Who's the Better Libertarian Standard-Bearer, Gary Johnson or Ron Paul?


George Mason University law professor and occasional Reason contributor Ilya Somin compares former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to see which one "is a better standard-bearer for libertarianism." Here's a snippet:

Turning to the issues first, the difference between the two is strikingly large. As I explained back when Paul ran in 2008, he has very nonlibertarian positions on free trade, school choice, and especially immigration. He also believes that Kelo v. City of New London was correctly decided because he thinks the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states. The latter is theoretically compatible with being a libertarian; one can believe that the Constitution should protect us against various forms of oppression by state governments, but simply fails to do so. But Paul's position is at odds with most modern research on the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, and with the views of virtually all libertarian constitutional law scholars. It also bodes ill for the nature of his judicial appointments in the unlikely event that he actually wins the presidency.

On all of these issues, Johnson is clearly superior to Paul from a libertarian point of view. He supports school choice and free trade agreements, he's as pro-immigration as any successful politician can be, and he believes that the Bill of Rights constrains the states as well as the federal government.

Read the whole thing here. Read Reason's extensive coverage of Gary Johnson here, Ron Paul here.

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  1. From the Fox News debate a few weeks back, I don’t see Johnson as a better public speaker than Paul. Paul isn’t exactly Daniel Webster, but Johnson was just brutal to watch.

    1. I agree Johnson could use some polish (so to speak), but I wonder if the general population will look back at 2008 and think, maybe the glib know it all isn’t the best choice to be a leader.

    2. Really?! I didn’t watch the debate, but color me surprised. I voted for RP TWICE (in 1988 and in 2008) but I was disappointed in his agility in the debates. He has educated a lot of people, and for that I’m grateful, and he deserves (and will get) a lot of credit for that. But, geeze, wouldn’t it be great to have someone who could fling out a one-liner now and then? Be that as it may, I’m a firm believer that any potential “revolution” will need to be from the ground up — people won’t be “led” until they are ready to be.

      1. I dunno, his heroin line was the highlight of that debate.

        1. Ron Paul was pretty much one-liners the whole time.

      2. Sorry if this eventually sows up twice, I pushed submit and it disappeared…

        Here is Ron’s part of the debate if you want to see his performance and the crowd reaction:


        And here is the whole thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OflTYUHIkkE

    3. But how does he look in a dress?

    4. I agree. The May 5 debate showed what bunk that article is. Further, pulling up the 20 year newsletters Ron did NOT publish (there having been an independent paid editor while he was practicing medicine full time) is a pretty cheap tactic. The author is clearly trying to CREATE an issue. Very biased piece, and patently incorrect, from my point of view.

      1. If Ron Paul can’t be bothered to read a newsletter that sent racist shit out under his own name then he’s not competent to run a hot dog stand, let alone a government. I’m not too crazy about a “libertarian” candidate who I can’t trust not to appoint a white supremacist.

        And please, cut the bullshit about an “independent paid editor.” Multiple inside sources have named Lew Rockwell as the writer of those newsletters, and Rockwell and Paul have always been part of the same crowd and remain Mises Bros to this day.

  2. What are Ron Paul’s nonlibertarian positions on free trade?

    That doesn’t seem true at all. Same with School Choice. Anyone?

    1. From Wikipedia:

      “He opposes many free trade agreements (FTAs), like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),[48] stating that “free-trade agreements are really managed trade”[49] and serve special interests and big business, not citizens.[50]

      He voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), holding that it increased the size of government, eroded U.S. sovereignty, and was unconstitutional.[48] He has also voted against the Australia?U.S. FTA, the U.S.?Singapore FTA, and the U.S.?Chile FTA, and voted to withdraw from the WTO. He believes that “fast track” powers, given by Congress to the President to devise and negotiate FTAs on the country’s behalf, are unconstitutional, and that Congress, rather than the executive branch, should construct FTAs.[50]

      Paul also has an 83% voting record against protectionism in the House of Representatives, according to Global Trade Watch.”

      So, against some agreements that would result in more free trade than currently exists, and 17% protectionist in the votes he casts.

      Not terrible, but not as libertarian as possible.

      1. How are free trade agreements, free trade?

        1. They lower tariffs, supposedly, except in the case of “protected” industries and impose rules of origin producers.

          1. So, it’s not really free trade, it just freer trade than previous.

            Technically, as long as the USD is the reserve currency, and the central banks control the supply and distribution of money, there can’t be “free trade”, so the point is moot.

            1. +1000

        2. The option is not “unfettered trade” or “trade agreements”. It is “trade agreements” or “protectionism”.

          I know that gets the nonincrementalists all butthurt, but that’s reality.

          To draw an analogy, opposing free trade agreements is like opposing marijuana legalization on the grounds that all drugs should be legal.

          1. Free trade agreements are protectionist.

          2. It’s more analogous to opposing marijuana decriminalization because it’s not legalization. In both cases, the FTAs and decriminalization may seem like a ‘step in the right direction’, but in reality both continue bad, distorting policies, may make things worse rather than better, and, worst of all, neutralize a lot of the political will for the true solutions, be it truly free trade or marijuana legalization.

            1. Hey, we got into our socialized bankruptcy via Fabian incrementalism, so I’m all for libertarian incrementalism. A step in the right direction may not always work out, but it’s better than no step at all.

            2. So you really want to say that NAFTA made things worse in the long run? There is no evidence for that proposition and overwhelming evidence contra.

              1. It’s more analogous to a government created monopoly instead of a government monopoly. They both suck, and violate the free exchange of goods and services.

                1. It’s more analogous to a government created monopoly instead of a government monopoly

                  I would like to see you sketch out the particulars of that analogy, because that frankly sounds like a load of bullshit.

