Michael Badnarik

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Libertarians love their children at least as much as the Democrats and the Republicans, probably more.

Michael J. Badnarik (born August 1, 1954) is an American software engineer, political figure, and educator.  He was the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2004 elections, and placed fourth in the race, slightly behind independent candidate Ralph Nader.

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  • If I give you a forty five percent chance at lethal injection, a fifty percent chance at the electric chair, and a five percent chance for escape which are you going to vote for? The electric chair, because you're likely to win?
  • If he were alive today I would assasinate that S.O.B myself (Speaking of Franklin D. Roosevelt).
  • Libertarians love their children at least as much as the Democrats and the Republicans, probably more.
  • Allow me to dispel a myth. People in the Middle East do not hate us for our freedom. They do not hate us for our lifestyle. They hate us because we have spent many years attempting to force them to emulate our lifestyle. The US government overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran and replaced him with the Shah. The US government gave weapons, intelligence and money to Saddam Hussein. The US government also helped Libyan Col. Qaddafi come to power, propped up the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian regime, and gave assistance to Osama bin Laden. Most Americans have forgotten these events. But the people of the Middle East will always remember. It was because of American troops in Saudi Arabia, lethal sanctions on Iraq, support for states in serious violation of International Law, and siding with Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians that terrorist leaders were able to recruit those individuals who caused 3,000 Americans to pay the ultimate price on September 11, 2001.
  • The foreign policy of the US has been one of "empire building" ever since the First World War. The Constitution authorizes government to provide for "national DE-fense", not "international OF-fense". If Americans were really interested in promoting our national safety, they would realize that a policy of constant foreign intervention directly undermines that stated goal. Our country has military forces stationed in 135 countries around the world, and we are influencing their governments and economies either directly or indirectly in every case. That is the political equivalent of poking them in the eye with a sharp stick. It is little wonder then that dozens of countries and millions of people around the world harbor more than a little resentment against us. The recent mutilation of American civilians is just the beginning of the violence that will be directed toward us if we do not bring our troops home where they belong.
  • The Patriot Act is the most egregious piece of legislation to ever leave Congress since the Alien and Sedition Acts, John Ashcroft and every member of Congress who voted for it should be indicted.
  • The question is: How bad do things have to get before you will do something about it? Where is your line in the sand? If you don't enforce the constitutional limitations on your government very soon, you are likely to find out what World War III will be like. I'm quite sure that I will never experience that war - because dissidents are always the first to be eliminated.
    • Source: Good to be King (2004)
  • I am a very peaceful man. I love people and am known for my gregarious personality. However, if you try to confiscate my guns, I will feel compelled to give them to you, one bullet at a time.
    • Source: Good to be King (2004)
  • I have the right to do whatever I wish with my property. If I own a pile of wood, I can set fire to it even if it is currently nailed together in the shape of a barn. Cigarettes may not be healthy for me in the long run, but I have the freedom to smoke them anyway. Drinking alcohol may or may not have negative side effects, but even if it does, the government has no authority to prohibit you from consuming it, even if it is "in your own best interest." Since when do we let the government decide what is or isn't good for us? What the hell does Congress know about nutrition, anyway? (For that matter, what does Congress know about the Constitution?) If the government can use force whenever something is "in our best interest" then government should force everyone to wake up at 6am every morning for calisthenics in the front yard. Fast food establishments should be torn down and replaced with bars that serve carrot juice and alfalfa sprouts, since - "it's in your best interest." This paternalistic attitude that "the government knows best" and that you are merely a helpless child is insulting and reprehensible. Hitler used the same attitude to persuade the Germans to subjugate themselves to the "Fatherland."
    • Source: Good to be King (2004)
  • The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, and in 1776, that's exactly what they meant. Women could not vote, women could not own property, and blacks were considered property. After 200 years of enlightenment, we have realized that gender and race are inappropriate distinctions for determining who has individual rights. Anytime Gov gives you permission they let you know that you have permission by giving you a permit or a license. If you have a marriage license, what permission do you have to do now that you did not have permission to do before, who gave you that permission, and who gave them the authority to give you that permission in the first place?
