The Hobbit and its significance for libertarians

The Moral Crimes Of Taxation And Their Punishments

Recent events, such as the Fiscal Cliff, are bringing discussion of tax policy into the forefront. But while the establishment media is quite willing to discuss the various tax policy proposals put forward by politicians, they are not discussing the nature and morality of taxation itself. Let us look at the definition of several crimes, see how taxation relates to them, and see what punishments would be inflicted upon anyone who dared to challenge the violent monopoly that the state has on the collection of taxes. The definitions and punishments come from the North Carolina General Statutes, except as otherwise noted.

Armed robbery: Any person or persons who, having in possession or with the use or threatened use of any firearms or other dangerous weapon, implement or means, whereby the life of a person is endangered or threatened, unlawfully takes or attempts to take personal property from another or from any place of business, residence or banking institution or any other place where there is a person or persons in attendance, at any time, either day or night, or who aids or abets any such person or persons in the commission of such crime, shall be guilty of a Class D felony, punishable by 38 to 160 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
How taxation relates: If a person disagrees with the tax policies of the government and acts upon that disagreement by refusing to pay, then the state will initiate force against that person. If the delinquency persists, then agents of the state (having in their possession firearms and other dangerous weapons) will eventually take or attempt to take personal property from that person as a lien on the tax “debt.” Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of armed robbery.

Receiving or possessing of stolen goods: The receiving or possessing of stolen goods of the value of more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) while knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that the goods are stolen is a Class H felony, punishable by 4 to 25 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
How taxation relates: The conduct of government in collecting taxes meets the definition of armed robbery, and the Internal Revenue Service receives and possesses the tax money. Taxes are frequently levied in amounts exceeding $1,000, and reasonable grounds to believe that the goods are stolen clearly exist. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of receiving or possessing of stolen goods.

Slavery: According to the United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 77, whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person by any one of, or by any combination of, the following means— (1) by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person; (2) by means of serious harm or threats of serious harm to that person or another person; (3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process; or (4) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if that person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
How taxation relates: Forcible taxation on one’s personal income makes one a slave because the state is knowingly providing or obtaining the labor or services of a person by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of slavery.

First degree trespass: A person commits the offense of first degree trespass if, without authorization, he enters or remains on premises of another so enclosed or secured as to demonstrate clearly an intent to keep out intruders; or in a building of another. First degree trespass is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 60 days imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record, unless the offense involves an act that places either the offender or others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury. In that case, first degree trespass is a Class H felony.
How taxation relates: Governments violate property rights by enforcing compulsory tax collection. By doing so, they trespass against the property of those who pay taxes. As agents of the state have in their possession firearms and other dangerous weapons, their actions place both themselves and others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of first degree trespass at the Class H felony level.

Communicating threats: A person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 120 days imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record, if without lawful authority he willfully threatens to physically injure the person or that person’s child, sibling, spouse, or dependent or willfully threatens to damage the property of another; the threat is communicated to the other person, orally, in writing, or by any other means; the threat is made in a manner and under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to believe that the threat is likely to be carried out; and the person threatened believes that the threat will be carried out.
How taxation relates: Tax evasion laws provide for arrest and imprisonment of those who refuse to pay taxes. This amounts to willfully threatening to physically injure people. The threat is communicated to the citizenry in writing, and the threat is made in a manner and under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to believe that the threat is likely to be carried out. The citizens must believe that the threat will be carried out; otherwise they would not be so compliant in paying taxes. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of communicating threats.

Conspiracy: Unless a different classification is expressly stated, a person who is convicted of a conspiracy to commit a felony is guilty of a felony that is one class lower than the felony he or she conspired to commit, except that a conspiracy to commit a Class A or Class B1 felony is a Class B2 felony, a conspiracy to commit a Class B2 felony is a Class C felony, and a conspiracy to commit a Class I felony is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Unless a different classification is expressly stated, a person who is convicted of a conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor is guilty of a misdemeanor that is one class lower than the misdemeanor he or she conspired to commit, except that a conspiracy to commit a Class 3 misdemeanor is a Class 3 misdemeanor. This means that:

  • Conspiracy to commit armed robbery is a Class E felony, punishable by 15 to 63 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
  • Conspiracy to receive or possess stolen goods is a Class I felony, punishable by 3 to 12 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
  • Under United States Code, Title 18, Section 373, conspiracy to enslave gets half the sentence that slavery does, so conspiracy to enslave would result in a fine under this title, imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.
  • Conspiracy to commit first degree trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 20 days imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record. If the offense involves an act that places either the offender or others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury, then this is a Class I felony instead.
  • Conspiracy to communicate threats is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

How taxation relates: Tax laws are enacted by legislatures, who work together to create and pass laws. As any other group of people who worked together to do what the government does would be committing the aforementioned crimes, they would be guilty of conspiracy to commit those crimes.

