you don't want in office because you think he'll win, or voting for the guy who you actually want running the country?

    I don't know when people started feeling that voting was about picking the winner, it's not a horse race and there's no prize at the end for voting for the wrong guy. Really, I can't imagine any more wasted vote than for Gore or Bush, regardless of who wins.
  • I'll concede part of the point about AT&T being a government mandated monopoly. That was more through government inaction than government action. AT&T said "We can be a monopoly, can't we?" and the government shrugged and sure, "Sure, do whatever."
    As for monopolies not being able to put you in jail, I would say they can (almost). On April 26th, there was a Slashdot article called "Get a Cable Modem...Go to Jail" (link is dead, can't find another) about a woman who signed up for Comcast@home but not Comcast cable TV. She was facing jail time for "stealing" cable despite the fact that she called both Comcasts repeatedly saying that she was not supposed to be getting cable TV. An awesome read if anyone can track down a working link.
    I could argue with you that IBM was never a monopoly. My evidence would be that the public did in fact vote them out of office using their checkbooks.

    -B
  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:48AM (#673547) Homepage
    Yes, the phone system came about, for the most part, without government involvement. Unforntunately, it created a monopoly that lasted decades before the government stepped in and broke it up. Monopolies are even worse than the government. There are no checks and balances and you can't vote them out of office. A free market is supposed to be the checks and balances and your checkbook is supposed to be your vote, but by the time a monopoly is in place that system has already broken down.

    -B
  • by Rombuu ( 22914 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:16AM (#673549)
    I'm not for a tax cut. I'm for higher taxes, lower for the poor (in fact a "negative income tax" for those at the poverty level, which means they would get cash back) and much higher for the wealthy

    Heh, yeah, the "higher taxes" thing worked oh-so-well for Mondale in '84. You think they'd learn....
  • Rebublican: These things are immoral, you shouldn't do them.
    Democrat: You don't need to do that, let me do that for you.
    Socialist: If you make money doing that, I'll take it from you.
    Liberatarian: You can do that, but I won't help you.
  • Actually, he has no mistake here - your statement actually doesn't really make much sense when looking at real-world situations.

    Most people have 'incentive-based' raises, that is, they do well, and they get good reviews, and they make more money. Or they have commission-based earnings, that is, they pull in more business, and make more money.

    Both of these ideas here indicate one thing: the person has some control over his/her income, and therefore that person can maximize income while minimizing work.

    You're talking about -promotions-, not raises - cases where work shifts drastically. He was talking about raises - like working at McDonald's and working towards a raise by always being available and helping out all the time.

    You yourself said it! "Perhaps they'd worked their butt off at the plant..." the fact is, if people know that working hard won't earn them more money, they *won't work hard*!

    This assumes that people work to maximize profits, rather than for personal satisfaction. This is an idealization of human culture, but it is borne up by economic trends, more or less.

    Look, this whole topic is covered in basic economics and politics classes. It is the main reason that welfare ranks rose so high in the 80s and early 90s, and the elimination of the 'more money for less work' incentive in a lot of cases helped significantly thin the ranks of those on welfare.
  • This subject has actually come up in Slashdot many times before. It's a standard problem with capitalism, in that people can't discern intangibles.

    The other problem is that people are busy. Imagine if you wanted a yacht, then, and had a very good reason for it. Maybe your dying crazy uncle knew of a cure for cancer and you just needed a yacht to get there. Whatever. I don't care. Let's just say that you *could convince people if you had the time*.

    If you had the time, you could probably raise money from everyone to buy that yacht. I don't see why not - except for the fact that people don't have time to listen to half a million people like you. In order for a system of 250 million people and growing to work, we need to actually have delegation of authority, and some organization which takes that 'listening to everyone' load off of people's backs so they can go and live their lives.

    This is the main argument I have with individualistic-government ideas - society today simply does not have the time to handle their own lives, plus all of the responsibilities that 'individualistic governments' want to give them. I barely have time to investigate candidates!

    Government-funded science is useful because it creates a beauracracy whose job is to determine what's valuable to society and what isn't. Letting corporations decide this is idiotic - corporations exist to make money, and some things may have phenomenally huge benefits with huge costs but are not cost-effective - that is, space travel. The beauracracy, therefore, has some semblance of giving funding to programs which deserve it.

