Bob Barr Live Blog Thread

Tonight, as a nation watches Barack Obama and John McCain duke it out in Oxford, Mississippi, we here at reason will be breaking new techno-political ground by having a third-party candidate, the Libertarian Party's Bob Barr, participate remotely in a debate whose ground rules are controlled by and for the country's two major (and majorly boring) political parties.

To watch live streaming of Barr's running commentary and a post-debate Q&A session, click here, beginning at 8:55 p.m. EDT (or look now for a revolving loop of videos and clips of Bob Barr interviews).

For a quick and dirty running transcription of Barr's remarks, keep hitting the "refresh" button on this here blog post. In addition, we will have various blog commentary about the debate on the page above you as the evening progresses.

Thanks for watching/reading, and donate today to reason's first-ever webathon!

Also: If you have a follow-up question for Barr, please leave it here in the comments, and we'll be sure to ask at least one.

Special thanks to Mike Riggs for transcribing this for us.

8:55- [Bob Barr enters room, crowd goes wild]

8:56- [Matt Welch introduces event, makes unfunny joke: "Welcome to reason, the magazine of free minds and what used to be free markets."

9:01- [Bob Barr makes opening remarks, jokes that neither party can get anything started on time.]

9:03- Bob Barr: The latest problems that we're facing in the economy will come up in some way in the program this evening. Let's take a few minutes to listen in as the candidates start up.

9:04- Bob Barr: [Moderator asks the candidates positions on economy] Who said I was not prescient? Let's take a listen.

9:05- Bob Barr: They're going to protect tax payers by taking a trillion dollars of tax payer money. That's Washington. I'd like to see a show of hands of everyone who thinks they're going to get their money back.

9:06- Bob Barr: Typical class envy. Their solution is that they're going to take more and more from everybody. 

9:07- Bob Barr: [Response to McCain] Danger sign! Republicans and Democrats getting together and deciding how to take another trillion dollars from us in addition to the 3.1 trillion they're taking for the budget, to me, is not a good sign.

9:08- Bob Barr: [Response to McCain's opening remarks] What he's doing, of course, is one of the old debating tricks. You bring in something that is utterly and completely irrelevant, that is the energy crisis, and you throw it on the table as en effort to find something everybody agrees with, even though it's irrelevant. The bailout plan, anyway you slice it, is a bad idea for America. 

9:10- Bob Barr: [Response to Obama's response on would he vote for the plan] The only one of the major party candidates to not vote for the plan is Bob Barr.

9:11- Bob Barr: [Response to McCain's "corruption" remarks.] Where is the DOJ? It is the one branch of government that has a legitimate purpose and a system and a way to protect the peoples' resources and rights.

9:14- Bob Barr: [Response to McCain] Typical Washington. He's saying that the best way to help that worker is to take that worker's money and create more regulation.

9:15- Bob Barr: He speaks out against $17 billion in earmarks, and then votes for a trillion-dollar buyout.

9:16- Bob Barr: You can do away with every one of those earmarks and still have spending problems. They end up in an appropriations bill, where you have no idea where the money is going! McCain likes to be a spending hawk, but it's not true.

9:18- Bob Barr: What Sen. Obama is talking about has nothing to do with shrinking the size of government.

9:19- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain saying, "I didn't win Ms. Congeniality in the Senate"] He's right about that.

9:20- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain on spending and business tax cuts] I don't know if it would fix our problem, but cutting the rate of taxation on capital gains back to zero is a damn good idea.

9:23- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama's criticism about low taxes for rich people/big business] What's the problem?

9:24- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama criticizing the market] We have taxed ourselves so much, so far from the idea that the market is the forum for these things, that they can now make fun of the idea of an open market.

9:26 Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain's proposal for a dual tax code] Did he almost mention the word cap and trade? He might have caught himself. Sen. McCain is a great proponent of cap & trade, which would leavy another trillion dollars in income for the government.

9:27- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama and what he'll have to give up to accomplish his agenda] Tax revenues are slowing down, so their solution is to bail out businesses to a trillion dollars, that taxpayers will have to pay for, which wil lead to even slower taxes, to...whatever? But I don't think they'll follow it there.

9:28- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama and the Chinese space walk] He's talking about all these things that are going to spend more.

9:29- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain on cutting spending, post-bailout budget, plus-cost contracts] Actually, the federal entitlement programs far outstrip the defense budget.  

9:32- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama investing in alt. energy] He has to be careful, or else he'll get all the environmental wackos mad at him. He's coming awfully close. He has to be careful here.   

9:33- Bob Barr: [Responding to moderator saying Obama or McCain will be president come Jan.] WHOA!

9:34- Bob Barr: These people are hardwired for largesse. They cannot bring themselves to talk about really cutting anything. They'll do it general, but when it comes to specifics, they can't do it, either one of them.

9:35- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain on spending] Somebody should have given the moderator the national taxpayer union figures. The program analyzed statements each of the three of us made. Sen. Obama was the biggest spender, Sen. McCain was right about that, Sen. McCain is not that far behind, I think somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 Billion in new spending.

9:38- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain] Didn't he oppose then support the president? Isn't that what they accuses [John] Kerry of doing? 