When we add up the above sentences, we get that anyone who dared to challenge the violent monopoly that the state has on the collection of taxes would be looking at a consecutive prison term of anywhere from 64 to 652 months. So when the day that the rule of the state is abolished, the agents of the state are denied their claimed moral exceptions, and government is suppressed as a criminal enterprise comes, a sentence of 64 to 652 months imprisonment would be a reasonable sentence for any government official who acted to create new taxes, raise tax rates, or enforce tax laws.

Notes: This analysis only accounts for the acts involved in taxation. An actual arrest and imprisonment would add charges of kidnapping, felonious restraint, and false imprisonment. Also note that larceny is not included in the list of charges because larceny is a non-violent theft, while government is inherently violent.

The Santa Claus Lie And The Harm It Does To Children

Every year on Christmas Eve, children across America eagerly await a visit from Santa Claus. Children are typically led to believe that he is a nice man who visits the homes of good children to bring them presents. While many parents may believe that this is a harmless “white lie”, there is a case to be made that the myth of Santa Claus is actually very harmful to children. Let us examine the facts.

First, we begin with the true origin of Santa Claus and the custom of leaving presents under a tree. His original form was nothing like his common appearance today. The custom of presents placed under a tree began with mother/child cult of Semiramis and Nimrod in ancient Babylon. The mythology says that Nimrod married his mother, setting her up as the “queen of heaven” and himself up as the “divine son of heaven.” The two of them had a son named Tammuz. Upon Nimrod’s death, Semiramis claimed to see an evergreen tree spring up to full size overnight, symbolizing the “new life of Nimrod.” She then taught Tammuz to go into forests and make offerings to his father on the day that is December 25 in the Gregorian calendar (the origin of the date of Christmas), who was now worshiped as the sun god Ba’al, the false god mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament of the Bible. This Babylonian myth is the true origin of the custom of leaving presents under a tree. The custom was well-known to the author of the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, which includes the following:

“Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.” ~Jeremiah 10:2-5 (NKJV)

The book of Jeremiah is believed to have been written in the late 7th century and early 6th century BCE, which was well before the time of Jesus, disproving any assertions that the customs surrounding Christmas were an invention of Christians. According to William L. Langer’s Encyclopedia of World History, Nimrod was also known as “Santa” throughout Asia Minor. Another name for Nimrod, used in Greece, was “Nikolaos.” The name Nikolaos (Nicolas) is a combination of the Greek words nikos and laos, which together mean “victory over the laity” or “conqueror of common people.” So “Santa Claus” or “Saint Nicholas” is really a manifestation of the ancient cults of Babylon.

Now that we know the truth about the Santa Claus myth, let us examine what a parent is doing when telling a child that Santa Claus is real. Parents who participate in the Santa Claus lie are destroying their own credibility. The children will someday realize that their parents have lied to them, and while this particular lie may not do a great deal of damage in and of itself, the fact is that the children cannot trust their parents after that point. This can lead to trust issues that persist even into adult life, as well as damage a fundamental and irreplaceable relationship in a young person’s life.

Another danger is that the Santa Claus myth teaches children to believe in entities whose existence and efficacy are not supported by credible evidence. A scientific analysis of what Santa Claus and his flying reindeer would have to do to fulfill the conditions set for him shows that he would have to endure G-forces more than 1,000 times beyond what is lethal. The idea of gifts coming seemingly out of nowhere, deus ex machina style, to those who deserve them, requires a supernatural violation of physics as well as economics. If a child can be taught to believe in Santa Claus in the absence of credible evidence, then it will be easier for them to fall prey to religious cults or confidence schemes later on.

