For Immediate Release
Libertarian Prescription for Coronavirus
AUSTIN – March 18, 2020
True, most Libertarians aren’t doctors. Our remedies are for the government.
People are rightly concerned about the current coronavirus outbreak. A March 13, 2020 New York Times article quoting the CDC says that, in the worst-case scenario, as many as 214 million Americans might get infected and 1.7 million could die. Other experts expect far fewer infections and deaths once better data on infection rates becomes available, and as people change their behaviors to prevent the spread of the virus.
Wes Benedict, founder of the Libertarian Booster PAC, commented, “In times of crisis, Americans are too quick to reach for the government as a default solver of problems. Politicians wanting to appear to be ‘doing something’ are all too eager to act, but they have a long history of doing things that make situations worse, both in the short term and the long term.
“Libertarians believe that free people and free markets are best equipped to respond to crisis situations. Often government remedies, which might make us feel good, get us hooked and cause long-term damage. The war on poverty, war on terror, war on drugs, and other government responses to perceived threats have given us restrictions and programs that rarely get revoked. We don’t need a new expensive freedom-killing war on viruses which may kill more people than it helps by reducing economic development worldwide.”
Benedict added, "Instead of asking what new program or law is needed in response to every problem like the coronavirus, we should be asking, 'What existing laws are adding to the problem?'"
Below are activities the government should avoid, followed by prescriptions for activities the government should take.
Governments should avoid the following:
Mandatory restaurant and other business closings. People should be free to decide for themselves what risks they are willing to take. I’d highly recommend most senior citizens and those with weakened immune systems do their best to stay away from restaurants and stores. Many already do that during flu outbreaks. But it’s wrong for the government to force businesses to close, and doing that now sets a dangerous precedent.
Quarantines and limits on public assembly. Quarantines can backfire. People who might be sick may avoid getting tested for fear of being held against their will. At-risk individuals have the choice to isolate themselves and use extra caution as they do during flu outbreaks. Healthy individuals are free to avoid public gatherings as well, but they should not be able to prevent others from assembling.
Carriers of the disease can create risks for vulnerable individuals. However, Libertarian tenets of personal freedom and personal responsibility put the onus on the at-risk individual to stay isolated, rather than demand that the rest of the world change their behavior.
The power to quarantine is very dangerous, because it amounts to imprisonment without a crime. That same power could be used in the future by government officials who want to get dissidents out of the way. The First Amendment protects people’s right to assemble, for good reason.
As an example, the City of Austin has banned gatherings of more than 10 people. That’s wrong, violates the Constitution, should be reversed immediately, and should never be done again.
Bailouts and other financial rescues. Government should avoid causing a financial pandemic on top of the disease pandemic. Forcing businesses to close, monkeying with interest rates, quantitative easing, promising bailouts, and other subsidies only make the financial problems worse in the short and long run. The world has suffered disease outbreaks in recent years such as Ebola, SARS, MERS, and swine flu. A new contagious disease outbreak should be a surprise to no one. It’s the responsibility of individuals and businesses to be prepared for occurrences like this. We should not punish prudent businesses by taxing them and giving that money to businesses that might otherwise fail.
Things government should do:
Although Libertarians are famous for complaining about what government does wrong, there’s one area where the government is performing pretty well: free speech.
Free speech is critical. We don’t want a situation like China where people who contradict the government are subject to threats, censorship, or perhaps even worse.
While it’s possible the media has created more panic than we need, or failed to warn us quickly enough, press freedom is crucial. And freedom of the press means the freedom to be wrong. Our free media has grabbed America’s attention and has helped individuals stay informed so they can take voluntary action.
Freedom of speech for every individual shall not be infringed. Free speech means the right to criticize the president, Congress, and all government officials. Free speech also means the right to question experts, to disagree, and to debate and argue on social media without interference from the government. Except for some defamation lawsuits and speech codes on campuses, America mostly does well respecting free speech.
Benedict reaffirmed, “I know people are scared. Government reaction scares me more than the virus itself. Now is not the time to panic and throw out our principles. Instead, now is the time to stand firmly on principle, and remind ourselves what makes America great. Now is the time for us to take responsibility for our own health, and to voluntarily lend a hand to a neighbor. Free people, voluntary persuasion, and free markets are the surest, quickest, cheapest, and safest way for humanity to fight the coronavirus—not government coercion.”