9:40- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain on staying and learning in Iraq] None of these folks want to address the underlying issue. The underlying issue is not, "Did the surge work or not?" We'd be in real bad shape if it didn't. Neither of them is addressing what we're doing there in the first place, and whether or not its consistent with our notion of defense or our history. Notice Sen. McCain did not say when the troops would be coming home. He's joked about hundred years, but he hasn't spoken to a specific issue.

9:44- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama vs. McCain on Iraq] Bob Barr!

9:47- Bob Barr: [Responding to time table argument] Is there a rule in the Constitution that once we commit troops, Congress cannot exercise its authority to bring them home? This is one of the false notions we see played over and over and over again.

9:49- Bob Barr: [Responding to Bin Laden] Is Bin Laden in Afghanistan? I don't think so. We had an opportunity years ago, when he was in Afghanistan, to take him out, and we did not. All we're talking about now is withdrawing troops from Iraq with a nebulous time frame and shifting them to Afghanistan. I'm not at all sure that that is an appropriate use of U.S. troops and U.S. resources.

9:52- Bob Barr: [Responding to more troops in Afghanistan] What commander on the ground ever doesn't want more troops? That's the point. They always want more troops, that's the nature of a commander. Both of these people are doing what Bush did, when it's not convenient to answer hard questions, they raise the flag of patriotism and say, "Oh, it's for the commanders on the ground." What goal is not being met by not having more troops on the ground in Afghanistan? If it has to do with shoring up Afghan troops, that's not the U.S.' responsibility.

9:53- Bob Barr: [Responding to pulling the trigger] What is the U.S. national security interest goal that is being met by providing millions of dollars of aid to Pakistan?

9:54- Bob Barr: [Responding to more troops] In other words, a massive influx of troops in Afghanistan. That's what worked in Iraq, McCain is saying that's what we need in Afghanistan. He's wrong.

9:58 Bob Barr: [Responding to Iraq] They haven't talked yet about McCain's bellicose attitude towards Russia. Poking the Russians' eye with missile systems in Poland. What exactly is the foreign policy that McCain would employ? It seems to be one that would make the Bush Doctrine look like a peacenik solution. We're already seeing, for example, that the unnecessary move to put missile systems in Poland, the Russians have countered that by getting more involved with Venezuala and Cuba. I doubt anyone in Washington thought about the way Russia would respond.

10:00- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama on terrorists still being active] On that point, Obama is absolutely correct.

10:02- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain being a silly insider] When you get up in Washington Insider stuff, you lose the American people.

10:04- Bob Barr: A league of democracies?!? The collective foreign intelligence assessment was that Iran can't development nuclear weapons. 

10:05- Bob Barr: [Responding to more McCain on Iran] Does that mean that he favors a military action, either direct or through surrogates, against Iran? It seems that's what he's implying, but he's not being pressed on it. That would be extremely dangerous, if not fool-hardy.

10:07- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama on Iran] Are we not already funding an arms race in the Middle East, and have we not been doing that for years with funded military assistance?

10:09- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain on Obama not hating Iran enough] I don't that he ever took a course in philosophy, but that does not all logically follow. All of those things do not follow simply from the premise that maybe we should communicate directly with this government. That is a gross fallacy.

10:11- Bob Barr: What is a "rogue regime"? A regime we don't agree with?

10:12- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain on the Bush administration] This is ridiculously naive. Pres. Nixon met with Mao Tse-tung. If you look back at the rhetoric against the United States, I guess you would be left in the very same situation, which is that we should not have dealt with China, we should not deal with any nation that says anything nasty about us or anyone else--if the senator believes that. Perhaps he's saying it for political purposes.

10:20- Bob Barr: [Responding to NATO] I'm not sure any of these folks have any idea what this organization is. Its mission is what any particular nation wants it to be at any particular time. It ought to be disbanded not expanded. We should replace it--if we need to--with an organization that reflects 2000 Europe and not 1940s Europe. 

10:22- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama on Georgia] We have to rebuild the Georgian economy? We're already rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, they want to rebuild Afghanistan's, and we have to rebuild Georgia's economy? What world are these guys operating in? No one quesions their nonsense.

10:25- Bob Barr: Sen. McCain is trying to play it both ways. He was opposed to offshore drilling, and now he's for it. But he's really not. He's opposed to it in certain other areas, such as the Eastern Seaboard and the western coast of Florida.

10:28- Bob Barr: [Responding to post-9/11 safety] What he really means using the word "reorganization" is growth in government. They added more bureaucracy to the foreign service apparatus of our government. So what they're doing is not streamlining, but growth.  

10:30- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain on nuclear proliferation] We're spending a few hundred million on nuclear proliferation? Does he mean "anti" nuclear proliferation? I'm not sure what he's talking about....McCain is playing both sides of the issue.

10:30- Bob Barr: [Responding to McCain's devotion to blood & treasure] McCain oughta withdraw and have Gen. Petreus run. He should just step aside and let the man who he thinks is the very best person run for president instead.  

10:32- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama] It never enters his mind that if we stop spending that money in Iraq, we should return it the American people. The only thing he's interested in is spending that money.

10:34- Bob Barr: [Responding to Obama's name] Highly relevant, I suppose. 

10:36- [Round of applause for Bob Barr, none for Obama or McCain.]

10:38- Bob Barr: [Responding to questions from reason audience] I don not  believe that it is at all inappropriate for militaries to take action against those people who imminently posed to take action against us.

10:41- Bob Barr: In many respects, our relationships with so many countries around the world have cooled as a result of the manifestations of the Bush doctrine. 