    On the arts side, I am actually rather frightened to hear people suggesting that arts do not have value to them. This is distinctly an artifact of America as a relatively new country, and one area we desparately need to learn from Europe. I shudder to think what would have happened to Leonardo da Vinci under your society.
  • But this is essentially what the benefit of hard science is - spinoffs. In this case, Apollo was pure 'engineering' - also known as 'proof-of-concept.' Research for science's sake usually has unexpected benefits in many unrelated areas. That said, you do raise a good point - it's just that Apollo is not a good example of what you're trying to say. Apollo was a good spending of money in the same way that Hubble was a good spending of money.

    Keep in mind that 'humanity' != 'average person.' I can't stress this enough - partly because I am a pure scientist (practical benefits are for engineers) but mostly because it's true. Pure science is akin to the arts - it doesn't have a direct effect on the average person, true, but it helps society and culture by boosting morale and people's self-image and opinions on the society.

    For instance, let me ask this question: we spend millions attempting to work out the age of the universe. Suppose we figure it out, and we're absolutely sure it's right. What does that do for the average person? Some people would say 'nothing' - well, that's partly true. Nothing tangible. But to many, it would give a sense of closure and a sense of their place in the world. It's a good aesthetic benefit.

    It's hard to explain to people in America that the intangible things in society are more important than the tangible. This in contrast to Europe, where they name parks and roads after artists and scientists, whereas in America, we name roads after politicians who wanted the road built to boost the stock of a construction company who works on it. Not to say that Europe doesn't have its problems - but when it comes to art, culture, and society, they could run rings around us.
  • How exactly did George W. Bush earn his wealth?

    Perhaps if people in the US really did hate the [unearned] rich like those sensible people in Europe do, we wouldn't be faced with the prospect of another Bush presidency.

    --
  • I'd rather see someone have a poll to list the candidates in order from 1-5 (or 1-7 if you want to include the Rep/Dem candidates). Might be interesting to see, not only who most would vote for, but who their 'next up' choice is.

    It would also allow you to theoretically take one of the candidates out of the election and see how the other fare. Of course I was really hoping for either McCain or Bradley to be nominated, but hey <shrug>. Thats why there are third party candidates. <grin>


  • Thought you were going to ask them 10.....
  • by rd ( 30144 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:15AM (#673565)
    "As an atheist I have an interest in this topic."
    "Thank God we have it."

    I love it when atheists say "Thank God" :)
  • by homunq ( 30657 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:08AM (#673566) Homepage
    It's easy. Just have the CIA sell some more crack. And have corporate-sponsored courtrooms.

    "Guilty - the choice of a new generation"
  • As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather have research done with tax dollars than private investments.

    First, ownership of ideas. If my government makes the discovery it's mine too. While I might have limited access to it's benefits, I can almost guarantee they would come to me at a cheaper price than from the free market. One area I think this argument holds is for drug companies. With the social security argument ongoing, I've noticed that a large percentage of the costs come from prescription drugs. By the time I'm old (25 now) every single drug on the market should be available cheaply from the government, not the drug companies. There's a certain look a corporation gets in its eye when it has something you need to live. And it makes a sound, chi-ching.

    Second, motivation. This is always a rallying cry for privatization of services. "People will work harder when they have a carrot." But what we're talking about here is pure research. Given some of the technologies that will be developed over the next 50 years, and the profound effects they might have on our living environment, I would rather the people discovering them not be on a deadline. Rushed to pass research so they can bring whatever to market, and get the patent to eliminate competition.

    There were also a couple of contradiction in Browne's platform (no big gov't, just big gov't projects), and his answer "umm, yeah those 30 day deals should solve software/entertainment copyright issues." And considering what would have to be a very business friendly vs. citizen friendly platform, I don't like what that would mean in this industry.

    I'm sure you are closer to these actualities than I am, but there's my pennies for the day.


    --
  • There were commercial networks before commercial traffic was allowed/popular on the internet. You could use compuserve, or delphi, or prodigy, or applelink, or (etc etc etc).

    To say that government had nothing to do with the internet as we know it completely ignores the fact that it was the government-researched network which created the standards base. Without that base, you just have a bunch of balkanized, incompatable private networks. The most important feature of the internet is that it is an internetwork of *compatable* third-party networks.
  • Read the whole comment. He was joking you goof.

    I guess the "Sincerely,
    John Rocker - Atlanta Braves" went over my head. I automatically filter sports related news out of my consciousness unless it is some weird sport like curling or archery. I'm guessing it has something to do with the subway series going on in NYC?

