Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Updated: Gary Johnson and Cliff Hyra React to #Charlottesville

Gary Johnson Charlottesville City Hall Jefferson Madison Monroe
Gary Johnson
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian Party's nominee for President in 2012 and 2016, issued a statement on the afternoon of August 14 in reaction to the events this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Johnson posted his remarks on Facebook:

Racism killed people in Charlottesville this weekend. That is as un-American as it gets.

In the nation our Founders created, even a tiny minority of vile and repugnant 'demonstrators' enjoys the right to express racist white-supremacist evil.

BUT, the rest of us -- the overwhelming majority -- have the right, and I believe, the obligation, to condemn racism of every form. And when racist hate becomes violence and murder, we must respond with nothing less than the full force of the law.

Late Saturday night, Cliff Hyra, the Libertarian Party's 2017 nominee for Governor of Virginia, issued a similar statement, also on Facebook, reacting with shock and disbelief to the carnage precipitated by the presence of neo-Nazis, unabashed racists, and Confederate sympathizers in Charlottesville:
Cliff Hyra Libertarian Party Virginia Governor Charlottesville
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Cliff Hyra
Horrific and tragic events in Charlottesville today. White nationalists and neo-Nazis threaten the liberty of us all, and as Virginians we must stand united against them. My heart goes out to the victims of the brutal terrorist attack and their families. I wish a swift and full recovery to those hospitalized, and offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

It is shocking and unbelievable to me that a political disagreement over statues could serve as an excuse for violent combat and heinous murder. I am heartbroken today, and also fearful for the future of our country and our commonwealth. We must act now to root out and extirpate all support for political violence. Peaceful discussion and political action are the only way forward.

Update, August 15: Gary Johnson expanded on his thoughts about last weekend's events and their aftermath in an article for The Jack News headlined "In the Wake of Charlottesville, Let’s Look for Solutions and Not Blame."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

From the Archives: Fifth District congressional candidate Jeffrey Clark endorses idea of liquor sale privatization

Fifth District congressional candidate Jeffrey Clark endorses idea of liquor sale privatization
August 13, 2010 7:07 PM MST

Jeffrey Clark Tom Perriello Bob McDonnell Charlottesville ABC privatization liquor regulation
Just prior to his debate with incumbent Representative Tom Perriello (D-Ivy) at Charlottesville’s Senior Center on August 11, independent congressional candidate Jeffrey Clark gave his opinion on a current statewide issue.

When asked by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner what he thinks of Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposals to privatize the state’s monopoly on wholesale and retail sales of distilled spirits, Clark readily replied, “I like it.” It is, he said, “a win for everybody.”

‘A great model’
Pointing out that in “many places” elsewhere in the United States, liquor is sold through private outlets, Clark asked, “If it’s working effectively in other areas of the country and it’s a great model, why not move in that direction here as well?”

Clark explained that he doesn’t see “any reason that would prevent us from” privatizing ABC sales.

“We can get away from the bureaucracy,” he added, noting that “small businesses like restaurants and things like that would welcome the idea of the privatization of the ABC stores.”

Drawing on his own business experience, Clark remarked: “Trust me, I’ve been in restaurant-hotel management for a very long time, and I understand the red tape that can go along with that.

End the red tape
“Listen,” he continued, “just trying to get an opportunity to be able to have the privilege of selling alcohol in your business can be a huge issue of red tape and then you’ve got to go deal with this government bureaucracy that is the ABC stores of Virginia.”

McDonnell’s idea is “a way overdue proposal,” Clark said, wondering “why so long here?” when 32 other states have had private systems for decades.

Like the governor, Clark suggested that ABC privatization is part of a broad-based approach to government reform.

“We really need to look at every program, no matter what it is, even if it seems small, even if it seems like” people are dismissing the idea by saying things like “Oh, the ABC stores, it’s just alcohol, no big deal, we’ll leave it” the way it is, Clark argued.

‘Save a dollar, save a billion’
“Any area where we can look, where we can focus on the small things” the state should consider a change. “If it’s saving [just] a dollar, who cares? If we look to save a dollar, we can eventually save a million, two million, a billion.”

By looking for savings and efficiencies, Clark asserted, “we can start to bring these things back into some type of financial control and better serve the people.”

Clark, who lives in Danville in Southside Virginia, where it is believed much of the opposition to McDonnell’s proposals originates, does not see a downside.

