A provocative take on politics and culture from a skeptical, libertarian point of view

Location: Long Island, New York, United States

Friday, March 09, 2007

NEWSDAY column "Libertarians could stir fresh debate" 2/19/07

"Libertarians could stir fresh debate"
By Raymond J. Keating
February 19, 2007,0,1894701.column

Too many Democrats and Republicans on Long Island are indistinguishable on too many issues, from education and the environment to housing and taxes. Call them Democrats and Republicans, or Depublicans and Republicrats; it doesn't matter. They're interchangeable.That's why libertarians can be so refreshing. They're all about individual freedom and free markets - ideas often foreign in local politics. Indeed, can any full-blown libertarians be found on Long Island? ... Long Island will host the state convention of the Libertarian Party of New York on April 28.

The big question is: Can Libertarians ever have a political impact around here? Last week, I spoke with Richard Cooper, a Westbury resident who is the party's state chairman, and asked him for the Libertarian take on some key local issues.Regarding the ever-popular open-space preservation movement, Cooper labeled it "unspeakably arrogant." He noted that land preservation with tax dollars serves "the interests of very wealthy people . . . not the poor." He added: "Let the market decide" what's the highest land use, "not the politicians, not the activists." Libertarians locally and across the nation also have fought for property rights by challenging eminent-domain abuses.On the related topic of housing, Cooper highlighted libertarian trust in the free market. He remarked: "We wouldn't have illegal apartments if people were able to build apartment buildings." Quite true.

As for public education, Cooper pointed out: "The school system is being run for the benefit of the school establishment, rather than for the parents and the children." That's for sure, but what's the libertarian solution? Cooper spoke about the need to "separate school and state." But there is disagreement as to what this means. Hard-core libertarians want government out of education completely, while others support school choice through vouchers or tax credits.

Finally, on taxes, Cooper offered a libertarian challenge to the voters: "The problem is that the public keeps saying they want lower taxes," but then they say "gimme, gimme" in terms of "government favors." Cooper summed up: "The solution to suburban problems lies in liberty and markets. The Libertarian Party stands for individual liberty, free markets and responsibility in order to promote a society that enjoys more justice, abundance and peace." That probably sounds good to lots of people.

So why isn't this a Libertarian hot spot? ...why not a simple political agenda - a few issues including taxes, property rights and housing - that Libertarians could rally around locally and present to the public? ...It's hard to envision the Libertarian Party winning an election on Long Island. But it lies within reason that Libertarians could inject ideas into the political debate that Depublicans and Republicrats have neglected.If those ideas catch on, major party politicians eventually will get the message. An actual debate over ideas might ensue. That would be a valuable contribution by Libertarians to Long Island politics. "

Ray Keating suggested a local Libertarian equivalent of the Contract With America

Here are some thoughts.
1) No eminent domain abuse.
2) If not complete abolition of zoning, then make zoning countywide instead of by villages and towns.
3) No "open space" sterilization of land from development.
4) Promote school choice
5) Sell the Nassau Coliseum and the Long Island Ducks baseball stadium.
6) Privatize the jails.
7) Cut the staffs of the county legislature,
8) Abolish the taxpayer financed campaign system in Suffolk
9) Term limits
10) Deregulate jitney transportation to provide an alternative to the mega-spending of mass transit systems and the automobile.
11) Abolish the special districts for fire, water, sewers etc.

These are my thoughts, not "official" Libertarian Party positions.
Mythsmasher a/k/a Richard Cooper

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