10:43- Bob Barr: [Responding to, "What is the Bob Barr doctrine?"] The Bob Barr doctrine would be a constitutianal doctrine. It would put the "defense" in "defense policy." Which means we should continute to employ our military to protect our sovereignty, insofar as we never know from day to day where the next crisis, the next attack will occur on U.S. facilitues. It is important to maintain overflight agreements with as many coutnries possible, and port-docking agreements so that we can exert our force when and where necessary. it means demanding and relying on goood foreign intelligence, that we do have the capability of developing, but that we have politicized in recent years.

10:48- Bob Barr: [Responding to question, "What should we do about the bailout?"] Start prosecuting. The fact that we have hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars of bad paper out, floating in the U.S. economy as the result of bad-use policies to push home ownehership. That clearly says to me that there was fraud involved. The fact of the matter is that there have been no overt investigations, much less prosections. What we ought to be doing is creating more transparency in the law we have, not creating more regulation, more control. And we should use bankruptcy to get some liquidity to boost the us dollar.

10:48- Bob Barr: [Responding to, "Final question: You had a very public falling out with Ron Paul. What went wrong? And what would you say to Paul supporters?"] They out to be disappointed in Ron Paul. Endorsing a theocratic candidate makes little sense whatsoever. What we're trying to do is what we hoped Ron Paul would have done, which is to provide true focused leadership.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

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  • Dog\'s New Clothes||

    Matt, are you guys going to put a video of this up at at some point?

    It's almost 2 am here in the UK and I don't think droning politicians are going to be able to keep me awake until 4.

  • ||

    I guess i will have to catch this after the fact. I am very interested though.

  • ||

    Who is going to see this besides fringe ass libertarians? I mean besides Reason readers will anyone see this?

    It's almost 2 am here in the UK and I don't think droning politicians are going to be able to keep me awake until 4.

    The UK is only 2 hours behind the Middle East?

  • Mad Max||

    Woo-hoo! This *is* The MST3K debate commentary.

  • Dog\'s New Clothes||


    Yup. Freaky, ain't it? I'm still getting used to being ahead of the US by 5 hours.

  • Quiet Desperation||

    Way to go McCain! An *Eisenhower* anecdote. Way to look not old! Duh!

  • junior||

    why is mccain always vetoing stuff with a sharpie?

  • Quiet Desperation||

    Yeah! No more bear DNA studies! Bitch about $3 million in science spending when $700 billion is on the line. Whee!

  • Quiet Desperation||

    Obama *is* weak on earmarks, though.

  • Quiet Desperation||

    What's this talk of going line by line? I thought the line item veto was currently defunct. ???

  • ||

    Twenty minutes in, neither guy is at the top of his game: McCain is overdoing the platitudes a bit, Obama sounds like he's had too much caffeine...

  • Ash Lux||

    NO MORE POP UPS! :-)

    But ya, they're annoying.

  • Bob||

    Uh... did McCain call Jim Lehrer 'Tim?'

  • Elemenope||


    What, you don't like PBS, libertymike? ;)

  • Citizen Nothing||

    very cool. No way I'm watching the crappy debate but I can still snark, and via cellphone textmsg at that. We may be a dying empire, but god I love this country, or at least my 20 acres of it. Go Bob Barr! Rock 'n roll! Woooo!

  • Kolohe||

    Actually, the federal entitlement programs far outstrip the defense budget.

    This is correct w/o being accuate.

    Yes, SS outlays are greater than anything else. But we have specific fica income to counteract some of the expense. The pentagon ain't holding bake sales.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Did I mention that the Bourbon cabinet is open? Or is that obvious?

  • Elemenope||

    The pentagon ain't holding bake sales.

    Maybe they should.

  • Ash Lux||

  • ||

    Glad to see this. Sure, they won't allow Barr into the actual debates, but I consider this a fantastic usage of, to use a buzzword, web 2.0 techniques.

  • Bingo||

    Barr is actually really really funny on camera, hahaha.

  • nonPaulogist||

    McCain was against ethanol subsidies, then he was for them and now he's against them again???

  • Elemenope||

    Barr is actually really really funny on camera, hahaha.

    He's kinda impish.

    That's a good thing, BTW.

  • Bingo||

    Welch the waterboy!

  • ||

    deal with the poppy issue? jesus christ.

  • Ron Fisher||

    The debate is bullshit.

    Without Nader, Barr, McKinney, and Baldwin - it is a sham...The BIG LIE...

    my heart breaks for my country..

    the evil bastards... 700 Billion dollars and the two major parties continue the lie..

  • ||

    mccain is lying about what obama said about pakistan, right? i forgot obama's exact words.

  • Bingo||

    Barr is a badass. I want to see him debate these guys for real, he's got Ron Paul's knack for snark.

  • Elemenope||

    mccain is lying about what obama said about pakistan, right? i forgot obama's exact words.

    They are both missing it slightly, though McCain is being actually dishonest. I think Obama is (deliberately, and someone misleadingly) minimizing the seriousness of what that sort of sovereignty violation would be. McCain is lying flatly with his characterization of Obama's statement regarding Pakistan.

  • Fred||


    God, how playground, Barry ...

  • ||

    I don't know if you are aware that McCain has told that bracelet story, nearly word for word, at nearly every public speech I've heard in the last several months.

  • Bingo||


  • ||

    I don't have a bracelet. :(

  • Orange Line Special||

    What happened to Jeopardy! ?