          3. Exactly. It’s like voting against tax cuts because you believe there should be no tax at all.

            1. No, it’s not. See above.

              1. Don’t bother it is silly.

    2. His record on school choice is mixed, but it’s not the worst in the world.

      As for free trade, I’d argue that his principles are definitely libertarian but too restrictive. He’s right that we don’t have any truly free trade agreements — and consequently voted nay on every one that I’ve heard of — but that will never be an option.

    3. He is for free trade but not for managed trade that picks the winners and losers, and shuts out those not well connected, like NAFTA. He thinks free trade is low tariffs, and have at it.

    1. You got that right. I was reading thru the archives and saw reason’s hatchet jobs on Ron Paul for the ’08 run. I’m sure the same thing will happen this time around.

      1. One of the reasons I rarely read reason is that reason doesn’t live up to its name, or its purported ideals very often.

        1. Drink?

          1. Oh yeah!

        2. Overall I think I agree with reason 85-90% of the time. But sometimes there are articles (like this one) that betray an unstated agenda.

          1. Yes, that being the unstated agenda of supporting candidates and policies that are more consistently pro-liberty. [I’ll grant that there is the occasional dud, but I’ll take what I can get.]

        3. You know, as an Objectivist, I find that for a periodical called “Reason” … does pretty well for itself, and is generally of more than sufficient awesome to merit subscription. I’d argue it contains far more informed reason than many ARI-affiliated publications. You won’t, for example, find too much Dr. Strangelove nuttery here.

  3. Agreements labeled as “free trade” agreements are really managed trade agreements.

    I’ve heard Ron Paul speak several times on unilaterally opening U.S. markets to foreign goods and services. That’s a hell of a lot better than an agreement that allows the Department of Commerce to bust orchid importers for not having their imports labeled according to a repealed Honduran agricultural law.

    There are many things about Ron Paul that are non-libertarian. But favoring free trade over government-managed “free” trade ain’t one of them.

    1. Well, yes, completely free trade is preferable. But voting against trade agreements that are marginally better than the status quo isn’t as libertarian as possible. Any overall increase in freedom should be seized.

      Now, if you’re contending that these agreements result in LESS free trade than the status quo, then I’d like to hear some details about that — and why protectionist Democrats who hate free trade are opposed to these agreements.

      I’m saying the burden of proof is on you to show that these agreements diminish free-er trade.

      1. Well, strategically it’s fine to hold out for more before accepting the first marginal increase that comes along, but the basic idea holds. I just sense that the Good Doctor would wait until (the next) Judgment Day.

        1. If Ron Paul compromises on that, where exactly should he stop?

          1. Don’t Objectivists compromise when they sort of elide over the fact that Ayn Rand:

            1) voted Republican?
            2) supported Israel?
            3) eschewed anarchism while simultaneously talking about the NIOF principle?

            So, yeah…we do the best we can.

            1. Oh, I did not know that this was an Objectivist blog.

              1. An Objectivist|5.23.11 @ 5:54PM|#
                If Ron Paul compromises on that, where exactly should he stop?

          2. Uh, when he thinks the policy would fail to maximize liberty, obviously. What’s more likely is that defeating a free trade agreement means more restrictions in the future rather than the ability to negotiate for less, and a successful agreement will offer further chances to liberalize.

            Principles sometimes conflict with each other, in this case regarding sovereignty, free trade, and limiting state influence. But since that argument never plays well with Objectivists, I’ll put it this way: would you ever vote for a candidate with whom you disagree on some (even minor) issue? If so, where exactly should you stop?

            Fortunately, we have some choices in between “always” and “never.”

  4. I guess I could easily look this up, but what is Paul’s official stance on the legal status of current “illegal” immigrants and the necessary legal action to use against them?

    1. Round them up and kick them out. Opposes amnesty and birthright citizenship and all that stuff.

      1. Wouldn’t the resources necessary for the mass deportation of all illegals require an un-fucking-holy expansion of federal law-enforcement capabilities? Sorry, that alone is enough to not support Ron Paul in 2012.

      2. I dont believe Paul supports mass deportation as a solution to illegal immigration. I think he actually scoffed at the idea not too long ago.

        1. I guess I stand corrected.

      3. Hey, I’ve got an idea: let’s actually look at what Ron Paul’s positions are before just making stuff up! 15 seconds on Google reveals:

        “Q: Is it even practical to try to send 12 million illegal immigrants all home?

        A: I would not sign a bill like [comprehensive immigration reform], because it would be amnesty. I also think that it’s pretty impractical to get an army in this country to round up 12 or maybe 20 million. But I do believe that we have to stick to our guns on obeying the law, and anybody who comes in here illegally shouldn’t be rewarded. And that would be the case.”
        Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University Sep 27, 2007

        1. I was basing my comment on the immigration plan he floated during his presidential run.

          1. Physically Secure Our Borders & Coastlines.
          We must do what ever it takes to control entry into our country, before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals.

          2. Enforce Visa Rules.
          Immigration officials must track visa holders and deport anyone who overstays their visa or otherwise violates U.S. law. This is especially important when we recall that a number of 9-11 terrorists had expired visas.

          3. No Amnesty for Illegal Aliens.
          Estimates suggest that 10 to 20 million aliens are in our country illegally. That is a lot of people to reward for breaking our laws.

          4. No Welfare for Illegal Aliens.
          Americans have welcomed immigrants who seek opportunity, work hard, and play by the rules. But taxpayers should not have to pay for illegal immigrants who use hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, and social services.

          5. End Birthright Citizenship.
          As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be citizens, the incentive to enter the U.S.A. illegally will remain strong.

