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Who Y’all Gonna Vote For America?

Anyone who follows this blog knows that if I was a US citizen I’d be voting for Hillary Clinton in the November elections. I don’t claim that she’s the perfect candidate, but I do think she’s the best option. She’s wickedly smart, easily the best informed, and although I know I’m not going to convince anyone who believes differently, not the crook and liar she’s portrayed to be.

My friend Jerry Coyne has been getting a bit sick of me recently because I’ve been posting a lot of anti-Trump cartoons on Facebook. He started by posting a kitten in the comments whenever I did it, but there were so many I think became too irritating for him to even bother with that! Anyway, Jerry posted this video today. Dave Rubin is someone I have a lot of time for, so I watched it:

Trump bansNow what to do if you’re a USian faced with the current choices and the current political system is definitely a quandary. As Rubin points out, a vote for Clinton further embeds the current system while a vote for Trump will supposedly blow it to smithereens. I say “supposedly” because I really don’t think the system will change, at least not for the better, if Trump becomes president. Already he is banning news organisations from his press conferences and has said he wants to change libel laws to make it easier to sue them. I think he would actually make government less open than it is now.

As Rubin says in his video, the majority of USians are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. The only presidential candidate who really matches that description, again as Rubin points out, is the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. On the other hand, I suspect Clinton will govern in a more fiscally conservative manner than her campaign speeches express.

Rubin stated towards the end of his video that at least until the presidential debates, he will be supporting Gary Johnson. His reasoning is that both the Democratic and Republican parties, along with their presidential candidates, are broken. On principle, giving either your vote is supporting what they have become. Because of the way the rules work in the United States, a candidate must get at least 15% of the national vote in five specific respected polls. Politico reported it thus:

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Monday the five polls it will use to determine which candidates will make the stage in the fall’s general election debates.

The polls will be those conducted by ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC-Wall Street Journal. The commission said they selected the five based on the “reliable frequency of polling and sample sizes used by the polling organization,” the “soundness of the survey methodology employed by the polling organization” and the “longevity and reputation of the polling organization.”

In addition to being eligible for the presidency and be on enough state ballots to “at least have a mathematical chance of securing an Electoral College majority,” candidates must have a level of support of at least 15 percent as determined by the most recent polls of the five organizations listed above.

(In New Zealand, of course, we see candidates that barely achieve one percent of the national vote in the debates, but, quite frankly, our whole electoral system is one of the fairest, if not the fairest, in the world.)

GerrymanderingCartoonSo, getting back to Rubin, if enough people support Johnson at least until the debates, it would give the two major parties something to think about. I don’t know whether or not I would do that if I was a USian, but I certainly understand his reasoning. I personally have a fairly low opinion of Gary Johnson. Who is the president of the world’s most powerful country matters to all of us, and from outside the country the potential president’s foreign policy expertise carries a lot of weight. Although he’s not the loose canon that Trump is, I find Johnson lacking in that area. However, voting for him is a tactic worth thinking about. Corruption, the influence of big money donors and lobbyists, gerrymandering, the ability to take whole states and demographics for granted and therefore ignore their needs, and little or no consequences for outright lies to obtain voter support are all big problems in the USian system.

In my (not really very) humble opinion, the whole system needs a major overhaul. I think most people recognize that. However, those in power will always protect their power and so they have little motivation to change. Any change agent would also be fighting against the belief taught since childhood that the United States of America is the greatest democracy the world has ever seen and that any criticism is unpatriotic.

I can’t see getting Johnson onto the debate stage doing any damage so perhaps the way to start the conversation about fixing the system is for that to happen. Maybe USians should consider supporting Gary Johnson in the polls leading up to the presidential debates.

40 Responses to “Who Y’all Gonna Vote For America?”

  1. Robert Nola says:

    I see that HH uses the term ‘USAian”. Certainly co-opting the term ‘American’ for just the USA part of that vast Canada-to-Argentina continent is wrongly imperialistic.
    Instead of USAian can I suggest a modification based on the model of New Zealand and New Zealander? That suggests USA-er. Say it fast enough and it is like ‘user’.
    I was given this suggestion by a Canadian.

  2. Larry Sullivan says:

    Daffy Duck, he is the only quack worth voting for.

