Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rand Paul Wants Don't Ask Don't Tell for Tax Returns

During an interview with NRO's Robert Costa, Rand Paul brought up gay marriage and managed to turn it into a tax form question that suggests he wants a tax form which doesn't identify the sex status of those living together:
  Social issues are another area where he thinks Republicans can make a better argument to independents and centrists without departing from their principles. Gay marriage, for instance, is one issue on which Paul would like to shake up the Republican position. “I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage,” he says. “That being said, I’m not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn’t mention marriage. Then we don’t have to redefine what marriage is; we just don’t have marriage in the tax code.”
Here is just another example of Rand as a technocrat for the state, rather than a true small government person. It also displays his role in diluting the libertarian message and linking it with the state.

The focus should never be on how this group or that group is treated on tax forms. That is a statist question that assumes a tax role for the state. It is as far from a libertarian position as you can get. By Rand mixing the tax question, with his position on gays, he again seems to be doing what he does best, never, ever talking about eliminating the state role, but simply redefining how the state can coerce---and doing it with clever language and proposals that appear to be libertarian.

Keep in mind, when it comes to drones, Rand is not against the US government using them against Americans. He is simply in favor of some kind of "judicial process" before a drone strike is ordered. And, he has not even stated his opinion on the use of drones overseas.

When it comes to foreign aid, he is not for eliminating it all right away---just for certain countries.

With his "don't ask don't tell" tax form proposal, he appears to be slipping in a "live and let live" point, but by doing so in the context of discussing tax forms, he is endorsing in someway the current tax system.

The Rand Paul formula on all issues appears to be for him to word things in a way that straddles him in two contradictory camps, seemingly positioning himself favorably with both groups. And doing this by raising a "libertarian" perspective that never ever gets to the heart of libertarian principles, and instead results in a position that involves a role for the state that any true libertarian would find abhorrent.


  1. Ohh come on man. This is a bit harsh.

    The guy was talking about reforming the tax code so that it's simpler, and more fair. Whether it's a flat tax, or fair tax, or whatever, I think he's right on target.

    I don't see that he's "endorsing" the current system at all. B/c if you remove the question, it would happen as part of a huge revolutionary change in the entire way we collect taxes. You can't remove that question, and just carry on with all of the rest of the status quo.

    It's worth noting that Rand is a Republican.

    1. I think that, despite the courage Rand showed last week in the filibuster, that I have to agree with Wenzel here. I do agree that he's making the tax code simpler and stuff, which is fine, but he's never mentioning any kind of libertarian message or reasoning that can influence people's minds. I think maybe he should use the 'liberty train' type of strategy. Let it be known that his end goals are libertarian and give the reasoning behind it. But state that he understands that most people don't want all that much liberty, so ask that they join with him until they want no more freedom, and then they can get off at any point that they'd like.

    2. Must the libertarian necessarily confine himself to advocating immediate abolition? Are transitional demands, steps toward liberty in practice, therefore illegitimate? Surely not, since realistically there would then be no hope of achieving the final goal. It is therefore incumbent upon the libertarian, eager to achieve his goal as rapidly as possible, to push the polity ever further in the direction of that goal.

      Government activity must be reduced whenever and wherever it can; any opposition to a particular tax—or expenditure—cut is impermissible for it contradicts libertarian principles and the libertarian goal.

      - Murray Rothbard

  2. I think the key issue to the gay marriage argument is about the "benefit" that married filing jointly gets. I'm not sure exactly what Rand's proposal is, but I do think this is the key that is never brought up. I'm for as many "loopholes" as it gets and if couples want to bind themselves together (contractually) to reduce their tax liability, I'm all for that.

    If Rand is proposing changes to the tax code that would decrease the amount of taxes to fund the government and INCREASE the ability for couples (civil unions or traditional marriage) to reduce the amount they owe the government, how is this a "Statist" or "middle of the road" position? Again, I may be wrong on the specifics of Rand's policy.

    1. There are also cases where the "married filing jointly" status increases the tax liability. This is known as the marriage penalty.

  3. Rothbard offers wise counsel in this:

    They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote…Free trade and freedom of opportunity are ideals which still may rouse the imaginations of large numbers, but a mere “reasonable freedom of trade” or a mere “relaxation of controls” is neither intellectually respectable nor likely to inspire any enthusiasm. The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists is that it was their courage to be Utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and thereby an influence on public opinion which is daily making possible what only recently seemed utterly remote.