But perhaps the most damaging aspect of the Santa Claus myth relates to the similarities between Santa Claus and the institution of the state. Remember the song that goes, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake?” The idea of a benevolent gift-giver who regularly violates one’s right to privacy is a close approximation of government under the ideals of collectivism, and sets up children to be accepting of a state apparatus that frequently violates their natural rights. A young child is not yet able to grasp the ideas of the state, taxation, bribery, etc., but he or she can understand the idea of rewards for obedience. Thus the myth of Santa Claus makes the subjects of the state easier to control, and helps to fulfill the definition of the name “Saint Nicolas.”

All things considered, the story of Santa Claus is a setup for destroying trust in the family, trust in reason and science, and the desire for freedom and liberty in the mind of a child. For this reason, we can fairly say that telling the Santa Claus lie to children is a form of mental abuse. If you want children to value honesty and have a healthy, independent mind, tell them the truth about Santa Claus.

Interview with Barbara Howe

On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, Libertarian North Carolina gubernatorial nominee Barbara Howe held campaign events in Gaston and Lincoln Counties, NC. There was 5K run in Gastonia, NC at in the morning and a 5K run in Lincolnton, NC in the afternoon. I ran in the afternoon 5K in Lincolnton, NC, and caught up with Mrs. Howe for an interview at 6:00 p.m. Videos of the interview may be found here and here.

MATTHEW REECE: My name is Matthew Reece, and I am here in Lincolnton, North Carolina with the 2012 Libertarian nominee for Governor of North Carolina, Barbara Howe. Mrs. Howe, thank you for joining me.

BARBARA HOWE: Glad to be here.

MR: For those who don’t know about you, tell me a bit about your background.

BH: Well, first let me say the reason I look all hot and sweaty is because I just finished a 5K run, so please forgive me. My background is…I grew up in North Carolina, a lifelong resident. I spent about five years away when my husband was in school early in my married life, but other than that, I have lived in North Carolina all my life. I was born in Wingate, NC, just south of Charlotte. I grew up there. I went to Pfeiffer College and graduated with a degree in English and Psychology. I married a man named Tom Howe in 1976. We have three children. Since my marriage, I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom. We home schooled…the whole nine yards. The children are all adults now, young adults. I have two sons and a daughter. We built our own house in Granville County. I mean, literally built our own house with our own two hands. So, that’s me in a nutshell. I have been involved in Libertarian politics since about 1976.

MR: For most voters, the economy is first and foremost in this election. North Carolina’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average. What policies do you propose to bring jobs to North Carolina?

BH: Well, a common myth…you’ll hear a lot of politicians say, “I’m gonna create jobs!” Government doesn’t create jobs. Government gets in the way of job creation, but it doesn’t create any jobs. My proposal would be: reduce taxes, reduce regulation, create more certainty for small business owners so they all know what the rules are from one day to the next and don’t have to guess so they can actually offer products that consumers want. The notion that government creates jobs is just ludicrous, and in North Carolina, we even are worse than that, because we offer massive tax incentives to lure large businesses here in hopes of job creation. As my friend Mike Munger who ran for governor [of North Carolina as a Libertarian] in 2008 said, “They’ll come for money, they’ll leave for money,” so the best way to lure jobs here is to have low taxes, low regulation, a solid infrastructure, and good education, and if we put those in place, job creators will flock here.

MR: You mentioned cutting taxes. By how much?

BH: Well, I can’t imagine any of us thinks we’re paying too little in taxes. I’m not going to give you a firm number right now, because we would have to examine exactly…once I get in office, we’d have to examine the budget inch-by-inch and determine what’s duplicative, what’s not necessary, what can be provided by the private sector, and start eliminating things right away. So, I can’t give you a number. It will be massive though.

MR: Your platform mentions eliminating “burdensome regulations.” Give me some examples.

BH: The mounds of paperwork people have to do. You have to get a privilege license in order to do business in North Carolina. The privilege you’re getting is to collect sales tax for the state of North Carolina. That kind of paperwork, that kind of burdensome regulation, is just something that business owners don’t need to deal with. The list is probably too long to count, and I can’t…beyond that one I can’t pinpoint one right away. My son and I ran a small business briefly in the early 2000s and just filling out that kind of paperwork was a nightmare, so I can imagine what people who have big businesses have to do.

MR: North Carolina currently receives 31% of its budget revenue from the federal government. Do you believe that this is a problem?