  3. GBJames says:

    I’m skeptical that any 3rd party strategy for countering corruption, the influence of big money, gerrymandering, and so forth. It is a distraction. Like term limits.

    There’s really only one way to fix things. People who care about these issues have to take over the reins of existing parties. No, that’s not exactly right since the Republican Party is too dominated by the insane to be a reasonable take-over target. But the Democratic Party _could_ be changed from the inside. Sanders made a good stab at it. He didn’t complete the take-over, but he did push the Dems in the right direction. It was more effective than had he run a 3rd party effort.

    • That’s a good point. Personally I think there are some good people in the GOP, though it’s often hard to see someone as honourable when you disagree with so many of their ideas. But, as you say, if the two main parties could at least be fixed from within it would help.

      Long-term though I do think a more representative government is the answer. That means more political parties which are required to cooperate in order to get legislation passed. Versions of this work well in several countries, including New Zealand.

      One of the advantages is that groups that think they’re big because of the amount of noise they make realize they’re not that big when very few vote for them. The silent majority are actually mostly centre-left or centre-right. It also increases voter turnout, which is a big problem in the US.

  4. I mostly agree, but have to take issue with this characterization of American education, which seems superficial to me:

    “Any change agent would also be fighting against the belief taught since childhood that the United States of America is the greatest democracy the world has ever seen and that any criticism is unpatriotic.”

    I wasn’t taught that since childhood, and neither were many others. Yes, a lot of people in the US are jingoistic, but I wouldn’t characterize all of America as holding the view that criticism of the US is “unpatriotic.”

    • Taylor Grayson says:

      “I wasn’t taught that since childhood, and neither were many others.”

      I think Heather’s characterization is more true than not. It’s not always overt. A generalization doesn’t have to apply to everyone to be accurate.

    • I’ve recently become aware that several of my personal stereotypes relating to US education don’t apply to big chunks of the country, and I guess this is another one. I’m glad I’m at least partly wrong about this. It makes me more hopeful things will change.

  5. Taylor Grayson says:

    To say that most Americans are socially liberal, but fiscally conservative is naive. Americans also want the services that government provides, so that conflicts with the fiscally conservative position. They want their cake and eat it, too.

    The Libertarian position is attractive to many Americans, but true Libertarians are as rare as Bigfoot. What most people want is for the government to leave THEM alone; they’re perfectly content for government to bother other people.

    Even ignoring that, the fundamental problem with Libertarianism is that it contains the idea that if the federal government withdraws, your freedom will increase. The opposite is probably true. Most threats to freedom come from local governments and only the power of the federal government keeps them in check. Waiting in line are corporations. There’s always someone eager to control your life.

    Isaiah Berlin said it best: “Freedom for wolves is death to lambs.” Libertarians want to set the wolves free.

  6. Lee Knuth says:

    Our 2 party system has led to voting for the least evil. If one votes for a third-party candidate it may lead to the most evil one winning. Until we have a viable third party it will never change.

    • I agree with that. While getting Johnson on the debate stage might give the major parties a fright, unless and until the system is changed to be more representative I wouldn’t advocate voting for a third party candidate in the general election.

  7. Mark R. says:

    I just couldn’t vote for a libertarian. The system of government has never worked; not one example in history suggests it can work. I agree with their attitudes on legalizing drugs, and non-intervention, but they also want to abolish the welfare state, privatize just about everything and promote laissez-faire economics. It’s basically a party that says “I got mine…if you don’t got yours then tough.” It’s a system lacking empathy, just like the current Republican party.

    And I have question too; is the Republican party really even a political party anymore? It’s really just a business scam to enrich the rich at the expense of everyone else. It’s owned by corporations and billionaires, so how can it be called a political party?

    • That’s why I’m not sure I could support a libertarian in political polls as a tactic Mark. I see them as selfish, self-centred, and thoughtless. Johnson and Webb also still believe in trickle-down economics. I certainly could never vote for one in a general election. Libertarianism assumes if you don’t succeed it’s because you deserve not to and it’s your own fault. They go on about government regulations, but those regulations more often that not protect people and we’re usually better off for them.