    Say, didn't McCain just take Reason's choice to school?

  • Ben||

    35 years he's known him!

  • GG||

    I don't have a bracelet. :(

    That's OK. McCain doesn't even have a seal yet.

  • The Bracelets for McCain and O||

    Anyone up for mailing 4,172 more bracelets to McCain and Obama? Maybe another 48,783 to 654,965 for civilians?

  • Ash Lux||

    Achemaineidnagahjad.... Achmed the Dead Terrorist!

  • Bingo||

    Barr is scarily good on foreign policy matters.

  • ||

    Otweedledee and McTweedledum are more alike than either man cares to admit.

  • ||

    Achemaineidnagahjad....Achmenotgonna work here any more!

  • Kolohe||

    10:20- Bob Barr: [Responding to NATO] I'm not sure any of these folks have any idea what this organization is. Its mission is what any particular nation wants it to be at any particular time. It ought to be disbanded not expanded. We should replace it--if we need to--with an organization that reflects 2000 Europe and not 1940s Europe.

    I think it serves a useful purpose (as in the de facto league of democracies) but would be ammenable to making it more in line with 21st century Europe - and Asia.

  • Bingo||

    When did bipartisanship become an ideology?

  • JLR||

    "Bureaucracy" is in nature like cancer: unhindered reproduction of unnecessary and potentially dangerous cells.

  • Bingo||

    And McCain with the ad hominem attacks

  • ||

    Sorry Bob, but zero Capital Gaines tax??? I could support zero corporate tax as our corporate tax policy favors those with the lobbies to get the loopholes. As to zero Capital Gaines, I find it offensive that a manager gets paid as if he's made an investment.

    I support the idea of a flat tax, or an equal tax rate among all peoples. When some get taxed at 15% or your suggestion of Zero while most of us pay a minimum of 33% is patently unjust. You really need to refine your point here.

    Again I don't begrudge Gates or any man who's actually built something. But a CEO is nothing but a manager, for executives to get taxed at such a lower rate than their underlings is flatly immoral.

  • I DARE Bob Barr to Debate Chuc||


    Will Bob Barr show?

    RevolutionBroadcasting to host an online debate, all candidates invited
    At 8pm ET on October 9th

  • ||

    You dare a libertarian to debate a censorship freak?

  • Just Plain Brian||

    How about a real contest - I DARE Bob Barr to Debate Chuck Norris!

  • Bingo||

    Damn, he ripped into Ron Paul. And thanks Matt, already drinking, cheers!

  • Elemenope||

    When did bipartisanship become an ideology?

    Sometime shortly after Reagan disappointed the true believers.

  • Orange Line Special||

    It'd take me about five minutes to completely discredit Bobarr the Author over this issue.

    BTW, I sent an email to JasonPye about getting on a BobBarr conferencecall; he asked for where I post, which I sent on 8/11. I never heard back, despite sending a couple more emails including one to a more recent discussion of how fake Bobarr is.

    Face it: Bobarr is just a hack who wants to sell something.

  • GG||

    I DARE Bob Barr to Debate Chuck Baldwin

    Barry Goldwater would kick Chuck Baldwin right in the ass.

  • ||

    BTW, I sent an email to JasonPye about getting on a BobBarr conferencecall; he asked for where I post, which I sent on 8/11. I never heard back, despite sending a couple more emails including one to a more recent discussion of how fake Bobarr is.

    Or, you know, it could just be that you're a fucking psycho with poor spelling and bad taste in music.

    But, ou know, whichever one makes more sense.

  • Bingo||

    Really Lonewacko??? What's he selling?? Could it be a libertarian ideology of sorts? Could you be selling a bunch of masturbatory blog postings???

    Holy crap, I need some links to your websites ASAP. You're so insightful!!!

  • ||

    So your claiming his realization that you can't just round up all the illegal immigrants is enough to dismiss him? It is not possible and would cost tax payers billions to try.

    A man who supports censorship on tv and the internet is not going to discredit Bob Barr. Not to mention wants to continue the failed war on drugs, plans to persecute gays, repeal the vote rights act, and create protectionism through high taxes on imports.

  • ||

    Matt Damon!

  • Orange Line Special||

    stecha: WTF are you babbling about?

    Your first paragraph implicitly mischaracterizes my position.

    If the second paragraph of your presumably library-typed rant is refering to McCain, McCain probably has no idea who Bobarr the Author is; Bobarr is completely insignificant.

    As for shutting down debate, McCain is bad, but for something worse look to Reason's choice. The difference is that McCain can be controlled; BHO cannot. That will be even worse considering that the Congress will be Dem.

  • nonPaulogist||

    You have to wonder if Barr made some kind of deal with the Kochtopus to skip the Ron Paul press conference in exchange for such fawning coverage from Welch and friends.

    It also makes Bob look like a two-faced asshat to gripe about being excluded from the debates when he won't debate Baldwin, a guy he clearly could beat, IMO.

  • ||

    Perhaps I misunderstood you then, sorry.

    for the record my second paragraph was about... this.

    Chuck Baldwin not McCain.

  • ||

    Yes, we can see from the numbers that Bob Barr is doing so well that he can afford to continue offending Ron Paul and his supporters at every opportunity. Christ almighty in a breadbox! That is how the guy decides to end his "debate" this evening, by thumbing his nose at the 100,000 members of the Campaign for Liberty and the 1.2 million who voted for Ron Paul? Pride goes before the fall and the LP is apparently going to let such hubris drag them over the cliff with him.

