Year: 2016

Reno’s Seen the Dangers of Public Stadiums

In early 2008, after the better part of a decade of failed stadium deals, SK Baseball approached Reno with a proposition – loan SK Baseball $55 million, and, in return, they’ll build a stadium in downtown Reno and repay the loan through property taxes on the stadium. To SK Baseball’s credit, the stadium was built and the Tucson Sidewinders moved to Reno; unfortunately, the stadium never broke even and, seven years later, the best SK Baseball could do was pay interest on the loan. This led the stadium to run $2.7 million behind in its tax payments; eventually, the city and Washoe County settled for $1.9 million of that, which the stadium has been paying off since 2015.

In return for lost tax revenue, what did Reno get? A stadium that’s empty for half of the year, a neighborhood that still remains largely empty, and millions of dollars of debt. In short, like every other public stadium deal, the taxpayers of Reno came out of the deal with a losing hand. In this case, even the developers lost money on this project, which might help explain why private developers are so reluctant to assume stadium construction costs all by themselves.

Now it’s Clark County’s turn, and all because Sheldon Adelson doesn’t want to leave town to watch a live NFL game.

Other writers in this and past LP Nevada newsletters, as well as countless others, have gone to great lengths to explain how and why the Raiders stadium deal is terrible for Nevadans. The $750 million raised to pay for its construction could be used for other, better things; in fact, I’ve even facetiously argued that it would be better served equipping the Nevada National Guard to raid California for plunder. However, I want to spend a few moments considering some other concerns you might not already be aware of.

First, the $750 million being raised to pay for the stadium makes Nevada that much more dependent on our tourism industry. As things currently stand, nearly half of our state government’s revenue comes from the gaming and tourism industry. That might sound great on the surface – half of Nevada’s public services are being provided by people from out of state? How wonderful! We must be blessed to receive such bounty without necessarily paying for it ourselves! Before we count our blessings, though, we must ask ourselves – how did this happen? Why did Nevada’s casinos, well funded as they are, agree to this arrangement? The answer is simple: The casino industry knows full well that, when half of our state government’s revenue comes from gaming and tourism, what’s good for gaming and tourism is “good for Nevada”. What choice do Nevada’s lawmakers have but to avoid another repeat of 2008 when the tourist-funded half of Nevada’s budget evaporated faster than a drought-stricken playa? What choice do Nevada’s lawmakers have but to ensure the prosperity and success of the industry that pays half of our bills? What choice do Nevada’s lawmakers have but to vote “yes” on a terrible stadium deal, one likely to bind Clark County’s voters into repaying stadium debt instead of building new schools or roads over the next 30 years, when the alternative is to potentially jeopardize the funding for half of our schools and half of our roads?

The bad news doesn’t end there, though. Citizens of Reno know how much economic development happens around a football stadium – the answer, not surprisingly, is “not much”, as a quick look across the street from Mackay Stadium will tell you. Oh sure, there are a couple of pubs, a 7-Eleven, a small motel, a gas station, and it’s true that the Wolf Pack only draw a little over 22,000 fans per game, so that mutes the economic impact somewhat. On the other hand, the Oakland Raiders currently only average just over double that – does that mean that Clark County is paying $750 million for the promise of having an extra four pubs, two 7-Elevens, two small motels, and two gas stations? Does that sound like $750 million worth of economic development to you? Before you answer that, realize I put my thumb on the scale – in favor of Mackay Stadium, whose surrounding businesses also benefit from having a 21,000 student university across the street from them. The Oakland Raiders stadium will have to support its paltry number of bars, convenience stores, and gas stations with far less foot traffic than two Mackay Stadiums would.

Examining the evidence from our own backyard – Reno’s own history with public stadium construction, the ephemeral economic development surrounding Reno’s two public stadiums, the knowledge that the money raised for a public stadium could be better utilized anywhere else, and the increased dependency on an industry that already controls far too much of Nevada’s purse – the case is clear: Nevada should not let the Raiders raid our state.

If you would like to demonstrate to your legislators that you also have two eyes and some common sense, tell them your thoughts on the upcoming stadium deal – you can find their contact information here and here.