      As I’ve said before, the US, though most don’t realize it, is a socialist country. Socialism is a spectrum, and does not necessarily mean communism. Almost no-one wants to get rid things like social security and medicare, which are socialist programmes.

      • Mark R. says:

        Good points Heather. And it is true that most USians don’t realize what a socialist country is and that we are a part of that spectrum. Of course libertarians and republicans don’t want any social programs…that’s why I deem them cruel and unusual.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Nobody ever came to the USA in search of a beneficent welfare state. To the contrary, generation after generation have streamed here from the ends of the earth yearning to breath free, in search of unlimited opportunity, eager to work and strive and prosper and fulfill their God-given potential, and determined to escape every form of political oppression including socialism.

        According to the Democratic Socialists of America, socialists believe that “the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them.” That may not meet your definition of communism, but it’s close enough.

        With respect, may I suggest that you may not understand how Social Security and Medicare work. People “support” them only to the extent that they are forced to “contribute” to them from the first dollar they earn, and they want to get back what they have coming to them — “their” money from “their” account. It’s a fairly regressive system, and liberals scrupuolously maintain the fiction that it’s not welfare. In any case, it’s simply irrational to think it could never be modernized and privatized.

        Regulations more often that not simply protect vested interests, above all the interests of the politicians and bureaucrats who make them. Regulations more often that not stifle innovation, efficiency, competition, and growth. The other purpose of regulations is to increase opportunities for graft.

  8. Randall Schenck says:

    I have to say that going libertarian is really nothing more than warmed over republican. I don’t see the attraction. However, all the other dialogue on who to vote for president and what should the president be is far from getting to the real issue anyway. You said it yourself, stating the system needs a major overhaul. That is what people should be doing is looking for a real and meaningful fix to the terrible mess we have.

    Instead, whenever you get down to what is needed, people just say, Oh, well that’s not going to happen so end of discussion. That is why we are where we are. First you have to see the problem, then determine what is needed to fix it, and then the really tough part…getting there. The first two are easy to me, it’s that last part that gets difficult. However, if you don’t find a way, all this other stuff is just air.

  9. j.a.m. says:

    Refresh my memory again — which was the greatest democracy in the history of the world? It would have to be a post-Enlightenment republic of continental scale, built up by generations of freedom-loving people from every nation on earth, enduring for a period of at least 240 years. I keep forgetting what they call it.

    By all means, you have every justification to be proud of your lovely country. But when we start to draw comparisons, a sense of perspective may be in order. And let’s face it, the population of New Zealand is less than half that of Los Angeles County. It’s simply not remotely comparable to a federal system of 50 sovereign states encompassing a mindbogglingly complex society of 320 million.

    And I must say again, with all due respect, that someone from a country led by a hereditary monarch in the midst of the 21st century is in no position to criticize.

    • nicky says:

      Jam, although you make some pertinent points, I disagree with your last paragraph. The monarch in question has no real power in NZ, even less than constitutional monarchs in countries like Holland, Belgium or the Scandinavian countries. It appears that to have a hereditary Head of State without (or very little) actual executive power appears somehow beneficial. Something that should be investigated more profoundly, methinks

      Slightly off topic, If you compare the medal tally in the olympics and compare it to population size -per capita medals- (barring countries with less than a million inhabitants having only one or two medals such as Grenada, Bahamas or Fiji) NZ actually tops the list. Others that score high there are e.g. Denmark, Hungary, Holland, Slovenia and, of course, Jamaica (and indeed Britain!). All of them doing way better than the USA and many of them constitutional monarchies 🙂
      Note, I do not imply at all that olympic medals are a measure of the quality of a government, as said. it is slightly off topic, just trivia….

    • Yes, the US was a great example to the world when it was established and worthy or admiration. It’s a pity so many in the Republican party (though I don’t think you are one of them) are trying to diminish the Enlightenment values your country was established on. Initially of course, those values only applied to male WASPs. NZ gave women the vote a generation before you did and we never stopped people voting because of their race, and we didn’t have slavery.

