Friday, August 19, 2011

Gary Johnson Does the National Press Club

Former New Mexico Governor and current presidential candidate Gary Johnson spoke today at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

Johnson is running for the Republican nomination and it appears it will be a very uphill battle for him. He told us he didn't have the money to enter the Iowa straw poll and is focusing all his efforts on New Hampshire.

Many beltarians are advancing the idea that Johnson is the next Ron Paul. Judging from his performance today, Johnson has a long way to go to become even Ron Paul-lite. Near the start of the speech, he told the small audience (under 100) in the small room that he applauds Ron Paul for bringing attention to the Federal Reserve. But that wasn't the only time Ron Paul's name came up. Before Johnson was even introduced to speak, there was an animated conversation about Dr. Paul at what was designated the Johnson "Campaign Table". The discussion was about how right Jon Stewart was about Ron Paul not getting enough attention.

During his speech Johnson took a couple of detours from what Ron Paul likely would be in favor of. Johnson said that he believed that global warming was occurring and that it was man made. He said he was for The Fair Tax (a kind of national sales tax) to replace the income tax.  He said he was for the legalization of marijuana, but didn't mention other drugs. He did say that after legalizing marijuana he would want to control and tax it. He did say with a straight face that the sun was growing and that in billions of years the sun would encompass the earth and implied that things needed to be done. The moderator looked as confused as the rest of us.

Unlike Ron Paul, Johnson is not in favor of a default by the Treasury. He said that if he were dictator, he would pay Treasury interest and debt obligations.

He said he wasn't focused on ending the Fed because he said if the Fed were closed down it would just result in the Treasury printing money.

He spent a lot of time discussing the debt and how dangerous it is going to become when the Fed has to buy all the debt. He predicted a bond market collapse, but did not mention at all the distortions in the business cycle that are caused by the Fed.

After his speech, I got in a couple of quick questions to see how hard core he is compared to Ron Paul. I asked him if he was in favor of a gold standard. He said. "Yes."

I asked him if he was in favor of the legalization of heroin, which of course Ron Paul is. He said, "No," that "marijuana is a big enough step."

Then came the biggie. During his speech, he talked about the debt and the Federal Reserve's role in buying the debt, but not once did Johnson mention the role the Fed has in causing the business cycle, so I threw him a curve ball question about the business cycle to see how familiar he was with Austrian Business Cycle Theory. I asked him, "How do you think the Fed is most dangerous, simply by the amount of debt they buy or because of the business cycle and malinvestments they create?"

Now anyone familiar with Austrian theory is going to jump at the word malinvestments, the way a dog is going to jump at meat on a bone. It is insider talk that tells the knowing you are talking about Austrian Business Cycle Theory. But Johnson missed it completely. He stopped for a second and knew something was up with my use of the term "malinvestments." He repeated the word outloud, but had no idea it had anything to do with the causation of the business cycle.

He started to talk about how we needed more transparency as to where the Fed invests and he thereby failed the test as to whether he understood business cycle theory. He doesn't.

I shook his hand,wished him luck, in the way you wish luck to someone you know has no chance, and headed for the elevator.

Johnson appears to be a decent enough guy, but his knowledge of economics, of monetary policy, of the Federal Reserve and the role of freedom in society are nowhere near the understanding that Ron Paul has on these topics, or for that matter most of you who regularly read EPJ, Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute.

At the end of the formal question and answer session, the moderator asked Johnson how he would compare himself to the other presidents who were named Johnson. He said his policies would be the exact opposite of those of Lyndon Baines Johnson and that's a good thing. But that's about the only good thing you can say about Gary Johnson at this time. He has a rough understanding of liberty and wants to go in that direction, but, as president, because of his limited understanding of liberty, betting on him is like betting at a roulette wheel, you just never know where his view is going to be on any given issue. A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for libertarian roulette. A Gary Johnson presidency could result  at anytime  in a libertarian-lite spot, but, sad to say, on some issues could land in coercion slot.