David Colborne is the Libertarian Party’s candidate for State Senate 15. You can learn more about his campaign here.

David Colborne for Nevada State Senate District 15 in 2016 by Darron Birgenheier is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.

Don’t Raid Me Bro

We all know politics is dirty, but what if I told you the bedfellow you trust, the bedfellow that promises to never betray you, and the bedfellow that has been really good to you is about to slip you a roofie, drag you out to his van and screw you for $750 Million? Well, get a pillow ready, because after you use it to keep yourself from biting off your tongue, you are going to need it to sit down for a while.

In 2010, Victor Joecks wrote an article for Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI).  It was titled,  “Should Las Vegas build an arena for a pro sports team?”  The first sentence of the article begins “Easy answer, Definitely Not.”  Well, that seems pretty definitive.  The rest of the article talks about the role of government, the risks of a slowdown causing the tax money that will pay for the arena dwindling, the unforeseen costs as well as what County Commissioner Giunchigliani calls “the devil in the details”.  The article further describes how other places are financing the arenas and expansions of existing venues with different seat auctions like mortgages that can be financed over a long period.  All in all, the article from NPRI was 100% against the government – ie the people – being on the hook for a billionaire who wants a sports team but doesn’t want to pay for the whole stadium. At the time, I don’t think the “billionaire” in question was 2007 NPRI “Chairman Award” winner Sheldon Adelson (and big time donor).   In 2016, Victor Joecks hasn’t written much, and when he did last write, he focused on Tesla tax giveaways, Faraday tax giveaways, and, of course, the huge tax increase from the GOP legislature that is going into effect.  It looks like Victor is now the Executive Vice President of Strategic Plan and Policy Initiatives; something tells me he doesn’t have anything to say about a donor’s strategic plan and policy of receiving $750 Million of tax money.

Move over, fiscally responsible NPRI writers and editors – there is a new billionaire who wants a stadium paid for by tax money. This new bedfellow is the same parsimonious guardian of our tax dollars when it was going to someone else. Adelson is in the game to get a new stadium deal and lure the Raiders to Las Vegas, it is time to put the muzzle on the once dependable guard dog of the public’s wallet. No longer can NPRI call out the blatant “Easy Answer, Definitely Not” to this stadium deal – NPRI needs to be funded, and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, the same way that Republicans don’t recoil in horror when Trump echoes the calls for Obamacare style child care and maternity leave. Come on – he may be a liar, crook and political huckster, but he’s our liar, crook and political huckster. But this isn’t about Trump – that is just to get you to see the blatant blindness to shenanigans that goes on with politics. No matter how dedicated you are to your principles, no matter how much you put “duty” before “politics”, when push comes to shove you are still on your stomach biting into a pillow while a sweaty fat man is whispering in your ear “lesser evil” and “it could be worse”. Yeah. I guess it could. I could feel betrayed by someone I trusted. Good thing I’m a Libertarian, and I don’t trust Republicans.

Jason Smith is the Vice-Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Nevada.

Pillows by Kristopha Hon is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.

Obamacare is a paternalistic threat to liberty

Behind every new law or regulation is a group of people trying to justify it, and Obamacare is no different. Every law mandated is a piece of liberty taken away. 

The Affordable Care Act requires everyone to be insured. Why? Because the government knows what’s best for us? The real threat is that the government is making our decisions for us because they think they know what’s best for us. We have surrendered our power to think and decide for ourselves.

To be fair, something had to be done about the rising cost of healthcare, but requiring everyone to be insured is not the way to do it. Why is it a threat? It forces citizens to pay for it, yet many have complained about high premiums and deductibles. Consequently, many people will not use health care since it will increase their costs instead of saving money. One of my friends was shopping for insurance, and he found a plan that had a $5000 annual deductible. That means that he is paying the first $5000 each year. That is not saving, unless, of course, he has a major surgery or hospitalization.

In her book, “Decoding the Obama Health Law: What you need to know,” Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D. refers to the new Health Insurance Marketplace: “It can sound good. But keep in mind. It also means only having one choice: apples. The trade-off is more uniformity and fewer choices.”