      Europeans didn’t even discover NZ until 1769, and that was only about 350 years after the Maori got here. Our founding document is dated 1840, so we’re a very young country and at that time there was little that was good to say about it. Yes, I’m proud of my country and the fact that we’re at or near the top of pretty much every positive international index you can name. However, we didn’t get there by accident. That has been worked on by a series of government from both sides of the aisle. Over many years they have worked to improve the quality of life here for everybody. We’re not perfect, and we recognize that, which is why we don’t settle on our laurels. The US has a habit of resting on its achievements and not noticing that other countries have surpassed them in various areas. For example, while you still have most of the best universities in the world, and your top students are always amongst the best, the average education level for all students has been constantly slipping for some time. That has been as much because other countries, especially in Asia, have been improving while you’ve stayed the same (and gone backwards in some parts of the country).

      I extol our electoral system, though, as I’ve said in other posts, it’s not perfect. However, it’s a pretty new innovation – we only started using it in the 1990s. Before that we had an unfair one too which saw governments winning elections that hadn’t got the most votes, and parties with 15% of the vote not getting a single seat in parliament. So we did something about it.

      As for criticizing us for a hereditary monarch, the Queen has absolutely no power over NZ whatsoever. She is a constitutional monarch. If you’re talking about the Maori king, he also has no power or role, not even titular (like the Queen has), in the government of NZ. (He may have some small control in his own iwi (tribe) that I don’t know about.) Most people couldn’t name him and I can think of absolutely nothing positive to say about him (and I can think of several nice things to say about Prince Charles!).

      • j.a.m. says:

        Your queen must hold some kind of power, if the populace is afraid to give her the royal boot. The Enlightenment Club has certain minimum eligibility requirements, and that’s one of them. You wouldn’t necessarily have to strangle her with a priest’s entrails — just hawk her tiara on eBay and stop addressing her as Queen of New Zealand.

        Lafayette and our French allies would have been amused by the claim that they were championing WASP rights, rather than universal ones. Same for Charles Carroll, a Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence, and later a U.S. Senator. Same for George Washington, who assured Catholics, “[A]ll those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government;” and who told a Jewish congregation that toleration was no longer “spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.”

        Regarding the history of slavery in New Zealand, I refer you to this Wikipedia article, which obviously I can’t vouch for:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery#New_Zealand

        So again, which would you say is the greatest democracy in the history of the world? You must have someone in mind.

        • No one is afraid to give her the boot, it’s just unnecessary.

          Where were the rights of women and people of colour? Don’t they count as universal? And there were laws against Catholics, admittedly inherited from Britain. And what about all the clubs where Jews weren’t allowed entrance, for example.

          OK, I should have said some Maori had slaves. That’s true. I forgot. Since we were established as a country with a treaty between Maori and Europeans in 1840, it hasn’t been legal.

  10. Kenneth (Grand Pa Ken) Smet says:

    I suspect I’m in way over my head to comment. I’m old and slow and practically illiterate compared to who I assume I’m dealing with here? (A bunch of smart young whipper-snappers compared to the likes of me, except for maybe Jerry Coyne who might be older than the rest of you but certainly smart enough to be in your club whereas I’m not?) The best I could do on my best day is maybe cut your grass or clean your driveway. (I certainly can’t keep up with or comprehend all the subtle remarks I see and hear bandied about here and on WEIT.)

    I got here from WEIT (Why Evolution is True) via Jerry Coyne’s post script to his posting of Dave Rubin’s video that explains who he (Rubin) is going to support for President of the United States of America this election cycle (at least until the Presidential Debates if there are any this time)? And, I’ll be surprised if my comment makes it through your screening process since I’m rooting for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka (whoever they are) who, so far as I can tell, are taboo to even mention their names’ here (or anywhere) unless their name’s and party affiliation are only mentioned in the most derogatory terms possible in the most uncomplimentary terms allowed by legal statutes that define legal defamations of character that are allowed…you name it!

    Indeed, some people think life is all about left and right, or up and down, or the ins’ and outs’ of science and religion (or atheism) etc. While some believe in common (and/or uncommon) sense of good and bad behavior on the part of (inherently) good and/or bad people who just can’t seem to help themselves one way or the other… Or, those who don’t know the difference between right (or left) and wrong! Whereas, many people are just full of fear and ignorance about almost everything and are easily confused by how fast (and slow) life can be/go/end sometimes (never lasting forever except maybe in heaven) (and never for some getting enough satisfaction while they’re here for holding up their end of whatever bargain they made with whoever to be here)?

