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Today I'm declaring my candidacy for President of the United States. I'll be running as an Independent. Getting on the ballot in every state won't be a problem, thanks to Americaselect.org.

Campaign funding won't be an issue, thanks to the Internet. Any good ideas I might have will be viral, and the bad ideas will die. That's the way it should be. It won't cost me a penny.

You might have some concern about the fact that I have no moral center, no relevant experience, a history of public pranks, and a penchant for flip-flopping. But watch now as I convert those problems into advantages.

Let's start with my lack of experience. Being an outsider probably isn't as good as it sounds. So, as President, I would appoint ex-President Bill Clinton as my only advisor. I'd publish all of his advice to me that doesn't involve top-secret issues, and I'd pretty much do whatever he told me to do. (He could have his own advisors.) In essence, you'd be electing Bill Clinton for a third term. Remember, he had that triangulation thing going for him, where both Democrats and conservative independents liked him. Republicans would support me too if they saw it as the only realistic way to beat President Obama. Unlike President Obama, I'd always give Republican philosophies a fair look, just as Clinton did. The truth, along with most Americans, is somewhere in the middle.

I'd also keep Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, if she were willing. She's plenty experienced, and she hasn't broken anything yet. My second choice would be Bill Gates. He's all about what works. And thanks to his charitable activities, when he says, "I'm here to help," it actually means something.

For my Supreme Court appointments, I'd pick qualified candidates whose opinions map to the majority of Americans. If you don't like where the majority is at, change the minds of your fellow citizens.  If you succeed, and I'm still in office, I'll pick the next candidate to reflect that change in public opinion. The Supreme Court works for the country, not the President. My opinions shouldn't matter. I'd only act as a safeguard in case the majority decided to discriminate against some group in particular. I don't like bullies.

On the budget, I propose a plan to cut every Federal government expense by 10% and increase every Federal tax by 10%. I'd call that the default plan, meaning I prefer a better plan, but I wouldn't expect anyone to come up with one. The advantage of this plan is that it's bad for every American. That's a little something I call "fair."

I'd also call a public debate on the topic of supply side economics, to end once and for all the question of whether lowering taxes increases government revenues. I would host the debate myself, with a Judge Judy sort of approach, and decide the winner. If it turns out that my proposed 10% tax increase would reduce government revenue, I'd cancel that part of my plan the same day.

I'd propose capping the amount any one person can inherit per death at $50 million. Estates can choose to donate the rest to charities, distribute it to stockholders, or give it up in taxes. $50 million is more than enough to turn any offspring into a lazy, self-absorbed, drug addicted, douche bag. Any more would be a waste. That plan needs some fine tuning, but you get the idea.

As President, I would remain deeply committed to flip-flopping. If new information or better thinking changes my opinion, so be it. That's how brains are supposed to work.

I can also promise that I won't try to remember the names of other world leaders, federal agencies, or even my own staff. Only an idiot believes a president can remember all of that stuff.

I'll commit one gaffe after another to keep the media busy with nonsense. I'll appear to confuse China with Japan, suggest withdrawing troops from North Korea, and let slip some ethnic insults around live microphones. The public loves that stuff, and I would not disappoint.

On day one of my presidency I would form a committee of libertarians to recommend ways to shrink government. But I would require them to describe in detail how the country would look when those government functions disappear. When they finish, I'll turn over their recommendations to independent economists and other smart people for evaluation. Then I'd open it up for public scrutiny and debate. Then I'd let Bill Clinton decide which reductions in government passed the common sense filter.

I'd use states as test laboratories for social policies, education plans, healthcare schemes, tax policies, and that sort of thing. If a state wants to try something new, and the change goes against current federal policies, I'd favor giving the state a temporary exception, and perhaps some funding, to try out its plan. I might even encourage another state to try the same plan, just so we have a control group (roughly speaking) to evaluate the results. After a reasonable test period, the state's plan would either be terminated if it didn't work, or encouraged in other states if it did. I see the federal government as an objective broker trying to maximize best practices in the states.