  • ||

    I must say that when it comes to bail-outs that the government is making, I agree with Bob Barr 100%. The other two candidates are out of their mind for thinking it's a must. What kills it for me is where we should be putting that money toward instead. He wants to give it back to the people instead of paying off a near $10 trillion debt to fix our government's previous bad habits. Can you imagine what kind of example Bob Barr would set if he did this if he were elected? Once you resolve the debt, then you can effectively reduce the size of government and reduces taxes for everybody. Another way you do this is tax the big corporations and the rich. i have full faith that they will not be hurting financially from such tax increases.

  • Ass to Mouth||

    "Uh... did McCain call Jim Lehrer 'Tim?'"

    Better than calling him partisan hack champin' at the bit.

  • Ass to Mouth||

    "McCain was against ethanol subsidies, then he was for them and now he's against them again???

    That's BS. Why do you think he lost the Iowa Primary???

  • ||

    I find it sad that no one offered any comment or challenge to my critique of Barr's call for zero capital gains. Do any of you support this tripe? I agree with you Michael. We need responsible gov't first.

    Tax cuts coupled with increased spending is stupid. It seems Barr want to be Santa Claus just like McCain and Obama. Of course Barr is a jewey kind of Santa, a little cheaper than the others. But, his call for zero capital gains is certainly not responsible.

    You libertarians generally insult those of us who run businesses in competitive markets when you call natural and gov't created monopolies free markets. Some of the monopolies are sadly essentially necessary, and I don't presuppose gov't needs to be the regulator; but, sadly this discussion is just slightly more "reason"able than your average stupid American political debate. Barr made a few good points, many snarky quips that are cute but sadly too thin.

    For the Record, I was intensely against this bailout, against the war machine--my defense policy is the 2nd Amendment. Though I'm afraid we need national healthcare--as the fact we pay 2 times what the rest of the industrialized world pays PER CAPITA with poorer results is hard to ignore.

    Come on, let's debate.

  • Ass to Mouth||

    I don't know if you are aware that McCain has told that bracelet story, nearly word for word, at nearly every public speech I've heard in the last several months."

    But if he didn't repeat it word for word, you'd accuse him of changing his story.

  • Mahmud\'s Moma did a john||

    "10:20- Bob Barr: [Responding to NATO] I'm not sure any of these folks have any idea what this organization is. Its mission is what any particular nation wants it to be at any particular time. It ought to be disbanded not expanded."

    But not until it destroys the evil Zionist threat!

  • ||

    Somebody needs to tell McCain not to bounce around like a superball. And break him of that creepy passive-aggressive grin habit.

  • nonPaulogist||

    Ass to Mouth-

    McCain flip-flop-flipped on ethanol subsidies, Iowa was the reason, even though he lost there.
    (against-for-against) McCain is a particularly loathsome liar. Obama is just a commie boob.

  • ||

    Increased spending? Apparently you do not know the libertarian party very well.

  • nonPaulogist||

    "You libertarians generally insult those of us who run businesses in competitive markets when you call natural and gov't created monopolies free markets. Some of the monopolies are sadly essentially necessary, and I don't presuppose gov't needs to be the regulator; but, sadly this discussion is just slightly more "reason"able than your average stupid American political debate. "

    Where do I start, Scott? You obviously haven't read Hayek, Friedman, Mises, Bastiat, Hazlit, or Rothbard. You are not tall enough to go on this ride, Junior.

  • Filby||

    Scott said: "Though I'm afraid we need national healthcare--as the fact we pay 2 times what the rest of the industrialized world pays PER CAPITA with poorer results is hard to ignore."

    - Medicare constitutes 50% of spending, and sets pricing for the industry
    - Gov. regulations limit competition (e.g. restictions on insurance companies competing across state lines, so-called health rules propounded by the AMA and other private groups) and raise costs (e.g. over-done HIPAA rules)
    - The rest of the industrialized world probably spends too little on HC; we probably spend too much - Medicare is mostly expended in the last 3 months of life, while other countries have long waiting lines and limited care based on your age
    - Doesn't it make sense that a truly de-regulated market for HC would be hyper-competitive, as are most industries, and would continually seek to raise quality and decrease cost?

  • ||

    I find it sad that no one offered any comment or challenge to my critique of Barr's call for zero capital gains. Do any of you support this tripe? I agree with you Michael. We need responsible gov't first.

    Scott, I agree with you that the tax rate should be fair, with the exact same rate for everyone, none of this politicizing of taxes for social engineering.

    Where we differ is that I agree with Barr on reducing the capital gains rate to zero -- and making it fair by eliminating the IRS in its entirety. I'd like to eliminate all compulsory taxation and replace it with voluntary subscriptions to a menu of government services.

    You, on the other hand, would apparently appear to be OK with vastly increasing the size of government so long as everyone is getting ripped off equally in paying for it.

    Fairness is overrated. Getting a smaller government is what matters.

  • ||

    Seth -- that's how MATT WELCH decided to end the debate, not Bob Barr.

  • ||

    I am not in favor of increasing the size of gov't. I consider myself a libertarian/progressive. I think libertarianism is just like any -ism, an abstraction that we can draw upon, but ultimately an ideal that doesn't quite fit an unideal world.

