Gary Johnson

Libertarian Gary Johnson Comes Out Against Carbon Taxes, Mandatory Vaccines

Libertarian Party candidate clarifies positions at New Hampshire rally.


Does Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson support a carbon tax, a specific levy on fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change? As Ronald Bailey noted here a few days ago, the answer seemed to be yes. In a CNBC interview, Johnson

suggested that a carbon tax might be a "very libertarian proposal" to address the open access commons problem of climate change. Johnson is tentative, saying that he is "open" to considering a carbon tax. He specifically notes that a carbon tax would be a simple comprehensive way to replace all sorts of clunky expensive top-down centralized regulations and subsidies that aim to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

In a rally yesterday in Concord, New Hampshire, Johnson explicitly distances himself from a carbon tax. He also reiterates his position that vaccines (presumably for childhood diseases) are effective but should not be mandatory absent a large-scale pandemic or disease outbreak.

This footage is a trimmed YouTube video from a rally captured by WMUR (for footage of the entire event, go here).

If any of you heard me say I support a carbon tax…Look, I haven't raised a penny of taxes in my politicial career and neither has Bill [Weld]. We were looking at—I was looking at—what I heard was a carbon fee which from a free-market standpoint would actually address the issue and cost less. I have determined that, you know what, it's a great theory but I don't think it can work, and I've worked my way through that.

And I support a person's right to choose, so when it comes to vaccinations we should be able to make the decision whether we want to vaccinate our kids or not. I choose to vaccinate my kid and you never say never. Look, in the case of a zombie apocalypse taking over the United States, and there is a vaccine for that, as president of the United States, you might find me mandating that vaccine.

In April 2014, Reason magazine hosted a libertarian debate on whether vaccines, including MMR and other child-related vaccines, should be mandatory. Read that here.

Hat tips: Erick Sturrock and Mark Bozeck

Updated: The Johnson campaign sends this "definitive statement" on vaccinations:

Today, there are no federal laws mandating vaccinations, and that is as it should be. No adult should be required by the government to inject anything into his or her body.

Each of the 50 states has varying vaccination requirements for children, consistent with their responsibilities for public education and providing a safe environment for students who are required to attend school under state law. Likewise, each of the 50 states has varying opportunities for parents to seek exemptions from vaccination requirements for legitimate reasons of personal belief. That, too, is as it should be.

And while I personally believe some states' 'opt-out' provisions are not adequate in terms of personal freedom, those laws and requirements are appropriately beyond the scope of the federal government—including the President.

Clearly, if and when a major outbreak of a communicable disease occurs that crosses state lines or sweeps the nation, then appropriate levels of government have an obligation to act—and act rapidly. As President, it would be irresponsible to rule out scientifically and medically sound responses to such an emergency.

Government has a responsibility to help keep our children and our communities safe. At the same time, government has a responsibility to preserve individual freedom. Vaccination policies must respect both of those responsibilities. I personally believe in vaccinations, and my children were vaccinated. But it is not for me to impose that belief on others.