Saturday, August 11, 2018

Elected Libertarians making a difference

How Elected Libertarians Are Making the World More Free - - Matt Welch:

July 14, 2018 - "What exactly do Libertarians do? Wait — don't answer that. As someone who edited a small-l libertarian magazine for eight years, I know all your jokes.... But at least 169 of these exotic creatures also hold elected office across the [U.S.].... And what these critics of government power are doing once they acquire it may provide a flicker of whimsical hope in these dark and fractious times.

"Brandon Phinney, a 30-year-old Army vet who found libertarianism through Ron Paul, was elected to the 400-member New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2016 as a Republican. He then switched parties after discovering to his horror that elected GOP officials did not mean what they said about cutting the state budget.... Phinney ... pores through the ever-expanding state code, looking for laws that are anachronistic, impossible to enforce, and/or just plain wrong. [Then] he tries to remove them.

"For instance, the Live Free or Die State had on its books for more than a century a prohibition against reusing glass milk-delivery bottles for any other substance besides milk.... New Hampshire is one of the few states in the union where performers are barred from drinking alcohol on stage. Or I should say were, until Phinney tackled the problem....

"Phinney faces his first reelection with an "L" next to his name this November, which will be an important early indication of whether the L.P. is able to protect, and thus lure more of, its recent converts from the two older parties.

"Another key party switcher facing electoral challenge this year is Nebraska state Sen. Laura Ebke. Ebke, who transferred from the GOP to the L.P. two years ago over issues of civil liberties, achieved something this spring that libertarians have been talking about forever: occupational licensing reform. Like Phinney's bills, Ebke's passed with overwhelming bipartisan — nay, tripartisan — support....

"Having Libertarians play the honest, respected brokers between Dems and Repubs may seem far-fetched... But that's just what Mayor Jeff Hewitt has done in Calimesa [California].

"The swing vote on a split city council, Hewitt, a garrulous former swimming pool digger, convinced his small town to tackle one of California's biggest problems: The unsustainability of public sector pensions. Instead of contracting fire services from unwieldy Riverside County, with its top-down engine-staffing rules and defined-benefit pensions, Calimesa under Hewitt's tutelage opted out and created its own tiny fire department, saving taxpayers a bundle. Now Hewitt is running for a spot on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors....

"The Libertarian Party needs, and is finally getting, some demonstration projects about how to govern better. Getting more Jeff Hewitts in more important positions could transform the little party that couldn't into not just the country's leading third party (which it is already), but also a bloc that can at long last change the behavior of the top two."

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