“I don’t think anybody believes that somehow the ABC stores won’t be able to serve the public as well if they’re somehow not under government control,” he said.

“As a matter of fact, I think that most independent businesspeople probably act more responsible in their day to day lives than do government bureaucracies.”

Add Jeffrey Clark’s name to the list of supporters of Bob McDonnell’s ABC privatization efforts.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 13, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

From the Archives: Porn king Larry Flynt defends free speech in Charlottesville

Porn king Larry Flynt defends free speech in Charlottesville
November 6, 2011 9:24 PM MST

Larry Flynt pornography free speech Virginia Film Festival Charlottesville
Self-described smut peddler and free speech advocate Larry Flynt appeared at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville on November 4 to discuss the 1996 Milos Forman-directed film based on his life, The People vs. Larry Flynt. The screening was sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Flynt had earlier spoken at the University of Virginia in November 2000 with his friend and courtroom adversary, the late Jerry Falwell, as part of a lecture tour in which they talked about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988), in which a unanimous court upheld Hustler’s right to engage in political parody even if the object of that parody (Falwell) had hurt feelings as a result.

That case originated after Hustler, one of many adult publications operated by Flynt, had run a satirical advertisement for Campari in which Falwell allegedly endorsed the liqueur and revealed that his first sexual experience was in an outhouse with his mother. Falwell sued for libel and lost, but won damages in a Roanoke federal court for “intentionally inflicted emotional distress.”

‘One Nation Under Sex’

After the film and discussion, Flynt autographed copies of his new book, One Nation Under Sex, for about 100 fans. The book, coauthored by David Eisenbach, looks at American history through the prism of the sex lives of presidents and first ladies.

As the crowd dispersed, Flynt answered questions posed by reporters from radio station WINA and the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner.

Noting that many people yearn for a simpler time when their own moral values seemed to be shared by the rest of society, Flynt said that “nostalgia affects people usually in a very positive way but the world goes on.”

What needs to be understood, he said, is that “the big thing is, you’ve got to accept the rights of other people. We pay a huge price in this country to live in a free society and we’ve got to tolerate things that we don’t necessarily like so we can be free.”

Reconciling religion with freedom

Flynt added that “unfortunately, my friend Jerry Falwell never seemed to be able to reconcile the Bible with people who wanted more individual freedom.”

Larry Flynt UVA Virginia Film Festival free speech Charlottesville
Larry Flynt
Supporting the idea of moral values is fine, he said, “if they work for you or your family, but if they don’t, you should not seek to impose your values on other people.”

While Jerry Falwell is dead, his son continues to run Liberty University in Lynchburg, but Flynt is not impressed with that institution’s legacy or mission.

“I know that whole family,” he said. “I’m not looking to pick a fight with them [but] they bring people like Michele Bachmann to the college and the whole nation knows about it.”

Flynt chuckled and then trailed off as he shook his head ruefully: “If they’re holding Michele Bachmann up as an example of greatness, she makes people who find Sarah Palin challenging…”

Flynt’s dismissive tone indicated he does not hold either Bachmann or Palin in high regard.


Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on November 6, 2011. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

From the Archives: Attacks on free speech provoke author Jonathan Rauch to defend 'liberal science'

Attacks on free speech provoke author Jonathan Rauch to defend 'liberal science'
November 30, 2013 10:17 PM MST


Kindly Inquisitors Jonathan Rauch free speechTwenty years after it was first published, a new, expanded edition of Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought is now available as an ebook, with an ink-and-paper edition coming out in March 2014.

Jonathan Rauch, the author of Kindly Inquisitors and other books (including Demosclerosis and his 2013 memoir, Denial: My 25 Years without a Soul), spoke recently with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner following a panel discussion on freedom of speech at the Cato Institute. He explained what inspired him to write the book in the first place.

When, in the late 1980s, “Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses and received a fatwa (essentially a death sentence) from Ayatollah Khomeini,” he said, “I thought that the West did not know how to respond to that. It could defend the laws of free speech but it wasn't defending the ideas of free speech. People were saying things like, 'Well, a death sentence on Rushdie is certainly offensive and wrong but Rushdie himself was offensive to Muslims,' and so forth. And I realized that a lot of people didn't understand why we have this idea of letting people say offensive stuff.”

What is 'liberal science'?
One of the concepts Rauch introduces in Kindly Inquisitors is what he calls “liberal science.”