Capitalism is about choices and competition. By having more choices, you will control costs, and by having competition, you will have good quality of products and services. Under the Affordable Care Act, there is no empowerment for the average citizen as each citizen will be making a decision based on the same choices.

Almost a century ago, it was social security. It required everyone to contribute to other people’s retirement. It forced the worker to contribute money because, after all, the government made sure that people would have a nest egg because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do it on their own. Now it is health care. Now many of us are who are already covered by an employers’ plan have seen an increase of costs. This will most likely get worse. It is a sneaky way of redistributing our income to put it in the collective pot of health care.

There will always be a need or excuse to require something in the form of a law, but it is up to us to use common sense and advocate for ourselves and remind each one of us, including the government, that we own our lives and we are responsible for them as well.

444 (311) from SIM USA is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.

June 2016 Newsletter

Please click on the image to view the newsletter or visit this link.

HINT: The newsletter is interactive and there are a lot of links. The best way to navigate is to open links in new windows by doing the following:

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The purpose of our monthly newsletter is to keep Libertarians up to date with the Libertarian Party of Nevada! We are always looking for people to help us as contributors, graphics/layout and more! If you are interested please visit www.lpnevada.org/volunteer.

#NeverTrump: True Republicans Desire an Alternative

So you’re a Republican who has had enough of the party and its support for the Donald, eh? Whether you are dissatisfied with his politics, his personality, or his hair, we want to let you know that there is an alternative this year! And it’s not Hillary…

This year, you have the opportunity to vote for a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, a CEO and programmer of the first anti-virus company in the world, or a prolific social media user and website designer.

But Alex – the primaries are basically over. It’s going to be Trump vs. Clinton. What choice do I have?

This year, you have the chance to make a difference. You have the opportunity to wake up the two-party system. You can be part of a historic movement toward a multi-party system of government, but only if you help break the stalemate of Republican vs. Democrat.

This year, on November 8th, you can vote for the Libertarian Party. Their candidate is on the ballot in all fifty of the United States. Their candidate is an advocate for a smaller, more-transparent government. They want to lower your income taxes. They want to end the fees and licensing for businesses. They want to stop government charities in favor of private ones, such as churches and non-profits. Don’t believe me? Watch this incredible debate:

But they need your support. There are several ways you can help the Libertarian Party defeat Hillary and Trump at the ballot box:

  1. Vote Libertarian in polls online or via telephone.
  2. Switch your voter registration to the Libertarian Party.
  3. Talk about this option to your friends. Spread the word!
  4. Become an official member of the Libertarian Party and your state-affiliate.
  5. Most of all, Vote LIBERTARIAN PARTY in November!

This year, don’t waste your vote on the “evils.” Vote for a candidate you can actually support. One who knows the issues, can argue them, and ultimately, can run the largest company in the world – The United States of America.

May 2016 Newsletter

Please click on the image to view the newsletter or visit this link.

HINT: The newsletter is interactive and there are a lot of links. The best way to navigate is to open links in new windows by doing the following:

  • Windows Users. Hold down the Ctrl button at the same time you click on the link.
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The purpose of our monthly newsletter is to keep Libertarians up to date with the Libertarian Party of Nevada! We are always looking for people to help us as contributors, graphics/layout and more! If you are interested please visit www.lpnevada.org/volunteer.

Clarification about the NAP

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

There seems to be a lot of confusion within the party, and the broader Liberty Movement, about the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), the Statement Of Principles (SOP), the LP Pledge, “pragmatism,” “purity,” and even libertarianism. Lets try to clear it up, shall we? First of all, it is unreservedly false that the NAP is the “core principle,” of Libertarianism, or even that it’s a defining feature. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, defined by an easily identifiable set of policies. One is a libertarian, or not, on the basis of the policies that you support or oppose, not on the basis of your justification for those policies. The NAP is an ethical philosophy, defined by holding the categorical opposition to the initiation of force as the highest good (or, in many cases, the only good).

