Wednesday, November 11, 2020

With Due Respect: A Commentary On Walter Block’s Damn Nonsense About Libertarian Voters

Walter Block

By David Stockman

Professor Walter Block may be the dean of libertarian thinkers and his yeoman work for the  cause over the decades can’t be gainsaid. But when it comes to grasping the fraught political  forces at large at the present historical juncture and the real significance of the 2020 election, the  good professor is wearing some pretty opaque blinders.  

In a recent Wall Street Journal post he chastises libertarians who voted their principles for Jo  Jorgensen in the purple (swing) states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, claiming  that her vote totals exceeded Biden’s (apparent) tiny margin in these states and thereby put  Sleepy Joe and his alleged Jacobin puppeteers in the Oval Office.  

I figured Ms. Jorgenson for 0.25%. She now looks on track to exceed Mr. Clark’s (1980)  percentage slightly—and hand the presidency to Mr. Biden. Pardon me while I beat my  head against the wall. How could libertarians in purple states be so stupid? 

No, libertarian voters in these states were actually doing god’s work by supplying the crucial  votes that defeated Donald Trump.  

And Trump’s defeat was the single most important thing which could happen in 2020. It keeps  alive the small hope that the Republican Party can be purged of Trumpian right-wing statism and  revert once again to its historic role as the Opposition Party, espousing the old time Robert  Taftian religion of sound money, fiscal rectitude, free markets, federalism, small government and  nonintervention abroad—against the Government Party of the Dems, which by dint of the  opposite principles threatens to smoother liberty and prosperity in America once and for all.  

Stated differently, bad money and fiscal libertinism are the root of all statist evil. The systematic  falsification of financial asset prices and massive monetization of the public debt by the central  bank is what generates anti-wealth populism among the electorate and euthanizes elected  politicians about the dangers of soaring public debt and deficit finance.  

In turn, the resulting fiscal hall pass, which has taken the public debt from $5 trillion to $27  trillion during the first two decades of this century alone, is the very handmaid of Leviathan. For  example, there would be no $1.2 trillion per year American Empire (counting DOD, foreign  operations, veterans comp and interest on war debt) if all the pointless wars and interventions  since WWII had been required to be financed by war taxes rather than borrowing and money  printing.  

Likewise, at the present moment the calamity of Lockdown Nation and stay-at-home quarantine  orders, which have cost trillions in lost wealth and liberty, would never have happened if the 

$3.2 trillion string of Everything Bailouts which made them tolerable to the public had not been  enacted with such alacrity.  

As it happened, this overnight explosion of public spending, which took Federal-state-local  government outlays to a very “socialist” 56% of GDP during Q2, did not involve an iota of  political pain. There were no “Covid-relief taxes” enacted to pay for it, nor any sweeping  spending re-allocations away from programs and constituencies near and dear to the Congress.  

To the contrary, it was just borrow and print. Full stop.  

That’s the real reason why $525 billion of PPP handouts to 5.25 million small business—some  real, many fake and most undeserving—were funded without debate or even a modicum of anti fraud rules; it’s also why $260 billion of $1200 per capita helicopter checks went out to 160  million households including those earning up to $200,000 per year; and it’s the reason that the  Federal UI top-up benefit of $600 be week, enacted without hearings or even a smidgen of  analysis, raised the average combined Federal/state unemployment benefit in much of the nation  to $57,000 annualized—a level which exceeded previously earned wages for 70% of recipients.  

To be sure, when the evil Tony Fauci and his camarilla of malpracticing doctors and  apparatchiks came to the Donald in mid-March with their plan for a two-week lockdown and the  dissemination of the Covid-Plague-Hysteria to the American public, his scant regard for liberty  and the dangers of expanding state power would have been no barrier to their importunings.  

The Donald doesn’t have a clue about conservative economic principles and doesn’t care: The  greater glorification of his own Brobdingnagian ego was and remains his only compass.  

Still, the prospect of throwing tens of millions of voters out of work and millions of (mostly  Republican) small businesses up against the wall would have been unthinkable to even the  Donald if the subsequent trillions worth of make-wholes, indemnifications and free stuff could  not have been funded virtually overnight via the US Treasury’s massive borrowing and the  instantaneous Fed monetization of the resulting flood of supply into the bond pits.  

In short, we got the statist nightmare of Lockdown Nation and the Virus Patrol’s marauding  destruction of jobs, businesses and livelihoods because the Donald sanctioned it, and because  decades of GOP default on sound money and fiscal rectitude left him an opening to launch a  sheer bacchanalia of government borrowing and money-printing.  

