Open Letter to Barack Obama
by Walter Block
by Walter Block
Mr. Barack Obama
Dear Senator Obama:
As a libertarian, I must of course support for the presidency of the U.S. in the upcoming election whoever is the candidate of the Libertarian Party. (It's a libertarian thing; you wouldn't understand.)
However, as a citizen, and political actor, I must acknowledge that the three people with by far the best chance of being elected in the fall are you, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. I favor you above the other two. Why?
In a word, foreign policy. I think you are the least likely to utilize nuclear weapons against a country (Iran? China?) that has not attacked us. I think you are the most likely to withdraw our troops from Iraq most quickly and expeditiously. Not that I trust you entirely on these matters. It is just that I think bellicose Hillary, and Mad Bomber McCain, are far more likely to instigate the nuclear horror, and to refrain from ending the debacle in Iraq, than you are.
Foreign policy in my view is more important than either economics or civil liberties. For it is in wartime that rights in these two other areas are typically abrogated (see here, here and here). And, in this area, you stand head and shoulders above the other two major candidates. (This isn't saying all that much, given their views, but, when you limit your scope to the major candidates, you've got to accept the best you can get.)
What of civil liberties and civil rights? None of you three are going to abolish affirmative action, political correctness law, the myriad of laws of this sort that now plague us. McCain might even be better than you and Hillary on these issues, but, as I say, this is relatively unimportant.
What of economics? Here, all three of you are socialists of various stripes. McCain has recently been trying to "pass" as a born-again free enterpriser. But I'll never forget his gratuitous attack on "profits" during one of the Republican debates. He may talk the talk, as he is now instructed to do by his advisors, but I know that in his heart he is no supporter of free markets. Hillary will say and do whatever she thinks she needs to do to become elected; in a sense, she has no heart at all.
You are different. I discern, or at least think I do, that beneath your ultra-liberal (socialist) voting record, and mindless demagogic sloganeering ("Yes we can." Come on, give me a break; doesn't this sort of thing embarrass you?), there is a real concern for people, particularly the poor.
So, I'm rooting for you, at least vis-à-vis Clinton and McCain. In return for my valuable support (I also championed the candidacy of Kerry, and you know where that got him), I would like to obligate you to at least listen to some friendly, constructive, advice I am now about to offer you.
1. If Hillary somehow, don't ask, wins the Democratic nomination and offers you the Vice Presidency on her campaign, do seriously consider taking it. Why not? In another eight years, you will still be a relatively young man. On the other hand, if you win as expected, do NOT, if you value your life, offer her second position on your ticket. I don't know how to say this without possibly running afoul of the law against libel, so let me just say this: Vince Foster. No rational insurance company would underwrite your life for more than six months with that virago as your veep.
2. Getting out of Iraq? Good. No, excellent! But why, pray tell, go into Afghanistan? They, too, pose no serious threat of an attack on the U.S., surely the only justification for a declaration of war. (Not that anyone, nowadays, avails himself of so old-fashioned a congressional approval.) As Ron Paul has said on more than one occasion, 9/11 was the work of a bunch of thugs, not that of a sovereign state. In any case, most of the culprits were Saudi Arabians? Should we attack them? Hardly. Why then Afghanistan? No, bring the troops home, and keep them there, until and unless an actual invasion is threatened. We have some 700 plus military bases in over 100 different countries. Does that sound like defense to you? Thought not.
3. Learn some economics, for goodness sakes. If you really want to help the poor, realize that minimum wages, unions, tariffs, price controls, and fiat currency, are not exactly the right way to go about accomplishing this task. Of the three major candidates, you seem by far to be the one most open to alternative viewpoints. Go get Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, or better yet, pretty much any of the publications of Ludwig von Mises or Murray N. Rothbard, and read them. Here are two great introductory places to start: Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and Rothbard's What Has Government Done To Our Money? You won't even have to buy either; they are both available on the web for free!
And, I promise that if you so much as look at these latter two publications, I will stand ready to answer any questions you may have and to otherwise tutor you on basic economics.
Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
May 16, 2008