On the environment, I'd try to make America the least polluted place on Earth, and the most visited by tourists. A clean environment is a good way to keep healthcare costs down too. But I wouldn't reflexively say no to pipelines and drilling and fracking if the cost-benefit ratio seems reasonable. We don't live in a risk-free world, and windmills can't do it all. At the same time, I'd also go hog wild for geothermal energy and other clean technologies so we can someday lower our collective risks.

Unlike most politicians, I'll admit I'm in it for the money. I'll only accept $1 per year in salary, but I think I can make it up later in book deals, licensing, and speaking gigs. I'll be the most economical president ever.

If you don't like any of the ideas I just explained, tell me why. There's a good chance I'll flip-flop to your point of view.
 
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Dec 7, 2011
jnicholson wrote: "I'd support you on everything but the $1 salary. This might set a precedent for future applicants for the job, not all of whom can afford to go without a salary for 4-8 years, and I don't want them excluded for looking mean when they don't follow your precedent."

Exercise for the reader: Name the last President of the US who could not have afforded to go without a salary for 4-8 years.
 
 
Dec 7, 2011
I will vote for you if you get on the ballot. No joke.
 
 
Dec 1, 2011
"I'd only act as a safeguard in case the majority decided to discriminate against some group in particular."

Do unborn babies count as a group that needs protection?

What about gays who want to get married?

Also, I think our current estate taxes make it very, very rare for someone to "inherit" more than $50M. Rich people are smarter than that.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 23, 2011
Thanks for running, but...

1) I'd like to see a more structured/threaded comment area. I'd suggest a thread for each major issue, position, so that one could follow each separately, as well as possibly allowing users to add their own as suggestions for new issues that could be added, as you prefer to you "platform"

2) Specifically, I disagree with your Supreme court position. As I see it, there are two general positions re: the supreme court, i.e. "A" Try to interpret it as it was understood in the time it was written, or "B" Try to understand to original purposes and interpret it as to fulfill those even though situations have changed. I realize that these are not bright lines, but I'd prefer you to stand for a general direction of interpretation.

In addition, I see the Supreme Court as a Countervailing power in the government as opposed to the President who should represent/tend to vote for the current "will of the people" who elected him/her, and the Congress who represent their localities, (though I'd change the Senate to be a proportionally elected set of interest group representatives). So I'd prefer to appoint judges who had a clear tendency to interpret the Constitution as I felt it should be, (in my case, based on its "B" current purpose) but also those who DISAGREED with the current population so that there would be a way to balance the current Mood of the People with contradictory thoughts. This would allow laws to stand that followed the popular opinion of the voter and also were reasonable to the "other side".
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 20, 2011
Bill Clinton was a political genius, but not an economic one. The 90s boom was created by a confluence of events: the fall of the Soviet Union, expansion of trade (which had benefits, but now we are seeing the downside), a massive increase in the money supply, a massive influx of investment in the market as employees shifted from defined-benefit pensions to 401(k)s and IRAs, and incredibly cheap energy. As recently as 1999, gas was 99 cents a gallon. Because Greenspan didn't put the brakes on inflation by raising interest rates in the late 90's, and also cut them instead to keep the bubble going, we were headed for a major correction eventually, with or without 9/11. While I'm not quite the pure Austrian economist that Ron Paul is, much of our success in the 1990s was an illusion -- an illusion pointed out by instructors, by the way, when I went to graduate school for a master's in finance, at what is a fairly left-leaning institution. It has been very common throughout the history of the market for new technologies to drive stock-price bubbles (such as the tech bubble of the late 90s) as traditional valuation is thrown out the window. And it works as long as everyone believes the fiction and the market can bear the rapid expansion... but when those companies went broke, because most of them had unworkable business models, things started to unravel. Bill Clinton's biggest success was knowing to reverse direction after the 1994 midterms, stay the hell out of the way of economic growth, and then take all the credit for it, when it was mostly driven by legislation, the political mood, Federal Reserve monetary policy, and a whole hell of a lot of good !$%*!$%*!$%*! no president has seen since.

Hillary Clinton as secretary of state? The Clintons were the ones who practically handed North Korea nuclear weapons. They are also massive interventionists, but they generally pick places where the USA has little strategic interest (Haiti, Kosovo, Somalia). While I prefer non-intervensionism, if I'm stuck with an imperial presidency, I'd like them to do something useful for us. We can't police the entire planet - no power in human history has been able to sustain it. Not the Roman Empire, not the British Empire, not the Soviet Union, and ultimately, not us either.