    Huh? But… For some, life is all about money and of course they’re the ones’ who are absolutely right (not left and wrong or dumb and stupid like most) because, money is what’s been ruling life on earth ever since it was invented. And always will rule life on earth until hell freezes over, which will never happen as long as there are enough humans left on earth with enough money to keep the fires of fear and loathing burning brightly forever…or until at least the next ice age!

    I’m a regular at WEIT (I have to skim over most of it most of the time because most of it is over my head most of the time) but I like his style, pictures, Readers’ wildlife photographs, his Hili dialogues and his general many-wide-ranging-interests that, occasionally, lead me to other things and people like Dave Rubin (for the first time ever today and if only he could tilt Green rather than Libertarian) and You (whoever you are) so well spoken and your site so appealing (like the cartoon you shared to “Re-Elect Gerry Mandering,” except I couldn’t make out who it was by)? Thanks for sharing. I’m just very sorry/sad you think Hillary Clinton is “the best option” we USians’ have to choose from (to vote for or against this presidential year). I’m one of those who believes she, technically, legally, might not be a crook or a liar (depending on what the definition of “it” is, etc) and I certainly agree with you that she is “wickedly smart,” with an emphasis on wicked. But what to do with all the good dumb people…and children too young to know what the heck us grownups and warring factions (who supposedly know how to talk if not read and write) – what the heck we’re yakking about all the time, how much things cost – when all we have to know is how to work, play, share, and get along together? (With emphasis on sharing.)

    “Why can’t we all just get along?” Why can’t all clever people be good (or at least be kept under control)?

    • Welcome! I did think about mentioning Jill Stein. I like a lot of the Greens policies. However, she lost all credibility with me with her anti-vax stance. Being anti-vax is one of my pet hates so even though there’s a lot to like about her, I just can’t go there.

      Although I know it’s actually more common than not, I struggle with otherwise intelligent people being anti-vax, anti-GMO, pro-organic, and all the other things that have absolutely no basis in science.

      As for getting along, that’s something even Republicans admit Hillary is good at. When she was a senator, they admit they found her good to work with. Bernie, for example, does much better on the stump but he’s the one with the reputation for being a curmudgeon. One of the reasons I like her is because I think she will be able to encourage people to work together for the good of your country. I’ve been criticized here for extolling NZ (which I will address with that person shortly), but our politicians genuinely work together for the good of the country. There are obviously divides or they would all be in the same party, but they get together and compromise to make legislation better. It does make politics here a bit boring, but it’s better for the country as a whole.

      • nicky says:

        Glad you share that ‘pet hate’ of anti-vax!
        I think NZ has a lot to be proud of. Let us not forget NZ was the first country in the world to have women voting (1899)! 20 years before a typical western democracy like Holland (1919), and 21 years before the USA (1920). Your Gini rating is also one of the best in the world. Your corruption rating, according to Transparency International, also generally gets the gold.
        [And the magnificent setting of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was also in NZ 🙂 ]
        In my books these are not minor achievements.

        • j.a.m. says:

          Not dissing anybody by any means, but just for the sake of a full historical record: On suffrage, New Zealand (1893) followed the lead of Wyoming (1869) and Utah (1870) by a generation, and was soon joined by Colorado (same year) and Idaho three years later. Simply on the basis of population at the time, more women were enfranchised in the USA than in NZ.

        • Actually it was 1893 we gave women the vote! The woman who led the charge is on our $20 note. We’ve had a minimum of four Maori MPs in parliament ever since 1868 too, only 14 years after the country’s first ever parliament. I started making a list of international indices and where NZ placed on them a while ago, but it never got finished. I was very proud of how well we did on every index I could find. Of course, there’s always room for improvement – I can think of lots we could do to make things better.

          • nicky says:

            I stand corrected 1893, not 1899.
            Wyoming and -to my great surprise- Utah (polygynic state, at least at that time) , Colorado and Idaho should be recommended. But they are not ‘national states’ (although I fully take your point about numbers).
            I’m sure there might be some ancient villages here and there that had women voting too.

