Thursday, August 05, 2010
A news report out of Denver describes Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes's take on a plan by Denver's environmentalist mayor to "encourage" more people to "wean" themselves off cars with a variety of statist "incentives."
It is definitely wrong for the state to do this, but does a candidate who, like Maes, opposes such a plan, necessarily deserve the support of voters who want the government to protect individual rights? Not necessarily. Why such a candidate opposes such a program is a consideration that cannot be ignored, as we shall soon learn from his own mouth.
Maes acknowledged that some might find his theories "kooky," but he said there are valid reasons to be worried.Mayor John Hickenlooper's plan -- and you know this isn't a scene from an Ayn Rand novel by the fact that he doesn't have an equally odd first name -- is indeed wrong. However, it is not merely because it is part of a greater conspiracy (real or imagined) that it is wrong, but because the government regulations proposed violate individual rights. This, by the way, is also why public transportation systems run or financed by the government are wrong.
"At first, I thought, 'Gosh, public transportation, what's wrong with that, and what's wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what's wrong with incentives for green cars?' But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty," Maes said.
Maes, lacking a consistent, pro-individual rights political philosophy, obviously doesn't understand this. Indeed, it is probably fair to conclude that Maes would support a plan identical to Hickenlooper's so long as he didn't believe the U.N. to be involved.
Coloradan blogger Ari Armstrong put it well when, in June, he argued against Tea Party activists endorsing specific candidates:
[T]here is no principled candidate in any of the large races in Colorado. Many Tea Partiers favor Maes over [Scott] McInnis. But the simple fact is that both Maes and McInnis are unprincipled, pragmatic populists. Consider, for example, Maes's flip-flopping on guns and abortion. What, then, has been the basis for Tea Party endorsements? Generally those endorsements are rooted in anti-establishment sentiments, not in any careful comparison of how fully the candidates endorse liberty.And another result of such an endorsement is that it is now easier for conspiracy theory kookiness like Maes's to be associated with grassroots efforts to support individual rights. This is something the leftist political establishment is going to try to do anyway. Why help them by getting behind actual kooks?
I'm all for a candidate doing his homework, but the first assignment is to grasp the nature and importance of individual rights, and to understand the nature and purpose of government as their protector. Fail this one and you're wasting the rest of your midnight oil.
Even if there were a conspiracy of the sort claimed by Maes, if the public demanded -- and more government officials were intent on -- protection of individual rights, it wouldn't stand a chance because the government wouldn't be in the business of "encouraging" people to do anything but live and let live.