    NonPaul, you really need to make a point. I am indeed familiar with the economist you write of. But do you really intend to include Friedman with the others? There are monopolies some natural, some necessary where these rules don't fit as they do in competitive free markets. Also, there is an issue of justice in that since tax payer dollars were taken to build certain infrastructure elements how to untie that Gordian knot is not so simple. I dare say you're the one that needs to grow up.

    Filby, do you talk to doctors? It's come to the point that many doctors would rather rely on Medicaid/medicare than insurance. Again, we can't just chop this Gordian knot either. There's a reason we have healthcare for old people, the private insurers simply weren't there. We do ration healthcare here. Now, I am not flatly defending m/m, but at least they are responsive to consumer/taxpayer pressures. Have you tried lobbying your insurance company? They reject/deny claims for willy nilly reasons and are immune from litigation thanks to tort reform. On tort reform, which of you would trade your penis for a $1/4 million? You don't really need such a thing, you can even pee standing up without a penis. I personally would sue and expect far more than a $1/4 million for mine.

    We do provide far too much healthcare for dying people here. This is one of the biggest differences between healthcare here and Europe. Your charactiture of the "socialized" medicines long lines aren't accurate. I don't have a problem with boutique medicine, and we have a great industry here. But, the vast majority don't have access to boutique medicine. There is today an equal number of people going both ways for healthcare. I recently got a filling fixed for $35 in a private system in a foreign country. Dentistry here is essentially free of the gov't control you've pilloried yet it is just as non competitive as the rest of the healthcare industry.

    I like the libertarian idea of allowing alternatives to the AMA and their licensing body. But, again, untying this knot will not be easy.

    Where do you see hyper competition? Unfortunately our tax system, benefits those big players with conenctions. Fully 30% of our healthcare costs go to insurance. Sadly, Insurance provides nothing, not even price controls.

    Healthcare isn't a free-market. We are seldom able to shop healthcare services like we would other services. Pricing is difficult, and seldom simple. If we compared our current system to the European systems, theirs are far better. Again, the range of other systems run from 35%-65% of what we spend per capita. There aren't any outliers from this grouping save our own system. I am pragmatic. I want the most cost effective system we can come up with.

  • ||

    That was truly entertaining stuff. America needs more people to critique politicians in an off the cuff manner.

    Keep up the good work, Reason and Bob Barr.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    Healthcare isn't a free-market.

    That's the gist of the problem. Get over the Europeans, whatever the hell they have is irrelevant.

    The problem with ours is, there is absolutely no way you can comparison shop. They charge whatever the hell they feel like for medical services, and the only "people" who can negotiate prices are the insurance companies.

    Force our whole medical profession to post prices, like a McDonald's style menu being the ideal.

    Then get rid of the tax breaks for corporations.

    Then get rid of all the rest of the shit that turned our medical industry, including dentistry, into a f***ing cartel.

    Then, you'll see a medical industry that knocks the socks off anything Europe has even dreamed of in over a century.

    The cartels we have today would rather see the government take over the whole system, than see it turned into a genuine free market. Which is why our medical system is never going to be a free market.

    A government managed cartel is not a "pragmatic solution" by any rational measure. It's a pile of crap and that's it.

    And that, is what we will almost certainly have when our politicians get done.

  • ||

    Prole- You really don't offer a system that would generate revenue for the gov't. Running the cap.gains to zero allows senior execs to earn their money tax free while others pay payroll and other taxes.

    I know you want no IRS and I want cherry scented farts and rainbow monkeys dropping gummy bears over us at 2pm every day, you know, for a pick me up.

    I am not ok with increasing the gov't. I would disband the Pentagon, OSHA, FDA, Dept of Ed., ATF, strip down the FBI, and most other gov't institutions. We need some consumer protections but, as I said earlier I DON'T PRESUME GOV'T BE THAT REGULATOR.

    UL regulate electrical appliances. I would like to see a return to simple liablility laws and trebel damages for willful negligence. The courts have gotten a bad rap and been slighted wrongly by libertarians. This is a big gov't/corporate agenda that too many libertarians have signed on to.

    Now the investor class certain benefits from the essential services that Gov't does provide. Whether it be roads, National Defense, State Colleges, Interstate commerce laws--standarization of weights and measures and the like and a small capital gains tax seems an appropriate source of capture.

    If we have an income tax and capital gains tax it seems only just that they be comparable. It is unjust that a CEO gets taxed at 15% while his secretary is taxed at 33%. Until I get my monkeys and cherry scented farts, let's deal with reality.

    If we did have social security dollars quarantined we wouldn't have the debt crisis we have today. I would allow these funds to draw interest in two ways, I would allow t-bills as we do today and one other use. These dollars should be availible to pay for college for those who can't afford it. This isn't socialization, I believe in the free market pressures. But, if we can help bridge the economic hurdle of education, only the gov't stands to benefit from this investment.

    I completely agree that gov't have become a leviathan. Gov't should spend money very carefully. In the case of paying tuition (grants) for those who are academically qualified, this is a wise investment. No other entity is perched to recoup the gains.

    Other gov't services are sensible and most of you agree. I do think we should have cutting edge military science--perhaps we should have 15 state of the art air planes, rather than a dozen gross. But generally we should stand down. I actually think a strong Navy makes sense too, but this is quite limited.

