Libertarians and Public Infrastructure

Shane Hazel is the most famous libertarian in America. Now known as “The man who cost Republicans the U.S. Senate,” Hazel achieved his instant national fame, or infamy, depending on who you ask, by running as a Libertarian last November against David Perdue and Jon Ossoff in the Georgia’s U.S. Senate race. Hazel earned 2.3 percent of the vote, which threw into a runoff the race that Perdue had come within 0.3 percent of winning. Perdue lost the runoff, and the rest is history.

In defeat, Hazel scored a remarkable victory. He served notice to Republicans that if their congressional voting record is comparable to liberal democrats, and Perdue’s was, they’ll get knocked off by a third party candidate that promises to uphold the U.S. Constitution. That’s a tough lesson.

If your preference is to reform the Republican party from the inside, thus preserving its viability against an even more dangerous Democratic party, it’s hard to accept the decision by Libertarians to run candidates in close races. Hazel appeared to rub it in when Reason quoted him saying “Give me your tears. They are delicious.” In response, in several recent articles I referenced Hazel, in unflattering terms, as a prime example of how Libertarians are enabling Democrat victories.

These criticisms, directed at Libertarians in general, and Hazel in particular, earned me an invitation from Hazel to appear on his podcast. We spoke a few days later, on February 25. During an 81 minute […] Read More

Environmentalists Destroyed California’s Forests

Millions of acres of California forest have been blackened by wildfires this summer, leading to the usual angry denunciations from the usual quarters about climate change. But in 1999, the Associated Press reported that forestry experts had long agreed that “clearing undergrowth would save trees,” and that “years of aggressive firefighting have allowed brush to flourish that would have been cleared away by wildfires.” But very little was done. And now fires of unprecedented size are raging across the Western United States.

“Sen. Feinstein blames Sierra Club for blocking wildfire bill,” reads the provocative headline on a 2002 story in California’s Napa Valley Register. Feinstein had brokered a congressional consensus on legislation to thin “overstocked” forests close to homes and communities, but could not overcome the environmental lobby’s disagreement over expediting the permit process to thin forests everywhere else.

Year after year, environmentalists litigated and lobbied to stop efforts to clear the forests through timber harvesting, underbrush removal, and controlled burns. Meanwhile, natural fires were suppressed and the forests became more and more overgrown. The excessive biomass competed for the same water, soil, and light a healthier forest would have used, rendering all of the trees and underbrush unhealthy. It wasn’t just excess biomass that accumulated, but dried out and dead biomass.

What happened among California’s tall stands of Redwood and Ponderosa Pine also happened in its extensive chaparral. Fire suppression along with too many environmentalist-inspired bureaucratic barriers to controlled burns and undergrowth removal turned the hillsides […] Read More