  • Marriage partners, not government, should define the terms and spiritual orientation of their union in accordance with our nation's guarantee of religious freedom.
  • The Patriot Act [...] makes a mockery of the Sixth Amendment, which protects your right to a speedy and public trial, and your right to the assistance of counsel for your defense.
    • Source: Good to be King (2004)
  • People are usually surprised to discover that I hate the phrase "constitutional rights." I hate the phrase because it is terribly misleading. Most of the people who say it or hear it have the impression that the Constitution "grants" them their rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Strictly speaking it is the Bill of Rights that enumerates our rights, but none of our founding documents bestow anything on you at all [...] The government can burn the Constitution and shred the Bill of Rights, but those actions wouldn't have the slightest effect on the rights you've always had.
    • Source: Good to be King (2004)
  • It's a long, hard, uphill battle. A lot of Americans don't know that until the 1890s, the government didn't print ballots at all. Voters wrote their own, or used pre-printed ballots provided by the party of their choice. The adoption of the "Australian ballot" gave the politicians control of what choices were put in front of voters.
There are various alternative voting systems that address this problem.
Instant Runoff Voting allows the voter to assign a rank to each candidate; if no candidate gets a majority of "first place" votes, then "second place" votes are counted, and so on, until someone gets a majority. This allows people to choose a "third party" candidate as their first preference, but still get a vote between frontrunners if their candidate loses.
Personally, I prefer Approval Voting. In this method, each voter can select as many candidates as he likes -- he can vote for all the candidates whom he can live with. All of the votes are counted, and the candidate with the most votes wins. The result is that the winner is not necessarily "the most popular," but "the one that the most voters are okay with."
Of course, the "major" parties don't approve of anything that might threaten to break their shared monopoly on power. That's why they've instituted the Australian ballot and draconian ballot access laws. But we'll keep fighting them until we win.
  • Of course, with some of the changes I'm proposing, I've set a longer timeline on anyway. With American troops in more than 135 countries around the globe, I don't plan to just buy them all airline tickets and tell them to catch the next plane home. My plan for Iraq is a 90-day phased withdrawal concentrating on the physical security of the troops. For drawing down the US military presence in Germany, Korea, Japan and elsewhere, I've proposed a two-year timeline, with the first actual troop pullouts beginning at the end of the first year. That's quicker than George W. Bush's 10-year timeline, but it isn't unduly hasty.
My expectation is that if we eliminate the Fed's monopoly on currency provision, the Fed will continue exist -- it will just have to compete with other currency options on a truly level playing field without the government demanding that its currency be accepted instead of others. People can decide whether they want to hold their wealth in green pieces of paper backed only by seven trillion dollars in debt, or in currency coined of, or backed by, some scarce commodity. I'm not planning to haul Alan Greenspan and the Board of Governors off to Indiana for death by lethal injection or anything like that.
  • I have to tell you that I'm skeptical of electoral college reform at the federal level. Yes, the system has flaws, but I haven't seen any alternative proposals that don't have serious flaws themselves.
On the state level, I do advocate choosing electors by congressional district as Maine and Nebraska do, with the two non-district electors going to the overall winner of the popular vote. That would be more reflective of overall American voter sentiment.
Going to a straight popular vote would, perversely, represent the end of American democracy. Candidates would be inclined to cater to a few urban areas where they can buy the most votes for their buck (or their promise), effectively disenfranchising rural voters. To the extent that the presidency is a representative office, it should represent Peoria and Birmingham as much as it represents New York and Los Angeles.
  • If the "wasted vote" argument ever held any water, it doesn't any more. The two major parties have moved toward a weird, non-existent "center" for the last 50 years, to the point where it's difficult to tell them apart.
We could argue all day about whether Bush or Kerry is the "lesser evil." The fact is that they both support the war in Iraq. They both oppose gun rights. They both supported the PATRIOT Act. They both support the war on drugs. They both support confiscatory taxation. They both support ruinously high levels of spending, huge deficits and increasing debt.