Wes Benedict is Founder of the Libertarian Booster PAC (libertarianboosterpac.org) and former Executive Director of the Libertarian National Committee.
Wes Benedict, Libertarian Booster PAC president
Thanks to donors and the candidates who filed!
In response to new filing fees imposed on Libertarian Party candidates by the Republican-controlled 2019 Texas Legislature, the Libertarian Booster PAC recruited candidates to challenge the ten most vulnerable Republicans. We also offered to help pay their filing fees.
Six candidates stepped up to the plate to challenge the ten most vulnerable Republicans in the following Texas House Districts: 64, 66, 92, 94, 96, 108, 112.
We also paid the $3,750 filing fee for Thomas Oxford for State Supreme Court, in case that race becomes important for retaining ballot access in Texas.
For Immediate Release
Libertarian Booster PAC vows revenge against Texas Republicans
AUSTIN - November 18, 2019 - The Libertarian Booster PAC is recruiting Libertarian candidates to run against the ten weakest Republicans in the Texas House. The PAC is offering to help pay their filing fees.
PAC president Wes Benedict commented, "This is revenge for House Bill 2504, which Republicans passed this year. It imposed massive filing fees in order to push out Libertarian candidates.
"The Republicans want us off the ballot. Well, we want them out of the Texas House. We don't have the funds to run lots of Texas House candidates, so we're specifically targeting districts with vulnerable Republican incumbents.
"I'm fine with Democrats taking over the Texas House, because divided government is usually less harmful than one-party rule.
"The Republicans are running scared. They're using every trick in the book to protect their seats. House Bill 2504 was crafted to do two things: kick most Libertarians out of the 2020 election, and also bring a few Green Party candidates back in. The way Republicans see it, both of those changes will help them."
These are the ten Republican Texas House districts being targeted by the Libertarian Booster PAC:
Benedict added, "In 2019, Texas Republicans grew state spending and blocked marijuana legalization. Instead of using the examples of Venezuela and Hong Kong to educate the public on the importance of the Second Amendment, they've gotten squishy by supporting red flag laws. Instead of espousing the benefits of free markets and free trade, they've used their bully pulpit to focus on anti-immigrant rhetoric. Most recent immigrants are hardworking people who came here to escape the bad government policies of their home countries.
"Libertarians historically have received high vote percentages in Latino strongholds like San Antionio and El Paso, perhaps from Latinos who see the Republican brand as toxic and racist. In recent general elections, Libertarians have run around 100 candidates for offices all across Texas. The new filing fees have forced us to focus."
Wes Benedict, Libertarian Booster PAC president
Re-posting an email from 11/6/2019:
Subject: 23 PA wins – Wes Benedict & Chuck Moulton comments
In addition to celebrating and taking some credit for the 23 wins in Pennsylvania, I wanted to provide some background to make sure Libertarians don’t learn the wrong lessons from the PA success.
That’s because I’m a big fan of winning “winnable” races, and I’m also for running for offices you’re unlikely to win so you can promote libertarian policies.
Pennsylvania has a unique situation where the deadline for Republicans and Democrats to file for the primary ballot is in March. Sometimes, mostly in small races, no R or D files. The primary happens in May. If no R or D files, and if no write-in candidate gets at least 10 votes in the primary, that leaves an opportunity for Libertarians. Once primary election results are posted in June, third party and independent candidates can see which races have no R, D, or successful write-in candidates, and have until August 1 to file. Often, if a Libertarian files for one of those races, the Libertarian is the only candidate on the ballot and usually wins the general election.
That’s how we got 23 Libertarians to win partisan races on November 5, 2019. Several additional Libertarians likely won via write-in campaigns as well.
I don’t know of any other state that has this situation like Pennsylvania where the deadline for Libertarians to file is after the deadline for D’s and R’s so that it’s easy to run unopposed.
Additionally, Pennsylvania has lots of government and many more elected offices (all partisan, I think) than most states. In Texas, for example, you can live outside of any city limits or municipal area, called the “unincorporated area” of a county. While you are subject to the county government, if you’re in an unincorporated area, there’s not an additional city or town government, and therefore, not a local council to position to run for. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, has a municipal government for all of its land, often called boroughs and townships in the more rural areas. Offices in these rural, low-population areas are the ones Libertarians often get to run for unopposed.