    My apologies, Icebox -- you were too subtle for me.
  • by hey! ( 33014 )
    So let's not get stuck in the ideology of favoring rail over everything else either. There are plenty of places for everything... until teleporters come along, at any rate. I used to work for an environmental organization. I noticed that a lot of people who could take the train drove their cars, so I suggested that we charge a nominal amount for parking (which was subsidized by our rent) and use the revenues to buy people transit passes (which were not subsidized). Boy, did that ever go over like a lead baloon. The point is that even environmentalists know it's really nice to have a car -- in fact I own two of them (chosen for high gas mileage, I might add). Maybe my point also that many environmentalists are hypocrites -- plenty of them drive SUVs. In any case I don't think most transit advocates think we should stop building or maintaining roads. It's more often the case that people of a certain political stripe get this idea that mass transit is this horrible, socialist plot to take away our God given right to sit in traffic jams. I'm with you -- intermodal is the way to go -- cars, buses, commuter trains, bike routes, pedestrian routes too. Taking 50% of the commuters off the roads benefits people as much as doubling the capacity of the roads and parking areas. Personally, I like the zeppelin idea too. As air disasters go, the Hindenburg was relatively benign. Sadly, no one wants to connect either to the Eastside, where a LOT of suburbs are, so I doubt we'll see any great improvement. Which points out the reason people of a certain stripe don't like mass transit -- it not only can whisk you downtown, but it can whisk the great unwashed uptown.
  • A lot of the locals take advantage of it. Proximity to the various stops is even a selling advantage on the real estate market. I've seen both ends of this. Before the subway goes in, there's opposition from people who think it'll raise the crime rate. After it goes in, nobody gives it a second thought. NIMBY is, of course, always a factor.
  • Well, we subsidize the roads don't we? The state highway department, last time I checked, had a monoploy on road construction.

    We subsidize airports, don't we? The local port authority has a monopoly on major airports.

    The government wouldn't have to build roads if there were a market for them.

    I'm totally serious. There is no market for roads, and there is no market for rail travel. They are public good, their benefits (like street lights or national defense but to a lesser degree) are not excludable.

    The fact that there is no market for them doesn't mean people don't want or need them, it just means you can't succeed by expecting private enterprise to take up the slack.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:46AM (#673574) Homepage Journal
    I'm guessing that he is advocating public transportation by train. If so, he won't be getting my vote.

    We're building the most expensive mile of road in human history up here in Boston because we're an old city that's maxed out on cars. About half of the people who commute in Boston take public transit. Public transit may not be the most luxurious way to travel, but if we eliminated transit this very expensive project would be utterly overwhelmed. I'd shudder to think what New York would be like with out the subway.

    As far as Amtrak is concerned, we've already maxed out air travel capacity. That's why there are so many delays at Newark -- the airlines are scheduling half again as many flights there as the airport can handle. Almost every other major airport has the same problem but to a lesser degree. And don't forget the feeder systems -- the airport car routes that are routinely congested.

    On the other hand, I can take the new Accela train from Boston to Manhattan in three hours -- less time than flying when you factor in the delays due to an overloaded air system (not to mention the delay in getting from Queens downtown). I get of at Penn station and walk a hundred yards to the subway which whisks me anywhere I want to go in minutes. Plus, on the train I get half again the leg room and seat width, and an outlet to plug my laptop into. I get tons of work done because it is comfortable enough to work on the train.

    Build roads or transit? It makes sense to put your money where the greatest marginal increase in commuter capacity will be achieved. You can't double the road capacity in a place like Boston (or LA for that matter), but you could increase the amount of trains and busses relatively cheaply, making public transit faster and more convenient.

    That's how the private sector optimizes its profits -- by putting money where the greatest marginal benefit exists. It makes no sense to bash this rational strategy because of an ideological bias for roads over transit, and then conclude that government is "inefficient".
  • by kamileon ( 35033 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:16AM (#673587)
    Is it just me, or did the Socialist candidate state he FAVORED ripping off poor writers? What kind of an attitude is that for a socialist? You're supposed to rip off the rich to feed the poor starving writers, not vice versa...

    Geek grrl in training
    ************************************************ *
    A recent poll tells why the people of New Hampshire are supporting George Bush. 40% like my foreign policy, 40% support my economic policy, and 20% believe I make a good premium beer. - George Bush campaigning in 1988
  • by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:52AM (#673595) Homepage
    Isn't this amazing?

    When George Washington was elected president, I bet that more than half the population had never so much as seen a picture of him. Who can guess how many knew anything significant about his ideas, aspirations, or plans for the presidency? He happened to be the General of the Continental forces during the revolutionary war, but from what I've read, he wasn't even very good at that.