It's hard to tell them apart on the real issues. They spend their time scrapping over "swing votes" in the gray area of the "center" -- which means, in practice, "how do I not make too many people too angry to vote for me?" That's no way to do politics. Politics, in my view, should be as unimportant as possible -- but where it's important, it has to value freedom, remain rooted in principle and be forward-looking.
  • Seriously, all politics is ideology-based. Unthinking majoritarianism, Machiavellian strategizing and centrist compromise are ideologies too. If they weren't ideologies 100 years ago, they are now, because they are the lodestones which guide our politicians' every action. And you see where that's gotten us.
  • "Free trade," like any other term, is often coopted to mean something other than what it should. In the context of modern America and the globalization phenomenon, it is often used to refer to a web of regulations, restrictions, subsidies, government-created monopolies and privileges. That's not free trade.
First, let's look at the nature of corporations. They come into existence with the grant of a government charter. They sell stock under the auspices and pursuant to the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In court, they are treated as "persons" with "rights" -- and for purposes of liability, their stockholders are held harmless beyond the value of their stock itself.
A market in which single proprietorships and partnerships must compete against what are essentially mini-branches of government, with all the attendant privileges and immunities, isn't a free market. It's a rigged game.
We need to restore justice to the system. Stockholders are owners, and should be liable for the consequences of that ownership like any other owners. I have no doubt that the market will come up with "portfolio insurance" to protect the stockholders from ruinous claims, but that in itself will provide a market check on unrestrained, unaccountable growth -- companies which act irresponsibly will find that their stockholders can't buy, or have to pay unreasonably high, insurance premiums, and therefore aren't interested in having the stock.
Corporations don't have rights and don't face consequences. People do. Tinkering with that has been disastrous. It's time to get back to full responsibility for individuals instead of government privilege for corporations.
  • I think the issue is moving too fast for true polarization within the Libertarian Party. Libertarians hold disparate views on intellectual property, but we also realize that it's an issue that will resolve itself as time goes on.
  • In the larger realm of privacy, it's already apparent to me that the good guys are going to triumph. Strong crypto, a robust movement to provide privacy solutions to ordinary people by the Free Software Movement and others, and ongoing resistance to invasions of privacy are winning the battle. It's just hard to see that right now, when there's so much blood on the floor.
  • David Nolan, the founder of the Libertarian Party, is fond of pointing out that history seems to run in cycles of 70 years or so. We rebelled against the British and set up our own nation. 70 years later, we fought the War Between the States. 70 years after that, the Depression and the New Deal. If Nolan is right, and I don't find any fault in his logic, we're about at the end of a natural societal cycle. Barriers are breaking down and new things are coming.
  • If Iraq had posed a clear and present danger to the United States, and if Congress had declared war and thus empowered the president to act in the nation's defense, that would be one thing, although some of the corollaries to that action might still be problematic.
But Iraq didn't pose a clear and present danger to the United States. It didn't pose a danger to the United States at all. And the US has not, in fact, "liberated" the people of Iraq. They still have a dictator. For awhile, his name was Bremer. Now it's Allawi. And the US has the innocent blood of thousands of Iraqis and more than 1,000 of its own young men and women on its hands.
If you or I want to unseat or kill a thug like Saddam Hussein, we're morally free to do so. He's a tyrant and a murderer. We'd only be acting on behalf of his victims.
Once we bring other people unwillingly into the equation, it gets more complex. We don't have a right to kill the innocent. We don't have a right to pick our neighbors' pockets to finance the project. We don't have a right to conscript their children into our army, as some in Congress are now advocating.
  • I think the nuclear issue is somewhat overblown -- no pun intended.
The nuclear cat is out of the bag. That's the way it is. The world is therefore a more dangerous place, but let's not lose our heads.
If you look at history, only one country has ever used atomic or nuclear weapons in war. That country is the United States.
The Soviet Union had nuclear weapons and considered itself the arch-enemy of the US. Yet they never unleashed nuclear weapons on us. Ditto for China.