I’m proud of the 23 Pennsylvania Libertarians who won uncontested races on November 5, 2019, and I hope we’re able to win even more in the future. We sent over 3,000 letters to registered Libertarian in PA to recruit those 23 winning candidates.
Chuck Moulton suggested the project to me. Please see his positive comments about my efforts further down below. (I asked him to write up something positive about me to help me get support for more projects in the future. I’m very thankful he wrote up something so nice.) A colleague of mine, Arthur DiBianca, helped with a lot of the database work. I also did a lot of database work, wrote the letter, and prepared the mail merges in PDF format, and followed up with leads with detailed filing instructions. PA Vice Chair Jenn Moore organized or personally did most of the printing and mailing of the letters, including paying for most of the postage. The Libertarian Booster PAC did not spend funds on this effort. I did spend my time on it.
Here’s the letter I wrote https://tinyurl.com/y3f6waa9
I’ll be recruiting candidates in Texas for the 2020 elections. I want Texans to realize that what works in Pennsylvania won’t work in Texas due to the different election laws. It’s not because Texas Libertarians are too radical, too lazy, or that Texas voters are different.
I’m pretty sure Libertarians in Pennsylvania have won more partisan elections than Libertarians in all other 49 states combined. Texas Libertarians have never won and served in a partisan office. Texas Libertarians won a couple obscure elections unopposed, for something called “weigher,” but the position was eliminated before the candidates actually served.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I could get 100 Libertarians elected to partisan offices in Pennsylvania more easily than I could get one Libertarian elected to a partisan office in Texas.
Texas Libertarians do win non-partisan races like city councils. Five Libertarians currently serve in non-partisan offices in Texas. All are in small cities or small districts in larger cities. Most Texans don’t live in small cities or places with small districts so most Texans don’t have small non-partisan races to run for. I once ran for an at-large position for Austin City Council and got 35%, but that was an anomaly. Most Libertarians, including myself, are unlikely to run in a big city like Austin and win, or even get 35% of the vote.
The vast majority of Libertarians in Texas live in medium or big cities. What are they to do?
They could help people in small towns run for winnable races, but even that has limitations. Most people that win local races in small towns win by personally meeting with voters and organizations. They spend less than $1,000. Lots of out of town money and volunteers is just as likely to raise red flags and turn off voters as it is to help someone win. Plus, many Texans aren’t willing to drive a long way, daily, to help someone in a small town.
Big City Texans could send all of their donations to the LP Pennsylvania or donate to me or my PAC for my efforts in other states. But, something tells me that’s not likely to be a big hit.
What I want to see Big City Texans do is run for partisan offices even knowing that they probably won’t win, and they should do it to promote Libertarian policies.
Taking it a step further, I wish Libertarians running for unwinnable partisan races would be honest with themselves about their chances of winning. I’ve seen so many Libertarians run for partisan offices, sometimes even getting higher percentages than the average Libertarian, but lose, and then report how surprised and disappointed they are. We can debate the merits of admitting to the public we know we’re going to lose, but I wish we could at least be honest with ourselves most of the time. Over the years, when I’ve admitted Libertarians would almost certainly lose an election, I often get a lot of irate feedback from a few Libertarians. Yet I often wonder whether Libertarians might actually get higher vote percentages and be even more effective if we proclaimed proudly and publicly “Yes, I’m going to lose, but here’s why you should vote for me anyway.”
I’ve personally recruited several hundred Libertarian candidates and have probably communicated with well over a thousand. I’m pretty sure I’ve had well over a hundred tell me something along the lines of “I’m not like other candidates. I’m serious and I’m going to win.” It’s rare for me to bluntly say “I don’t think you’re going to win.” More likely, I’ll hint at it. “Great. Libertarians have never won a race for U.S. Congress. You’ll certainly be a hero when you win.”
I encourage Libertarians to run for office, but I don’t want to con them into thinking they can win something that practically everybody knows they won’t win.
Candidates who are accurate and honest with themselves about their chances of winning tend to be the ones who stick around the Libertarian Party after election day. Candidates who know they’re running for unwinnable offices are often better about getting a good Libertarian message out. Losing a race but changing some hearts and minds does more than losing with a weak message.
