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It's sad to say, but I don't think the Libertarian Party will ever be successful (or at least not using the current strategies). Few people are aware of the principles of the LP, and of those that do, most people consider them far too radical. This is why people like Ron Paul, Milton Friedman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger belong to the Republican Party despite sharing a libertarian philosophy. They feel that they can do much more good for the cause by working through the Republican Party than they can working through the LP. They are probably right.

In my opinion, the best thing we can do as libertarians is to promote a small federal government. Rather than emphasizing that the government shouldn't be involved in this, that, or the other thing, emphasize that these decisions should be made at the state or local level rather than at the federal level. This increases the power of the people.

For example, rather than trying to convince someone that there should be no minimum wage, try convincing them that there should be no federal minimum wage. States and localities will be free to decide if there should be a minimum wage and how high it should be. This allows the additional benefit of at least being able to tailor the minimum wage to local economic conditions. A federal minimum wage allows no such flexibility. I don't think I have to tell people on this board about the problems that such central economic planning has on an economy. Not all areas of the United States have identical cost of living levels, so it is impossible to set a minimum wage appropriate for all locations in this huge country. The advantage of this strategy is that you don't have to convince someone that there should be no minimum wage, which is often an impossible task. You merely have to convince them decisions about the minimum wage are best made at the state or local level.

I prefer pushing as much as possible down to the state level. Education spending? Push it down. Let states and communities determine the best way to educate our youth. It's likely to be far more effective than letting Washington bureaucrats make these decisions. As little as possible should be reserved for the federal government. Things like national security would still be performed at the federal level. Because federal spending would be dramatically reduced, federal taxes could be dramatically reduced. States and localities could then increase taxes to get the same overall tax rates that we have now. States and localities could continue to provide the same government spending if the citizens so desire. Once again, you don't need to convince people that government spending should be radically reduced, but rather you need to convince them that they would have far more control over how their tax dollars were spent if the decisions were made at the state and local level.

You might think pushing all this down to the state and local level won't do much good, because governments would still be involved with many activities that libertarians don't believe governments should be involved with. However, it would dramatically increase "government policy competition" between the states.

For example, with a majority of the taxes coming at the state level rather than the federal level, taxes would be a major source of competition between states. It would dramatically increase incentives to keep tax rates low. People and businesses would be attracted to states with attractive tax rates. With most of the government regulation at the state level rather than the federal level, states could compete to provide an attractive regulatory environment. States already compete with each other as it is. California has had major problems because it hasn't remained competitive with other states especially in the area of business environment. However, with so many decisions made at the federal level, this competition is still very limited. By pushing everything down to the state level, competition would increase, and I think this competition would force governments to get smaller.

Most people seem to believe strongly in a large role for government in our lives. I may be pessimistic, but I don't think rational arguments for limited government will sway large numbers of voters. This doesn't mean that we should give up entirely on promoting the "gospel" of limited government, but in my opinion, we have a better chance of convincing people that government activities should be done at the state and local level than we do of convincing them that they shouldn't be done at all. I think competition realistically provides the best bet at restraining government.
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