    Fast forward to now. Anyone who has a computer (and between home, school, the library, and work, who doesn't) can post a question that the presidential candidates will read and respond to, and if it's good enough (judged not by the media, not by campaign spokespeople, not by some faceless beaurocrat, but by your peers). You could be a 12 year old student or a senior citizen, of any race--a handle doesn't discriminate.

    It's amazing how the Internet is bringing democracy to a level the world has never seen. Kudos to /. for managing to arrange this interview, and kudos to the candidates for participating.

    --
  • by Pentagram ( 40862 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:06AM (#673605) Homepage
    Mmmm... moderator crack... *drool*

    No, seriously, who the hell moderated this up? There are various arguments you can make against Socialism, but this geezer has picked numbers out of the air. If anyone ever decided to implement a 'negative income tax' for the poor, it would be a sliding scale, not a cut-off point at some poverty level made up by HerbieTMac. By making up arguments like this, you just make yourself look stupid.

    And 'Socialist utopia'? Is that meant to be an insult? Presumably you think a utopia would be capitalist, yes? Does anyone think in 200 years time we will still be living in a capitalist society (serious question)?


    ---
  • McReynolds : I also want to make damn sure that poor writers are ripped off.

    Damn! Sign me up!!!!

  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @09:01AM (#673615) Homepage
    You know, I found it refreshing to hear what these two individuals had to say about the questions they were posed. You could tell it was honest opinion when MyReynolds opined on "inhaling" once-in-a-while, even now.

    At first, this statement shocked me ("WHAAT! A candidate admitting to casual marijuana use? The nerve!") - but as I thought about it, I liked his honesty. This is one trait you have to admire, even if you don't agree with anything else the man says: He was being honest.

    This in itself is something we rarely see in normal, everyday individuals, let alone politicians...

    I support the EFF [eff.org] - do you?
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation.gmail@com> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:06AM (#673635)
    >>If I have a couple million dollars in the bank, >>I can afford lawyers and accountants. In fact, >>I can afford lawyers and accountants in >>multiple countries. See where I am going with >>this? If the US starts to tax people's assets >>at death, the rich will simply displace the >>assets into non-taxables.

    Personal disclosure: I make a living by helping rich people lower their estate taxes.

    Here is my little exposé on how the rich avoid paying the full estate tax. The rich already displace their assets and as a result, pay less in estate taxes. The estate tax is largely an "avoidable tax." With proper estate planning, you can avoid getting taxed up the wazoo after you pass away. If you were rich, what would you rather do...spend a few grand in legal and professional fees to preserve most of your estate or pay the full estate tax? This can be done with various types of trusts and charitable donations.

    Another *very* popular form of estate planning is the family limited partnership, or FLP. The IRS and the tax courts have "blessed" the use of FLPs for many years. An FLP is a legal entity, in the same sense that a corporation or limited liability company is. To reduce your estate/gift tax liability, you transfer the legal ownership of your assets (stock portfolio, real estate, etc.) to the FLP. In exchange for your capital contribution, you receive a limited partnership interest. You can almost think of it as a private mutual fund...but unlike a mutual fund, the number of ownership units are finite. Instead of gifting your assets outright to your family members, or dying with full, direct ownership of your assets, you are now gifting/dying with interests in a privately-held partnership. Let me emphasize this...with an FLP, you do not own the underlying assets...you own an ownership interest in the FLP...it's just like owning stock.

    At this point, you may be thinking..."hey, this FLP is just a shell." However, all FLPs that are used in estate/gift tax planning have serious restrictions placed upon them. The FLP agreement places restrictions upon the owners of interests in FLPs. Specifically, a minority interest (non-controlling) owner has no ability whatsoever to control the underlying assets...they cannot determine how the assets are to be invested and they may not receive a return of or withdraw their capital. The only thing they usually receive is a cash distribution from any income that the FLP may generate. In addition, it is very difficult to sell your interest. Usually, the FLP agreement states that you can only sell your interest with the sole consent of the general (managing) partner, or you may only sell your interest to other family members, who may not want to buy your share.