Jonathan Rauch Rick Sincere Kindly Inquisitors free thought
He explained that “most discussions of free thought and speech start and end with the U.S Constitution” but he tries “to go a little deeper and look at society's method for producing knowledge and adjudicating disputes about fact, which is in some ways the most important thing we do” – for instance, disagreements about whether Christianity or Islam is “the right religion.”

Historically, he said, the method of “settling disputes like that was war.”

By contrast, “liberal science substitutes an open-ended, rule-based, social process in which everybody throws out ideas all the time and we subject them to criticism. We kill our hypotheses rather than each other. This turns out both to be spectacularly good at mobilizing intellectual talent to find and promote good ideas and spectacularly good at defusing what otherwise would be political, often violent, conflicts.”

Liberal science, he said, is the term he coined “for the whole intellectual network we have that seeks truth in Western liberal cultures.”

He compares it to two other major social institutions for “allocating resources and adjudicating social conflicts.”

In economics, he said, “market systems are in the business of allocating resources and they use open-ended rules of exchange to do that.”

In politics, he noted, “democracies are in the business of allocating coercive political power and they use the exchange of votes and compromise to do that.”

Parallel to those two systems, he added, “liberal science is in the business of adjudicating questions about who's right and wrong and they use the exchange of criticism.”

These three systems, Rauch explained, “all have in common that it shouldn't matter who you are. Anyone can participate, there's no special authority, and no one gets the final say. No one can stand outside the system and say, 'Here's the final result.'”

The result is “always subject to change. It's a big rolling social consensus.”

Retreat of the ideologues
Since Kindly Inquisitors was first published in 1993, there has been a major, positive change in the intellectual environment, Rauch said.

“In the last twenty years there's been a retreat by active ideologues who favored censorship and speech controls,” he said. Those views have “been replaced with a more refined case that focuses more specifically on how minorities can be hurt when hate speech rises to a certain level of prevalence in society. It's called the 'hostile environment doctrine.'”

In preparing the new edition of his book, Rauch “decided to take a really hard look at that because I think it's right now the biggest and most serious challenge to people like me who advocate very robust freedom of speech.”

He wanted to find out, “from a minority point of view, which is better: a wide open system where people are free to say hateful things about me and often do, or a more controlled system where you've got some people in charge trying to protect me from that?”

His conclusion, “based on the history of the last twenty years for gay rights” is that “there's no contest. We're much better off as minorities when our speech and the other side's speech are [both] protected because we win those arguments, and we're worse off when that process is interfered with.”

The expanded edition of Kindly Inquisitors includes a new foreword by syndicated columnist George F. Will and a new afterword by Jonathan Rauch. It is available now in both Nook and Kindle formats and a print version will be released next year by the University of Chicago Press.


Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on November 30, 2013. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Guest Post: The Violence in Charlottesville

by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Robert E Lee Statue Emancipation Park Charlottesville Virginia
Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville
The vast majority of people in the United States have no interest whatsoever in street battles between the alt-right (better described today in more poignant terms) and the counter-protesters. Most people have normal problems like paying bills, dealing with kids, getting health care, keeping life together under all the usual strains, and mostly want these weird people to go away. So, of course, people are shocked at scenes of young people in the streets of this picturesque town with a university founded by Thomas Jefferson screaming, “Jews will not replace us.”

It’s hard to see, hard to hear. But they are not going away. For some people with heads full of violent ideology, what's happened so far is not enough. They imagine that with their marches, flags, uniforms, slogans, chants, screams, and guns, they will cause history to erupt and dramatically turn to favor them over the people they hate. Indeed, what is unfolding right now, with real loss of property and life, has gone beyond politics as usual and presages something truly terrible from the past, something most of us had previously believed was unrepeatable.

What in the world causes such a thing? It’s not about bad people as such. Many of the young men and women involved in this movement were raised in good homes and, under normal conditions, would never hurt anyone. What this is about is bad ideas. They crawl into the brain and cause people to imagine things that do not exist. It can be like a disease that a person doesn’t even know that he or she has. It causes people to seethe with hatred for no apparent reason, to long for the extermination of people who have never done anything wrong, to imagine insane outcomes of social struggles that have zero chance of succeeding.