  1. "He did say with a straight face that the sun was growing and that in billions of years the sun would encompass the earth and implied that things needed to be done."

    My god.

  2. "I shook his hand, wished him luck, in the way you wish luck to someone you know has no chance, and headed for the elevator". Priceless.

  3. Damn. I was hoping that maybe the guy would be a good RP replacement for the next few election cycles.

    I wish Rand were more of the scholar that his father is...

  4. @Andrew M,

    Maybe after RP we will not want a replacement. No one needs a president. It's an unnecessary position. IMO, THAT would be human progress.

  5. I don't know much about Johnson, but I think if he will spend more time with RP (and it seems to be that he likes and respects him) and try to learn a bit about ABCT and the cohesive nature of economic liberty, he could be a future standard bearer.

    My hopes for RP in the current election are high, but I'm a realist and realize that Perry has the banksters behind him and will likely win. I do think some serious economic pain over the next few months (and I am 99% certain that even if the money priniting causes a short-term uptick in the economy the half-life will be very short) could increase RPs chances in the spring.

    I would give Dr Paul a 1 in 10 shot at the nomination (and a 10 to 1 shot at winning if he did!) but the chances of some serious "off the rails" economic pains a 2 in 1 shot over the next 6 months. There are FAR too many black swans circling the globe, and the chances of one or more of them being sighted is high. Such an event would be good for RP, and bad for all the rest.

    Fingers crossed, and don't forget RP has a MONEYBOMB for his birthday tomorrow! Donate BIG people!!!

    Dale Fitz

  6. Technically, he's correct - the Sun is expanding and will engulf Earth in about 2 billion years. Sun, being an unexceptional main sequence yellow dwarf, will eventually exhaust its hydrogen and turn into cooler and much bigger red giant. This is well-established and well-understood stellar evolution route.

    Why would anybody care about events 2 bilion years in the future is another question... there are much more urgent issues such as survival of H.sapiens (species are normally much more short-lived); and the main threat to survival of our species is a threat of global nuclear war - with US Government being the main reason this threat exists in the first place.

  7. To be fair, Ron Paul doesn't want to immediately end the Fed either.

    I still like Gary. <3

  8. i decided not to support Johnson when he said he wasn't going to close down Guantanamo

  9. So? Johnson can tap Ron Paul and Peter Schiff to behis economic advisors.

  10. There were some fishy things about Johnson already, and the above article added more to them.

    First of all, Johnson obviously wants the war on drugs to continue, which means money thrown away, people locked up for victimless crimes and a continuation of lethal raids. Only taking marijuana out of the equation means little. Either you own your own body or you don't. Gary Johnson obviously doesn't think so.

    Second, his argument that the FED doesn't have to be abolished because "it would just result in the Treasury printing money", is a complete non-argument. That's like saying crime will always exist, so let's not put criminals in jail because there will be other criminals anyway.
    And correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't the Treasury part of government? So if the treasury printing money is a problem to Gary Johnson, why would he (as president) not simply ban them from counterfeiting? He is, after all, asked what he would do if he was president, right?

    He wants "terrorists" to be tried by military tribunals (which he underlined in a show called "Adam vs. the Man" (
    Yeah, that's what you want. People being tried by the same military that follows the president's orders in fighting illegal wars in the first place. If military tribunals are about justice, why aren't the military on trial?
    To say that Guantanamo needs to stay open otherwise they'd do it somewhere else is yet another non-argument.

    And then there is his statement (on his website under foreign policy) that America's "military should remain the most potent force for good on Earth."
    Now, his supporters will no doubt try to say this is some kind of statement about national defense, but if that were the case he'd call it national defense, and not the military being a "force for good in the world", because that statement logically has nothing to do with defending your country.

    I don't trust this guy to have any principles at all, and he seems to be a cherry picker who can't even explain rationally why freedom is necessary, instead just looking at consequences of policies and rejecting them on utilitarian grounds.