    For all of the above purposes, an ownership position in an FLP is worth less to an investor than owning the assets directly. With an FLP, you have lack of control of the underlying assets and sometimes lack of marketability. It is my job to determine the value of FLPs. Not surprisingly, the value of the total FLP itself is worth less than the value of its individual underlying assets. Look at it this way...what has more value to you...100 shares of Andover.net that you own directly, or a noncontrolling interest in a partnership that owns 100 shares of Andover.net. Common sense would dictate that you would demand a discount from the net asset value of the partnership interest due to lack of control concerns. In the public marketplace, the exact same thing happens with closed-end investment funds...If you look at the prices of closed-end funds in Baron's, you will see the net asset value per share column and the market price column. The net asset value is the total value of the underlying assets and the market price is what people actually pay for a share of the closed-end fund. In every case, the market price is less than the net asset value.

    So, in the case of an FLP, the gift/estate tax liability is lowered because you're starting with a lower value to base the tax on. IE, Instead of being taxed on $100, you're being taxed on, say, $60 - $75. And it's not really a dirty, underhanded trick...if I had a large estate, I'd want to protect some of it, too.

    Also, I would like to note that the estate tax is only payable by people with assets greater than ~$1e6. However, it affects us all...the estate tax is one of the fastest growing revenue streams in the US today. The government is receiving that money and is getting used to *spending* it. If the estate tax was eliminated (almost happened if Clinton didn't veto it), that tax burden would get pushed down to the middle and lower economic classes. Let me put it to you in a /.'esque kind of way...what would you rather see...Bill Gates paying estate taxes or the rest of the public paying them?

  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:45AM (#673639)
    Seeing as you are so "Insightful" I'd figure you'd be able to understand graduating benefits. This can be done in a sane manner. Perhaps some curve that discourages freeloading like you describe (perhaps your benefits decrease more slowly as you reach the asymptote, instead of drastically getting chopped down). No need for knee-jerk reactions.
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:27AM (#673654) Homepage
    The US was able to survive without income tax because they owned an extrememly large piece of real estate: all the land west of civilization.

    I don't see how that's true. They were selling the stuff for $1/acre and still own 31% of it.

    The government was able to survive without income tax because its powers were limited, and it did a lot less.

    ________________________________________
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:33AM (#673655) Homepage
    corporate feudalism ... Personally, though I like some of his ideas, etc.

    Actually, his plan to increase inheritance taxes is a good one, and pro-capitalist at that. Unearned wealth is massively non-capitalist, and tends to create a priviledged and self-sustaining aristocracy, as seen in Europe. The Libertarians would do well to adopt that plank of the Socialist party platform: unearned wealth bad!


    ________________________________________
  • by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil.angelaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:17AM (#673658) Journal
    I'm suprised McReynolds replied here to Slashdot. If he's paid any attention he's got to know that it has a very large Anarcho-Libertarian user base. (Including the fringe who seem to want to eliminate government and turn the world into something that resembles corporate feudalism "for the good of capitalism")

    His Socialist views surely are going to get little more than attacked and razzed by the majority on this site. Personally, though I like some of his ideas, and do believe that some decently intelligent people running the gov't with the best interests of the public (and not just themselves like today's politicnas) in mind can do some things better than any money/greed driven could ever do. Mind you, not ALL things better, just some of them.
    ---
  • by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil.angelaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:34AM (#673659) Journal
    McReynolds made alot of good points, but I guess what I would like to know is why as school children, etc., we have been brainwashed to "fear" Socialism?

    Cold war/anti-communism (and socialism by extention) mentality that they tried to entrench in us. See, they're the enemy, they do things differently, and their way is wrong, which is why we're fighting them. Or something like that.

    And I think there's also a lot of that protestant work ethic in this country, where you are defined by your work and how hard to work at it, and you get your rewards in life based on that work - so financial success means you're a hard worker, and lack of success means you're lazy and a leech. (See just about any anti-welfare tirade for more evidence of this) Of course, bad luck and bad situation don't come into play in it...

    I'll be honest, I think a lot of it is selfishness; the "I earned it, it's all mine" attitude. That having some of your money taken away for some "service" that is hard to quantify seems to be unfair. And the richer you are, the more you pay for these "services" that people would rather pay "on their own" instead of to the government - of course, never mind the people who can't pay for it on their own for whatever reason.
    ---
  • by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:54AM (#673677)
    I'll be honest, I think a lot of it is selfishness; the "I earned it, it's all mine" attitude.

    The only selfishness I see comes from the socialists who believe they are entitled to forcibly take the products of other people's labor because they "need" it more. Capitalists want to make money by providing products and services that other people want. Socialists want to take money that others have made under threat of violence. This is where the previously mentioned 100 million dead victims of socialist governments come in.

  • by phutureboy ( 70690 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:11AM (#673709) Homepage

    If not for the income tax, where will the money come from? National Sales Tax? Propery taxes? What? Are there other "necessary" projects that would be funded this way? If so, how will those get money?