So the essence of the 2020 election was always this: It presented an eleventh hour opportunity  for the resurrection of a genuine conservative Opposition Party, which is the sine qua non for  avoidance of statist disaster and the end of constitutional liberty and capitalist prosperity as we  have known it.  

Yet the latter is the inexorable outcome so long as American democracy is in the clutches of the  traditional Government Party of the Dems operating in cahoots with the rightwing Government  Party of careerist, Washington-based Republican PAC-money grubbing pols who have come to  embrace a toxic Trumpian brew of fiscal incontinence and monetary madness. 

Needless to say, there would be no chance of a conservative Opposition Party worthy of the  name if the GOP were to be terminally poisoned with four more years of Donald Trump’s  absolutely destructive, and we’d dare say, demented, views with respect to the central bank and  the public debt. These horrendous positions outweigh everything else including court  appointments and jousting with woke progressives over the 1619 Project’s besmirchment of  American history, and by a country mile.  

Trump’s ham-handed attacks on the Fed for even its tepid attempt to normalize interest rates and  its balance sheet last year and his cheerleading for the absolute lunacy of $3 trillion worth of  bond-buying during the 90-days after green-lighting Dr. Fauci reign of economic terror in mid March are beyond the pale. So with the Donald in control of the GOP, the prospect that  Republicans would ever come to their senses about the absolute abomination of what is, in  effect, rogue Keynesian central banking at the Fed would have remained somewhere between  slim and none.  

Likewise, no modern president has ever spent money and borrowed at the gratuitous rates  recorded under the Donald’s fiscal proligacy of the last 46 months.  

For want of doubt, here is the spending growth rate for all of the presidential terms since 1960.  Only Jimmy Carter came close to the Donald’s 15.7% per annum rate of gain and Carter’s  12.0% figure was bloated with about 4X more annual inflation than the Donald’s sorry number;  and all of the other figures for presidential terms cited below also occurred during periods of  higher inflation, meaning that in real terms the Donald is the hands down government spending  champion of all time.  

That’s right. The run rate of Federal outlays in Q4 2016 was $4.18 trillion, a figure which  clocked in $3.1 trillion higher at $7.22 trillion in Q3 2020.  

That spending explosion caused the public debt to soar from $19.9 trillion to $27. 1 trillion— meaning that this $7+ trillion gain on the Donald’s watch to date was equal to the total public  debt accumulated by the first 43 president through Bush the Younger’s first term.  

Per Annum Federal Spending Gain: 

Trump: 15.7%; 

Obama: 3.6%;  

Bush the Younger: 6.3%;  

Clinton: 3.1%;  

Bush the Elder: 7.2%;  

Reagan: 7.3%;  

Carter: 12.0%;  

Nixon-Ford: 10.3%;  

Kennedy-Johnson: 8.8%.  

In a word, fiscal and monetary matters are of cardinal importance and the Donald’s position on  those have been every bit as bad as the middle-of-the-road statism and crony capitalism that Joe 

Biden has spent 47-years practicing in the Imperial City. So there was nothing to be gained in  terms of actual policies over the next four years, even if this were the last rodeo, which it was  not.  

Indeed, at this juncture the long-haul revival of a genuine conservative Opposition Party of the  type that could be led by Senator Rand Paul is 100 times more important than the marginal short term policy differences between Trump and Biden that were at stake in the 2020 election.  

On foreign policy,for example, it is just choosing your poison. Trump is terrible on Iran and  China and Biden is awful on Russia and Syria; and both have supported massive funding for the  Swamp of Waste at the Pentagon and the excuses for aggression abroad which a trillion national  security budget inherently self-funds.  

Likewise, on the fiscal and monetary front Biden’s rumored candidate for Fed chairman, Ralph  Bostic of the Atlanta Fed, is no worse than Pusillanimous Powell, who the Donald put in the job  and then complained that his ultra-easy money policies were not easy enough.  

Similarly, the Biden camp’s suggestion that Janet Yellen would make a swell Secretary of the  Treasury presents a prospect no worse than the Goldman grifter and Keynesian nincompoop,  Stevie Mnuchin, who the Donald installed in one of the few domestic policy posts that really  make a difference.  

Against these crucial considerations, Professor Block’s observations essentially amount to  kicking a straw man:  

Yes, the Donald is a protectionist, and free trade is the preferred policy of those who  favor economic and personal liberty. But when it comes to lowering taxes and easing  regulations on business, the party of the elephant is far more closely aligned to the  libertarian philosophy than that of the donkey. Mr. Trump has appointed conservatives to  the Supreme Court….. 

