On Sunday, July 19, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch wrote a Washington Post op-ed about the flagging fortunes of President Barack Obama, whose popularity has been faltering along with the prospects for many of his key legislative agenda items. Go here to read the op-ed.
On Monday, July 20, Welch and Gillespie did a live online chat with Post readers. Snippets below and here's a link to the whole thing.
Washington, D.C.: What alternatives are the GOP or Blue Dogs offering to the multiple health care plans currently under consideration in the House and Senate? What ideas do the Blue Dogs have to control costs? Are they willing to give up their pork barrel projects to help move the process along?
Nick Gillespie: I think one alternative that will gain ground is the idea of severing the tie between employer and health care in the form of killing the tax break for employer based programs. We live in a world in which individuals are expected to shop for and pay for houses, cars, retirement, you name it. We should be in charge of finding and paying for out health care. Both single-payer utopians and business interests want to can employer-based health care, so it will happen. And it will help usher in an age of actual competition for patients and cut costs while raising service. Just like it has in every other industry.
Arlington, Va.: I thought your comparison of Obama to Bush on using a Crisis to jam through legislation was spot on. With Bush, everything was a security crisis and we passed bad laws. Between the media love affair with the President, the huge Democratic Congressional majority and the Republican inability to mount a real opposition, what can the average person do to make sure we aren't stuck with bad policies? I'm feeling helpless.
Matt Welch: I'm not normally in the business of advising people how to act, but since you asked, I have always heard from everyone involved in government work that one of the most surprisingly effective things a citizen can do is HARASS YOUR CONGRESSCREATURE. The House of Representatives is a sensitive organ, and when a bunch of people start shouting at a Rep about such and such policy, they tend to take note, and even change votes.
Chicago: "Being a small government, pro-choice, pro-open borders, pro-drug legalization, etc. libertarian is for me a pre-political question."
Yeah, that's all good, but that's a pipe dream. How do you respond to the accusation that libertarians are living in a fantasy world?
Matt Welch: Guilty as charged! Which is to say, I don't wake up every morning agonizing over the gap between my wishlist and the goings-on in professional governance. I prefer the fantasy of my own tastes and instincts—and the collective fantasia of all of us doing/thinking/acting in whatever private/non-violent way we choose—over the "reality" of what is at the end of the day a cartelized racket that aims to professionalize small differences and bum me out with my own money.
(Puts down bong)
At any time, in any government, there is some belief that is so far removed from policy so as to seem impossible. And yet it becomes law within a decade. I think we're on the verge of that with legalizing pot. When that blessed day comes, we'll have the fantasy-livers, in part, to thank.
Rolla, Mo.: Do you see escalating fiscal irresponsibility of the U.S. Government?
If so, has any portion of the government distinguished itself as less irresponsible (Democrats, Republicans, Congress, Executive, FED, Treasury, etc.)?
Do you see any way hyperinflation can be avoided?
Nick Gillespie: Like the Von Trapp family children, each branch and agency of/in government disappoints and enrages in its own special way. Under Bush we saw the GOP sell its soul (and they believe in souls!) for votes and power; the Dems came back into the majority with a frenzy of farm spending that was just awful. The boys at the Fed are always too smug for their own good, etc.
Where I do see some hope is in the electorate, which is quickly gaining an education in what happens when you cede too much control or give too much power to government. There's a reason why independents are growing in numbers and the Dems and Reps are shrinking.
For the full discussion, go here.