          6. Pass True Immigration Reform.
          The current U.S. immigration system is incoherent and unfair. But current reform proposals would allow up to 60 million more immigrants into our country, according to the Heritage Foundation. This is insanity. Legal immigrants from all countries should face the same rules and waiting periods.

          There’s no way to accomplish these without an expansion of law enforcement, and his position is to require deportation of illegal immigrants found through routine law enforcement. I shouldn’t have said “round ’em up and kick ’em out” as a cutesy of saying he’s anti-amnesty and pro-deportation, but I’m aware he doesn’t support mass deportation.

  5. I’m more socially in line with Johnson. However, Paul has really done wonders building a movement around himself, which is rather fascinating when you think about it. There’s nothing too flashy about the guy.

    Personally, I’d go with Johnson if it were up to me, but I’d be just fine with Paul as well. I’d love to watch those two debate w/o the other clowns (oh, I’m sorry, I mean the people who will win).

    1. I’m going to vote for the LP candidate (unless it’s Wayne Allen Root). Johnson and Paul are OK, but there are better choices out there.

      1. If you’re so dogmatic that you find voting for RON PAUL to be too much of a compromise, then you can be safely ignored by the major parties…you’re forever going to be voting for candidates with no chance.

        1. You’re 100% correct. Which is why democracy (polite mob-rule) is a 100% bullshit false god.

        2. Whether you vote for candidates with no chance or a great chance, it’s not like you get a prize for winning. The odds that your vote affects policy are infinitesimal either way.

      2. Dude, 50% rule.

      3. I quit LP almost a decade ago, but I don’t understand why Wayne Root has such high negatives in the party. He seems fine to me, but unfortunately saddled by being in an unproductive and in some cases counterproductive organiz’n. See the essays linked at the bottom of my linked page.

        1. 1) blogwhore
          2) his initials are WAR.

  6. Ron Paul is opposed to the Right to Privacy, fwiw.

    1. “Q: Is there a right to privacy in the Constitution?

      Rep. Ron Paul: Yeah, there’s a a right to privacy for all individuals and all who have legal rights — and that includes the unborn.”

      1. Except only if you live in Washington D.C. since he thinks the 14th amendment is bupkis.

      2. Privacy goes far beyond the abortion issue. For instance on Lawrence V. Texas RP said “The State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards.”


        He is clearly hostile to a Constitutional Right to Privacy.

        1. He favors rights to privacy in state constitutions.

          And federal laws confined within the bounds specified in Article I Section 8 would be utterly unable to violate any privacy rights anyway.

        2. and so are you, so what’s your point?

      3. His response to that question seemed like snark more than a profession of principles.

        The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment “right to privacy.” Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution.


        1. Keeping in mind that he’s disagreeing specifically with the legal fiction of a right to privacy. Whether his votes infringe on privacy — even if the right is not explicitly protected — is probably more relevant, and I can’t think of any that do.

  7. I believe much of Johnson’s initial planning was based on the assumption that Paul would not make a third presidential run, and would perhaps endorse him and ship him a ready-made activist base. That, of course, did not happen, and Johnson will find it hard to compete with Paul — let alone with the other candidates.

    That said, Johnson is my preferred candidate. He was a governing libertarian, and as such has been more pragmatic than Paul. Paul spends a lot of time talking rather professorially about issues like the Fed and the gold standard, and while his arguments have merit, it’s hard to show non-ideological voters why they should care. Johnson can speak to his real work governing a state in a libertarian fashion, and winning great public popularity while doing so.

    1. Agreed. I’d prefer a hardcore libertarian president and platform, but at this point I’d just be happy if someone said they’d spend their administration issuing vetoes all day long. There are a lot of issues people care about, but if someone just ran on a balanced budget, I don’t know how they’d lose this election.

      1. The pride Johnson takes in his veto record is exactly why I like him for president

        1. I completely agree. I believe Ron Paul when he says he wants to reduce the size of government, but as a legislator all you can do is vote. Johnson vetoed approximately 750 bills. You know he relishes that role and would do the same in the White House. He’s really what this country needs right now.

          1. I guarantee Ron Paul would go through a lot of veto pens before his first 100 days in office were up.

            1. Hell, in a Ron Paul presidency, I think veto pens might be the largest single line item on the budget he submitted to Congress.

  8. The candidate who doesn’t have a racist newsletter in his past, is probably the better libertarian, if not simply the better person.

    1. Drink?

    2. Racist, or politically incorrect? Those newsletters were published before Jesse Jackson ordered us all to refer to black people as African-Americans, and that whole political correctness frenzy started.

      Yo, FUCK political correctness.

      1. Yeah, they were racist. And I have no patience for soft talk (AKA “political correctness”)

        I call black people “black” (which, for the record, I think is the re-preferred nomenclature these days).

        1. I read them. They were insulting and degrading, but I would not consider them racist. There’s a difference between prejudice and racism. They were borderline, IMO, and the media loves to sensationalize, so it wasn’t a big jump for them to make.

          1. Whatever you want to call it, it is far above your original assertion that it was merely “politically incorrect”. That sort of gay- and race-baiting from Paul and Rockwell is just fucking unacceptable – full stop.

        2. How about simply calling them, “human”?

          Race is an artificial concept.

          Exhibit A: Barack Obama: “Black” or “White”?

          … Hobbit

          1. Answer: Irish, apparently.

  9. Johnson’s economic adviser is Jeffrey Miron. A “white shoe boy” economist who believes in central banking.

    Johnson is a consequentialist libertarian, and RP is a Constitutionalist libertarian. I’m still waiting for a deontological libertarian in the political arena. I’ll probably be waiting a long time.

    1. Central banking = financial modernity.

      Another reason Johnson is better.

      1. Central banking = control.

        Control = slavery.

