The Libertarian of Vermont

Low taxes, Less government, More Freedom
October 1998

Table of Contents

NOTICE: Libertarian Victory Bash!!!

Libertarians and Friends: Come at 7:00 PM on Election night, November 3, to Lupine's Restaurant in Randolph (Corner of Main St. and Merchant Row) for a gathering of candidates and fellow Libertarians to follow the election returns, and to rejoice together after two years of hard work in support of Liberty.

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Libertarians, we've arrived! For the first time in many years we are real players on the Vermont political scene. Over the past several days, your chair Chris Costanzo has been besieged by suggestions from Republicans that we support Ruth Dwyer for the governorship. Some of these approaches have been beguilingly friendly, others shrill, and some downright abusive. All in all, it tells us that we're having an impact.

The points are always the same. We cannot hope to win. We are adopting a simplistic "all or nothing" policy that's not good for us and not good for Vermont, that we're fanatics and spoilers, that Ruth is obviously the most qualified candidate. "Good God, man," someone even said, "do you want to help Dean win?" Suggestions have been made that if Mrs. Berkey were to throw her support behind Ruth Dwyer, Dwyer might promise her a post in the next Vermont government.

Our response is that, no, we don't want Dean to win, but for that matter we don't want Ruth Dwyer to win either, since her brand of Republicanism is as equally offensive to liberty on a personal and family level as Dean's leftist politics are to property and business rights. What we really want is for Mrs. Berkey to win, but if she doesn't win she still will have given Vermont voters a political option. We want to end the "lesser-of-two-evils" mentality that has been the curse of our country these past decades. Now, with Libertarians on the ballot, Vermonters finally have a real choice. Also, any alliance between the VLP and a major party would cripple us. We are not fooled by the idea that we would gain influence in the corridors of government by such an arrangement. We would only be neutered, coopted, and absorbed. The ONLY way the Libertarian Party can have any significant influence is for us to get votes in our own right.

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(Announced on October 5 by Amy Berkey, Libertarian candidate for Governor of Vermont)

1) Repeal the Act 60 centralized funding scheme. According to Mrs. Berkey, our school system is already stagnant due to government regulations that stifle innovation. It will become worse if it becomes further centralized and subject to political whim and manipulation. A non centralized system is more conducive to free choice and a free market of ideas.

2) Put the public schools on the same level with private and alternative schools. First, return educational tax money to parents by giving them a dollar reduction in educational property tax for each dollar they spend on education for their children. Second, introduce a small tuition into public schools to generate fair competition and provide revenue to support them.

3) Allow energetic and dedicated Vermonters to set up new schools, free of state regulation. These schools would pop up across the state and begin to open up the possibility for real change in the choices and opportunities for young Vermonters. As in everything else, the free market of ideas works best

4) Implement full school choice. Let parents decide how to best educate their children whether at public, private, alternative or home schools. There should be no restrictions on parental decision in this regard. This would bring real equal educational opportunity for all Vermonters. The no-choice government system destroys opportunity."

5) Get Politicians out of Education. Education is too important to keep in the hands of politicians. It is unfair to our children to have their future tossed around on the basis of political whim. Only in a non-governmental school system would schools be truly "public" and responsive to the choices of students and their parents.

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With Fred Tuttle's endearing but unrealistic nomination as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Libertarian candidate Hugh Douglas has emerged as Vermont's only serious alternative to Democratic incumbent Pat Leahy.

Hugh Douglas's Kickoff Announcement

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The Republicans had planned to run Attorney Cindy Hill as their candidate for Attorney General, but something went terribly wrong. Followers of incumbent Democratic Attorney General William Sorrell entered the Republican primary and got him the Republican nomination instead. So, Mr. Sorrell, a Democrat if there ever was one, is now running as a "Democrat/Republican," and the Republicans have no real candidate of their own.

The foregoing result of Vermont's silly open primary system leaves Vermont Libertarian Party candidate Chris Costanzo, as the only serious alternative to Mr. Sorrell, who has used the office of Attorney General to foster "politically-correct" causes that infringe on individual rights.

Costanzo, an international business consultant and former senior U.S. intelligence officer, studied American history and constitutional development at Harvard. He is running on a platform of strict construction of the U.S. and Vermont constitutions. He brings to his campaign a keen understanding of the system of checks and balances in U.S. and state governments. He vows to enforce no law that, in his judgment, violates the constitution. Costanzo notes that, as an elected official responsible only to the people, he cannot be made by either the legislature, the courts, or the governor, to prosecute cases he does not wish to.