In contrast, Mr. Biden is a puppet in the marionette hands of out-and-out socialists like  Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

The problem isn’t Bernie and AOC, and the Donald’s life-long love affair with primitive  protectionism is among the least of his sins.  

Indeed, as to the threat of the so-called Progressive-Left, the one and same AOC cited by  Professor Block spent the weekend whining to the NYT about how rudely she has been treated  by the House Dem caucus and attempting to refute the obvious fact that the left’s Defund the  Police and ersatz socialist professions are exactly why there was no Blue Wave on November  3rd.  

For crying out loud, Alexandria Occasio-Cortez is a sawdust-for-brains, historically ignorant,  woke millennial brat who is no threat to anything much; and the same goes for the Squad  including the saucy immigrant, Ilhan Omar, who came to the land of opportunity, and apparently 

quickly capitalized upon the opportunity to buy votes and stuff ballot boxes in her Somalian  Minneapolis neighborhoods.  

So AOC and the Squad were the GOP fund raising gift that never stopped giving, but with either  Sleepy Joe or even a Kamala Harris Regency in the Oval Office their noses will soon be pressed  hard upon the glass outside the halls of power. And that’s because the incumbent Government  Party of the Dems is about crony capitalist corruption and the milquetoast statism of PAC and  constituency group driven Big Government, not textbook socialism.  

In fact, that’s the essence of Sleepy Joe’s 47-year sojourn in the Imperial City, where he was  known as the Senator from the credit card companies. And the same goes for the recycled  Clintonistas and Obama apparatchiks who will man the top 2,000 positions in the Biden  Administrations after having spent 4-20 years hanging out lucrative shingles on K-street or  enjoying the good life at the city’s endless encampments of think tanks and NGOs, where the  hours are short and the work is easy (and pointless).  

It is these hardened Swamp Dwellers who will shape and table a feckless Dem agenda over the  next four years, not political freaks like AOC or even Bernie, and most certainly not some  honest-to-goodness socialist professors from Amherst College or Berkeley.  

Moreover, you can be sure that if they manage to enact anything–including executive orders that  survive court appeals—it will simply be a more polite and a tad left-leaning variation of what the  Triumpified GOP delivered up over the past four years, sans the Donald’s personal and signature  bashing of immigrants and imports.  

That’s because James Madison won again. Rather than a Blue Wave of plenary control in  Washington, what we got from the 2020 election was two branches in the hands of conservatives  and Republicans (the Supreme Court and Senate, respectively), and two branches marginally  won by the Dems, where their House majority shrank to the vanishing point and where Sleepy  Joe will have crossed the Electoral College finishing line (after all the recounts and challenges  are finished) with hardly a vote to spare.  

Moreover, with respect to the Senate, the GOP pols and PACs have now been struck by the fear  of god with respect to their precarious majority. So they will raise $200 million or more to get  every redneck in Georgia–sentient or otherwise— to the polls on January 5th, even as they  cordon off the graveyards where thousands of Dem votes wafted to the counting tables on  November 3.  

So doing, they will likely preserve a 52-48 majority. And that means that all the hobgoblins that  have terrified Foxites like Mark Levin and Sean Hannity—Supreme Court packing, elimination  of the Senate filibuster rule, sacking the Electoral College, making Washington DC and Puerto  Rico (Dem) states, prohibition of fracking and outlawing of fossil fuels, Medicare-for-all,  legalization of millions of new immigrant (Dem) voters—are now absolute dead letters. 

Even better, if Sleepy Joe abdicates to a Kamala Harris Regency after he is oxygenated and  propped up to read a few teleprompters sermons from behind the Resolute Desk, it will be one  shorn of the Progressive/Left part of the equation.  

That’s because on substantive legislation it will take 60 votes to break a Senate GOP filibuster,  but it will be a rare day inside the beltway when 100% of the Senate Dems including Manchin  (WV) and Tester (MT) and 11 Republicans can be corralled in favor of the kind of Bernie/AOC  stuff that got stuffed into the Dem platform. In fact, Senator Manchin has already denounced the  whole kit and kaboodle of Sean Hannity’s nightmares.  

So the important work of the 2020 elections is done. Donald Trump is soon to be gone because  no amount of vote recounts and litigation can undo an inherently fraudulent election—and one  that at the end of the day was the result of his own doings.  