Does being opposed to the initiation of force make me an NAPer? Not necessarily, or even in most cases. The NAP is about fiat justitia ruat caelum (justice, though the heavens may fall), and defines justice as the absence of coercion. You’re only an NAPer if you don’t think it would be moral to coerce people under any circumstances. For instance, if you knew for a fact that the world is in imminent danger of cataclysm by way of asteroid, and everyone refuses to fund an asteroid diversion program because it’s non-rival, would you support coercive measures? It doesn’t matter if you don’t think that it’s practical. Opposing the initiation of force because it’s counterproductive, or because the costs exceed the benefits, doesn’t make you an NAPer. If you think that we shouldn’t initiate force because it violates people’s Natural or Individual Rights, you’re not an NAPer. If you think that we shouldn’t allow people, including the government, to initiate force because people can’t be trusted not to abuse their power, you’re not an NAPer. Unless you believe that we shouldn’t initiate force even in a hypothetical situation where the best outcome is one in which we do initiate force, you’re not an NAPer.

The NAP sounds circular. We shouldn’t initiate force because we shouldn’t initiate force? Yes, but that’s not as unusual as it sounds. The idea that we should give one arbitrary value absolute moral primacy is very common in ethics. It’s called “deontology,” and there are many examples. Kant’s Categorical Imperative is deontological, and so is religious morality (Divine Command Theory). Some people have a deontological preference for equality. In a PhilPapers.org survey of 931 philosophers from 2009, some 25.9% are deontologists of some stripe, compared to 23.6% who are consequentialists, 18.2% who are virtue ethicists, and the remainder (32.3%) some combination, none, or “other.”

Some libertarians would argue that libertarianism on the grounds of the NAP is “more pure” than libertarianism on consequentialist grounds. Those people are clearly confused about what the word “libertarian” means. You can be an anarchist on the basis of consequences, like David Friedman. You can be an incrementalist in the pursuit of the NAP. The justification for a person’s political philosophy has nothing at all to do with how radical they are, either in their ideology, or in terms of their approach.

What is the SOP, and does it contain, or is it synonymous with, the NAP? The Statement of Principles is ultimately the mission statement for the Libertarian Party. It lays out, very clearly, what the Libertarian position is on the appropriate role of government, and how libertarians believe society should be organized. What it doesn’t do, is choose a particular ethical philosophy to support these principles (one particular justification is used throughout, but not the NAP). So why do people think the SOP contains the NAP? I have asked a number of NAP advocates this exact question, but none of them have been willing to answer. Since a different justification is used throughout, it seems unlikely that those responsible for drafting the SOP were NAPers at all. I suspect the confusion comes from the fact that the SOP contains the clause “we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others.” We do, but that is a statement of policy, not of ethics. The NAP is the justification for the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others, and therefore the justification for opposing certain actions (such as taxation). It is not descriptive of policies supported on other grounds–the word for that is libertarian. If the SOP provided no independent justification for opposing the initiation of physical force, it would still not be an endorsement of the NAP–any justification would be equally acceptable. In fact, the SOP provides an explicit ethical justification for opposition to the initiation of force throughout–not categorical non-aggression, but Natural Rights. In fact, the word “rights,” or some form thereof, appears 13 times in the SOP. Does that mean that people who have other justifications are not welcome in the LP, or are somehow less Libertarian? Of course not–you can be an NAPer and a Libertarian at the same time. It simply means that the framers of the SOP were influenced by some brand of Natural Rights Theory.

Ok, so you don’t have to believe in the NAP to be a Libertarian, but you do have to agree with the rejection of the initiation of the use of force in all cases, right? Not necessarily. It’s true, the libertarian policy in any particular case is generally to reject the initiation of the use of force. But you don’t have to agree with the libertarian position on every issue to be a libertarian. In fact, some people are libertarians because of the outcomes they think libertarian policies can provide. That means that where the evidence indicates that outcomes would be better because of a certain non-libertarian policy, we should support that non-libertarian policy. In fact, if the evidence convinces us that libertarianism isn’t the best political ideology, we should change our ideology. In my experience, there is not compelling evidence that we should stop being libertarian, even on any one issue. Your position isn’t stronger for saying that it’s not responsive to evidence.

