Saturday, November 04, 2006

The State Elections

The state elections are just around the corner. In my state of Ohio, a number of typical state level issues and victimless crimes are on the ballot for the people to vote for. As a libertarian, I am most certainly quite weary of voting, knowing that a vote is what initially gives politicians power. What is advantageous about these state elections, however, is that the voter gets to actually vote on a number of issues directly, wheras they otherwise would have to hope that their "represenatives" voted in their interest, which is not very likely due to the nature of politics and government. This is pretty much the only reason why I am voting in this election - I can't vote for the national issues, but if I get an oppurtunity to vote no on local and state issues, i'm going to use that option.

As these state elections get closer and closer, the smear-based and misleading television ads abound and increase in presence. The best thing one can do is ignore these commercials altogether: they are meaningless declarations of utopian promises and misleading chimeras that coax you into supporting more government power, not to mention the status quo. As predictable, the Republican ads tend to declare their opponent as a tax-raiser and opponent of "family values", and the Democratic ads tend to declare their opponent as a neanderthal who would "throw the baby out the bathwater" or "turn back the clock" and an opponent of "equality". These partisan squabbles are ridiculous and a waste of your time. The reality of the matter is that both canidates will raise your taxes, erode what values you do have and decrease personal liberty in some way - the differences between the special interests backing them are petty if not meaningless. Any new program or intervention is going to require highened economic costs to the public. I, for one, currently see no reason to vote for an actual canidate. Or if I do, it's going to be writting a dead person's name into the ballot.

But, of course, the canidates are only part of the elections. As mentioned above, there are number of actual individual issues that one can vote on in this election. For Ohio, these issues are roughly as follows: A minimum wage increase, a state-wide smoking ban, public school spending and the state lottery (and how it relates to the public schools). As a libertarian, it should be no surprise that I am going to vote no on all of these issues. It is very likely that similar issues will be on other state ballots. The best message I can give to people in those states is: vote no. The people who support these things (who indeed come from both parties) will typically pander to the bleeding-heart mentality and paint a picture of the opponents of these measures being "greedy" brutes. Ignore them.

Why exactly am I going to vote no on these issues? Well, before going into specifics, it's first and foremost a matter of principle. All of the issues are increases in government power and decreases in individual liberty. The only time I will find myself voting "yes" is if the issue on the ballot is reductionist or abolitionist in nature, which is not likely. Typically, the issues are positive (expansive), and therefore a no vote is necessary. More specifically, why vote against the minimum wage increase? Quite simply, because it is a job-killer. Not only is it a job-killer though, it also raises the cost of production, which is then passed onto the consumer through a raised cost of living. What does a minimum wage law do in the first place? It effectively says "all jobs under wage X are illegal", thus it illegalizes jobs. But beyond illegalizing jobs, the heightened strain imposed by being forced to "overpay" marginal workers causes buisinesses to lay people off, hence the unemployment effect. The minimum wage issue is a shell game that gives people false hope while being part of the problem itself rather than a fix for it.

The state-wide smoking ban issue is another waste of tax dollars and a blatant violation of private property rights. These bans claim to illegalize smoking in all "public" places, but of course "public" and "private" are always confused. What the ban actually does is illegalize smoking in all private places, with the acception of your own home (unless the most extreme of lifestyle fascists get their whole program in place). Of course, conventional wisdom considers private property to be "public property" because "the pubic uses it". This is, of course, nonsense. The heart of the issue is not the violation to the smoker's rights so much as it is the violation of the property rights of the owners of restraunts, bars and other such private institutions. Simply put, let the owner of the private property decide whether or not to allow smoking. Lastly, on an economic note, the smoking bans harm local and small buisinesses.

Spending on the schools are a constantly reoccuring issue at this level of government. The cliche, although of course cliches don't always become complete realities, seems to be that the old folks (the elderly) vote against the public schools either because them and their families do not benefit from it or because they are informed as to the fallacies and dangers of public schools. More spending on the schools translates into higher property taxes, which hits elderly people and others on fixed incomes the worst. I, for one, and with the old folks. Let the politicians denounce us as evil greedy pigs. They are the evil greedy pigs for robbing and miseducation everyone. There is a pattern here: more money is thrown at the public schools, the schools get worse or don't get any better, and then this is used as a reason to throw even more money down the governmental rat-hole. Could it be that the sad state of the schools is linked, at least in part, to government "stewartship"?

The other part of the school issue in Ohio is that the state lottery is being used for the alleged purpose of providing money to the schools, while a very small percentage of the money actually goes to the schools. Many people may be prone to miss the point here. While I may prefer that tax money, if it's going to go to something, to go to education over the administration of a lottery, the issue here is the state lottery itself - the total hypocrisy of illegalizing private gambling while then having the state use lotteries as a revenue-producing device for itself. The solution would not be to then force the state lottery to give more money to the schools. The solution is, first, the abolition of private gambling prohibition, and secondly the abolition of state lotteries. The introducction of the schools into the question blurs the real issue in this matter.

When these elections start, keep an eye out and vote with your brain, not your special interest. This stuff is no light matter. It is easier to have some degree of control over political matters on the local and state level as compared to the national level. Every oppurtunity to affect things in this way (voting on individual issues as opposed to canidates) must be taken. You don't ever get any chance to vote on individual issues for the federal government's jurisdiction. On the other hand, every oppurtunity to vote for one demogogue vs. another should be rejected. Just because a canidate may seem to be a slight lesser of two evils, this is not a legitimate reason to vote for them. Either find an independant canidate that meshes with your philosophy and concience considerably more, or do not vote at all for a canidate.

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