My new novel The Unelected President is about a libertarian author, “Mike Medlock,” who suddenly and unexpectedly becomes President of the United States. Does saying he is libertarian means he is a clone of Libertarian Presidential nominee Gary Johnson?
Johnson is in favor of a balanced budget amendment. “Mike Medlock” favors a Constitutional amendment to abolish new federal borrowing that increases the national debt and to require that all refinancing of existing federal debt be in the form of 30-year, fixed-rate, self-amortizing bonds.
The problem with a balanced budget is that it includes revenue projections. Politicians will deliberately overestimate revenue projections so they can continue deficit spending.
Also, even if all future budgets were truly balanced, that would not reduce the national debt a penny. At present, all US bills, notes, and bonds are interest only. That means they just pay interest during the term then, when the term of the bond ends, the government pays back 100% of the original principal amount in a balloon payment.
On the other hand, the 30-year, fixed-rate, self-amortizing bonds are what home mortgages usually are. Every payment pays down the debt with increasing amounts going to pay down each month and lower amount going to interest.
Johnson is in favor of a balanced-budget amendment. “Mike Medlock” favors a Constitutional amendment to abolish new federal borrowing that increases the national debt and to require that all refinancing of existing federal debt be in the form of 30-year, fixed-rate, self-amortizing bonds.
The effect of requiring all bonds not paid off to be refinanced when due in this way would be to pay off the entire U.S. national debt over 60 years. The most recent 30-year bonds would take 30 years before they needed to be refinanced, then, when refinanced for another 30 years, they would be the last bonds to be paid off. Thus the 60 year period. That is as gradual as you can make paying off the national debt as a practical matter.
Both Gary and Mike believe the private sector creates jobs, not the government
Johnson believes the main remedy for unemployment is ending "uncertainty" for private business. Medlock believes the government must enact and protect the Seven Pillars of Prosperity, only one of which is reducing artificial uncertainty created by the government.
The Seven Pillars of Prosperity are:
- free markets (minimal or no restrictions or taxes on domestic and international transactions)
- Sound money (neither inflates nor deflates)
- rule of law
- property rights
- minimal taxation
- minimal regulation
- minimal creation of artificial uncertainty by the government
Gary advocates coal and nuclear power and does not believe research or development of renewal energy is the government’s business. “Medlock” says the government should have no energy policy whatsoever, that is, no taxes, mandates, or subsidies for different types of energy.
Each energy consumer should make their own decisions and spend their own money to make them happen. Anyone can use whatever energy they want and no one is forced to use or pay for any type they do not want. Energy pollution should be governed only by common law, e.g., (1) nuisance, (2) trespass and (3) negligence.
Johnson’s position is vague and muddled, sort of anti-pollution and anti-government environmental efforts. Medlock says the federal government’s only role is to coordinate dealing with things that cross state and international borders and to stop harming of others by actions that affect others on the other side of state or international borders. Things that cross borders include air, water, germs, and migratory animals. Otherwise, Medlock says alleged environment misbehavior should be governed only by common law.
Johnson is in favor ending the Federal Reserve. Until then, he wants the Fed to have only one mission: stable dollar value. He opposed “Quantitative Easing.”
“Medlock” wants the Fed to have only one monetary mission: preventing any inflation or deflation. He would end the current Fed responsibilities for higher employment and general prosperity which are often in conflict with the primary mission of sound money.
Some central bank has to be the lender of last resort in the event of runs on solvent banks. When such a run occurs, the Fed or another organization needs to be able to provide loans to the bank secured by good collateral and at above market interest rates.
That’s Walter Bagehot.
Medlock wants the Federal Open Market Committee to be replaced by one Fed chairperson. And he wants that Fed chair promptly replaced when there is U.S. dollar inflation or deflation.
For both symbolic and influence-by-politicians-avoiding reasons, Medlock would require that the Fed chair live and work at least 1,000 miles away from DC. Two thousand miles would be better, but he does not want to make it too hard to recruit a good person for the job.
Free market capitalism and international trade
We both favor those: no taxes, no mandates, no tariffs, or quotas on any imports.
Medlock thinks the government should have no involvement with health care other than combat medical care and the Center for Disease Control. Veterans care should be cared for by the federal government solely by voucher—no VA hospitals or medical personnel. Both Medlock and Johnson favor tort law reform. Medlock opposes all price controls in all contexts including any on medical care and pharmaceuticals.
Johnson vaguely dislikes unions. Medlock says unions are nothing but legalized Democrat Party extortion racketeer organizations and that they should lose their legal exemptions from anti-trust laws which prohibit any such behavior by anyone other than unions.
Social Security and Medicare
Johnson vaguely wants these reformed to lower their cost.
Medlock believes in separation of charity and state. To the extent that the average recipient of these two entitlements receives three times as much as they paid in over their lives, they are charity. End it.
To the extent that these entitlements are return of money paid in, Medlock would have the public decide what they want to do in a national binding referendum. The politicians will never do what’s necessary. Only the people will.
Medlock simply says the government must live within its means—no deficit spending. So the issue of paying back money paid into Social Security and Medicare is a matter of how much the American people want to tax themselves to keep these promises made by dead politicians who used those promises to buy votes with taxpayers’ money.
Medlock also believes in separation of education and state, pensions and state, borrowing and state, lending and state, insurance and state, energy and state, commerce and state, disability (other than line of duty for federal employees) and state.
Whenever politicians are allowed to have authority over anything, including these areas, they use that authority to use taxpayers’ money, taxpayers’ credit, and to risk the future value of the dollar to buy votes. They will incessantly make loans easier to get on more generous terms. Ditto health care, insurance policies, pensions, disability, energy, commerce. All authority granted to elected politicians will be abused to buy votes for the next election.
Both Johnson and Medlock do not want taxpayers money to pay for Prohibition 2.0, that is, let users decide whether to use. However, Johnson is a pothead who said he was smoking pot daily before the campaign started.
He was recently president and CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a Nevada-based company that sells medical cannabis products in states where medicinal and/or recreational cannabis is legal.
Medlock has never smoked, drank alcohol, or used recreational drugs and urges the public to follow his lead, but he has zero interest in trying to use government to prevent consenting adults from using those things.
Military intervention abroad
Johnson is generally anti-intervention. Medlock says that’s a stupid position. You have to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis. In hindsight, Medlock believes, America should not have fought the Spanish American War, World War I, the Iraq War, or the Afghan War. Vietnam, the war he served in, would have been okay if we had fought to win. Medlock is dead set against fighting in wars where the American people are not committed to winning. We should have fought all our other wars.
You cannot have a policy on intervention per se. You must first know the answer to intervening in what? Also, we have many mutual defense pacts, like with South Korea, which require us to intervene in many military actions abroad.
The main difference between Johnson and Medlock is Johnson is a politician. He was elected to two terms as a Republican governor of New Mexico. A year ago, he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President. As a consequence of being a politician, his positions are muddled and vague especially where the involve cutting entitlements or military policy.