What about pragmatism? Isn’t there a gap between Libertarians who want to be effective and Libertarians who want to be principled? There is, but only between the most confused people on both sides. We don’t have to be one or the other. In fact, it’s impossible to only be one or the other. Pragmatism has to be a principle, or the rest of your principles are so much hot air. You can’t win if you’re not pragmatic. That means that you have to vote, even if voting is a bad way to organize society and an initiation of force (it is a bad way to organize society (consequential), and it is an initiation of force unless you’re voting libertarian, in which case it’s self defense (deontological)). It means that you have to take matching funds if they’re available, even if matching funds are bad policy, a massive violation of freedom of speech, and are funded through unjustified theft (they are, they are, and they are). We must drive on government roads, collect Social Security, exploit tax exemptions and subsidies. As long as we’re fighting against the continued existence of these policies, we can’t let the people who are fighting for them reap benefits at our expense. If we do, how will we ever get these programs eliminated?

Does this mean that we need to “moderate” our views, especially by pandering to Republicans, and conservatives? First of all, there is no natural alliance between libertarians and conservatives. There’s no reason to think that we’re closer to them on policy than we are to socialists. Socialists might want to interfere slightly more in the economy (though not necessarily), but here in America, they’re not usually the ones pushing to ban immigration, gay marriage, and drugs, and they’re not usually the ones that want to rush off to war. What good does it do us to adopting a bunch of conservative positions? Are we going to out-conservative the conservatives? If not, the conservatives are going to support the conservative candidate, not the libertarian candidate. If we do out-conservative them, what’s the point? Rand Paul proved that pandering to social conservatives leads to spectacular failure.

Surely you’re not saying that we should campaign as anarchists, are you? Of course not, silly (not yet, in any case). We don’t have to reverse ourselves on anything by adopting the right-wing or left-wing positions, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be moderates. We can tell people what our end goal is, even for those of us whose end goal is anarchy (although it’s very difficult to do that responsibly, and usually does not involve use of the word “anarchy”). But we should support an incremental approach to that end goal. Democrats and Republicans were able to craft a government like the one we have now not by selling a system of cronyism and control, but by selling it incrementally. We don’t have to pretend that we support any of the things government does. We don’t have to say “I’m a libertarian, but a free market would never figure out roads,” but we should say “we’ll start by eliminating the policies that are the most harmful or counterproductive, and as long as things keep getting better, we’ll keep going.”

That’s it? The difference between a pragmatist and a “purist” isn’t policy, it’s taking an incremental approach? Well, that helps, but our biggest problem isn’t messaging at all! Yes, I support an incremental approach, and yes, I want our candidates and advocates to make consequential arguments instead of deontological ones. Most people are consequentialists (up to 90%), and the others are nearly as unlikely to become NAPers. It’s easier to convince people that they’re wrong about their imagined results of a policy than it is to convince people that the things they value are wrong. But we have bigger problems. We’re all libertarians. We all support basically the same policies, if for different reasons. If we’re going to get any message out–deontological, consequentialist, or otherwise, we need a more professional, more strategic, more visible Party, with better candidates, trained staff, media access, and fundraising. The message doesn’t matter if no one can hear it.

The Allegory of Bathroom-Jesus

There has been much in-fighting in the Libertarian Party as of late. And for us to continue to grow, it needs to stop. We need to come together in a way that we haven’t for many years. In fact, I believe the Party is on the cusp on something huge. Something good, or something bad, is what we make of it, and how we handle the next 190 days. To start the conversation, I’d like to share a story my church’s pastor told us many years ago: The Allegory of Bathroom-Jesus. It has similar themes to Dr. Seuss’s “The Butter Battle Book.”

There once was a church, much like this one, full of enthusiastic young people, active volunteers, and a burgeoning congregation. The church was nestled in a quiet, rural community. The men met for breakfast weekly. The women would put on clothing, food, and necessity drives and donate gently used items to the poor and needy. The children would enjoy Fall and Spring festivals. The congregation was family.

One day, the cleaning lady, a church volunteer, came upon a picture of Jesus tucked away in a closet. There was this rather unsightly stain in the women’s bathroom, so she decided to use the picture of Jesus to cover it up. ‘What a perfect metaphor,’ she thought to herself. ‘Wasn’t getting any use in that closet anyway!’

