Libertarians Want Their Own State


By Doug Patton

“Who is John Galt?”

Fans of philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand will recall that question as the opening line of her massive tome, “Atlas Shrugged.” Over the course of the next 1,100 pages, the reader learns that John Galt is the novel’s capitalist hero, a man who methodically has become the catalyst of a successful attempt at recruiting the best and the brightest entrepreneurs of American industry to withdraw from the commerce of their country. The result is a steady decline of the U.S. economy, as America’s producers refuse to continue paying for the non-producers.

Rand’s vision was a warning that the socialism she had seen in her native Russia was creeping into the expectations Americans had of their own government. And this was in the 1950s!

Fifty years later, the American producer of goods, services and creative ideas labors under a financial and regulatory burden Ayn Rand could only have contemplated in her worst nightmare. And while the miracle of free-market capitalism still remains a strong motive, the insatiable appetite of government at every level to redistribute wealth is rapidly destroying the incentive to create it. (Witness the recent shameless pandering of Democrats and Republicans alike to give “tax credits” to an entire class of Americans who pay no taxes!)

It has been estimated that if all the assets of every individual American were confiscated and redistributed evenly, within a few decades those assets would be right back in the same hands. That sounds about right. Spenders spend. Savers save. Producers produce. Parasites do not.

Enter the Libertarians. It might sound Quixotic, but a real movement is gaining ground among a growing number of people who have become alarmed at the pace with which the United States is racing toward confiscatory taxation for the purpose of redistributing assets.

In a scheme that would make Ayn Rand proud, the Libertarians are plotting to take over a state, revamp the government with policies of minimal taxation, spending and regulation and possibly even threaten to secede from the Union. They think they will need about 20,000 hard-core believers in a small state to accomplish this. I think they just might be on to something.

Former Republican Senator Malcolm Wallop once said that the difference between Democrats and Republicans was that if Democrats introduced a bill to burn down the Capitol, Republicans would offer an amendment to phase it in over three years.

Put another way, in the words of a frustrated conservative House Republican with whom I spoke recently, Democrats seem willing to lock arms and step off the cliff together into the socialist abyss singing “We are the world,” while his Republican colleagues seem perfectly content to line up and march off single file.

True Libertarians will tell you they believe that government should defend the shores and deliver the mail – unless, of course, someone else can deliver the mail more efficiently and cheaper. In other words, pure Libertarians advocate maximum liberty with minimum restrictions in any and all arenas of human activity.

This sounds good, but carried to its logical extreme, it involves decriminalizing virtually every “vice” known to man: gambling, prostitution, the personal use of illicit drugs and abortion on demand performed by anyone anywhere. I have often said that I would become a Libertarian in a heartbeat if it were not for these social issues. However, when it comes to economics, they are right on target.

Fifty years ago, the average family of four in America paid just four dollars in federal taxes out of every $100 earned. State and local taxes were also at a minimum, with many states not even utilizing sales or income taxes.

It was this economic freedom, not the power and authority of government to confiscate our assets and solve our problems, that made us the world’s greatest superpower. Libertarian economic philosophy may be our last hope of escaping the tax burden that is threatening the vitality of nations all around the world.

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country, and on www.GOPUSA.com, where he serves as the Nebraska Editor.

He also writes for Talon News Service (www.TalonNews.com).

Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonamp.com.

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