        A central bank, as Smith notes, is not a product of natural development. It originates through government favors and bears special privileges and responsibilities. Typically, it serves as banker for the government and for the ordinary banks and monopolizes or dominates the issue of paper money. From this privilege derive the secondary functions and characteristics of a modern central bank: it guards the bulk of its country’s gold reserve, and its notes and deposits form a large portion of the cash reserves of ordinary banks. It is constrained under a gold standard, though less tightly than competing banks would be, by the obligation to keep its notes redeemable. When unable to meet this obligation, it typically suspends payments and goes off the gold standard, while its notes acquire forced currency. (One excuse for such actions is that reserves held with it can be guaranteed safe only if its notes remain in circulation even with their redemption suspended.) Control over the volume of its own note and deposit issue gives the central bank power over the size or scale of the country’s money and banking system and over the general credit situation.

        The special privileges and dominant position of a central bank thrust responsibilities onto it that dilute or override its profit orientation. This is true of fully evolved central banks like today’s Bank of England and the Federal Reserve System in the United States. As “lender of last resort,” the central bank is supposed to come to the rescue of the ordinary banks during shortages of reserve funds and scramblings for currency, lending them its own freshly issued bank notes. Disregarding narrow profit considerations, it is supposed to use its influence over money, credit, and interest rates to serve public objectives such as, before 1914, keeping the country’s currency firmly on the gold standard and, nowadays, resisting inflation while promoting production and employment (to the extent that those objectives are feasible and compatible).


        1. A useless tautology. This is the kind of thinking that keeps libertarianism perceived as a fringe movement, or a fringe ideology.

          The perfect solution fallacy, nicely exemplified in the argument of Mr Whipple. I would gather from his posts he would prefer to keep libertarianism at the fringes, rather than adopt a more pragmatic approach.

          I am in favor of recognizing that the 2012 election is politics, not the faculty lounge. We should not be trying to find the most pure libertarian, we should be trying to find the most pure libertarian who can win a nationwide election.

          1. I would rather keep libertarianism true to its principles, like the non-aggression principle, private property rights and self-ownership.

            Central banking is one of the most egregious assaults on the very root principles of libertarianism.

          2. Your points about this issue being fringe or not can be debated, but how is that snippet a “tautology”?

            If it was trivially true, then everyone would agree with it, but many do not.

            I happen to think it is true, and it explains a lot of what has gone on. And Paul has worked what I consider to be wonders getting ordinary people to understand some of these issues.

            1. honestly, libertymark, your attitude of pedantry regarding the word-selection of assholes is what keeps libertarianism perceived as a fringe movement, or a fringe ideology. If only people would just chill out when other people make stupid, elidable mistakes, then we wouldn’t be such egregious assholes that nobody sane would want to be associated with the movement.

          3. Rothbard was thus not pleased when Cato hired David Henderson, who leaned toward the Chicago School, as an economist. Rothbard had no personal animosity toward Henderson. Quite the contrary, he liked him, and Henderson has gone on to produce excellent work. (I’m sure that Rothbard would have liked his penetrating articles critical of the Iraq war.) But to hire a non-Austrian was hardly in keeping with the original mission of Cato.

            Rothbard, as usual, saw something before everyone else. In the years since Rothbard’s break with Cato, the Institute has no longer supported the abolition of the Fed. Quite the contrary, the Institute now endeavors to attract high officials of that organization to participate in its seminars and conferences. The aim now is to influence policy in Washington. Legislators who wish to restore the gold standard, Ron Paul chief among them, are shunned and defamed.


    2. Ironically, I bet you would poke fun at someone holding out for a Lutheran-Missouri-Synod candidate.

      1. What the hell do the goddamned Germans got to do with it?

      2. We Missouri Synod Lutherans are more dogmatic than Libertarians.

    3. If you’re into LP politics–hey, everyone’s got to have some sort of fetish–I think that Jacob “Bumper” Hornberger would qualify as a deontological libertarian.

  10. Ron Paul is well known and seasoned, but he is starting to get old. I love the guy, but I think he’s past his prime, and I worry what the stress of the office would do to him if he won.

    He still handles the press pretty well, but his answers don’t pop the way they used to. I’m hearing hesitation and verbal tics that will likely get worse in office.

    Johnson is younger, and will likely grow more confident over time, but he doesn’t have Ron’s wit or experience. He’s not as quick with the answers and he doesn’t have the edge that 30 years of hearing the same arguments can give you.

    So Ron’s greatest asset has also become his greatest drawback. The time for him to be president was two cycles ago.

    Use the Rachel Maddow civil rights question as a litmus test. We can count on progressives to whip that out against any libertarian candidate, and it can be a campaign killer if they handle it wrong.

    Ron did better than his son when Chris Matthews pulled it on him recently, but I haven’t seen Gary Johnson deal with it yet.

  11. Ron Paul vs Gary Johnson

    Mises vs Cato

    Kochtopus vs Rothbard

    Here we go again

    1. Splitters!

      1. Suicide squad, attack!

  12. I think the good thing about Gary Johnson is that he is able to connect libertarian ideas to common sense principles. So regardless of who is a more “authentic” libertarian in a check-box, list of policy positions approach, I think Johnson is a better standard-bearer. He’s been a successful governor, his libertarian credentials are sound, but most importantly – he can sell libertarian principles to a wider audience than just those of us who already believe.

    Ron Paul makes very intellectual, philosophical, esoteric arguments which I think sound great to libertarians, but I don’t think he connects the dots for your average voter. These are people that need to be reached if a libertarian candidate is going to make it out of the primary. I think the fact that Ron Paul polls the best against Obama is great – a validation of the principles – but I don’t see how Ron Paul makes it out of the primary. Gary Johnson, in this ever-shrinking field, needs to be given a chance to make his case for himself. The GOP seems to be doing everything it can to pretend Gary Johnson doesn’t exist, which is outrageous to think they can ignore a governor.