Pakistan and India have a history of 50 years of conflict. They're both nuclear powers. Yet they haven't used those arms. Israel has nuclear weapons, is surrounded by enemies and has had to fight for its very survival, yet has not used them.
The fact is that becoming a nuclear power entails a certain "growing up" on the part of nations. They suddenly realize that the stakes aren't a transient gain or a temporary loss, but the destruction of their entire nation. And so they keep those weapons as a deterrent and those weapons are never actually used.
I don't see any reason to believe that North Korea or Iran will be exceptions. They'll rattle their nuclear sabres to enhance their influence in their respective regions. They'll hold them up as a deterrent to attack by their enemies. But they won't just start popping nukes because they have them.
The real proliferation problem is the possibility that terrorists will acquire nuclear weapons. And the best solution, although not a perfect one, to that is to not give marginal nuclear powers reason to fear us and to want to support those terrorists.
  • I don't think that a transition from government schooling to market schooling would be particularly disruptive in that respect. "Public" education has been such an unmitigated disaster that most children would almost immediately be well ahead of where they had been when the transition took place.
Ever since the inception of government schooling in the 19th century under Horace Mann, the US has been on a downward trend in literacy, numeracy and science learning. Sometimes that trend is briefly halted, but it always continues. To the extent that there might be some mild upheaval, it seems to me that the more quickly we exit the downward spiral, the shorter the climb back up will be.
  • Capital migrates to where it is most profitably invested. That's just a fact of the market. If I can get a 10% return in Country A and a 25% return in Country B, you know where I'll be investing.
We can deal with that reality, or we can fight it. If we fight it, we'll lose. The future is not in trying to restrict trade or outlaw outsourcing -- it's in allowing innovation and competition, and in removing government impediments, like high taxes and expensive regulation, to keeping jobs here.
When a particular job or skill _does_ move offshore, all other things being equal, it merely frees Americans -- the most productive workers in the world -- to develop the NEXT job or skill or to come up with a more efficient, profitable way of providing the old one. And those innovations are make us the wealthiest country in the world. Instead of wondering where our jobs sewing soles on shoes went, we should be looking to what we can do that the sewing machine operator in Korea CAN'T do yet.
People also migrate to where they can make the most for their labor. Once again, that's just a fact of the market. One can hardly expect a Mexican agricultural laborer to work for $2.00 a day in Guadalajara when he can make $8.00 an hour in the San Joaquin Valley.
Legal immigration is a net economic benefit to our country. The fact that workers come here to pick our crops, work in our poultry plants, -- even take coding jobs at computer firms -- lowers the cost of the goods and services we buy, and frees us up to pursue ever more profitable opportunities. That may be cold comfort to a particular worker who's just been sent home while an Indian on an H-2 visa sits down at his old workstation, but it's a fact. If that worker hadn't come to the job, the job would have gone to him via outsourcing -- or it would have gone undone because the profit margin was unattractive by comparison to other investments in labor.
I advocate lifting all restrictions on peaceful immigration. Immigration is not something we can stop. We might as well get the benefit of it instead of tying ourselves into knots fighting it.
This brings up the third issue: Borders. Some people believe that lifting immigration restrictions implies "open borders." That's like saying that an invitation to my house means it's okay for you to crawl through my bedroom window at four in the morning.
Immigrants should be welcome to come here -- as long as they're willing to come in through the front door. They should enter the US through a Customs and Immigration checkpoint, identify themselves, and let us verify that they aren't terrorists or criminals.
People who come across our borders at remote locations under cover of darkness, when they were free to enter through the front door, aren't immigrants. They're invaders. Illegal immigration creates an industry of "coyotes" to guide people across, and it provides cover for the non-peaceful -- terrorists and criminals -- to enter the country.
The border is a national security feature. I propose to treat it as such. In tandem with lifting immigration restrictions, I'd free our military to defend the border against invaders. And those invaders would no longer have a place to hide among real immigrants, or an underlying infrastructure of support for getting them across, because the peaceful immigrants would be entering legitimately.

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