    The same place it came from in the first 120 years of the country's existence, before we had an income tax.

    The federal budget is $1.9 trillion. I have no idea how many zeros that is. Of that, about half comes from income taxes, and the other half is from tariffs and excise taxes.



    --
  • by gig ( 78408 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @10:59AM (#673736)
    Either you have freedom of religion, or you don't. Freedom to choose between government-approved or majority-approved religions is not freedom. Why is it any of your business whether 1 person, or 100 people, or 100,000 people in the world satisfy their religious desires with Wicca? Why do you care? How do you propose to stop them? Why does it impress you that Dubya denounces a small and politically powerless group of people?

    Einstein was an atheist, but he believed that humans have a common religious feeling, as if there were a "religion gland". He "saw god" through his work studying the universe itself. Other people see god in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the music of John Coltrane, or the rituals that are passed on to them by their parents. But where people see god and what they choose to do about it is their business, as long as they don't harm the person or property of another person.

    Or, we could just send in the FBI or ATF with tanks and grenade launchers. How those people sleep with themselves at night is beyond me. It seems like you blame Koresh for Waco, though. Bizarre. Why was the ATF even there in the first place? They said Koresh was a Drug Lord with a meth lab and a stockpile of automatic weapons. Once it came out that there was no lab and no drugs, Koresh was recast as a Cult Leader. As long as he's a Menace to Society, I guess it's OK to roll up a tank and kill him.

    > It's nothing more than a cult based around a
    > liberal interpretation of witchcraft.

    What do you call raising the dead, healing the sick with a touch, being conceived without intercourse, and having armies of winged helpers at your beck and call? Or parting the Red Sea, flaming hailstorms, and solor eclipses on command? That is some magical shit. You can piss on Christianity or Judaism with the same line you used on Wicca.
  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:36AM (#673741) Homepage Journal

    I am a geek in the military (education benefits), and I have to say that I take exception to two things said by these candidates.

    McReynolds suggested he would give no tax cut, but more fairly distribute taxes (and tax breaks) amoung the different earning classes. I admire this. But he also proposes cutting military spending by HALF.

    This is the worst idea I've seen yet. It is true that we are not at war, but as history will prove, you *always* have to be prepared for the slightest chance of conflict and maintain a realistic image of strong national defense. As it is right now, the US military is not even receiving close to what it needs to support our missions and excersises. Training, in particular, is in desparate peril. The Air Force (for example), is below 2/3 the size of what it was in the mid-80's and due to Operations Tempo, we are deploying twice far more, and in general, doing twice as much. All services right now are suffering large, looming retention problems and cutting member's benefits to make up for cut spending will be a direct blow to what they are trying to accomplish.

    Later on, Browne noted that the nation has no global missle defense system in place. That is true, only to a very minor extent. First of all, we do have many monitoring stations and satellites to watch what other countries military forces are doing, missle-wise. If we get attacked, we may not be able to prevent it, but we know who did it and can decide what to do about it. In other words, no country in their right mind *knows* that they can get away with sending a missle towards us and expect no Americal missles to come back at them.

    Second, the Air Force does have such a program underway. It's called the Airborne Laser program. Basically, it's a very high-powered laser system built into a 747 that's capable of detecting and shooting down enemy missles right over the country of origin. The prototype is still being built, but plans are for several of the planes to be in the air by late 2004. So far, everything is ahead of schedule and no roadblocks, apart from the work yet to be done, have presented themselves.

    (A link to the official Airborne Laser [airbornelaser.com] page.)

    If anyone would like to debate me on these two issues, I will more than gladly prove you wrong.
  • by wannabe ( 90895 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @08:20AM (#673761)
    You're already paying excise taxes, it's the income tax that would be no longer needed.

    Income tax came into being on Februaury 3, 1913 with the ratification of the 16th Ammendment. Prior to that, taxes were levied based upon property owned. This included personal items in addition to real estate.

    The only reason we have such a high tax burden today is due to social programs and the huge cost associated with a huge federal government. I will conceed that it will not be an absolute drop in the total amount you pay in federal tax because the states will have levy taxes to make up for lost federal funding and to institue program the federal government cut. But in the end, there will still be more money to go around and we have the added benefit of more direct control of our money as it stays in the state.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:32AM (#673797) Homepage
    • Republican: Lots things are bad and you shouldn't do them.
    • Democrat: Some things are bad and you shouldn't do them.
    • Socialist/Libertarian: Everything is good, do what you want.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:39AM (#673798) Homepage
    "As an atheist I have an interest in this topic."
    "Thank God we have it."