BH: Absolutely, because one of the reasons we’re in the budget crises we’re in now is that we got all this TARP money and stimulus money and now, that money is disappearing because the federal government is in a bind too. So, we put into place programs that we only had temporary funding for, and so now we’re kind of stuck with them, and no way to pay for them. I would do everything I could as governor to decrease our dependence on the federal government. That might not make me very popular because North Carolina taxpayers do pay a lot of tax money to the feds, but every dollar they send, they attach strings to it, and it costs us money just to get some of those dollars.

MR: Let’s talk about energy policy. There is a push to bring hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” to North Carolina. What is your position on this?

BH: My position on that is about the same as it is on every environmental issue. We have to protect property rights. I am all in favor of energy exploration and people doing business here in North Carolina. If a company wants to come and explore the possibility of fracking in North Carolina and they think its worthwhile, they have to come here without tax incentives from North Carolina, they have to pay their own bill, they have to have bonds enough to protect the people they might harm if there is environmental damage, and under those circumstances I would be…I would sign off on fracking. But under those circumstances, unless it is really worth their while, they’re not going to come to North Carolina anyway. From [what] I understand, the resources in North Carolina are not that great, and if the cost is too much, they won’t explore it.

MR: Duke Energy is being accused of being too cozy with the Obama administration because of its financial support of the Democratic National Convention. The Charlotte-based utility has solicited donations, donated office space, and guaranteed a loan to the convention committee. As governor, would you seek to stop a public monopoly governed by regulation, such as Duke Energy, from taking such actions?

BH: That’s a good question. I haven’t given that particular issue a lot of thought. I’m not familiar enough with this issue to really give you a thoughtful answer.

MR: Give me an overview of your education policy.

BH: Well, what we have now in North Carolina, and probably every state in the Union, is a monopoly, one-size-fits-all education program, government-provided education, and the government decides the curriculum. And parents are pretty much stuck unless they can afford to pay twice, either going to private school or home schooling. What I would like to see is much more competition available to parents to be able to send their kids where they feel [their children] will get a good education. Since we are constitutionally mandated by the North Carolina Constitution to provide education, we have to work within those parameters. What I would advocate for at this time is tuition tax credits, so that any taxpayer, whether it is the parent, the grandparent, members of your church, [or] your boss at work, could provide tax credit scholarships to send any kid to any school. And how this would work is that the business would set up a scholarship fund, parents could use their tax liability toward tuition at a private school, and what would happen in the market is that there would be all kinds of small schools popping up all over the place trying to meet the needs of this market. Some kids would go to schools that focused on mechanical things. Some kids would go to schools that focused on art. Some kids would go to schools that focused on math. So we would be able to meet the needs of every child in North Carolina. I have three children. They’re all very different, and they don’t learn the same way, and our expectation that we can throw 30 kids into a classroom and teach them all the same thing at the same time and expect them to learn at the same rate is ridiculous. So we need a market-based, market-driven education system that would help parents get the education their kids need.

MR: Would it be a good idea to amend the Constitution to remove the public education requirement?

BH: Well, you’re calling for a constitutional convention there. While I think it would be, that would be a hard sell at this time, I’m pretty sure. But eventually, if we just get into a more market-based education system, I think we can solve a lot of the problems, but ideally we would get government out of the business of education altogether.

MR: Let’s move on to social issues. You opposed Amendment One. Some libertarians come at this from the position of marriage equality as a constitutional right, while others take the position of separation of marriage and state. What is your position?

BH: My basic position is that government really has no business in marriage, other than enforcing the contract that two adults make. And so, the notion that we grant the right to marry seems anathema to me, and I would like to see government out of the business of marriage, and the only role they would have is enforcing the contract.

MR: You are an opponent of capital punishment. If one person has taken the life of another without due process of law, has that person not forfeited the right to his or her own life?

BH: My opposition to capital punishment is that I don’t advocate killing prisoners. I am a big proponent of people using all the self-defense within their power. If somebody is bothering you, and you’re at liberty to stop them any way you can, that’s fine. But once you’ve caught the person and rendered him helpless and harmless, I don’t think you have the right to kill him. So what we do in government is we catch the criminal, we put them in jail, we try them and they’re found guilty, and then they’re pretty much harmless to us. We’ve put them away and they can’t harm other people. So I am opposed to the state killing prisoners, because there is a chance that they’re wrong, and if you have created the ultimate penalty of death, you can’t rectify that if you’ve made a mistake.

MR: One issue that divides libertarians is abortion. Where do you stand on abortion?