    If i was Ron Paul i would never be part of a Johnson administration even if Johnson had a chance in hell of winning.

  11. @ averros said...

    Maybe in his next speech, Gary Johnson can tell us about when the next asteroid/comet/meteor will strike the Earth, and that we really need the government to do something about it.

    After that, he can have a meeting with Paul Krugman and discuss what the government can do about the potential alien invasion. Surely, within the next 2 billion years we will have been visited.

  12. Actually anyone who supports the Fairtax is an idiot or hasn't read the fine print.

    Fairtax sounds great, I supported it early on. But the fine print is

    1) Drastically different than the hype

    2) Absurd nonsense

    I still offer 50,000 dollars if anyone can show me Fairtax "research" which shows it's a retail sales tax on personal consumption. Learn the Fairtax hustle, see for yourself if its a "retail" tax on personal consumption.

    Ive got several videos on youtube about my 50K offer, and I am serious. If you can show me Fairtax research (they actually have NO real research at all) that proves it's a retail sales tax on normal personal consumption, of 23%, that would be "revenue neutral" I will give you 50,000 dollars. I could offer a million, but I don't have a million.

    Over 80% of Fairtax has NOTHING to do with retail sales on normal personal consumption. \

    When I supported Fairtx, I thought it was like their books said, like their speeches said, like their videos said.

    When I found out Fairtax is goofy deception by the likes of Grover WhoreQuest and the Koch brothers, I had to reconsider.

    Fairtax is a massive tax on local governments, much of it, payable in ADVANCE.

    Texas state government, for example, would have to pay about 5 billion -- in advance -- to the federal government.

    This is in addition to, and separate from, the tax Fairtax has people paying. Fairtax is a "two tier" tax system, with over 1 trillion dollars, idioticaly, coming "from the governments".

    It's as goofy and deceptive and any snake oil salesmen ever was.

    And Fairtax spokesmen CONFIRM this massive tax on cities and states. In fact, Ross Calloway, a Fairtax blogger, brags about it. He showed us where the fine print was that accomplishes this deception.

    Fairtax official spokesmen CONFIRM the fine print and defend the massive hidden taxes.

    City and staate would have to drastically increase their taxes -- just read HR 25, and the goofy "supporting documents" from Fairtax.

    It's all there -- in goofy deceptive fine print.

    The state of Texas, for example, would have to pay, in ADVANCE -- 5 or 6 billion dollars, and another 9 billlion on top of that.

    Bat-ship goofy. Feel free to email me at mybookwork at yahoo.

  13. Speaking of Ron Paul, the money bomb in honor of his 76th birthday is today. It is only 9:27 eastern time, but he is already at 295k! This is the one guy I have ever seen in politics actually understand economics, not to mention his other great policy positions. I already donated today, and everyone else should too!

  14. Maybe worrying about the sun expanding was intended as a joke.

  15. Libertarians believe government should treat all people equally; Ron Paul favors special rights for his favored groups (support for DOMA, for example). Libertarians support freedom of association; Ron Paul does not (opposition to gay marriage, for example; or his 1981 vote to enact a sodomy law in DC). Libertarians support free trade; Ron Paul does not (his score is mediocre on the Cato Institute's free-trade barometer). Libertarians support freedom to travel; Ron Paul does not (border fence, birthright citizenship). Ron Paul is a paleo-conservative and libertarians should stop supporting his strange ideas.

  16. I listened to the National Press Club speech he gave and thought he did very well.

    The points the author is pointing out and Lew Rockwell promotes about Johnson wanting to only legalize marijuana and he's not in favor of legalizing Heroin and Cocaine so kids can buy it again in the corner store like Ron Paul is the difference between Paul and Johnson. Johnson gets the fact that voters won't go all the way to a libertarian world in one sitting.

    OMG, Johnson doesn't know the secret handshake for Austrian Economics. Toss him under the bus!