The Group
The implausibility of their ideas is disguised by group psychology. They hang around people who think these same things and egg each other on in shared resentments and dreams of new powers they can acquire if they act boldly, bravely, and with determination. They conjure up scapegoats (blacks, Jews, women, Antifa, gays, and a government that is supposedly giving them all privileges at their expense) and begin to believe that the only way forward is to destroy them all in some grand uprising, after which they will seize power and rule forever.

Yes, I know it sounds insane. But one thing you learn from history is that no idea is too insane to be off limits to a group infected with a longing to rule. Any means to the end will do, with the end deeply embedded in the fevered imagination of the group member who finds mission, meaning, and significance from some struggle.

The Statue Myth
Much of the media coverage about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia report that this all began with a dispute over the fate of a statue of the Civil War Confederate general Robert Lee that sits downtown. The city council voted to take it down; the protesters want it to remain as a symbol of white pride and rule (which is absurd because General Lee would have been thoroughly repulsed by the ideology these people represent). In actual fact, the dispute over this statue is a complete distraction from the real motivation here.

What this really is: an explosive expression of an idea that has been brewing in a malevolent movement that has been gaining steam for very a long time. After the Second World War, most people imagined that Nazi ideology was gone from the earth and that the only real totalitarian view that remained to threaten liberty was Communism. That might have been true for a few decades, but matters began to change in the 1990s, as new violent strains of statism begin to arise.

The Deep History
For the last two years, I’ve written about the deep history of this violent strain, which can be described variously as Nazism, fascism, alt-right, white supremacy, white nationalism, neo-reaction, or, my preferred and more technical moniker (borrowed from Ludwig von Mises), right-Hegelianism. People have variously wondered why I’ve spent so much time and energy digging through the works of people like Johann Fichte, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Charles Davenport, Oswald Spengler, Carl Schmitt, Julius Evola, Giovanni Gentile, and so on (many of my writings on these people are here). All of these ideas existed long before Hitler and the Nazis – and caused enormous damage in the world long before the Holocaust – and they persist after them.

It’s true that probably not even one of the protesters in Charlottesville have read these thinkers, much less the traditional liberal response to these rightist strain of anti-liberalism. How can they possibly be responsible?

Ideas are strangely magical, like time-traveling spiritual DNA, moving from brain to brain like a genetic mutation and just as unpredictably. Keynes was right to observe that most politicians are slaves to some defunct economist; in the same way these violent thugs are slaves to some defunct philosopher who loathed the emergence of universal freedom in the world during the 19th century and were determined to set it back.

Propagandists for Evil
At the same time, there must be some mode of transmission for ideas. The leaders of this movement serve the purpose well, but there is a deeper root. I’ve been very reluctant to mention what might be the most influential tract among the rise of the hard statist right in the last few decades, but given where we are with all of this, it is time. The book is The Turner Diaries, written by “Andrew McDonald” who was really William Pierce, a brilliant physicist whose mind was taken over by Nazi ideology, precisely because he was steeped in the literature above.

I do not recommend reading this book. You can’t unread it. It is their roadmap. I can recall the first time I read it. I was shaken to my very core, and it was the beginning of a new realization of the task before us, to combat this horror with every bit of intellectual energy.

It is the story of a small junta of whites who set out to reverse history with a series of killings, starting with Jews, then blacks, then communists, and then, inevitably, apologists for the merchant class and libertarians (they hate us deeply too). What you learn early on here is that this movement is absolutely socialist, just in a different way from the more-famous left-wing socialists. They are not red shirts but brown shirts, so they have a different agenda. It’s not about class struggle. It’s about race struggle, religious struggle, gender identity struggle, national struggle. 

So what happens? They rally the masses to their side with a growing amount of bloodshed, gain control of the government, set up a centrally planned socialist state, get hold of the nuclear stockpile and slaughter all non-whites in the world. Sorry for the spoiler.


The Genetic Code
Why would anyone rally behind such a ghastly book? Again, the human mind is capable of imagining terrible things, and that which we imagine to be true influences actions. Ideas, as they say, have consequences. Hence, anyone who has followed the transmission of these ideas over the last decades could see where this is heading.

What happens now? The tragedy is compounded, with a burgeoning leftist movement to counter the emerging threat from the opposite side, and a government ready to exploit the conflict between the two to crack down further on human rights and freedoms. It’s the perfect storm.


Our Task
The question is: what to do now? The answer lies in the source of the problem. The huge mess began with bad ideas. The only means available – and it is the most powerful – is to fight bad ideas with good ideas. We all need to throw ourselves into the intellectual battle most of all and as never before. What are those good ideas?