Picking Supreme Court justices who map to the majority opinion is incredibly dangerous. Rights should not be based on the whims of the mob; that's the reason we have a constitution. Let's say they want to "ban hate speech" like they do in Europe. Well, who decides what is hate speech? For example, I have some issues with fractional reserve banking, but I don't want to be lumped in with those nutcases who think there's some wacky Jewish conspiracy driving it all. The south really did a lot of damage to states' rights because now people wrongly associate it with slavery and Jim Crow (both bad, but who the hell would try to bring them back?) rather than, say, education being locally controlled. We now have a federal government run amok trying to control everything under the sun. It is becoming less different than China or the Soviets every day.

The 10% tax increase plan is bad because government cannot create wealth, it can only redistribute resources. A better plan would be to make sure that corporate profits are not expatriated tax-free. Although either way, the little guy ends up paying for every government expansion one way or another (taxes, inflation, exploitation by employers, and/or price markups by companies).

The tax/revenue question is a bit different. It is not a question of IF lower taxes raise revenues, but WHEN. Both in terms of how low can you actually go without sacrificing revenue, and when the benefit is realized (the benefit of lower taxes is long-term, but the impact of higher taxes or the threat thereof is more immediately felt).

The estate tax is tricky business. I would do it a bit differently, in that if wealth was earned through labor you keep and allocate as much as you want, but if it was earned through market shifts (i.e., capital gains) then a cap would make sense, as to keep resources from being concentrated in the hands of too few people. A cap of $50 million won't work because of inflation (just look at all the AMT fixes they have to do).

The libertarian ideal requires a moral society. Without churches and community organizations picking up the slack, it's anarchy. But their point is that regular people can do more to help, directly, locally, than the federal government can do in most cases. Also, if we get rid of things like FEMA paying people for building homes where they shouldn't be building any, the market will eventually direct us to construct a more sustainable society that doesn't get knocked over every time there's a big storm. Not only is it morally right to not demand your fellow citizens bail you out of every bad decision you make, it's probably more environmentally friendly, too.

The states aren't laboratories for a one size fits all policy. The point of states and communities is so that people can live where and how they choose. I don't have a problem with a Christian community or a gay one or one based on people who think armadillos are benevolent cyborg overlords sent from the future. What I do have a problem with is being forced to live under one of those sets of rules against my will, without having any reasonable recourse to seek a community that is more representative of my own desires.
 
 
Nov 18, 2011
That dog is wearing glasses.
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 18, 2011
Congratulations on your first flip-flop -- promising to effectively put Bill Clinton in charge and then promising a bunch of your own policies.
 
 
Nov 18, 2011
I knew that someday my membership in the DNRC would pay off!
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 18, 2011
webgrunt, it wouldn't take much salary for someone to be able to afford the presidency, but they do pay for their own food. I would guess clothes too, but I think you're right about the rest.
 
 
Nov 18, 2011
I'd support you on everything but the $1 salary. This might set a precedent for future applicants for the job, not all of whom can afford to go without a salary for 4-8 years, and I don't want them excluded for looking mean when they don't follow your precedent.
 
 
Nov 18, 2011
I will vote for you if you can achieve the 69th US budget surplus in its history.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 17, 2011
Remember, veti, it was you who just assumed that I was on a tirade against high taxes and high government spending. I'm simply against the initiation of force in all of its forms. There is a clear difference. And I would agree that denmark is freer than the US. Perhaps even more libertarian. At least liberaltarian. But if I had to choose between a liberaltarian country and a statist military technocracy like the US, i'd pick the liberaltarian country every time.
 
 
Nov 17, 2011
>There is no evidence that shrinking the size of the government automatically leads to greater freedom. Hong Kong and Singapore both have tiny governments (relative to their GDP), but to call either one "free" would be a travesty. Denmark, on the other hand, has a huge government, but it ranks better than the United States on international freedom indices.


