Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gary Johnson to Announce His Run for the Republican Presidential Nomination

Oh boy, brace yourself. Gary Johnson is going to announce his presidential candidacy today. This will mean lots of mainstream media reports about Johnson being the next Ron Paul.

If Johnson is the next Ron Paul, then President Obama was not only born in Hawaii, but he was delivered by Jack Lord.

I took a look at Johnson back in March. Here's what I found:
As for Gary Johnson, he is carrying some form of the freedom message, but I am not at all convinced that he puts liberty above getting in the White House, and I am not sure how well he understands the freedom principle. I did quite a bit of research on the net trying to find where Johnson stands on issues, and then I came across this youtube video of Johnson's speech at the 2008 rally for Ron Paul in Minnesota.

What struck me first of all about the video was that Johnson didn't say much about Ron Paul at all in his speech. Secondly, he didn't really talk about liberty as much as he did about what he had done in New Mexico while he was governor. Now, maybe, the Ron Paul Rally people set aside time for high profile people to talk about themselves at the event, but I still found it odd that there was so little mention of Ron Paul and liberty.

But what was most alarming given that this was, afterall, a Ron Paul rally and that the people in attendance would really get liberty, is that Johnson said a number of things that suggest that underneath his pronouncements that he is a Ron Paul supporter and pro-liberty, he still needs some brushing up to do on what liberty is all about.

Of note, he said that he takes a common sense business approach toward government and that he wanted to make government more efficient. You would never catch Ron Paul saying such a thing. And it clearly suggests that Johnson has either never read, or perhaps never understood, Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom, which warned that the rise of tyrants is often based on the fact that those tyrants call for more efficient government. Freedom lovers don't want more efficient government, they want less government, a lot less.
He then explained how, while he was governor, the number of government employees declined by one thousand, but then he said, and seemed to be proud of this, and I remind you he said this to as hardcore a libertarian audience as you are likely to get in front of, that he did not fire any government employees. He was clearly tone deaf to this audience, where not firing government employees should not be carried around as a badge of honor.

He then took pride in the fact that he privatized prisons. There's a number of problems with bringing this up to a libertarian crowd. The first being that most libertarians think there are too many people in prison that shouldn't be there. Johnson may understand this view somewhat because he is against the criminalization of marijuana, but, if so, why is he bragging about making the prison system more efficient?

Second, he used the word privatization in a sense that I doubt Ron Paul would ever use. Johnson privtization talk was about keeping the government rule over an entity, but allowing private contractors to run it. Ron Paul would consider privatization the elimination of government involvement in an agency. If Ron Paul called for the privatization of education. He would not mean that government set the standards and pay the bills. He would mean getting government out of the education business entirely. Admittedly, prisons are a different topic, but Ron Paul would not call what Johnson did in New Mexico "privatization", though many use the term that way.

Johnson also bragged, to a libertarian audience(!), that he increased four lane highways by five hundred miles, which means he has never read any of Walter Block's work on private roads, or not understood Block's argument, if he did read it. (See Block's most recent book, Privatization of Roads and Highways for a compilation of his work in this area).

He went on to tell this crowd that he was responsible for raising penalties for driving under the influence. This means he isn't thinking about driving under the influence the way liberty advocate Lew Rockwell does on that topic.

Johnson also said he had "cut the growth of government" in New Mexico, which everyone in that libertarian crowd would know means that he INCREASED the size of government.
Most remarkably, he said he was against the Fed, and then went on to say that he was in favor of a strong dollar, indicating he has no clue that the end of the Fed most likely means the end of the dollar as the medium of exchange, that it may mean competing currencies and most likely a return to gold as money.
Here's a YouTube video that Johnson has on his campaign web site. (EPJ was able to get a view of the site on Wednesday before it was unlocked for the public.)

This is a very bizarre video, with bad music that only gets worse as the clip moves along, but what is most bizarre is the scene at roughly the 1:05 minute mark, which appears to endorse riots and burning down of the country. I have to think Johnson is clueless and tone deaf to put this video on his site.

The other video he has up at his campaign site is this video that makes him sound like an ordinary politician. There's nothing here that Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich wouldn't say.

In the video he says that he wants to make government better, that he wants government to deliver a "better product". You would never catch Ron Paul saying anything like this. Ron Paul knows that first and foremost to bring the country back toward liberty, you must dramatically shrink government, not make it deliver a better product. What the hell better product is the FDA, the SEC or any other of the alphabet agencies going to deliver? These agencies simply hinder free markets, Ron Paul knows this. It doesn't appear Gary Johnson does.

Johnson also says in the video that good government is about  "putting people first".  What politician hasn't said that? Good government isn't about putting people first, it is about getting the hell out of the way. Johnson is going to die on the vine. He's boring, tone deaf and seems to have an extremely limited understanding of liberty. There is no chance serious Ron Paul supporters will go near him. I have no idea where Johnson is going to pick up a base of supporters beyond a bunch of inside the beltway "libertarians" who are trying to get behind Johnson because he is so much more "rreasonable" about government than Ron Paul. David Weigel calls Johnson more "cosmopolitan" than Paul. When all is said and done, cosmopolitan means that Johnson would be so much more willing to sit down as President with John Boehner and Harry Reid and slowdown the growth of government (instead of cutting governmentt), just as he did in New Mexico. No cuts, just slowing growth. That's about as libertarian as making prisons more efficient and spending more government money on highways.