    Johnson's not going to default on the debt owed and Paul will. To me that sounds like Johnson is in favor of honoring contracts made. Why would anyone trust a person for president who isn't willing to honor contracts the US Government makes? The debt ceiling is like a credit card -- you don't raise your credit limit and you pay off the debt as fast as you are able so you can get back under your credit limit. You don't just stop paying your credit card bill as the author is suggesting that Paul wants to do.

    The distortions of the business cycles result from the printing of money and other laws passed by congress. He rightly stated the US Treasury could keep on printing money which it would. He understands more than Paul how government affects business. He ran a large business, and when he was governor one of his goals was stability so when New Mexicans woke up in the morning they knew things wouldn't be worse because Governor Johnson would be out there vetoing bills to create a freer market.

    I rate this article an F... It's another piece designed by the Lew Rockwell groupies to try to smear Johnson and to pimp Lew's gravy train.

  17. @yehudaharyeh,

    I couldn't help but laugh hysterically at your post. Ron Paul is a constitutionalist, and believes that issues like "gay" marriage should be left up to the states to decide, as defined in the 10th Amendment. Ron's views on immigration have become more open to freedom to travel in recent years. I think it's funny that you accuse him of being against free trade. Sure, he's against NAFTA, and other corporatist scams that are passed off as "free trade," but actually supports real free trade, not a system governed by thousands of pages of regulation and corporate subsidies.

    It is obvious that you are a modal "libertarian" of the beltway variety, maybe even on the Koch's payroll.

  18. What's with Rockwell and Co. doing hit pieces on Johnson all of the time? Do they see him as a threat? Why can't they embrace a like minded candidate?

    Wenzel, you're a hack.

  19. @yehudaharyeh,

    You are being disingenuous in your assertions re: Ron Paul and failing to point out the nuances of these positions that do not make them "un"-libertarian nor contradictory (e.g. Ron Paul's support for DOMA. I'm quite certain that he recognizes the tradtional family is the cornerstone to stable communities. What's unlibertarian and wrong about that?), thus giving a rather distorted view to the reader.

    As a side-note, when one uses the upper-case "L" in Libertarian, it denotes the political party. When one uses the lower-case "l", it denotes the political philosophy. There is a big difference and connotates very different concepts. Did you do this on purpose?

  20. @yehudaharyeh-

    RP has better libertarian cred than 99.9% of the rest, and I think your points are misleading at best and false at worst.

    He did not vote for DOMA, since he wasn't in congress at the time, and supports it only because he felt that forcing all states to recognize gay marriage was outside of the powers of the Feds. He thinks the federal gov't especially, and all gov't generally, should be out of the "marriage business". It's a private contract between people and their God, and none of the gov't damn business. As a gay man, I agree with him 100%.

    Cato is not a good yardstick as far as free trade- Paul opposes item specific tariffs, and also thinks that NAFTA is a bad deal since it gives special preferential treatment.

    He does oppose birthright citizenship, but only because it has been abused for decades to provide welfare to illegal immigrants.

    No matter what his minor flaws from your puritanical libertarian view may be, the fact is that he is right on 99% of the rest. Hell, I'm an anarchist, and believe that government should be abolished, but I support the good Dr. He's the best chance we've got for restoring true freedom to the US.

    Dale Fitz

  21. Lord, some of these Johnson supporters are thin-skinned! Lew and co. haven't "attacked" Gary Johnson- he has a lot of support from LRC and many other liberty minded folks. If he won the prez nomination I would support him whole-heartedly, since he's better than any other non-RP candidate.

    That said, he does have a lot to learn about economics and freedom, but he seems to be open to learning and deepening his understanding. If Dr Paul wins, I'm sure Johnson will have a place in his cabinet (just not on economic matters) and he will be a staunch ally.

    He's no Ron Paul- yet- but he has major potential. Bob is just pointing out his (somewhat serious) shortcomings when it comes to economics.

    Dale Fitz

  22. @Hardy,

    What does Lew Rockwell have to do with this? Guilt by association fallacy? I don't know about the rest of these folks here, but I've got my own gravy train to ride and can think quite well for myself thank you!