I think that you missed the point entirely. I never said that I was in favor of "smaller government." I simply said that I was in favor of freedom. You can't have initiation of force and freedom. Those two concepts are mutually exclusive.

And your comparisons of governments are ignorant. Nobody is saying that less government is THE requirement for a prosperous and free society. Besides, I'd argue that Hong Kong has a bigger government than most people think.

When the full scope of things are taken into account, such as freedom of trade, civil rights, imprisonment levels, and size and scope of military forces, I'd argue that the US actually has a bigger, more violent government than denmark.

I'm simply pointing out that we should at least be trying to think about these problems in the context of actual freedom.

I don't know how you are defining freedom, but I define it as the absence of the initiation of force. You can't have "more" freedom and more initiation of force. I believe that you are defining freedom mistakenly as "scope of choice" rather than by the absence of violent coercion.

I'd also like to reiterate that libertarians are not republicans, so stop trying to argue with libertarians as if they were republicans. Thank you.
 
 
Nov 17, 2011
Funny that you mention Bill Gates. I was just thinking earlier this week that Bill Gates would be a good candidate for presidency, for the same reason you mentioned - he's about getting things done. For real, no joke, I really did think of this a couple of days ago.

How coincidental that you mention Bill Gates in this post, for nearly the same position. Is the president too busy swatting away pesky people and issues to be productive, and ergo your choice of Secretary of State?
 
 
Nov 17, 2011
Can I vote for you via the Internet from England?
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 17, 2011
Great. You get my vote, although I'd prefer your advisor to be William F. Buckley, but that's impossible. Can you also run for Congress, too? Just in case?
 
 
Nov 17, 2011
I was hoping this was true but noticed the post was filed under the "general nonsense" tag (as is everything on this blog).

I'm still hoping.
 
 
Nov 17, 2011
I know for sure that my wife would vote for you if her only choices were you, Newt Gingrich, or Barack Obama! She can't stand Newt! As for me, I am a conservative libertarian, but I generally vote Republican because the Libertarian candidates are usually wack-os who don't have even the slightest chance of being elected.

I like your honest, upfront approach. So what if you are a flip-flopper. I can deal with that.
Using Bill Clinton as your primary advisor - I'm not so sure. Here's a novel idea, why not let congress make the decisions and you just enforce them. Isn't that what the chief "executive" is supposed to do?

Concerning marriage - all marriages, straight or gay - the government should not be in the business of sanctioning marriage. That is the church's business. God sanctions marriage! The government should only license "domestic partnerships". "DPs" once issued, can be renewed as many times as you want for 1, 3, or five year periods and they cannot be cancelled until they expire. No divorce required!

Drugs - all reasonablly safe drugs should be legal if used by a responsible person. (Even asprin can be deadly if taken in excess). Our prisons would be almost empty because most people in them are there for drug related offenses. Think of the tax revenue to be gained by licening mary jane!
 
 
Nov 17, 2011
Here's an idea for your term which would lower unemployment:

Whenever someone applies for aid from the government because they are jobless, in addition to our current system, they should be required to include a current resume for themselves. Over time, various state and national agencies could collect this information. Once there were enough unemployed people in certain matching categories, the government could finance the start of new companies and put those people back to work. This could end some monopolies and save a bunch of money, since we would only need to finance the startup of the companies instead of constantly paying most of the unemployed. The current systems would remain in place in addition to this for the time between startups and for people who have no useful skills.

Long story short, in addition to our current unemployment systems, the government could start new companies to compensate for unemployment. It could sa
 
 
Nov 17, 2011
>On day one of my presidency I would form a committee of libertarians to recommend ways to shrink government. But I would require them to describe in detail how the country would look when those government functions disappear. When they finish, I'll turn over their recommendations to independent economists and other smart people for evaluation. Then I'd open it up for public scrutiny and debate. Then I'd let Bill Clinton decide which reductions in government passed the common sense filter.

Because freedom just isn't important, I suppose. It is impossible to tell what the country would look like after any policy is implemented. Seriously scott? What an impossible standard for any philosophy. Sometimes difficult changes are important, and sometimes freedom is more relevant than your great plans, scott. Just once, it would be nice if you recognized that.
 
 
 
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