The next Sunday, many of the women noticed the new picture, but not everyone was happy about it. In fact, some said the picture “is disrespectful to our Lord and Savior!” Some said the picture “would be more appropriate on the wall in the hall way.” Some argued that Jesus, who sees all, wouldn’t be offended by a picture of Himself on the bathroom wall.” On and on the debate went. Weeks later, the church was STILL arguing about the picture of Jesus on the bathroom wall. Soon, factions developed: Pro-Bathroom-Jesus, and Anti-Bathroom-Jesus. At this point, the pastor attempted to intervene in the affair, only to find out his wife disagreed with him completely! No one could figure out the answer to the pressing issue of Bathroom-Jesus. Who gets to decide? Perhaps the church should form a committee on the issue of Bathroom-Jesus?

Eventually, this issue became SO polarizing, that the Anti-Bathroom-Jesus church goers decided to split off and form their own church. After all, they didn’t want to disrespect the Lord. But in the process of splitting off, friends were ripped apart. Families divided. A whole congregation for a community torn asunder.

Why did this happen? How did it get that far? It’s because the church goers lost sight of what is important. The church goers lost sight of why they went to church. The church goers lost sight of their goals, their values, and ultimately, their fellowship.

Now of course, at this point, the pastor went on to reiterate the goals of our church, and remind our congregation of what is important (which I won’t repeat here in case some of my atheist friends made it this far). The bottom line is:

The LP can’t be that church. We have to refocus on why we are in the party to begin with. We have to focus on what’s important. We have to focus on our goals and values, and forge relationships-friendships– with each other. It’s fine to argue, it’s fine to disagree. But let’s disagree while remembering what we all agree on.

Smaller Government, more Freedom.

It’s more than a motto – it’s our mission statement. We can debate the NAP, immigration, GMOs, abortion, etc… – any and every polarizing issue in the LP, and totally miss out on communicating our mission statement. The broad brush strokes. If we want to reach the estimated 15% of the population of the US that agrees with our views entirely, we need to start communicating our mission statement. We need to get people on board with the big picture for the LP.

For many who have come from the Democrats or Republicans, there are planks in our party platform that they don’t agree with. Give them time. As an amazing state chair once told me, “libertarianism isn’t a destination for most, it’s a journey.” He said that to me having come from one of the other parties previously. We must be patient with those who disagree with us on the polarizing issues because we should be focused on the fact that they agree with 90% or more of our party platform. They are willing to leave a major political party and join up with the LP – a “third party.” We aren’t even considered THE “third party” yet.

We have to do better at communicating our message. We have to stop debating and start affecting hearts and minds for libertarianism. We can’t wait for the Ds and Rs to steamroll our momentum by jacking up ballot access requirements. It’s time to seize the day. 

If you want to get involved in communicating our message, check out our amazing Communications Division! We always need people to write blog articles, newsletter articles, press releases, and speeches. We are also looking for some awesome graphic designers. If this sounds like you, or you want to get involved, then definitely head over the Volunteer page and sign up today.

April 2016 Newsletter

Please click on the image to view the newsletter or visit this link.

HINT: The newsletter is interactive and there are a lot of links. The best way to navigate is to open links in new windows by doing the following:

  • Windows Users. Hold down the Ctrl button at the same time you click on the link.
  • MAC Users. Hold down the Command button at the same time you click on the link.

The purpose of our monthly newsletter is to keep Libertarians up to date with the Libertarian Party of Nevada! We are always looking for people to help us as contributors, graphics/layout and more! If you are interested please visit www.lpnevada.org/volunteer.

March 2016 Newsletter

To view the newsletter, visit this link.

HINT: The newsletter is interactive and there are a lot of links. The best way to navigate is to open links in new windows by doing the following:

  • Windows Users. Hold down the Ctrl button at the same time you click on the link.
  • MAC Users. Hold down the Command button at the same time you click on the link.

The purpose of our monthly newsletter is to keep Libertarians up to date with the Libertarian Party of Nevada! We are always looking for people to help us as contributors, graphics/layout and more! If you are interested please visit www.lpnevada.org/volunteer.