    Utilities, and other essential services are open to debate for me. These are often what I term necessary monopolies. They need to watched and regulated. Oil is a natural monopoly. We've just experienced price spikes over the last few years not due to supply and demand but in pernicious speculation that the CFTC should have checked. Inelastic commodities are prime for manipulation and there is little we can do about it. There are by definition no alternatives, no option to boycott, no transparency of the market. A 3yr old understands how to rig these markets, we can't allow vicious forces to distort and exploit these markets.

  • ||

    Doctors can't post prices just as your plumber can't. Very often you get in there and discover the problem is worse, different than you imagined.

  • ||

    . We've just experienced price spikes over the last few years not due to supply and demand but in pernicious speculation that the CFTC should have checked

    This is so far from the truth I don't know where to start.

  • squarooticus||

    He wants to give it back to the people instead of paying off a near $10 trillion debt to fix our government's previous bad habits. Can you imagine what kind of example Bob Barr would set if he did this if he were elected? Once you resolve the debt,

    If I were the president, I would simply repudiate the debt. That would accomplish a reduction in the size and scope of government much more quickly and effectively than any other measure, because it would guarantee no one would ever buy our bonds again.

  • james_joyce||

    Man, Paul and Barr need to get over themselves.

  • ||

    Angry optimist, what do you know of oil shortages? During this last Spring we were 1 million barrels over demand in both crude and refined gasoline. We've infact not been short of oil save the impacts of Katrina/Rita and Gustav/Ike.

    All this Summer in fact, oil refineries were running at 89-91% of capacity when they'd rather run at 95% which is the effective Max.

    While we were running these surpluses Sam Bodman and Geo. Bush were indeed declaring we were short on oil and the oil traders were in fact on TV declaring we were running a shortage.

    But few people actually checked their claims. The Energy Dept's own figures showed the surpluses I cited above and the Petroleum Institute--the companies themselves contradicted the claims of oil traders and speculators.

    Just as in this recent discussion of the Bailout, no politician and no MS Media member has thought to warn us of inflation or it's corrolary a collapsing dollar. China has already declared they don't intend to buy any more of our debt. I seriously worry who, if anyone will buy our notes for this $700 b. bailout.

    I know you agree with this. We had no oil shortage. If you doubt this read up yourself on "ICE" the International Commodities Exchange, "the London Loophole" which allowed the trades rejected by the CFTC--commodities futures trading commission to be sent to the London and Dubai commodities markets.

    In 2001 we had $9 billion invested in oil futures contracts. In 2007 there was $300 billion. In an inelastic commodity like oil, the price will inexorably rise. At long last the surging supplies were hard to ignore, they had grown to over 98% of capacity. 15 tankers sat of the coast of Iran waiting a port. The Saudis were dead right when they said they would pump more oil but that no one wanted it.

    Real gas demand has fallen 6% here and that is generally true globally. Remember, as cost increase, demand will fall. When one gambles in commodites they risk not just their investment but they further risk the spread. Remember these traders were predicting $200/barrel oil but it dropped to $100.

    Not only were they buying on margin, they had to over pay for oil and gas that could be purchased on the spot market for $30-40 less than their contracts. These contracts all came due last Monday. This is the precipitating factor that caused all this sudden economic crisis. These investment firms had long given up on our economy, they were sucking us dry trying to manipulate the oil market.

    Perhaps you now have somewhere to start. But before you bring some argument, you better first have an argument, and further have a few facts.

  • ||

    Squareroot, I don't necessarily quibble with your assertion but it will never happen. The top 3 expenditures of the Fed. budget are Entitlements, War, and interest on the Debt. Now the war party has a great lobby and they kill their enemies, and the Financiers have a pretty strong lobby as well. That leaves us and our entitlements with relatively speaking, no representation.

    Now, among the Entitlement lobby, the old vote much more powerfully than us younger folk. (I imagine that most people on this blog are under 45, I'm 39) Today we have 8 workers per retiree, in the next 20 yrs that ration changes to 2 to 1. That is a fourfold increase in our entitlement burden.

    Looking at the lobbying interests, and the demographics of voters it looks pretty grim for us. I fear the politicians will screw us, again in favor of the "Defense" budget and the financiers, and further screw us in favor of the Baby boomers.

    This I fear will get pretty awful, before the system breaks. That's why I am so critical of the cut tax and increase federal spending policy of the Republicans. The Dems at least try to fund their policies, whether you agree with the nanny state or not, at least they are more technically competant managers.

    Anyway, Squareroot, the politicains know who butters their bread, and they ain't gonna default on the debt anytime soon.

  • ||

    come on people, I'm not a sophist, I'm looking for a challenge. Should I be the Presidential candidate? Certainly you can come up with something? I am not afraid to say I don't know, or to be wrong. But you've got to present a better argument.

    I write to Lew Rockwell's posters all the time. I bring up these same objections and seldom get much rebuttal. I've been accused of being atheist or other ad honinem attacks which are neither accurate nor relevant.

    I really start from a libertarian perspective, and really only depart in these monopolies. There is a real difference in choosing from among a plethora of alternatives and competitors. But oil, healthcare, utilities and banking are dark markets that are ripe for manipulation.

    Our grandfathers and their parents introduced many of these essential gov't controls after seeing the abuses that these markets are vulerable to. I definately agree that we want the smallest gov't we can conceive. But total anarchy may not be utopia. I am fit and of fairly stout stature, I own guns and am self reliant. I don't fear for myself, but I see assholes that take advantage of others all the time. It enrages me, to see exploitation of the vulerable.