Accordingly, Costanzo has pledged that if elected he will refuse to prosecute any individual, town, village, city or locality that does not collect the Act 60 educational property tax designed to subsidize the expenses of others. Furthermore he will not enforce state heavy-cutting restrictions on private property, nor will he enforce any restrictions on the right to purchase, own, keep or bear arms in Vermont. He will protect the rights of Vermonters over their own bodies, over their private economic activity, and over the education of their children. He will focus on prosecuting real crimes of violence, theft, and fraud.

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Libertarian stalwart David Baker is running once again as our Party's nominee for Auditor of Accounts. He is pledging that, consistent with his obligation to the voters to support the U.S. and Vermont constitutions, he will use the power of his office to put to an immediate end all spending that he judges is carried out beyond constitutional limitations. Furthermore, Baker promises to use his office as a pulpit to publicize government waste and unnecessary expenditures.

Among Baker's specific pledges are that he will reform the office of Auditor and review whether the Department really needs an entire separate building filled with employees to carry out its mission. Baker will fight any state spending that conflicts with private entrepreneurship, and will work to end any expenditures to law enforcement for the harassment, investigation, and persecution of people who have done nothing to warrant police attention. Baker believes that mass traffic checkpoints and spot inspections are a misuse of public funds that accomplish very little.

Baker's also pledges to do everything within the power of his office to block implementation of Act 60 on the grounds that there is no Vermont constitutional authority for the state to fund local schools.

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The Vermont Libertarian Party distributed a Press Note to most of the media outlets in our state. In it we reminded the media that we have over 40 candidates running for office this November and said "For the press to ignore our Party when listing candidates or when reporting on the forthcoming elections, in the face of our large presence on the ballot, does a disservice to us as well as to the people of Vermont whom the media is honor-bound to serve with completeness as well as accuracy. "

Our Press Note generated numerous assurances from the media that we would not be ignored. The widely circulated Vermont Times did a front page story on "alternative parties," quoting extensively from our Press Note and from an interview with Libertarian State Chair Costanzo. Costanzo subsequently appeared in a half-hour segment on a Vermont Public TV to discuss the role of alternative parties. We expect that Libertarian candidates will now participate in several radio and TV forums and debates coming up this month.

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(Vermont Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, Mrs. Amy Berkey, our Party's standard bearer, made the following comments at a meeting of P.O.S.T. in Townshend on September 24, 1998.)

Good evening my name is Amy Berkey and I am the Libertarian candidate for governor.

I attended my first P.O.S.T. meeting early this summer at Barrett Hall in South Strafford. It was the day after the Libertarian Party nominated me for governor. I was very excited and very scared too. Ruth Dwyer was on the agenda that night, and I was eager to hear her speak and answer questions.

I left the meeting in South Strafford wondering why I was preparing to run for governor. Ruth had dazzled me. I was very impressed with the similarity between my property rights position and Ruth's position. We are both against act 60. We are both against Act 15. We both feel that the new land owner liability law does little to protect landowners. We are both against the Northern Forest Stewardship Act. We both support P.O.S.T. and revere them for their outspokenness and persistence on property rights. So you can see why I briefly had second thoughts about my candidacy.

Ruth and I have common ground on the right of people to do as they choose with their land, but it's very clear to me that we don't share common ground on the right of people to do as they choose with their bodies. As the Libertarian candidate for governor I will not just champion the rights of landowners, I will also champion the rights of all Vermonters, whether their property is their land, their money, or their bodies.

There are some Vermonters who don't like clear-cutting, or Wal-Mart, or flashy house paint. I'm not asking them to change their like and dislikes. I'm asking them to recognize landowner rights and tolerate landowner choices. Likewise, there are people who don't like homosexuals, or joggers, or vegetarians. I'm not asking them to change their likes or dislikes either. I am asking them to tolerate those behaviors they don't like and recognize the rights of people to do with their bodies as they choose. I see my body just as I see my house and the land that my house sits on - it's my property. And as long as I peacefully use my property without violating the rights of my neighbors, the government better keep its hands off.

You at P.O.S.T. are telling state government to stop regulating the way you use your private land. You are asking government to protect your right to private property. You're right on track. To gain allies you have to stand up and tell government to stop regulating and start protecting all Vermonters rights to their land, their bodies, or the fruits of their labor. Remember, Liberty is our common cause and Libertarians are dedicated to the cause.

So, why am I so excited about liberty? Why do I care about property rights? I only own a house and a third of an acre. Why should I care about a logger? I have no children. My house has a low appraisal. And Randolph is a receiving town anyway. Why should I care about act 60? I don't smoke. Why should I care about smokers' rights? I'm straight and I've been in a monogamous marriage for nine years. So what do I care about the rights of homosexuals? I've owned a successful restaurant for 7 years. Why should I care about anti-business zoning or Act 250? I've done fine with both Republicans and Democrats in Montpelier. Why do I CARE?