To make it simple, if he understood a thing at all about liberty, constitutional government and  real capitalist prosperity, he would have sent Dr. Fauci and the Scarf Lady (Deborah Birx)  packing on day one back in March. It would not have taken him an hour to find the likes of Dr.  Scott Atlas or even the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration if he had known enough to  even ask.  

Instead, he took himself hostage to the Swamp Creatures of the public health bureaucracy and  the lobbyists for Big Pharma. That made the difference between a bad flu season, which would  have been forgotten by now, and a faux national pandemic crisis that is the very thing that led to  massive-scale ad hoc mail-in voting during this election cycle—-a fraught process that few states  and their local units were equipped to manage.  

At the end of the day, the Donald mailed himself out of office and that is all to the good, even if  they way it happened is a national calamity.  

Now the hard work of purging the GOP of the stain of Trumpism can begin. It’s an ultra long  shot because rabid neocon Warfare Statists like Senator Cotton, Mike Pompeo, Liz Cheney and  Nikki Halley are waiting to pounce.  

So the weight falling upon the one man who can lead the GOP back to the old time religion of  the Taftian Opposition Party, Senator Rand Paul, will be immense.  

Then again, he’s already proven himself to be a more than formidable chip off the old block— that of Congressman Ron Paul, who has kept the libertarian cause alive in America during the  same 47 years of enveloping statist darkness that at length brought the feeble remnants of Sleepy  Joe Biden to the Oval Office.  


David Stockman was Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street.

Read more of Stockman's analysis here.



  1. Man, that some severe TDS there Stockman. If there is a treatment for it, you need to go get some. He makes some good points. I don't know why Trump had neo cons around him but does not seem to have started another invasion that we know of. I'm unhappy Trump did not fire Fauci from the beginning and get someone more competent.

    As for protectionism, I don't know why Stockman with all his education can't understand that Americans have been jobless because of some these idiot policies to outsource to a hostile power like China. Of course, he think it is great policy to import more and more non whites to lower wages for jobs that are shrinking, but hey, has got his millions.

    And why didn't his hero Reagan get a damn thing accomplished almost 40 years ago?

    1. Stockman has forgotten more about politics and economics than you could ever know. As for Reagan, Stockman has no hero worship for the Gipper. He resigned his position and wrote a scathing bestseller explaining why.

  2. Any argument that these voters stole or gifted the election to one candidate or the other is ridiculous and unproductive. If they had a gun to their head and had to choose a two-party candidate, who is to say they would have voted for Trump or not?

    If anything, these voters are much closer to those that abstain or just don't care to show up.

    And what has come of these votes? We get two stalwarts showing a veneer of absurdity. One is still holding out hope for and romanticizing the old guard republicans. The other believes libertarians in purple states are stupid if they didn't vote for Trump.

    Maybe these guys need to take a break, step back, and refresh themselves. Maybe they've gotten so lost in minutia they have lost themselves a bit.

  3. There is truth to both what Block and Stockman say.
    No doubt that Trump is hardly the conservative we would like to see running,
    and just as true that votes for the libertarian helped Biden.

    We would like to see the end of RINOs across the board and Trump would be on that list of RINOs.... So What do we do? Vote for Communists/Marxists instead? Vote for RINOs (Communist lites) or Vote for libertarians knowing it will secure a victory for the Communists? Don't Blame Trump, Don't blame people voting for Trump... It is far too late for that. We are headed toward One World Government and if Trump could delay that for 4 years (or maybe longer) so be it. I don't see Trump inviting UN forces on U.S.A. soil, but Biden would certainly be for it or his soon to be replacement. We are in a very very bad spot. Civil War, Martial Law, Foreign invasion is where we are.

    1. Additional:

      I've voted in a handful of presidential elections.
      1988 Ron Paul
      1992 Andre Marrou
      1996 Harry Browne
      2000 Harry Browne

      And then gave up on the fake LP after they supported the post 9/11 measures (see Harry Browne's writings post 9/11)

      I stayed away from all of it until 2020 in the communist state of New Jersey where I voted for Donald Trump, little good it did though, and straight fake Republicans down the line.

      Libertarianism and Free Markets? I got it and I got it a long time ago, but now was the time to stop (or delay) the Marxists that are here now and ready and eager to kill us. We are doomed... Get it? but I'll greet and welcome fellow libertarians and converts on the real physical battlefied when the time comes.

  4. Libertarians sure took the "Make Your Vote Count" slogan too literally without thinking of what that would mean in our current situation.

    BTW: Fakes are not limited to the Republican Party.

    The LP proved itself to be a joke after 9/11 and then again in 2008.

    See the clip below.