  23. Johnson in a Ron Paul-vacuum would be a breath of fresh air. But with RP around, GJ only seems half-baked. GJ has taken the incrementalist approach, RP has taken the radical position.

    Lots of folks want to think GJ is a more eloquent RP, but after listening to GJ speak of few times, I'm confident in saying he's just as awkward as "crazy uncle" Ron. If I hear "cost benefit analysis" in another speech by GJ, I will stop defending him as a candidate.

    Regarding his sun comment... I think you all missed his extremely dry deadpan sense of humor. It was a joke and it went *whoosh* right over your head.

  24. Your concluding point is absurd. He vetoed, what, 700 bills as Governor? His default position is to oppose new laws and new spending and return us to small government. His record proves to me that he's a man of conviction. I don't think there's been a better governor since maybe Grover Cleveland ;)

  25. @Anonymous 7.55

    RP is not a pure libertarian...nor are most of the regulars at LRC, from what I can see.

    They are mostly people in favor of smaller/no government, but each has his own twist on that.

    World-wide, libertarianism, even an-cap libertarianism, puts more emphasis on the "an" than on the "cap" than LRC'ers do.

    But I think anyone in favor of decentralization and opposed to the police state or all-war-all-the-time really has no other place to go but Ron least, to appearances.


    you can abstain from voting or politics altogether and just focus on getting more freedom in your own life..

    That's probably something everyone should do anyway, even if they vote.

    However you look at it, though, there's no doubt that a Ron Paul candidacy gets a lot of things discussed at the national level that wouldn't hit daylight otherwise.

    But it does bother me when I hear some stuff about him.

    Like the fact that he doesn't want to end the Fed immediately that someone just mentioned.

    Is that true or just some rumor?

    Can anyone talk about that, the reasons for it, or anything else they know?

    My other fear is that there is a larger agenda and that RP unwittingly is being used in that.

    I mean, if the US withdraws from the Middle East, does that mean that a certain well-armed little state could attack its neighbors with impunity? Or launch a nuke at Europe? I mean, the US turning antiwar might not be the same as peace on earth, right?

    What if that well-armed state, suffused with zeal for a world empire of its own, with an intelligence agency that is feared world wide, feels emboldened to attack Iran or even...for argument's sake... Europe?

    The antiwar position, especially among those that doubt the logic of even just wars, would really then just be the "let the junior partner of empire do it" position.

  26. The Lew Rockwell crowd attacking Gary is puzzling to me. He is the best Republican political figure/presidential candidate next to RP. He is not perfect and could use a little Austrian education but its not like Ron could do half the things he wants to do anyway. Maybe people should embrace Gary and those like him and keep the movement going in to the future. After all, Johnson IS pro-choice, the libertarian and freedom position, Ron Paul is not. Maybe we should worry about women's rights under a Paul presidency, he seems to not care about them.

  27. The folks at LRC and Rockwell himself are inherently anti-party and anti-Rpublican. Unlike Ron Paul, Johnson shows the potential to be successful within the party and to attract support from mainstream Republicans by making some modest compromises and staying away from some of the extremist paleocon positions which Paul and Rockwell embrace. As someone said earlier, that makes him threatening from their perspective.

  28. @Trenchard
    "The folks at LRC and Rockwell himself are inherently anti-party and anti-Rpublican."

    I think you're going to find the population is kind of on the LRC camp on that. Most of them are sick to death of both parties.

  29. Gary Johnson will be our next VP. And he will learn more about Austrian economics if it is that important (I'm ignorant on that subject).
    I met the man last year at a UNT Denton function. He's genuine, down to earth, and very much like Dr. Paul. Think what he can become in 4 years with Dr. Paul leading by example. I donate to his campaign as well.
    But let's face it, Dr. Paul is "Da Man" and will win 2012 in a landslide. And Gary should be right there with him.

  30. Ron Paul is for "freedom" except when it comes to women. Screw him.