I care, because if I don't stand up for your rights when they are being violated, it's a good bet you won't be there to stand up for mine. When we fight for our neighbor's rights we secure our own rights. For decades the pendulum of political power has swung between Democrats and Republicans. Like a wrecking ball the two parties have battered away at our liberty. Each time Democrats and Republicans compromise it is on the side of intolerance and our rights are further eroded.

To end this vicious cycle I urge you to vote Libertarian. As governor I will bring a new compromise to Montpelier - a compromise on the side of tolerance and equal rights for all. I won't use government to tell you how to best steward your land. I won't use government to tell you how to best use the fruits of your labor. And I won't use government to tell you what you can do with your body. Thank you.

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After hearing the views of our Libertarian candidates, many people ask us "Why don't you support the Republicans since your views are so close to theirs?"

The answer is simple. Our views are NOT close to theirs. From time to time, one or the other of the major parties will take a position on a specific issue that coincides with ours. It leads people into thinking, erroneously, that we are indistinguishable from the other party.

A case in point is Act 60. The Vermont Libertarian Party adamantly opposes Act 60, and opposed it adamantly from the first moment it reared its ugly head in the legislature. Most major Republican candidates now also oppose Act 60, but it wasn't always so. Almost half of the Republicans in the Vermont senate supported Act 60, as did almost a quarter of the Republicans in the Vermont house.

If the Republicans had voted coherently against Act 60, the voting tally would have been a lot closer. Technically, Act 60 would still have passed, but in reality, with a much closer line-up and greater cohesion among the opposition, there might have been some defections from fence straddlers who ended up voting for it. Act 60 might then not have been passed.

In our view, the Republican Party, for lack of coherence and principles, has over the years been ineffective in curbing government's encroachments on our personal, economic, and property rights. And, historically, in some areas like civil rights and personal rights, the Democrats have done a better job than the Republicans. What are some of the other laws in Vermont that enjoyed bi-partisan support? How about the regulation of timber cutting on private property. Or how about that law (on land use) which subjects property owners to punitive taxation, tantamount to a fine, if they don't agree to manage their private land according to state guidelines and, also as a condition, to unpost their land and leave it open to anyone who wants to use it for recreational purposes?

Or how about that new law that says that property owners will have no protection against frivolous lawsuits arising from the natural configuration of their land unless they refrain from posting it and thereby open it to the public. And there are numerous other laws which have enjoyed bi-partisan support, such as Vermont's legislation which allows for the punishment of one person on the basis of the conviction of someone else, or the new law which legislates diminished rights in court for certain specific types of defendants.

What have the major parties, together, given Americas these past decades? Let me list the things. They have given us enslavement to a five and a half trillion dollar national debt, and along with it: A Failed War on Drugs, A Failed War on Poverty, Declining Public Schools, Mandatory Public Service, Too much Global Intervention, Curfews, Drinking Ages, Laws as to What You May or may not Buy, Laws as to What You May or may not Ingest, Excessive Taxation in the form of Income Taxes, Sales Taxes, Vice Taxes, Room Taxes, Social Security Taxes, Meal Taxes, Luxury Taxes, Property Taxes, Transfer Taxes, Inheritance Taxes, Business Taxes, Investment Taxes, Mandatory and Unnecessary Peace-Time Draft Registration, Mandatory Hiring Discrimination, Confiscation and Redistribution, Asset Forfeiture without Due Process, Abusive Law Enforcement, Platitudes and Hypocrisy, and too little opportunity and freedom in our future.

We ask Vermonters to stop and think. Do not be fooled by the occasional and transient adoption of libertarian positions by candidates of other parties. There are, of course, individual Republicans and Democrats who sincerely hold libertarian views. Vermonters could do a lot worse than voting for them. Ruth Dwyer's position on property rights coincide a great deal with our own. But her views on one's right over his or her body--one's ultimate property--is miles away from us and shows an inconsistency of principles. Over the years one comes to the conclusion that Democrats and Republicans are equally held together far more by expedient party loyalty than core principles. For this reason, we are always a bit uneasy when we see Ruth Dwyer wearing her necklace festooned with elephants.

We Libertarians do not support the Republicans or the Democrats because we have become utterly disillusioned with them. The major parties are like chameleons, those lizards who adopt different colors in their own self-interests. We Libertarians have core principles which are in opposition to the views held by the other two parties regarding the proper role of government in our lives. Libertarians are far more loyal to their principles than to party interests. If you vote for a Democrat or Republican whom you know well, you might from time to time be supporting a good person. But in view of their party affiliation, you can never be sure--and you have a good chance of getting the same old betrayal of your freedom and liberty.

But, in protecting your liberties and rights, you can be sure if you vote Libertarian !!

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August-September Newsletter

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