More comments from Chuck below. –Wes Benedict
===Comments from Chuck Moulton===
I have been aware for over a decade that a quirk in the Pennsylvania election law (Libertarian filing deadline months after the Republican and Democrat filing deadline) could be exploited to elect a lot of partisan Libertarians to local office. Despite sharing my plan frequently with anyone who I thought could help, no one stepped forward... consigning it as a solo dream limited my my own time constraints. Several election cycles I shared a list of openings at county meetings resulting in a few elected officials (if someone at the meeting happened to live in a municipality I highlighted), but it remained largely a missed opportunity.
Then Wes Benedict answered my call. He was excited by my plan, bringing both enthusiasm and a suite of useful skills to the project. Wes wrote a captivating recruitment letter and mail merged the list of opportunities with the list of registered voters (over 3,000 letters sent). Whereas some of the other organizers had limited time to respond to the many voicemails left by prospects inquiring about the letter (my phone was ringing off the hook for weeks!!), Wes was available 9 am - 9 pm by phone and email to answer questions, vet candidates, and walk them through the process in more detail.
After that he got each candidate his or her paperwork as a printable PDF pre-filled in with all the information we had. He helped stack candidates from the same district on nomination papers and get them in touch with each other to coordinate petitioning. Then he followed up with people and lined up alternative candidates when anyone dropped out. Wes even contacted the board of elections in multiple counties to get appropriate forms, double check procedures, and get signature requirements for each office. On top of all of that, he personally looked up petition signers in the database to verify candidates' signature validity rates!
Without the help of Wes, Art, and the Booster PAC, the great success we achieved electing Libertarians in Pennsylvania 2019 would not have been possible. I hope he helps again in 2021 and we can start earlier to expand our reach to every county instead of less than 1/5 of the state. Wes is a huge asset to libertarianism. I hope through generous donations he is able to continue devoting his time to this great cause.
The Libertarian Booster PAC is pleased to provide campaign materials for several candidates in Virginia based on results from the Libertarian Booster PAC's Legislative Scorecard for the 2018-2019 Virginia Assembly.
Here's the list:
Dear Virginia Libertarians:
Hi, this is Wes Benedict, former executive director of the Libertarian Party. I'm recruiting a team of candidates to run for Virginia House of Delegates this year and I'd like to talk to you about it. I'd like you to be a candidate. I'm running a PAC that will help you with every aspect of the campaign. We'll make a website, help with paperwork, and signs and stickers and write up issues for you. I'll make it very easy on you and I guarantee you'll have a little fun without taking much time. Please call me at 512-659-8896 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We could really use your help.
Around six Libertarians have already decided they are probably going to run for Delegate in Virginia. I'd like to add a few more before the filing deadline in June, but you need to act fast so we can file your paperwork, collect 125 valid petition signatures, and get the LP to nominate you.
If this help sounds too good to be true, it almost is. Most Libertarian candidates beg for help and report not receiving nearly as much help as they had hoped for by election day.
But this is not too good to be true. We've done this before. In 2013, the Libertarian Booster PAC provided similar help for six Virginia candidates for Delegate plus Robert Sarvis for Governor. I personally flew to Virginia and helped candidates get the remaining petition signatures they needed just before the deadline.
In 2012, for 34 Texas Libertarian candidates, we provided 34 websites, 2,890 yard signs, 3,445 bumper stickers, and 2,200 business cards. Most of those materials were provided at no cost to the candidates, although some candidates chose to contribute for extra campaign materials.
For 2019, we analyzed the votes of the incumbents and rated all 100 Delegates and 40 Senators based on their votes on key bills in the General Assembly from 2018-2019.
Look up what district you're in (click here), then view our Scorecard to see how your opponent voted.
All but one legislator scored below 50% on our scorecard. Obviously, it would help to have some Libertarians in the legislature to help move policy in a more Libertarian direction. However, simply by running for office, you help to bring attention to critical issues that are already close to passing in the legislature. Your campaign for delegate might just help to push one more Republican or Democrat incumbent to support decriminalizing marijuana, or reforming civil asset forfeiture in Virginia. Laws are changing for the better in other states, and Virginia is likely to follow--sooner with your help.
We’ve researched and written position statements on nine important issues, complete with examples of recent legislation.
Take jobs, for example. Your talking points will practically write themselves. “Delegate ____ voted for HB ####, a subsidy for energy companies. Vote for me and I’ll vote against corporate welfare bills that come before the House.”
Win or lose an election, your campaign helps change public policy for the better.