BH: Well, I have to describe myself as pro-choice. I don’t like the division of pro-life and pro-choice because, of course, I want every baby to be conceived and loved and born into a happy, healthy home, but the reality is that’s not going to happen. Where I do come down with the right-to-life crowd is that I think government should stay out of it. That means your tax dollars shouldn’t go to fund abortions. So I am a strong advocate of getting government out of the abortion business. I don’t think government should be making healthcare decisions for women, and frequently it is a health decision, and the decision has to be made between the woman, her partner, and her doctor, and government should stay out of it.

MR: The Obama administration is clashing with some states that have legalized medical marijuana. Would you seek to repeal drug laws in North Carolina?

BH: Absolutely. The drug war is a terrific failure. It has created more problems than it has solved. It has made our streets unsafe. It has corrupted politicians. It has corrupted policemen, and drug dealers are running rampant and making a killing. If the drug war were to end, drug use probably would stay about the same. Ever since we implemented the drug war, drug use has remained pretty much constant. We need to focus on the issue of the medical needs of individuals who get involved in drugs and not make this a legal problem. We have our prisons full of simple drug users. They’re not hurting anybody but themselves, which is unfortunate, but we don’t need to bankrupt our country and ruin lives over the drug war. I would advocate, especially for medical marijuana, it seems like a no-brainer. Its a proven fact that marijuana has certain medical benefits, and the fact that we continue to make this illegal and prosecute people for it is horrendous in my opinion.

MR: What is your position on voter identification laws?

BH: That’s a good question too, because I have mixed emotions. I have no problem with us knowing who is voting, but I also think, I think other people have said this, its a solution in search of a problem. I’ve heard that the amount of voter fraud is just infinitesimal. It has never been enough to sway an election. So I think we have bigger issues, and I know the opponents of the voter ID are concerned about the disenfranchisement of older voters or people who don’t have driver’s licenses, and the implementation is going to cost the state something too. And as I say, it seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

MR: You have said that governments are instituted to defend our rights, not to limit them. But when we look at history, governments have a terrible track record when it comes to actually fulfilling this responsibility. Might we conclude that government is incapable of fulfilling this duty?

BH: Well, what did the founders say? You have to remain ever vigilant, and the tendency is for government to grow and liberty to yield…I don’t have the quotes down right, but that’s why as a Libertarian, even as a Libertarian, I have a very hard time running for office because the last thing I want to do is tell you how to run your life, but I realize that in order to get that kind of government that is limited strictly to just protecting individual rights, I have to be involved in the process. And you’re right, it just continues to get bigger and bigger and its going to be hard to rein in, but we have to start somewhere.

MR: As a third party candidate, you face challenges that Republicans and Democrats do not. Tell me about your experiences with this.

BH: Well, I have been involved in the Libertarian Party in North Carolina for many years, since the late 1970s. North Carolina is a particularly difficult state in which to get…to get on the ballot. I can’t compose that sentence very well grammatically. Our last petition drive in 2008 when we got Dr. Munger on the ballot took us 3.5 years and cost us over $150,000. Our resources were drained, our energy was drained, and it shouldn’t be that way. Any group of committed individuals who want to form around a political idea and create a political party ought to be able, through volunteer efforts, to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot so they can let their voice be heard in the political arena. North Carolina makes it extremely difficult; that’s why we only have three recognized parties right now, and as in North Carolina that bar to get on the ballot is based on voter turnout and election results, and it is a constantly rising bar, and as the elections go forward, the hurdle is going to be so high [that] no other party will ever qualify for North Carolina’s ballot unless they’ve got millions of dollars like Americans Elect had. We still don’t know how much Americans Elect paid to get on the ballot in North Carolina, but we speculate it was a couple million dollars.

MR: Those who are sponsoring the gubernatorial debates seem to want to exclude you. What, if anything, will you do to fight for inclusion in the debates?

BH: Well, I have contacted the debate sponsors. Beyond that, there is not a whole lot I can do. They are private organizations. I’m not taking them to court. I’m disappointed that my two opponents would even agree to debate without me on the stage. I think its a disservice to the voters of North Carolina not to let them hear from all their options. They may listen to me and decide not to vote for me. That’s fine. But I really ought to be able to participate in the process like the other two.

MR: Last question. What do you say to voters who are leaning toward Pat McCrory or Walter Dalton, but have not made up their minds?