    In short, the libertarian must never advocate or prefer a gradual, as opposed to an immediate and rapid, approach to his goal. For by doing so, he undercuts the overriding importance of his own goals and principles. And if he himself values his own goals so lightly, how highly will others value them?

    Such an “abolitionist” perspective does not mean, again, that the libertarian has an unrealistic assessment of how rapidly his goal will, in fact, be achieved. Thus, the libertarian abolitionist of slavery, William Lloyd Garrison, was not being “unrealistic” when in the 1830s he first raised the glorious standard of immediate emancipation of the slaves. His goal was the morally proper one, and his strategic realism came in the fact that he did not expect his goal to be quickly reached….Garrison himself distinguished: “Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.” Otherwise, as Garrison trenchantly warned, “Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.”

    If, then, the libertarian must advocate the immediate attainment of liberty and abolition of statism, and if gradualism in theory is contradictory to this overriding end, what further strategic stance may a libertarian take in today’s world? Must he necessarily confine himself to advocating immediate abolition? Are “transitional demands,” steps toward liberty in practice, necessarily illegitimate? No…

    How, then, can we know whether any halfway measure or transitional demand should be hailed as a step forward or condemned as an opportunistic betrayal? There are two vitally important criteria for answering this crucial question: (1) that, whatever the transitional demands, the ultimate end of liberty be always held aloft as the desired goal; and (2) that no steps or means ever explicitly or implicitly contradict the ultimate goal.

    Ron Paul aroused millions, speaking to ideas. This will prove to be a far greater victory than any attempt to tweak government around the edges.

    Wenzel is doing justice by ensuring the end objective is not lost. Ron Paul, while in some cases speaking in interim steps (audit the fed was one step toward ending the fed; recognizing that many have been made dependent, and should not be dumped immediately), never failed to keep the ultimate objectives in mind and in view.

    Rand’ doesn’t seem to ever point out the ultimate, libertarian objectives. This is no surprise – he has said plainly he is not libertarian. Wenzel is not writing for Rand’s benefit, he is writing to open the eyes of those who believe Rand offers hope to drastically shrink the state. Rand doesn’t even offer words that give any foundation to such a hope.

  4. The Republican Party is the right leg, and Democratic party is the left leg of one body in American politics. Both parties are fascist in that they believe in public/private partnerships, crony capitalism, the power of the state to coerce, the power of the state in matters of life and death, unbridled militarism, and assemble in halls adorned with fasces. Rand Paul by being a party to this system is serving as a statist, fascist, servant of evil who seeks to lead weak minded Libertarian's astray.

    Rand Paul's apologists are going to find it nearly impossible to argue with the case that Robert Wenzel is making against Rand on a regular basis because he is factually correct. Robert understands that Libertarian thought stands outside the fascist/authoritarian paradigm that is being shoved down our throats by mainstream politicians, MSM media, and the many bloggers.

    What Rand Paul is doing is somewhat akin to a mad scientist mixing the sweet orange blossom honey of Libertarian thought with the taste of bitter almonds from the arsenic tinged thought of the Republican party and expecting no one to notice the result.

  5. Regardless of Rand Paul's exact position on the "marriage penalty," whatever that position may be, there is a distinct trend in Republican circles to raise taxes by taking away middle-class tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction. Taking away the substantial tax benefits afforded afforded single-earner married couples in the name of sexual-preference equality would be at least as wicked.

    The only pure libertarian position is to eliminate the compulsory income tax altogether, and all other compulsory taxes. Don't think we'll see Rand openly supporting such ideas, ever. Nor could any constitutional conservative do so.

  6. Amazing. This is why libertarians will fade into obscurity, enabling the two party oligarchy to continue.

    You take something the guy says, which is not even inconsistent with the official platform of the Libertarian Party, and because he didn't say it HARD enough, you hate the guy, and call him a sell-out. He didn't say EXACTLY what you wanted to hear, so you're done with the guy. He's just an establishment pawn.

    What he said, I think, is abundantly clear. His comment wasn't "hey let's amend the 1040A form to take off marriage". His comment was implying a broad, overall strategy of massive reform, or even scrapping, of the existing tax code. This is something he's talked about for a long time, and b/c he didn't spell it out perfectly in one interview, he's Judas?