    In the 50s we used to police our world ourselves. But Ike also had a 90% plus marginal tax rate at the upper levels. We also treated blacks and women pretty poorly too. So mob mentality is not a benign thing. I hope most of you are anti-military, so surely you were alarmed by the bloodlust after 9/11. We need checks and balances, as this isn't an ideal world. And ideal ideologies like libertarianism don't fit every market.

    Where am I wrong?

  • zoltan||

    That leaves us and our entitlements with relatively speaking, no representation.

    AARP is the first or second most powerful lobby in the nation. I think they're clawing it to the top between the NRA. What's strange is: why are they spending all this money to get politicians to approve this Medicare nonsense when they could use that money to fund it themselves? Instead they want to take it from taxpayers and have it greedily for themselves.

  • Kolohe||

    I don't have the attention span to read through everything you wrote (I blame over thirty years of television viewing) but some comments:

    capital gains - you overstate your case with this:
    "As to zero Capital Gaines, I find it offensive that a manager gets paid as if he's made an investment."

    A manager (or any salaried employee) pays regular income tax. While a great deal of pay at the executive level is in stock options (which incidentally was developed as a 'reform measure' to re-align the interests of the managers to the company as a whole), a lot of these guys are getting golden parachutes of strait up cash.

    Now you could argue that cap gains to zero that it would still skew toward people like Buffet (Buffet himself has said that). And I would love to see that loophole where hedge fund management fees are somehow transformed to *long term* cap gains (and taxed at that rate) get closed. And furthermore, I have come to be a fan of the idea of abolishing the corporate tax with the idea of taxing income (yeah boo hiss) at the same progressive (yeah, yeah double boo hiss) rates from whatever source derived. The biggest beneficiaries would be non-profits and churches and such which would no longer have to negotiate byzantine first amendment stifling regulations to operate.

    So bottom line I guess I agree with you, but don't think it's necessary to be that combative.

    Health care - MEGO

    Oil- Ok let's talk about why your wrong (or at least being too conspiratorial about) this

    First check out the dollar index here (warning the java applet took a while to load and seems like a mem hog in firefox)

    In Nov 2007 - Feb 2008 the dollar index was trading in the range of 76 +/- 1. Which was 10% from the beginning of 2007. Over the same time oil went from trading just below 70 to around 90. So at least one third of the price increase was the drop in the dollar of that period (i.e. 70/bbl -> 77/bbl). Then in the spring/summer, the dollar further declined and was trading around 72. Which caused some additional exchange rate issues, but more caused a broad run into commodities and away from dollar denominated assets.

    So yes, I don't deny there was speculation. But it doesn't matter. There was a good case that the price of oil would continue to go up.
    You are correct that the american demand had already dipped from last years price hikes. But the world wide demand did not esp in India and China. Everyone had been waiting almost two years for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. Worldwide, everyone was still sucking up all the oil they could get a hold of, and more importantly it looked like to everyones surprise that worldwide economic growth (esp in the developing world, and esp in India/China) was continuing on track.

    But then, a lot of reports in July came out at the same time. First, the financial mess looked like it was no longer 'fixed' with the bear sterns bailout and rate easement of the spring. Second, worldwide growth was starting to de-accelerate, as people saw that consumers were finally tapped out and retrenching and that life after the olympics would no longer have a keynesian furor. And third, a surprising inventory report where an expected slight shortfall wound up to be a substantial surplus wound up popping the bubble.

    So the spectulators who were were wrong saw losses, the shorts were able to buy their kids GI Joe with the kung fu grip and make love to their wives and mistresses, and all was right with the world.

    The status of refineries and the retail availability of gas is somewhat of a red herring and a non-issue in this story. Indeed, it's why the independent refinery was getting hammered all summer.

  • ||

    This late Spring and Summer check your figures again regarding the Dollar and Oil prices, they became totally unhinged at that point. There were quite a few articles in several business journals that echoed this.

    On oil I would commend you to the fine work of Ed Wallace who's website is a fine site. He collects news stories from major sources dealing with cars, oil, trade, politics and Americana. He does not vote on journalism principles and is an earnest non partisan voice. He posts the oil figures on the website and particularly enjoys exposing spin versus news.

    If you want a conspiracy theory regarding oil, I have a good one. The Israel/Lebanese War of 06 was partially to inflate oil prices. Reuters out of Singapore or Malaysia reported in Dec 05 that we were in contango over oil.

    Contango is when the futures price exceeds the spot price. So investors then have to pony up more money for oil vis a vis their contracts than if they could just buy it. At that time they said that if oil didn't move above $77/barrel the hedge fund investors would be on the hook for major losses. In fact, everyone holding oil contracts in 06 lost money.

    Well, we saw the Iran rhetoric really heat up which brought the price up to $70/barrel, then the Israel/Lebanese War broke out. This brought the price up to $75/barrel which was at least enough to mitigate the damages.

    If you think it is conspiratorial to suggest that we might go to war, or better yet allow surrogates to go to war for our investment banks you simply don't know your history. I would refer you to Smedley Butler's "War Is a Racket." Any good Libertarian should know this book or the gist of it.

    I would suggest you read my earlier posts. To argue you suffer ADD does not bolster your position. I try not to be redundant, begging, or sophistic.

    Again, I really like Libertarianism, I just think it doesn't fit every shoe, as it were.


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