    1. ^ This. ^

    2. Ron Paul makes very intellectual, philosophical, esoteric arguments which I think sound great to libertarians, but I don’t think he connects the dots for your average voter. These are people that need to be reached if a libertarian candidate is going to make it out of the primary.

      I probably prefer Johnson to Paul, but I think you read this backwards. What Ron Paul has been able to do in capturing the imaginations and passions of the young, across the political spectrum, is nothing short of miraculous.

      I know people who voted for McCain last cycle in the general that will vote for Paul in the primary and I know people that voted for Obama in the last general that will vote for Paul this time around. That kind of cross-partisan appeal is priceless.

      1. You seem to be confusing volume with quantity. Ron Paul has not captured “the young across the political spectrum.” He’s captured a very narrow libertarian segment that’s tech-savvy enough to make itself heard out of proportion to what it really is. Which is great if you want to stuff online polls or pull one-off stunts like a blimp or a money bomb, but you can’t socially engineer the voting booth. At some point you have to appeal to the low-information voters who don’t have the patience to sit through your epic ten-minute dynamic text youtube.

        (I’m not knocking these techniques. They’re very good for their purpose. But they’re means that have yet to find an end.)

  13. …etc.

  14. Good job, reason. The neocons thank you.

  15. I prefer Johnson over Paul. He scores better with me on almost every issue. I also can’t see Paul ever surviving the old “newsletter” fiasco, if and when the MSM decides to shine a spotlight on it. He’s also REALLY old!

    I’m a bit disappointed that Paul decided to run after Johnson had already declared. I’d have much preferred to see him throw his weight behind Johnson, who’s more electable for the reasons I listed above. I worry that the cult surrounding Paul has inflated his ego a bit too much.

    1. Not a big fan of the 0% corporate tax. Which is an insane policy. Corporations are an entity of the state. Much better to have 0% income tax and 20% corporate tax (which is only levied on profits anyway).

      1. WTF?

        1. Corporations are entities that exist to “encourage risk-taking ventures” by channeling individual liability to a piece of paper. Hence, “Limited Liability Corporation”.

          There are all sorts of perverse incentives that result. If the gov’t is going to have corporations, they should be taxed.

          IIRC, the Misean branch of libertarianism more or less agrees with this.

          1. “If the gov’t is going to have corporations” -still not making any sense.

            1. It makes perfect sense if you bother listening. “Corporation” in current parlance refers to an entity granted certain legal privileges by the state (including limited third party liability). This state intervention gives them super powers above and beyond the rights of a simple association of individuals.

      2. So you are saying you want everything to cost 20% more, instead of you earning 20% less, as no corporation has every paid taxes in history, just basically collected it from you and held it for the government.

        1. So do we have to go back to high school econ and teach you the difference between profit and revenue?

    2. Gary Johnson wouldn’t survive an exploration of his drug policy views.

      America is not H&R.

      1. He would do better in that respect than Paul. Johnson only touts legalizing marijuana while Paul advocates legalizing heroin. I agree with Paul, but that dog won’t hunt.

        1. When Johnson first made his stance on the drug war his statement was along the lines of “what we’re doing is not working, how about looking at something else?”

          I don’t know if he has changed his stance from that but that sounds better to folks than the “give heroin to schoolkids” that people associate with “re-legalize drugs”.

          … Hobbit

        2. but that dog won’t hunt.

          Especially after the SWAT team shoots it.

      2. Gary Johnson wouldn’t survive an exploration of his drug policy views.

        America is not H&R.

        More’s the pity!

  16. Johnson lacks Paul’s passion. Principles don’t mean much if can’t convince others.

    1. Good point.

      But if you have passion AND views that are waaaaaaay outside the mainstream, I think you just end up looking like a crazy.

  17. Kelo was correctly decided. The 5th Amendment was never intended to apply to the states, nor should it. States can, and have, their own protections. That is the whole point of federalism.

    The problem with the so-called conservatives on the Sup. Ct. is that they only have principles when in dissent.

    1. “The 5th Amendment was never intended to apply to the states”

      Never or not originally? The constitution does change, you know. Something about the number 14 comes to mind.

    2. There are several restrictions on state governments in the original text of the Constitution too. Ex post facto laws, bills of attainder, charging tariffs, conferring tities of nobility — all forbidden immediately in 1787.

      1. I want a tittie of nobility.

        1. Princess Kate’s would do.

          1. What about Pippa Longcockings?!?!?

  18. Wow Ilya really beat the crap out that Ron Paul strawman.

  19. he believes that the Bill of Rights constrains the states as well as the federal government.

    I would like to believe the Constitution defines the upper limit (a “ceiling” if you like) on the ability of the State to oppress us, but I’m a crackpot.

  20. Paul has my vote, to be sure, but I do respect Gary Johnson a lot. And I think Johnson does a better job of articulating WHY we should question the wars from an economic standpoint–when he says, very plainly, “we’re borrowing 43 cents on the dollar to pay to build bridges, hospitals, and schools in Afghanistan and Iraq,” it’s right there in a neat, concise package that some of these people who support the wars just because they’re “Republican” will have to think about. That said, the reason to oppose them, IMO isn’t purely economical, but also moral. But that’s a whole different argument.

  21. I really hesitate to put much into thie paleo vs cosmo thing, but then I read bullshit like this:

    “…[Paul] has very nonlibertarian positions on free trade, school choice …”

    Paul’s problem here is that his position on those two issues is TOO libertarian. He is a purist in these areas, for better or worse. I happen to agree with his school choice position, which is that accepting vouchers to pay for private school will cause the government to eventually control those private schools. On free trade, the question is harder, in my mind.