    This country needs a third party desperately. This country needs people to stand up for liberty. You just sold a guy down the river who DOES these things, AND is in a position to make a difference, and sway the rest of the country.

    I think it's sad, and I think it will hurt the cause of liberty if we're always demanding that people start at square one, and answer every interview question as if the person has no idea what libertarianism is about. No one is able to advance the cause of liberty more right now than Rand. Don't let that point get lost in the semantic bickering.

    1. Rand Paul isn't Judas, to be succinct he is a Judas Goat who will betray his followers on a moonless night in Iran.

  7. Mr. Wenzel,

    Please read or listen to the last portion of Rothbard's book "The Ethics of Liberty" subtitled "Toward a Theory of Strategy for Liberty". I'd appreciate if you'd post the audio of this chapter and then opine on where Rand fits in. I think Rand is in a position in which he can legitimately push the country in the right direction - which Murray would support according to his theory of strategy, if I'm not mistaken.

    I think with this tax reporting issue you are taking a stance against it for the sake of opposing Rand, when in fact, eliminating marriage from the tax code would be a great thing. It is a very libertarian suggestion to make, and fits in with Rothbard's theory of strategy.

    I hope to see a post on this someday.


  8. I'm not sold on Rand myself, but it's getting a little absurd with his critics so far. Wenzel goes out of his way to attack him on this? Something that would be a clear improvement?

    It's like certain members of our movement (Wenzel for instance) feel that Rand must get absolutely nothing done for 30 years like his father (legislatively speaking, I adore Ron Paul the man). Otherwise he is a failure, and sell out, and not worth our time other than to ridicule him.

    It's very possible that Rand, although not nearly as pure as his father, not even close, actually helps to improve our lives at the margin.

    That said, he's more likely to improve our lives, even if only minimally, if we keep his feet held to the fire.

  9. I've read this stuff railing against Rand for weeks if not months now. I admit, it has caused me (like any rational libertarian) to reexamine my expectations of the Jr. Paul) And I admit that some of it was compelling. However, it's almost as if you don't get the strategy. Can't incrementalism go in the other direction for a change. Climb back up that slippery slope, if you will. For example, education. Yes, academically, logically and libertarian-ly we all want an end to federalized education. But we also push for school choice/vouchers. No, it's not the sweeping change we want, but it's a good half measure. Then, when people have fully embraced the voucher program, you can start relinguishing control back to the states. If Rand defines the drone issue as one in which the 5th Amendment stays in play, that can lead to a rejection of indefinite detentions, then wiretapping, etc.

    Your thoughts?

  10. Anyone from Illinois remember 2000-2006? There was this young guy the radio kept talking about named Barock-O Bahma. Every time the news heads recited some local politics, there was some mention of this Barock-O fella. Barock-O this and Barock-O that. Suddenly, without visible means of support, he's in the US Senate. Everyone knows his name.

    I said in 2003, to a real-world acquaintance, "this Barock-O guy has dark forces behind him. He's going to the White House. I don't know when, but it will be sooner than later if the gray men say so."

    Sound familiar? This is Eisenhower's prophecy, and Rand is auditioning for the lead. If his rise continues along the Barock-O trajectory, he will piss off as many movement conservatives and country club republicans as Barock-O has pissed off labor, progressives, and leather purse liberals.

    The hotness of the pink color of the litmus paper doesn't really matter here. If the police state in charge of the US decides Rand is their guy, they'll put him in the Oval. And he'll do as he's told. Just like that Barock-O fella.

    1. Scene:
      A dark and smokey room. Cigar smoke, tinged with Bourbon. No, wait, no longer. Now tinged with the heady aroma of Romanee’ Conti.

      “Ok, so we’ve got Hillary in ’16 ”. Who’s going to be our OTHER contestant; Romney again? Graham?”
      Jesus, NOT Mittsy. No credibility there for God’s sake. They’d definitely smell a rat. Graham? Do you think the Republicans are ready for a swish candidate?”
      “ Well, WHO then?”
      “There’s this kid out of Kentucky. You know, that nut case’s kid. Rand Paul”.
      “Oh yeah, do you think he’ll play?”.
      “Hell yeah. He won’t even know he’s playin’. That is, he’ll think he’s playin’ US ! Haha”.