    I love it when atheists say "Thank God" :)

    They wanna give props to make sure they're not *too* condemned when they die.

  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @11:23AM (#673877)
    ...the single most frightening story I've ever read on slashdot.

    These are two of the most historically ignorant people I have ever seen quoted in print.

    I no longer feel guilty about voting for Gore or Bush. Either choice is a genius compared to these loons.

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:52AM (#673919)
    From exactly the same sources that allowed the government to operate for over 100 years.

    The Federal income tax was first deployed within the lifetime of people who will be voting in this election, and within the lifetime of people holding office in the Senate.

    The income tax as we know it was invented by Napoleon to wage war, and all income tax has been, essentialy, a military funding measure.

    In America the Federal income tax did'nt come into being until 1913, just in time for WWI, and corporate income tax generated far more revenues than the personal until after WWII.

    Of government not bent on waging war has little, or no, need of a personal income tax at all.
  • by Icebox ( 153775 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:17AM (#673930)
    McReynolds says:
    There are many projects - from expanding Amtrak

    I'm guessing that he is advocating public transportation by train. If so, he won't be getting my vote.

    Sincerely,
    John Rocker - Atlanta Braves

  • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @07:12AM (#673943)
    The US was able to survive without income tax because they owned an extrememly large piece of real estate: all the land west of civilization. You'll notice that once the land dried up, that's when they implemented income tax. Now, perhaps when we take over canada and deport all its residents somewhere else, we'll be able to revert to those days before income tax.

    I sort of wonder about this: A lot of people complain that the poor get hit harder by taxes than the rich. What do you think eliminating income tax would do? Essentially, what you have is a tax on the money you spend (sales tax, tarriffs, payment for government services, etc all end up inflating the amount of money you pay.) However, those at the poverty line tend to spend a larger percentage of their income than the rich. Suddenly, you have the same effect as the graduated income tax, but those who make the least money pay the largest percentage. And you think this is a good idea?

  • by kinnunen ( 197981 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:47AM (#673997)
    I'll answer that question with another question: Who do you think will have a better chance of reducing governments power, a president who believes goverment should have less pover, or a guy at slashdot complaining that government has too much power?

    Sometimes, to change the system, you have to be a part of the system.

    --

  • by mr.ska ( 208224 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:35AM (#674012) Homepage Journal
    Yes, yes, he's an athiest and he said "Thank God". Big, freaking, hairy deal. It's just a common phrase that happens to roll off the tongue better than "Thank goodness" does. Stop having a cow, it's not big deal.

    For those who still insist on making a big deal out of it, perhaps instead of truly being an athiest, he's actually an agnostic. He's not sure, but perhaps there's a "God" up there to thank... Or maybe he was Christian, became disenchanted, and old habits die hard?

    It's really amazing... people have the chance to pick who is going to run their country, but they get razzle-dazzled by the smallest, insignificant mistakes and irregularities. They're human - try seeing them that way.

  • by Siqnal 11 ( 210012 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:04AM (#674018) Homepage
    The first two candidates who responded

    Yeah, they should be proud that they beat the mad rush of candidates flooding Roblimo's inbox with their responses.

    --

  • by mobileunit ( 227048 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:22AM (#674064)
    You know, major candidates don't like to answer people's questions today. They only like to run ads on television.

    Here in New York State, we have Hillary Clinton running for Senate against Rick Lazio, a Republican. There also a number of minor candidates, such as Mark Dunau, our Green Party candidate (native new yorker, organic farmer) as well as libertarian, independent and right-to-life candidates.

    The League of Women Voters produced a nice brochure which, on one side, had procedural information about how to vote -- even the complicated stuff like how to get an absentee ballot. On the other side they have answers that Senate candidates have for three questions.

    Turns out, the major parties hate the LWV, so they refused to answer the questions. You see, the LWV believes in democracy, the LWV wants people to vote, while the major candidates want you to stay home. The LWV made the critical mistake of allowing John Anderson in the 1980 presidental debates. As a result, the major parties formed the bipartisian Comission on Presidental Debates, which refused to let Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan participate. To make their pamphlet, the LWV had to copy answers to the question off the major candidate's web sites.

    Starting with Carter, the Democratic party has been infiltrated by Republicans. The real role of Gore is to hide the fact that the Democratic party no longer exists. A vote for a major candidate is a vote of confidence in a political system that is deteroriating rapidly.