BH: One of the arguments we get as Libertarians is “Well, if I vote for you, I’m going to waste my vote because one of those other guys is going to win. So I’ve got to keep Walter Dalton from winning so I’ve got to vote for Pat McCrory, or I’ve got to keep Pat McCrory from winning so I’ve got to vote for Walter Dalton.” You’ve only got one vote. One vote. And no gubernatorial election has ever been decided by one vote. You have to cast your vote for the person you really want to win. If you’re voting for Dalton or McCrory because you don’t want the other guy to win, they’re not going to know that’s why you cast [your] vote. They’re going to think its an endorsement of what they believe. So cast your vote for the person you really want to win. I hope its me. If its not me, I’ll accept that. But don’t cast your vote because you’re afraid of a wasted vote.

MR: Mrs. Howe, it has been a pleasure.

BH: Thanks a lot. I enjoyed it.

Interview with Gov. Gary Johnson

On Saturday, July 21, 2012, Libertarian presidential nominee and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson held campaign events in North Carolina. There was a 5K Liberty Fun Run at The Park in Huntersville, NC at 9:00 a.m., followed by a fundraiser lunch at Fox and Hound in Charlotte, NC at 12:00 p.m., a speech at the Conservatives Against Unconstitutional Wars rally at 2:00 p.m., and a fundraiser dinner at Raintree Country Club at 7:00 p.m. I attended the first three events, and caught up with Gov. Johnson for an interview at 4:00 p.m. The interview videos can be found here and here.

MATTHEW REECE: My name is Matthew Reece, and I am here in Charlotte, North Carolina with the 2012 Libertarian nominee for President of the United States, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. Gov. Johnson, thank you for joining me.

GARY JOHNSON: Hi Matthew, you bet. Thank you.

MR: When you were governor of New Mexico, 750 vetoes, thousands of line-item vetoes, but two of those were overturned. Tell me about the two that got away.

GJ: One was…I can’t even tell you what it was, it had to do with establishing bed quotas for Medicaid facilities, delivering Medicaid services. Really, it was a Republican bill and I think more than anything it was just to show me that they could override a veto. Well, I didn’t learn anything from that lesson. And then the last veto was actually the budget of my final year where Republicans came to me and said, “Look, you’re gonna be out of office, you’re not gonna have to deal with these problems, we are. So, we’re gonna override your veto because you’re not gonna have to deal with it.” Well, I don’t ascribe to that philosophy, but that’s what happened.

MR: OK. Speaking of the line-item veto, the President does not have that power. Would you seek that power, and if so, how do you go about getting it?

GJ: Well, I would, but I wouldn’t count on getting it. I don’t think there is any reason that Congress is gonna give me that power, given my propensity to veto. So I would just be vetoing whole pieces of legislation. If legislation does have earmarks in it, I’ll just veto the legislation and I’ll let Congress override.

MR: To follow that, if you are elected President, do you foresee a potential problem in that Democrats and Republicans in Congress may choose not to work with you on anything because you are not one of them?

GJ: You know, I view it the other way around. I view it as a real opportunity to challenge Democrats to get better on civil liberties. Repeal the PATRIOT Act. I mean, they should have never sent the National Defense Authorization Act in the first place with the provision that you and I can be detained without being charged. Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Let’s bring about marriage equality. Let’s end the drug wars. That’s to Democrats. Challenge Democrats. Republicans…I’m going to challenge Republicans on spending. They all spend too much. Out of our national debt, $8.5 [trillion] of our national debt is caused by Democrat administrations; $7.5 trillion of it is caused by Republican administrations. Who is worse on spending? Democrats, but not by much!

MR: Your budget calls for the elimination of 43% of federal spending. Why that specific amount, instead of less or more?

GJ: Well, 43% represents the $1.4 trillion deficits that we currently have. So that’s the amount of money that we are currently printing and borrowing to cover our needs. So, $1.4 trillion reduction in federal spending balances the federal budget.

MR: Without a tax increase.

GJ: Without a tax increase.

MR: Mitt Romney has said that cutting the federal budget by $1 trillion would cause a recession or depression. This is an example of the broken window fallacy that Frédéric Bastiat described. Could you point out some other economic fallacies that you believe Obama and Romney are committing?