The progress of the last 500 years shows us precisely what the good ideas are: social harmony, human rights, the aspiration of universal dignity, the conviction that we can work together in mutual advantage, the market economy as a means of peace and prosperity, and, above all else, the beauty and magnificence of the idea of liberty itself.

Let us all – those who love peace, prosperity, and human flourishing for all – not despair but rather rededicate ourselves to the mission of replacing bad ideas with good ones. Our predecessors in this mission faced far worse odds and they prevailed, and they were far fewer than us. We can too, provided we think, speak, and act with courage and conviction in favor of all that is beautiful and true. This is how the left/right cycle of violence will be replaced by the highest longings of the human heart.


Jeffrey A. Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.



This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Guest Post: How an Axe Murderer Helped Make Weed Illegal

by Laura Smith

Tampa police arrived at the Licata residence one afternoon in October 1933. Neighbors in the tightly-knit immigrant community were concerned. No one had come in or out of the Italian-American family’s home all day, which was strange, considering the school-aged children, and that the father, Mike, ran two bustling barber shops.

When the police opened the door, they found carnage. Twenty-one year-old Victor Licata had murdered his family with an axe the night before – his parents, one of his brothers, and his younger sister were all dead and another younger brother would be soon. Victor was discovered in the bathroom, curled in a chair, murmuring incomprehensibly. His family was trying to dismember him, he said, and replace his arms with wooden ones.

According to Larry Slomans’s book, Reefer Madness, shortly after the murders, Licata was evaluated by psychiatrists and determined to be suffering from “dementia praecox,” (now known as schizophrenia). The doctors speculated that his condition was congenital. Two cousins and a great uncle had been committed to asylums, his brother also suffered from “dementia praecox,” and his parents were first cousins. The police had been trying to have him committed for over a year, but stopped when his parents said they would care for him at home.

The case would have slipped largely unnoticed into grisly small-town lore if it were not for one detail. According to the local newspaper, at the time that he committed the murders, Victor Licata had been “addicted to smoking marihuana cigarettes for more than six months.”

Driven By Racism
Four years later when Harry Anslinger heard about the Licata case, he knew it was the break he had been waiting for. Anslinger had recently been appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (the precursor to the DEA) after making his name as a temperance hardliner during prohibition. But as Johann Hari explains in his book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, after prohibition ended, bureaus like Anslinger’s were threatened by obsolescence.

Anslinger’s office was focused on narcotics like cocaine and heroin, but these drugs were only used by a small minority. In order to ensure a robust future for his bureau, “he needed more,” Hari writes. Marijuana was used more widely.

Anslinger consulted 30 doctors about the drug’s connection to violence. All except one told him there was none, so he bucked the other 29 and trumpeted the findings of that one doctor. Anslinger warned in a congressional hearing, “Some people will fly into a delirious rage, and they are temporarily irresponsible and may commit violent crimes.”

His anti-marijuana push was driven by racism. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” he was quoted as saying, and “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

Beginning in 1939, immediately following her performance of “Strange Fruit,” Anslinger began ruthlessly targeting Billie Holiday who was rumored to have a heroin addiction. Those closest to her believed Anslinger’s campaign created an enormous strain, contributing to her early death. During this time, anti-drug crusaders switched from calling it “cannabis” to “marihuana” or “marijuana,” hoping the Spanish word would capitalize on anti-Mexican sentiment.

Linking Violence to Cannabis
At hearings in 1937 on a bill to prohibit marijuana, Anslinger was asked for “horror stories” proving the marijuana-violence connection. Two weeks later, a letter from the chief inspector at the Florida Board of Health arrived telling the story of Victor Licata. The inspector also sent along a picture, presumably the young man’s mugshot, which had been circulated widely in the Florida dailies. In the photograph, Licata is crazed violence incarnate, his wild-eyed stare entirely unnerving. This would be the face of Anslinger’s marijuana crackdown.

Victor Licata Reefer Madness Harry Anslinger marijuana weed 420Victor Licata, driven “mad” by reefer.

Anslinger began giving speeches and writing articles on the dangers of marijuana, harping on the Licata case. “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother,” he said. In his most famous article, “Marijuana – Assassin of Youth” published in the American magazine, Licata is transformed from a congenitally mentally ill person into “a sane and rather quiet young man” whose reefer-toking had turned him into an axe-wielding murderer – not his schizophrenia.