  1. Dammit! I typed a whole bit in here, and it was not accepted due to some technical timeout error. That's happened a few times on here for me.

    Time to get better blogging software. Try Wordpress or even a new company called Innogage, which combines blogging and SEM to maximize readership.

    I'm sure you'd get more comments on here if you did.

  2. I'm having a conspiracy theory moment...

    Could Johnson be a plant to siphon votes from Ron Paul?...

    Okay. moment is over.

  3. Ron Paul is one of a kind. I don't trust the others, not even Rand (although he is better than the typical Republican). If Gary Johnson were for real, he'd be backing Ron Paul's bid, not launching his own.

    One thing I've noticed is that the Republican base, even as it moves closer to Ron's positions, positively HATES the man. So they would rather vote for someone like Gary Johnson or Rand Paul, who takes many of the same positions as Ron, than Ron himself. I think this hatred stems from the fact that Ron's integrity and wisdom is a source of shame to them. His presence is a painful reminder of how wrong they were when they attacked him 2008. They want him to disappear, even as they imitate him (albeit only superficially).

  4. There is ONLY one true champion of liberty and that is RON PAUL!

    RON PAUL 2012!

  5. i wouldn't be surprised if dnc and gop recruited johnson to co-opt ron paul's message

    appreciate your effort

    i will share this post

    ron paul 2012

  6. I used to deliver Jack Lord's newspaper when I was a junior high kid in the late 1970's. Star Bulletin Daily/Sunday subscription: $5.80 per month.

  7. we need privatized roads!!!

    school vouchers aren't privatization . . . they are statism!!!!!

    eliminating 1000 state employees is bad!!!!

    drunk driving shouldn't be illegal even though the government owns/manages the roads!!!

    these issues will resonate with republican primary voters . . .

  8. Come on? The DNC co-opted Johnson to run? Give me a break. Did they plan this back in 1994 when he ran for Governor?

    Gary believes in privatized roads, but he was in a state that was 2:1 democrat. They were going to build the roads regardless, so at least he used a quazi-privatization method where construction companies bid on the job and had to guarantee the road quality for 25 years. It's not ideal, but it's better than what anyone else is doing.

    Gary supports abolishing the department of education. Based on conversations with him, I would guess he wants the government out of education entirely, but come on, do you really think we will see that in our lifetimes. You have to work with the situation you are in. As one of the biggest school vouchers proponents in the country, Gary would at least improve the situation and use market forces to reduce government involvement. He took public opinion of school vouchers from something like 25% to 55%. That means he convinced a bunch of democrats to support free markets.

    He's proud of the way he eliminated 10% of state employees, because he did it in a way that actually passed. No he didn't just fire 10% immediately, but he was able to eliminate their positions in a 2:1 democrat state. No one else is accomplishing feats like that.

    As far as privatizing prison, I feel Gary has been the most outspoken person in the country on legalizing marijuana. Not decriminalization like you said, but actually legalizing it. His support in NM plunged from 58% to 28% when he took this position and he was able to convince the voters. He left office with his approval rating back up to 58%. He supports looking at hard drugs as a medical issue, not a criminal justice issue. That means rehab, not prisons. The prisons he privatized were federal inmates that New Mexico had to house no matter what. By privatizing those prisons, he was able to do it for 2/3rds the cost.

    Yes government spending increased while he was Governor, but this occurred during the internet bubble. He didn't raise a single tax, vetoed 750 bills, (more than all other Governor's combined) and took NM from one of the five highest spending states in the country to one of only four with a balanced budget. The democrats control both the Senate and House.

    Since he supports abolishing the fed and returning to the gold standard, I assume he was saying our current policy promotes a weak dollar. The only way to have a strong dollar again is to go back on the gold standard and stop inflating the money supply.

    The fact of the matter is we are losing this policy battle. The government is going to be spending a lot of money on things that we don't believe they should. This would happen even if Ron were elected. Gary's point on best product best service is if you do a cost/benefit analysis on every issue; you can convince even democrats to eliminate a lot of that spending. The stuff you can't eliminate, you have to be willing to adapt and promote ideas that are as free market as possible. Gary is proposing cutting federal spending by 43%.

  9. Wow, that was some slick filmmaking there Mr. Mountain Top (Gary is a mountain climber) Here's to your hopefully transparent reception by the masses sooner than later. Spread the word, if Ron Paul is going to win anything, people need to get behind the same person. This leather sole is just a younger version of a poorly mimicked man of perspective and truth, Gary's not a bad guy, but he is blind if he thinks this is good for anyone. He should support Ron as should all others out of common sense.

  10. It seems to me that Gary Johnson has a lot of the right ideas, and he knows they are the right ideas... He just does not know why...

    Like he can articulate what he thinks should happen, for example the strong dollar, but not precisely what he means by that... I know his being against the Fed makes it seem like he's holding 2 conflicting points, and technically he is, but I think by strong dollar he means non-Fiat currency... which competing currency would likely cause to be...but he hasn't thought through the competing currency thing or why it would accomplish his goal.

    He needs to spend some time on a serious study of people's works like Hazlitt, Rothbard and Hoppe before he's ready for the national stage, I think - before he's ready to not only explain what his ideas are, but why they are what they are and why that is good for the nation. I would personally not support him as pres, but would support him as a pro-choice, similar in most other ways counterbalancing VP pick to Ron Paul. It seems like it would be impossible for him not to learn a lot and potentially be a much better crusader for freedom than he is now, while providing an interesting juxtaposition to RP.