GJ: Well, Obama gets on television the other day and he gives us a little bit of a lecture about Europe, and the fact that European countries that spend more money than what they take in are in trouble, but European countries that live within their means are doing pretty well. So, Europe is a mixed bag. But the United States, he goes on to say, we have some real difficulties in the municipalities and in the states because federal money has dried up, and so they have had to lay off firefighters, teachers, and policemen. Well, the municipalities and the states don’t have the tools at their availability that we do, and so we need to help them. Well, that’s code for borrowing and printing money. That’s code for spending more money than what you’re taking in, exactly opposite of what he had said just minutes earlier regarding Europe. Romney…Romney says its important to balance the federal budget, but that we should increase spending on military and that we should hold Medicare in check. Well, I graduated from the second grade and the mathematics that went along with the second grade education. It doesn’t add up. It just doesn’t add up. So, I want to point out that what we need to have is mutual sacrifice here by all of us, and if we don’t do it, we’re gonna find ourselves with nothing. And I’m afraid that we’re gonna find ourselves with nothing because of not dealing with these issues now, and it will never be easier to deal with these issues than now. Is it going to be difficult? Is it going to have mutual sacrifice? Yes. But never easier than tomorrow, never easier than tomorrow.

MR: President Obama recently said in a speech, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own,” and, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” As someone who has built a business from the ground up, how do you respond to that?

GJ: Well, this is just somebody speaking who has no concept of what it is to start and grow a business. I, having started and grown my one-man handyman business to 1000 employees…I was the glue. I was the glue, just plain and simple. And it involved a lot of really wonderful, hardworking, dedicated people. So, back to Obama’s statement. In that context, no, I could have never made it without those hardworking, dedicated, committed people, but I was the glue. They wouldn’t have been in the unit if it wasn’t for me. So really overall its just a statement that’s just a complete disconnect from reality.

MR: You are on record as a supporter of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But every state except Vermont has such a provision in their state constitutions, and many of them just ignore it. So might that be a waste of time?

GJ: Well, the trouble with a Balanced Budget Amendment…and, so, I’m not espousing a Balanced Budget Amendment because what I see with a Balanced Budget Amendment is just kicking the can down the road. “We’ll pass a Balanced Budget Amendment for 12 years from now. And here’s what has to happen.” Well, nobody wants to pass a balanced budget that’s gonna happen two years from now. And I want to be on record as saying I support a balanced budget next year, that that’s what we should be embracing. So really, kick the can down the road, don’t ever deal with it…we’re gonna find ourselves in the midst of a bond market collapse. And by the way, it will be a bond market collapse that causes all of this, and that’s not gonna be anything that the government is going to announce. “Two weeks from Thursday there will be a monetary collapse, so go take all the money that you have and spend it all, because two weeks from Thursday it won’t be worth a thing.” They don’t do that. It just happens and our money isn’t worth anything.

MR: Do you see that arising out of some of the towns and cities, like in California that are now declaring they are bankrupt?

GJ: Well, their inability…they’re gonna have to deal with these issues because of balanced budgets. And I will just say that states have balanced budget amendments, but what happens with states is they always under-appropriate, they always underestimate for Medicaid, and then they end up with problems that they pushed down the road. In New Mexico, that was something that I recognized very early on, after my first year in office, and so all those vetoes, more than anything, had to do with freeing up money that was gonna have to go to pay for Medicaid, an entitlement with no cap, that wasn’t gonna have to come back in and raise taxes or wasn’t gonna have to come back in some sort of an emergency kind of situation. I took the emergency out of funding.

MR: Your have said that we should audit the Federal Reserve and curtail many of its activities. Do you think it would be bad to end the Fed immediately?

GJ: No, I would sign on to abolishing the Federal Reserve. If Congress passed a bill saying, “Abolish the Federal Reserve,” Gary Johnson signature, President of the United States. Abolish the Federal Reserve.

MR: Part of your platform is rejecting the idea of bailouts. Do you come at this more from an Austrian School anti-Keynesian perspective, or a cost-benefit analysis?

GJ: Well, really just from a free market perspective, that there is an unintended consequence to everything that government does. I think everybody right now is pointing at GM as a successful bailout. I would argue that we have a mechanism for failure and that’s bankruptcy, and that if General Motors would have entered into bankruptcy, that maybe it would have emerged as nine different car companies. Maybe it would have emerged as one car company; who is to say? But I dare say that today the company would be run drastically different. It was the equity holders and the debt holders were wiped out with General Motors, and now they’re back as Government Motors, and I just think its a re-inflated dinosaur that’s gonna…we’re gonna see this played out again.