We've listed all of the filing steps and paperwork for you. We'll help with the paperwork. Please call or write to me as soon as possible! We need to get the filing process started right away.
Founder & President
Libertarian Booster PAC
The Libertarian Booster PAC is pleased to present our ratings of the members of the 2018-2019 Virginia state legislature, the General Assembly, based on their votes on various bills.
With average ratings of 16% in the Senate and 18% in the House of Delegates, it’s abundantly clear that the incumbents rarely vote to move public policy in a peaceful and productive direction and any differences between Democrats and Republicans are minor in the big picture. The Virginia legislature is almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, with no Libertarians serving.
Libertarians generally favor maximum freedom and a much smaller government, with lower taxes, less government spending, fewer regulations, and fewer restrictions on personal behavior and lifestyles.
People have a variety of preferences and priorities when it comes to religion, education, lifestyles, behavior, finances, and charity. Libertarians embrace diversity and think you should be able to do whatever you want as long as you aren’t infringing on the rights of others.
Much of the conflict in our society is the result of one group of people forcing other groups to do things they don’t want to do.
(continued in report below)
As Libertarians, we believe that government should not force people to pay for other people’s education. Our proposals here are much more limited: they are improvements that we think have some chance in the General Assembly.
Government spending on K-12 education has risen dramatically with no real improvement in outcomes. Libertarian-oriented policies will reduce the burden on taxpayers while improving service for students.
We support increased use of private schools and homeschooling, and expanded school choice for the students attending tax-funded public schools. Currently, education spending is about one-third of Virginia's state budget. We want to reduce state spending on education and to cut taxes accordingly. It’s up to the legislature to impose limits on spending for public schools, and not just pander to every cry for more spending “for the children.”
Most public school revenue comes from local taxes. If the state government’s K-12 budget is cut 10%, that will mean an average K-12 spending cut of about 4%. We recognize that a small cut will require some small sacrifices: slightly lower spending on facilities and sports, slightly lower total compensation for teachers and administrators, and slightly larger class sizes. No one ever likes to give up a penny, but we think a small cut will be easy to handle. If a school simply can’t handle it, it probably should be shut down or converted to a charter school.
Tax Credits and Vouchers
Currently, Virginia has an "Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program." This program helps a small number of lower-income students, but it is limited to $25 million per year, which is less than 0.2 percent of Virginia’s public school expenditures. It’s far too little.
Tax credits and vouchers will make private school attendance affordable for more families, and will also reduce the burden on public schools. Tax credits and vouchers both reduce the burden on the state’s education budget, because the amount redirected to private schools per student is less than the current public school spending per student. (Private schools have a significantly lower expense per student than public schools.) More competition will reduce costs, foster innovation, and lead to schools that better satisfy students, teachers and parents.
Around 10% of students in Virginia already attend private schools.
Although we support tax credits and vouchers, we oppose using them as an excuse to increase government regulations on private schools. Some private schools and charter schools will have problems, just like many public schools do. Perfection is impossible, but private schools have the benefit of competition. Unlike most public schools, if a private school is serving a student badly, the student’s parents can choose a different one.
Different parents want their children to learn different things, in different ways. Government’s one-size-fits-all system causes fights over which textbooks to use, how much to focus on science and math versus arts and humanities, or whether to give religious instruction. We should expand school choice so parents can send their children to the schools that best reflect their values and priorities, and to allow students to escape from the worst teachers.
We support a 10% cut to state spending on colleges and universities.
We recognize that this will result in some sacrifices: sports and amenities budgets may have to be reduced slightly, academic compensation may have to be reduced slightly, and tuitions may have to be increased slightly.
In 2018, the Virginia Senate committee on Education and Health narrowly approved Senate Bill 516 to expand charter schools, but the bill died in the Finance committee. Virginia legislators have not shown much interest in allowing greater school choice. According to Ballotpedia, only 1,200 students attended charter schools in Virginia in 2016, compared to 82,000 in North Carolina. Charter schools are not ideal from a Libertarian perspective, but they generally lower the burden on taxpayers, and they usually perform better than standard public schools.
John Stossel: Private School Success Around the World
Cato: U.S. Charter Schools Produce a Bigger Bang with Fewer Bucks
BallotPedia: School Choice in Virginia
Virginia Institute for Public Policy: The Public Education Tax Credit: Expanding Educational Opportunity in Virginia
Mercatus Center: Government Policy and Tuition in Higher Education