Anslinger succeeded in turning marijuana into a national issue. By 1938, the film Reefer Madness had been purchased by a new director and was being circulated more widely, warning of the “frightful toll of a new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America … The Real Public Enemy Number One!”

In the 1930s, The New York Times ran dozens of articles about police crackdowns on “marijuana rings,” whereas in 1926, the paper ran an article titled, “Marijuana Smoking Is Reported Safe.”

The Marijuana Tax Act, legislation that Anslinger drafted himself, was passed in 1937, effectively making the sale and possession of marijuana illegal across the country. In 1950, Victor Licata hanged himself with a bed sheet. Meanwhile, Anslinger’s bureau flourished.

According to Hari, “within thirty years, he succeeded in turning this crumbling department with these disheartened men into the headquarters for a global war that would continue for decades.” In the coming years, hundreds of thousands of men and women – disproportionately people of color – would spend huge portions of their lives behind bars.
Reprinted from Timeline.

Laura Smith
Laura Smith is a staff writer @timeline and a freelance journalist based in Oakland, California. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, about the disappearance of Barbara Newhall Follett will be out from Viking in 2018.


This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.






Wednesday, August 09, 2017

From the Archives: State Senator Ralph Smith 'keeping his powder dry' on ABC privatization proposals

State Senator Ralph Smith 'keeping his powder dry' on ABC privatization proposals
August 9, 2010 2:25 AM MST

Ralph Smith ABC privatization liquor law alcohol regulation Prohibition
Governor Bob McDonnell’s first town hall meeting on government reform was held in the chambers of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, in the backyard of state Senator Ralph Smith (R-22), a former mayor of Roanoke whose district encompasses all of Botetourt County, parts of Montgomery and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Radford and Salem. (The city of Roanoke is represented in the state senate by Democrat John Edwards.)

Smith introduced McDonnell at the start of the meeting. After the event ended, he spent a few minutes answering questions from the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner.

Smith’s assessment of the town hall was positive.

Learning from the public
“I think we all learned by it,” he said. “I feel sure the Governor’s learned new angles by this. I certainly did.”

The senator was particularly impressed by the way Governor McDonnell handled difficult – if not hostile – questions from the audience.

On occasions like this, he said, “no one’s going to like everything you do.” McDonnell “did an excellent job of dealing with those issues which are pretty much in opposition from the direction he wants to go.” For that, Smith concluded, “he gets good credit.”

With regard to the specific question of McDonnell’s proposals for privatization of the sales and distribution of distilled spirits, Smith put on a positive face but was nonetheless noncommittal.

Wait and see on ABC
“I’m like probably a majority of the members of the General Assembly,” he explained, who want to “see more detail and expect to learn a little bit more in the next couple of days.”

Smith said of himself that “I’m a private-enterprise guy, so that kicks in, but I also realize that this is not a product like shoes and razor blades and everything else, when you’re dealing with alcohol,” suggesting that alcohol sales should be treated differently under the law than other consumer products.

Asked if he has a sense of what the General Assembly is thinking, Smith replied:

“Most everyone’s keeping their powder dry,” but he added that the opposition party – the Democrats, who have a majority in the state Senate – are unlikely to be supportive.

Still, Smith does not think support or opposition to these proposals will be driven entirely by partisanship.

“It’ll be back and forth,” he said, although “I think the partisanship will handicap it, somewhat.”

Rural-suburban split
What’s more likely is a rural-suburban split among legislators, depending on the constituencies they represent.

“You’re going to see some of that, clearly, yes,” he noted, pointing out that “Southwest Virginia is going to be the most conservative part of it.”

On the other hand, he said, “there are pockets around the Commonwealth,” which he identified as “the heavily populated areas, without naming the specifics,” where the transition will be welcomed by those who have seen free-market sales in other parts of the country.

At the same time, he expressed some concern that those other states serve as examples of where they “have one [liquor store] essentially on every corner.” In his own visits to other states he has seen “gaudiness” and thinks those stores are “pretty tacky visually.”

Still, he added, “I can’t imagine that it doesn’t encourage more alcohol consumption,” an assertion contradicted by studies such as one released last week by the Virginia Institute of Public Policy, and by some of the research done by economist Antony Davies, who was interviewed by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner last Thursday.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 9, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.