    However, only in a bad-faith effort to smear Ron Paul could you call these positions “nonlibertarian”.

    1. Bingo.

    2. wait, but isn’t libertarian a bad word in the teamred-teamblue circles? So is it really a smear job?

  22. What the fuck did Ron Paul do with all that money?

  23. Paul risked his seat to vote against the Iraq war. Johnson, on the other hand, is clearly trying to have it both ways when talking about foreign policy.

    The older man simply has the larger set of balls. That’s all there is to it.

    1. balls, like ears, only keep growing as you age.

  24. I think the “states’ rights” argument is overused. I’d rather see a candidate justify liberty and economic freedom on philosophy, economics or hell, moral grounds. I do have a problem with individual states using states rights as a way to oppress the people in that state. People view federalism as goal unto itself nowadays. I’d rather someone use individual rights, I don’t see why the states should be given unlimited power just because they’re not the federal government.

    1. States’ rights is merely a first step and a necessary precondition for fighting for liberty at the state level.

      I’d guesstimate that the majority of the liberty deprivations we see daily on this site are perpetrated by state and local officials. But until you get rid of the federal monster, fighting the state monster is futile.

      Moreover, Paul and Johnson are running for federal office, so their using states’ rights as an excuse for federal non-action is the perfect answer for the scope of authority they would have if they won. The issue of state authority would be someone else’s problem to deal with.

  25. The 5th Amendment was never intended to apply to the states, nor should it.


    *sits back, waits for “Lincoln- History’s Greatest Monster” free-for-all*

    1. A principled argument can be made for applying the Bill of Rights to the states can probably made, but the Incorporation Doctrine is not it. It might as well be called the Making Shit Up Out of Thin Air Doctrine.

      1. Good luck arguing that “Congress shall make no law…” was supposed to apply to state legislatures too, without the incorporation doctrine.

    2. just a minor monster. History’s greatest monster was Stalin, followed by Hitler, followed by various generals in the Japanese Army, and then FDR.

      1. Mao’s got to be in the top two.

        1. Really, just about anyone who successfully founded a Communist dictatorship should make the shortlist. They were mass murderers, the lot of ’em.

          1. yeah, but not enough communist dictatorships are necessarily big enough. You gotta be in the hundreds of microhitler range to play with the big boys.

        2. Agreed. And probably pol pot is worse than FDR, by a hair.

          1. Let’s not forget some of the tinpot African dictators like Idi Amin.

            Also, I think some reference to scale and proportion has to be considered, both in the sense of place and time. A guy like Pol Pot took out a lot of people, but if he had to reign over the population of the Soviet Union, I bet his tally would be higher.

            1. One guy can only eat so many of his people, regardless of population size.

      2. Macias doesn’t make the cut?

      3. Remember this the next time someone trots out that canard that more people have been killed in the name of religion than any other. A fair reading of the 20th century is that more people were killed in the name of leftist ideology than any other reason in history.

  26. Gary Johnson is not a libertarian. He like Nick Gillipse and most of the Koch brothers cock tools are utiltarians with some libertarian leanings. Ron Paul understands and believes in the non-aggression axiom and in natural law. He believes that all coercion is immoral.When Ron Paul uses gradualism on school choice it’s a “mixed bag” and when he rejects managed trade deals, because he thinks it will create even more bureaucracy, he is to extreme. Keep it up reason your Koch is showing.

    1. So this is where the quasi-religious factionalism comes into play.

      1. As Rothbard has stated before there is an important difference between a ulitarian, who at any point could be convinced that doing (a) would be the most practical thing even if (a) can only be accomplished by using force against another, and a libertarian. For example Gary Johnson wants to only legalize pot but not harder drugs. The reason why Gary comes to a non-libertarian position on this subject is because he approaches it as a ulitarian, cost benifit, not as a libertarian. It is the libertarian position that I own my self, I can decide what I put into my own body. Libertarians simply put the moral before the practical.You can call that quasi-religious if you like but you don’t need to be religious to have human empathy. Don’t get me wrong I would support a libertarian leaning anything if they were running against the status quo but when there is a real libertarian in the race I’m going to support him. And as I have pointed out before the Koch brothers have tried for decades the librtarian lite strategy and it failed. Ron Paul has used the Rothbard strategy of being practical but never stop talkig about the ultimate goal, being free to do as you wish as long as you respect the life, liberty and property of all. This has led to a huge growth in the movement.

        1. Yet another deontologist expounding about his moral superiority. How do you evaluate the morality of a particular outcome without tying it to results here on Planet Earth?

          The moral is the practical. Peddle your false dichotomies elsewhere.

          1. Just for clarification, I am not a utilitarian either. If the moral is not practical, it probably is not moral. If the practical is not moral, it probably is not practical. Anyone who thinks they can have one without the other is just promoting the same “body/soul” dichotomy religionistas have been pushing for centuries.

            1. Instead of using force to bring people to a certain view I use speech. How is that not more moral. Dichotmy? Your damn right. I want to be separate from people who think they can use force against me when it benefits “society”. Many progressives argue that eugenics is a practical way to deal with the natural resource crunch. What is the point of arguing the practicality of something that is not moral?

            2. Don’t concern yourself over much with someone here calling you a utilitarian. Most of them apparently don’t know the difference between a utilitarian and a consequentialist. In fact, the first sentence in the Wikipedia article on Utilitarianism states the differentiating characteristic.