            Point is that hereditary constitutional (powerless) monarchy is not that bad a system.
            I’m sure the British *are* afraid to boot out the queen, you could get Farage or Johnson as (powerful) head of state (a bit like the USA is risking a Trump), a fearful prospect.

            Note also that Switzerland, considered one of the more democratic states in this world, was *extremely* late re female voting rights (somewhere late in the 1960’s, IIRC).

          • j.a.m. says:

            @nicky: Not to quibble, but the inhabitants of New Zealand at that time were British subjects, and if anything enjoyed less autonomy than the citizenry of any one of those four sovereign states.

          • We were part of the British Empire, not British subjects. Not the same thing. Women here could vote in 1893, as you know, but British women couldn’t until 1928.

          • j.a.m. says:

            If that is so then I will stand corrected, but in my defense I relied on the web site of your Dept. of Internal Affairs (Te Tari Taiwhenua) which states: “Prior to 1949 there were no New Zealand citizens. People born or naturalised in New Zealand were British subjects, a status common to the peoples of the United Kingdom and the British Empire.”

            http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Citizenship-Celebrating-60-Years-of-New-Zealand-Citizenship

          • Fair point. It is confusing. We were run almost completely separately even then. We didn’t pay taxes to Britain, or receive benefits or anything like that. However, until quite recently, people could still turn to the British Supreme Court once they had run out of legal options in NZ. So there were anachronisms, but it wasn’t like we were a state of Britain or anything. In WWI we fought separately as the NZ Expeditionary Force, but we were ultimately under British control. It was a bit confusing, and the apron strings were constantly gradually loosening. It wasn’t the same situation as when the US broke with Britain. When Britain entered the European Common Market they abandoned us in many ways – they had been the main market of our exports until then. One of the arguments of the Brexiters is that Britain should be cooperating economically with NZ who has always been on the same side militarily, and not Germany who they fought against in two world wars.

  11. j.a.m. says:

    Johnson consistently polls well above 15% with those under 30, and in one poll placed first at 35% among the youngest, 18-24.

    According to Pew, “Nearly a third (32%) of Johnson’s supporters in the four-way contest are younger than 30. This is roughly double the share of Clinton (15%) or Trump supporters (12%) who are younger than 30.”

    http://reason.com/blog/2016/08/19/libertarianism-the-choice-of-a-new-gener

    • Libertarians do do well with younger voters. I put it down to naïvety regarding policy (not as many are good at seeing consequences) and the natural selfishness of a greater proportion of the young, especially young men.

      • j.a.m. says:

        I put it down to the Spirit of ’76: “Live free or die”. They’re not naive, far from it — they know full well that the consequences of “policy” are less freedom, opportunity and progress; and more conformity, mediocrity and stagnation. There’s nothing “unselfish” about concentrating power in the hands of the state, or about subordinating one’s own conscience and self-determination to the prejudices of the majority.

        • When all people chant is phrases about how much of their own money they get to keep it does display selfishness and a lack of awareness of consequences. It is better for everybody if more people are better educated, for example, and anyone who doesn’t understand that doesn’t understand consequences. Educating the population is an investment, just as much as investing in infrastructure.

          People like Donald Trump go out of their way not to pay taxes, but they’d be screwed without the roads and ports built by government and the people educated by government.

          There are also all the people receiving some form of social support, like a disability benefit. It is better that that is provided on an equitable basis by a government, and people who can’t look after themselves aren’t left to die on the side of the road.

          Besides, Republicans are often pretty good at forcing people to be subordinated to the prejudices of the majority when it suits them, like in religion.

          • nicky says:

            That latter paragraph is really pertinent, methinks. It is the kind of (subconscious?) hypocrisy that makes politics such a dreadful activity. Of course, it goes both ways, how could we expect otherwise?

          • j.a.m. says:

            I’d agree that anybody whose sole interest is how much money they personally get to keep is selfish. Of course, that is a ridiculous misrepresentation of the Libertarian position, or the position of anyone who believes that the common good is best served by limiting political meddling in the economy and society.

            No one questions the value of education, or the need to provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves. It does not follow that the state must own and operate schools, or insinuate itself into the classroom. Indeed we’d be far better off observing strict separation of school and state. Nor does it necessarily follow that the state is better at caring for the needy than are private initiatives.