MR: On education, your platform includes reducing or eliminating federal involvement in education. To clarify, reduce or eliminate?

GJ: Eliminate. Every state receives about 11 cents…

At this point, my camera stopped recording unexpectedly. Fortunately, Tim Doran, Gary Johnson’s state campaign coordinator for North Carolina, recorded a few more questions and answers for me.

MR: Let’s go to foreign policy. You are a vocal opponent of foreign aid, but you have also said that you would hate to say “never.” Give me a case in which you would consider the payment of foreign aid to be justified.

GJ: (Part of his answer was not recorded.) …but if we’re borrowing and printing money to the tune of 43 cents out of every dollar , then we’re turning it around and giving it away? I have a hard time understanding how we can do that in the first place, and that it is going to have consequences down the road. And the consequences are gonna be a monetary collapse; we are nothing to any country.

MR: You have said that you want to reduce our nuclear arsenal to 500 weapons. Why do you choose that specific amount, instead of less or more?

GJ: This was a conference call with the Cato Institute, with a bunch of guys who do this for a living. And that was their number that they came up with to assure us that we would have nuclear strike capabilities and retaliatory strike capabilities. But its obviously a very significant reduction from 2300 to 500.

MR: Many libertarians consider NATO to be the sort of entangling alliance that Thomas Jefferson advised us against. Would you be in favor of leaving or disbanding NATO?

GJ: As I sit here right now, I am thinking…or, I am going to submit a budget to Congress that will have a 43% reduction in NATO spending, perhaps getting it back to its roots, which doesn’t have us in the back seat of the bus; it has us driving the bus, that diplomacy does have its role in the world, and that diplomacy, our dollars better spent than Tomahawk missiles.

MR: You have said that marque and reprisal is the way to deal with someone like Joseph Kony. While this is better than involving the U.S. military in another undeclared war, why get involved at all?

GJ: Well, my understanding of Joseph Kony is that this is the worst, this is the Lord’s Resistance Army, Sudan, Uganda, three African countries (Note: There are four countries in which the LRA operates; he couldn’t remember the Congo or Central African Republic), anyway, it is my understanding that this is the worst terrorist group that has walked the planet over the last 20 years; that they may be responsible for 400,000 deaths, murders, maimings, rapes; and that these three African countries, they’re not in one country, they’re in three countries, so I don’t know if you could declare this as a civil war, but that three countries asked us to intervene to stop this guy. This legislation, the President signed it. I think I would have signed it, but perhaps I would have used letters of marque and reprisal to deal with it, or I would have asked for volunteers to go in. And maybe that was the case, but that’s the way I would have publicized this.

MR: We are currently imposing sanctions on Iran, and have them surrounded by our military bases. Do you believe this explains the motivation for their actions? Are they seeking a nuclear weapon for self-defense?

GJ: If we were in that position, would we not be seeking a nuclear weapon, looking at our own self-defense? I think, just reverse the roles and I think you begin to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. And, if the United States were to embark on loosening trade, free trade with Iran, what would the consequence of that be? Would that not be a safer planet? I think that it would be.

MR: Sanctions have been in place against Cuba since October 1960. But 52 years and 10 U.S. presidents later, the Castros are still in power. Is it time to end the embargo?

GJ: I would say that it is time to end the embargo. I would say that it is time that you and I ought to be able to get on an airplane and fly into Cuba and visit.

Tim Doran: Last question, we have to wrap up. (Gov. Johnson had to get ready for a fundraiser dinner.)

MR: What would you say to supporters of other third party candidates, such as Green Party nominee Jill Stein or Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode?

GJ: Well, I would say to supporters, vote your conscience, that’s how you change the world. I would say to the people of the United States that although there are other third party candidates, there is only going to be one third party on the ballot in all 50 states, and that is going to be the Libertarian Party. So, that actually ends up being a choice that you can conceivably achieve victory, if you will. And with the Green Party, with the Constitution Party, I think they’re only going to be on the ballot in a handful of states. And I mean handful. Ten states. Less. We’ll see what it turns out. (Fact check: The Green Party is currently on the ballot in 21 states, and the Constitution Party is currently on the ballot in 17 states.)

MR: Gov. Johnson, it has been a pleasure.

GJ: My pleasure. Thank you very much.