              1. Wikipedida claims that utilitarianism is a form of cosequentialist. I don’t see how that does anything to change my argument.Putting the practical above the moral make you something other than libertarian. You can call it utilitianism or cosequentialist the point is that it falls short of the non-aggressive axiom. Therefore falls short of being libertarianism.

        2. For example Gary Johnson wants to only legalize pot but not harder drugs

          See comment above. Johnson stated that the WoD is a failure, how about looking at some alternative? Nothing specific mentioned.

          … Hobbit

          1. That is the point,never the moral argument of force not being used on peaceful people. Only the cost benifit. If someone can show Gary Johnson that it is beneficial to society does his view change?

        3. Ron Paul has been doing the same thing for close to 40 years, so acting like his spiel is responsible for something happening only during the past two years is bupkus. Not sure where you’re getting the “huge growth in the movement” idea from — if you’re referring to the Tea Party, that’s going to evaporate as soon as the GOP gains power just like the antiwar movement evaporated on 1/20/09.

          1. Ron was able to remain in office almost that entire time without having to water down his message. Which Koch brother “libertarian” candidate had any kind of impact on moving the movement foward. The absuridty of your statement is that you first admit that something has been happening for the last two years but that it is bupkus that Ron Paul’s spiel (republican primary) had anything to do with this. So enlighten me what event has caused “something” to happen in the last two years. And what is that “something” if it isn’t a growth in the movement. 70% of the tea party might be just anti-obama but 30% of the tea party is still a huge growth in the liberty movement.

  27. He also believes that Kelo v. City of New London was correctly decided because he thinks the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states.

    Also, RP believes in the ‘North American Union’ silliness. This is a good article and I think Johnson is getting better as a candidate. He gave a good interview with Hannity on drugs recently.

  28. A principled argument can be made for applying the Bill of Rights to the states can probably made

    Citizens, residents, visitors, subject to the laws of this nation.

    Rights thereof.

    Can one be a resident of Ohio without also being a resident of The USA?

    That “Lincoln” reference was for all the goofy fuckers who obsess about his tyrannical imposition of federal authority over the states.

    1. He did oversee a massive expansion of federal power, and used it coercively. But you’re right in that it’s silly to use that as an argument to allow the states to oppress people.

    2. That’s not how BoR is worded. You can’t argue that the commerce clause only applies to interstate commerce and then say that “Congress shall make no law” also applies to state legislatures.

      1. Yes, you can. The plain language of the 14th says “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

        The “plain language” of the Commerce Clause does not permit the kind of Commerce Clause jurisprudence that exists today, especially if you read “among the several states” in parii materia with the other organizations and entities contained within that clause.

        1. Oh, I’m with you on the commerce clause. But P&I is iffy there — the first amendment for instance makes no mention of a privilege or immunity of citizens of the United States, just a restriction on Congress.

  29. Neither of these two men will win the Republican presidential nomination. The fact that both are running at the same time reduces their chances even further, although if you divide a zero percent chance of winning by two the net result doesn’t actually change.

    Of course, the chances of the Republican presidential nominee (whoever it is) beating Obama is not much higher than zero in any case. There’s lots of ways to prove this, but a simple one is the “13 keys to the White House” method. Google it.

  30. I will admit it, I am an unabashed Johnson fan. Liked him when he was gov and am looking forward to voting for him in the primary. I also am realistic enough to admit that he has the same chance as a snowflake on a wood stove.

    Actually, I hoped that he would put off his presidential run and go for the vacant Senate seat here in NM. He would have had a much better chance of winning and would have been much more useful for the cause of freedom.

    As an aside, I’m actually hoping that Heather Wilson wins the seat. Then I will have two Senators that I truly loathe, Udall (D) and Wilson (R).

    … Hobbit

  31. Johnson has smoked a lot more weed. Paul has seen a lot more p*ssie. It’s a toss-up.

  32. “I don’t agree with Johnson on everything. For example, I’m significantly more hawkish than he is on foreign policy. “- Somin

    Libertarian Fail. I stopped reading there. Why is a hawk determining who is a better libertarian?

    FWIW, I do like Johnson a little better on quite a few issues, and I find Paul a lot more social-con than libertarian in many ways. But on some of the important issues, Paul is very right, and they are kindof a fucking big deal.

    1. Make sure you put your hands over your ears and hum whenever you hear from a strain of libertarianism you don’t agree with. It will keep you pure. Most of all, it will save you from dealing with the harsh facts of reality. Like that sometimes your liberty really is threatened by external forces, against which a hawkish stance just might make sense.

      1. Our government is the biggest external threat to our liberties and it’s hawkish foerign policy has killed millions. It’s you who refuses to deal with realities.

        1. it’s hawkish foerign policy has killed millions

          You really shouldn’t talk about dealing with realities if you believe that. Libertarians should learn from people like Somin who simply acknowledge the need for America to have a serious foreign policy.

          1. If seriousness means “slaughtering foreign civilians by the thousands”, then no thanks.

            Also, we need to add argument at seriousum to the H&R drinking game.

          2. If you include deaths caused by sanctions ,yes,the number is in the millions and that is just since the first gulf war. If someone tells my computer illiterate ass how I link to the Amnesty International stat I’ll link it here.

  33. I love Gary Johnson but Ron Paul is more firm on his position on drugs, such as getting rid of the DEA. This issue is what will likely steer me to vote for Ron Paul in the GOP primaries again.

  34. Let Ron Paul do all the talking. Let mainstream media paint Ron Paul as extreme, even though many Americans agree with him.

    This way, Gary Johnson ascends as the calmer grounded choice.

  35. Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that Rothbard, the guy who wrote the first devastating takedown of the Rand cult, is now treated with the exact same quasi-religious reverence by his own followers? I mean, honestly, Lew Rockwell is Leonard Peikoff with a Dixie flag bumper sticker. It’s fucking pathetic. Hayek? Friedman? Nozick? Worthless second-handers sellouts, the lot of them. Their anti-life utilitarian “libertarianism” deserves nothing but our most contemptuously flavored word salad!