            “Government” doesn’t build roads or ports or do anything at all without the resources that We the People give it. Trump is no libertarian by any stretch of the imagination, but to the extent he may seek to minimize his own personal tax bill under the law, that makes him no different from Obama, Clinton, and every other taxpayer of every persuasion.

            I reject your comment about Republicans, but we’re not discussing them — rather, the supporters of the Libertarian Party candidate and libertarians generally.

          • It is not better to keep the state separate from schools imo. One of the issues in parts of the US is, for example, schools in areas where the dominant religions are fundamentalist and so evolution isn’t taught properly or at all. There also has to be some oversight of the education system to make sure that all children get a fair go, especially those whose parents can’t or won’t make an effort. Charter schools for example are not all they’re cracked up to be. Some are good and should be an option, but others are shocking and children need to be protected from them:

            No Trump is no libertarian – I certainly agree there. In fact he wants more government than Republicans usually do. There are even things he’s said I agree with, though most Republicans don’t (e.g. when he talked about free healthcare for all).

            The people are not best served imo either if the government does not intervene strategically in the economy. It is necessary to maintain a strong economy. Relying strictly on market forces results in stagflation (see Germany between the wars), mass unemployment (as in Great Depression) and other negative consequences. Those extremes can be avoided by judicious interference of a central bank adjusting things like interest rates, money supply etc depending on the circumstances.

            As for Trump and tax, there’s a difference between avoiding and evading tax. I know there is no evidence he has done anything wrong in that instance, and I’m not accusing him of anything. However, I think he should at least provide his tax returns for those years that aren’t being audited.

            Also, it always seems to me that the US tax system is worse than most in the way it’s set up. So many laws have bits attached to make special interests happy in order to get people to vote for them, and those laws benefit the rich for no reason other than that they are rich. That just doesn’t happen in most OECD countries. And why are Big Oil, Big Sugar, and many others still getting tax breaks? Big Sugar, for example, has an appalling record for the way it treats its workers overseas. Some are little more than slaves. The companies don’t need the support – politicians on both sides need their money for their political campaigns.

          • nicky says:

            I agree with your last post.
            There are services that are generally -but not always- better left to the state, not to private initiatives IMMO. Things like education, justice, policing, infrastructure (roads, water) , public health, environment and some more. Others are more contentious, such as eg. health care (barring clear public health issues) and poverty relief/charity.
            As default, privatized services should not get tax breaks, since they are supposed to do ‘better’ on a profit basis. They should be taxed according to their profit.

          • It’s probably because I live in a country where those things are already done, but I think healthcare are poverty relief are state responsibilities too, within limits. It is better for the country as a whole, for example, if everybody is as healthy as possible. Because our healthcare is mostly paid for by the government, no one has to worry about things like health insurance when changing jobs so the workforce is more dynamic. It also encourages people to get issues dealt with early. The government invests in things like early detection e.g. universal breast cancer screening, free stop smoking programmes etc which long-term reduce the cost of healthcare and make the population healthier. Depending on your income, the most you have to pay to have a prescription filled is $5, and it’s free for people on low incomes, so people get the drugs they need. We spend a lot less than the US does on healthcare, but our average lifespan is longer, we have a lower infant mortality rate, children in NZ are more likely to survive than those in the US if they have cancer even if they are very poor etc. Here, if the government makes bad policy decisions in relation to health, they lose the election.

            The Tory government in the UK is making some bad decisions in relation to the NHS (National Health Service), which is similar to ours. They’re getting away with it because the major opposition (Labour) is riven by internal strife at the moment and are in no position to win an election, but that won’t last. Once Labour sorts themselves out, the Conservatives will be out on their ear because of under-funding on the NHS to make privatization look more attractive. Then the Conservative government will have to either change or lose power. We have a centre-right government which in the past has gutted the health system and been booted out as a result. They’re being very careful to maintain a high quality service at the moment. They’re in their third term, so it’ll be easy to lose an election just because people are sick of them and everyone knows the opposition is pretty reliable when it comes to health.

            I get though that if you’ve never lived somewhere that has a single-payer health system it might be hard to see the benefits. It’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time.

            The problem with a lot of privatized services is lack of oversight.

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