    A Green Party activist, I'm voting for Ralph Nader. Still, I think Reynolds and Harry Browne have a lot of good things to say and would be a great choice of you believe in him. Remember that, even if you like Gore or Bush, you can do a lot more than voting. Call up your local campaign, put a sign in your lawn, volunteer to sit at a table and pass out literature. There is a lot to do every election season, and every campaign welcomes volunteers. It makes a difference, and it's one of the most fun things you can do.

  • by necrognome ( 236545 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:22AM (#674072) Homepage
    my platform is serious missile defense:

    let's build a death star!
  • by grovertime ( 237798 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:13AM (#674074) Homepage
    As I scanned over this post, my eyes began to glaze. Another few random candidates with randome candidate slogans and messages. Not having a mission for the country, not trying to herd us like the big 2+1, thinking drugs should be decriminalized, so on and so forth. But Browne's parting words woke me up (here they are in case you didn't make it to the end):

    "...(Government) doesn't aid progress, it hinders it. Government is politics, not progress. Government is bureaucracy, inefficiency, and brute force. It is the least desirable, least effective and least likely to succeed means of getting anything accomplished."

    Just brilliant Mr. Browne. Only one question: Then why the heck are you in politics?

    1. My Second Vote Was For Gore [mikegallay.com]
  • by rknop ( 240417 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:57AM (#674079) Homepage

    Before I say anything, I should note that I'm a scientist on the public dole, so I'm biased.

    That being said, even though I have some libertarian tendencies I think that Browne's plan to end all government scientific funding is foolish. The reason: basic research is one of the best investments you can make. It is almost guaranteed to pay off. The problem is, you will invest in 1,000 research programs, and only have one program pay off. That one program will pay off to more than make up the investment for the other thousand-- and you will not be able to predict which one it was back at the beginning of the research program.

    Some corporate funding of research has worked well in the past (Bell Labs?), but it just doesn't seem to be feasable today. Investing in basic scientific research is just too long term for most corporations. Never mind "five year plans" or even retirement times for top executives, you may not be able to fund enough projects to have any statistical confidence that any but the most applied of research programs may pay off for you. And the payoffs may be something unexpected, which you will have trouble reaping the benefits of anyway.

    Scientific research is one of those things where everybody benefits (even if they don't realize it), and it is in everyone's interest to pool their resources to fund. But how to manage that? Well, isn't that what government is? My libertarian tendencies show themselves when I think that most people talk about government in the wrong way nowadays. The "we are your children" incident from one of the Clinton debates, which wasn't disupted by any of the candidates present, was a bad sign. To many of us see government as our parents, our protectors, those people who have control over us. They are our benign keepers. Yeah, they listen to us, and via voting we get to have some input into what we want done, but in the end many people in the USA see government as a particularly nice Big Brother.

    Really, it should just be our way of acting collectively. The government should *be* us. It should be the way that we, as a society, perform the things that can only be done on a whole-societal level. My differences with libertarians come in as to what some of those things are. Scientific research is definitely one. Support of the arts is another-- rich individuals, and governments, are traditionally patrons of the arts. The arts have (mostly intangible) cultural value, but (with some very obvious exceptions) not much commercial value. Do we really want to let this part of our humanity go? Or is it worth some very small fraciton of our collective resources to support this endeavor? (When I say very small fraction, just compare arts funding in any government to defense, infrastructure, and sundry entitlements.)

    -Rob

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday October 26, 2000 @06:33AM (#674086) Homepage Journal
    Despite the fact the two candidates oppose one another in the artificial left/right sphere's people simplify politics as, they both sounded sensible, thoughtful, and seemed to agree on more than they disagreed.

    Largely, I'm guessing, because despite the obsessions with writing off each other's ideologies as extremes, both fundamentally are about freedom. Libertarians for freedom through as little state intervention as possible (do I even need to say more?), socialists for using the state to promote freedom and prevent people from being restricted by other shackles such as by the behaviour of shareholder controlled corporations and the real restrictions imposed by poverty.

    It's a shame that these two are not the two big parties running, with cynical people complaining they wont vote for either "because they're pretty much saying the same things", but instead we have two parties who lean more on the side of interference and allowing interference. The republicrats seem to be more obsessed with people's private lives, from sexuality issues to the information they see and say. Yet one feels it can beat the other as being "more pro-liberty" because it promotes fractionally lower taxes, or because the other would impose religion on people's lives and ability to make choices.


    --

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