    1. Lew Rockwell is Leonard Peikoff with a Dixie flag bumper sticker.

      A glance at Peikoff’s foreign policy views, or even his views on private property owned by Muslims, should be enough to disabuse you of that notion.

      1. I think he meant they share the same fanatical devotion to their mentors. I don’t think Rockwell has quite reached that level, but yea, he can be pretty bad. He began savagely attacking Johnson almost the moment he announced

        1. Thank you, that’s exactly what I meant. I wasn’t saying Rothbard’s views are identical to Rand’s. I am saying that their high priests are equally annoying. Neither is capable of entertaining even the slightest deviation from or criticism of their idols without a stream of vituperation equating the heretic to Karl Marx.

    2. There is a difference between a libertarian and a utilitarian. How is it by pointing this out one has to be quasi-religious? So if I try to explain the difference between a non-interventionist and an isolationist am I being quasi-religious? I’m not attacking Gary Johnson. I’m just pointing out that quit technically he is not a libertarian. With that said I still think he was the best Governor in my lifetime and I would vote for him if Ron Paul was not in the race.

  36. I like Johnson better than Paul, but Paul is polling better, gets more media exposure, has very high name recognition and has a fantastic movement behind him. That’s why I contribute equally to both candidates. But, why the hell are we engaging in a Paul vs. Johnson debate? If Paul wins the nomination (long shot I know, but not impossible, unlike in 2008) then he will almost surely ask Johnson to be his running mate. They’d be a great team since they espouse different arguments for libertarianism, consequentialism and constitutionalism (actually, I would say that Ron has some deontological leanings). And, oh could you imagine what 16 years of libertarian presidency could mean? And, you know, if Ron did die in office (he’s old, sorry) we’d have Gary there.

  37. I know. Why don’t we all form a circular firing squad and then complain that it’s the media’s fault when there’s nobody left standing to run.

  38. I call bullshit.
    Education: http://www.ontheissues.org/200…..cation.htm
    Novote regardin vouchers in DC schools: “Vote to create a non-profit corporation to administer FEDERALLY-FUNDED vouchers for low-income children in the District of Columbia.” This doesn’t equate to “against school choice,” nimrod. You’re extending the argument like “program creep” extends the influence of government.

    Again, I call bulllshit.
    Free Trade:

    Equating supranational trade agreements which strip elements of sovereignty DOES NOT equal “free trade.” It’s a stance against crony corporatism, not a stance against the free market.

  39. This is like asking whether the Enterprise or an Imperial Star Destroyer would win in a fight. I am glad (so glad!) to see more libertarian views getting air time in the Republican world. But right nwo the question of Paul vs. Johnson is inappropriate. The correct answer is “both.” We need both of them not attacking each other, but competing with the status quo of statist bullshit perpetuated by establishment Republicans.

  40. The article was probably fair regarding Dr. Paul’s position on Kelo, but it misrepresented his other positions.

    I have done quite a bit of research and none of the evidence has completely convinced me either way as to whether or not the 14th Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights against the states. In other words, Doctor Paul’s position on whether the Bill of Rights binds the states is probably as valid as any other. The article did recognize that Dr. Paul’s position here could be compatible with libertarianism.

    As far as free trade goes, however, the article was misleading. Ron Paul is one of the most ardent supporters of free trade; he rejects 2,000 page international agreements masquerading as free trade. He explained his position in “Liberty Defined”:

    “I consider myself the most “radical” free trader in Congress, but I do not vote for these international trade organizations.” He goes on to explain, “These trade agreements become instruments for international government entities to regulate trade without explicit consent of Congress.” For Ron Paul, free trade would not require any agreements. The government would simply unilaterally remove all barriers to international commerce.

    He also supports school choice. He just doesn’t support vouchers. Again, he explains this stance in “Liberty Defined”:

    “Ideally, education in a free society would be the responsibility of the parents or the individual or local community, not the government.” “The best interim option for reform would be to give a tax credit for all educational expenses. Vouchers invite bureaucratic control of their usage and are unfairly distributed.”

  41. “As I explained back when Paul ran in 2008, he has very nonlibertarian positions on free trade, school choice, and especially immigration. ”

    I would like to see why the author of this quote views Paul’s positions as unlibertarian. On free trade; you can call it a perfect being the enemy of the good position, but opposing NAFTA because it’s managed trade doesn’t strike me as unlibertarian. Nor does supporting home schooling, getting the federal government out the matter, and opposing vouchers. Vouchers mean government money and government money means government control. And immigration is like abortion, it’s not a settled issue.

  42. Support of decentralization of power is essential. Mechanics matter as much as philosophy.

  43. Honestly I feel like Gary Johnson has a better record on which to campaign than Ron Paul does. Ron Paul supported GOP tax cuts while Bush was President, which I partially understand, but he had to know that Republicans were not going to cut spending anywhere near the extent made necessary by the tax cuts. If he really did think so, then I still cannot vote for him, because that shows ignorance. I know how everyone likes to act as though Obama invented deficits, but that’s just not true. While Republicans were in complete control they increased the national debt substantially, essentially getting us in the mess we are in now, and Ron Paul was complicit for supporting tax cuts but not doing more to cut spending, even taking advantage of earmarks for the political advantages they provide.
    Also, Gary Johnson is much less scary far-right than Ron Paul. Whether it is Ron Paul’s opposition to the Voting Rights Act, or his staunch support of the right of states to take away individual rights, Ron Paul is just more right-wing than what the USA wants- or needs.

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