Our Interview with Carl Milsted (Part 2)

Dr. Carl Milsted, Jr. is the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Buncombe County, N.C. and a founder of the Libertarian Reform Caucus. Presented below is part two of our interview with him, part of our on-going series that explores current efforts to reform the Libertarian Party.

TPW: Of the various reforms that you call for within the mechanical structure of the party, which one do you feel is absolutely the most important?

Milsted: We need to scrap Robert’s Rules when it comes to debating and amending motions! Many times I have seen more convention time wasted on debating what is “in order” than was used debating the merits of the motion. I have seen many times t! hat a convention or a central committee (including the LNC) failed to produce a motion that best reflected the will of the body because time ran out debating a stupid amendment or some faction managed to successfully game the system.

I think that all amended versions of a motion should be “in order” to discuss when debating a motion. I think that Robert’s serial protocol of voting on one amendment at a time should be replaced by parallel voting on all the versions of a motion at the end of debate. Condorcet’s method is the gold standard for doing the vote, but it is too complicated for most situations. Approval voting is simple enough to do by voice vote and shows of hands. You could do multiple elimination rounds of approval voting if you want to get closer to Condorcet.

TPW: Same question, except about the platform. If you could successfully reform only one plank of the LP’s platform, which would you target for maximum benefit?

Milsted: You ask a very tough question! Once you take the perspective that the platform should promote a reasonable agenda for the next four years, and that the platform should be an asset if read in public, you realize what a horrible document it is. When I went through all the planks to do an approval vote on them, there were very few I could vote for. Either they pointed to anarchy (not very popular!), were poorly written (worse, since the reformatting), or contained one or more deal-killers for a significant part of the population.

I am going to cheat and give you several must-fix planks:

1. Immigration—unlimited immigration and having a welfare state do not mix. Hard-working immigrants come in and bid down the price of labor, which leads to more native born citizens going on welfare. After we fix the welfare system, as well as making the Third World richer by setting up standards of government that they can imitate successfully and become rich, opening up the borders becomes much more feasible.

2. Taxes—the current platform calls for defaulting on the national debt! It calls for zero taxation! This is anarchy, and anarchy is not a majority position in any district within the U.S. Maybe after we cut the government substantially, more people will find anarcho-capitalism to be a reasonable idea, but we are nowhere near there today, and we will never arrive at that destination until we start cutting government. The platform needs to call for simpler taxes, that more closely fit the ideal of user fees for services rendered. It needs to call for paying down the $7 trillion dollars of debt that the Democrats and Republicans have run up.

3. Gold Standard—The LP want to immediately eliminate inflation. With the national government $7 trillion in debt and the citizens having maxed-out credit cards, this is a recipe for Really Great Depression. As a nation we need to pay down some debt before going back to hard money.

4. The Environment—The LP has a very simplistic position on the environment, one that is guaranteed to lose nearly every voter is below the age of 30. For local concentrations of pollution tort law is appropriate. For waste dumps that were legally produced in the past, the Superfund is a reasonable approach, inefficient though it may be. For widely dispersed pollutants, legislatures can better represent the victims than twelve jurors chosen for a class action lawsuit. And I have more faith in the scientist who work for the regulatory agencies that in lawyers and expert witnesses. The problem with many of the regulatory agencies is that the mandates that they work under need work.

5. Drugs—We can be the Party of Pot and win votes on the subject. But the people are not ready for crack vending machines.

6. Abortion—The non-initiation of force principle, which is the core of libertarianism, gives an ambiguous answer on the abortion question. Making abortion illegal does reduce a woman’s rights. However, if an embryo counts as a human, then we are talking about reducing a woman’s right to commit murder. Different libertarians come down on different sides of whether an embryo counts as human. The LP platform represent one side of the debate, which gives us appeal to only half of the libertarian movement. We need to get the abortion plank out of the platform or simply state that we are divided on this issue.

TPW: Finally, what figure within the party (past or present candidates, officers, etc.) do you feel was the most effective at communicating the Libertarian message? Why?

Milsted: Another tough one. I would guess David Boaz, who ghost wrote Ed Clark’s campaign book. It has been years since I read A New Beginning but my recollection is that it called for reasonable, if ambitious measures.

To find out more about the Libertarian Reform Caucus, click here.

3 Responses to “Our Interview with Carl Milsted (Part 2)”

  1. NewFederalist Says:

    Good interview, Austin! Very informative and stimulating. I believe the Libertarians would do well to heed some of Carl Milsted’s advice.

  2. Austin Cassidy Says:

    NF, thanks! I’m happy people have begun talking seriously about this topic. Maybe some day down the road I’ll call myself a Libertarian again.

  3. Stuart Richards Says:

    I hope so… we really, truly need guys like you to join and lend us reformers a hand.

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