Sunday, February 04, 2007

A great example of what elected Libertarians can do for America

This is an email I received from the National LP:

There are still many Americans who don't know what the Libertarian Party is all about. Yes, we are a political party but what do elected Libertarians actually do when they take office?

Here's a great story that should answer that question.

This week, I learned of a recent meeting that took place among some of our newly elected Libertarians.

Jack Tanner, Tom Clark and Kim Hawk serve on Florida's Lee County Soil and Water Conservation Board which is comprised of five members. Jack, Tom and Kim are Libertarians. They hold the majority on the board . . . a Libertarian majority.

This month they held a board meeting, which is typically not a widely attended event. However, this time their meeting room was chock-full of bureaucrats from Lee County and even surrounding counties.

Here are Kim Hawk's own words to describe the setting:

"Jack had e-mailed the agenda and invited media. Everyone knew what was likely to happen. Bureaucrats began to file into the room. Federal, state, county and city managers of agriculture, utilities, water and parks departments took their seats. Jack had never seen anything like it. Two years ago he couldn't get board members to attend. The air was electric. I could feel the tension in the room. Our two employees Nik and Garry were there. Mark, the board member unseated by Tom, was there with a scowl on his face. No media were present. Cookies and doughnuts sat largely untouched in the center of the table. My stomach was in a knot. I didn't know if I could do what I came to do."

So, now you are probably wondering, "What the heck was going on?"

It's pretty simple, Lee County was about to get their first taste of what elected Libertarians do.

You see, Lee County offered a little program that fell under the supervision of the Soil and Water Conservation Board.

The program had an impressive name, the Mobile Irrigation Lab (MIL).

For years, employees of the MIL visited the homes of Lee County residents and . . . well . . . adjusted their sprinkler systems.

They made sure that homeowners – those who could afford sprinkler systems – had good distribution on their manicured lawns and didn't over or under water.

Now, in Virginia where I live, I pay a local company to stop by my house each season. I make an appointment, answer the door, shake a man's hand and he goes about his business adjusting the sprinkler system. I then hand him a check for about $50.

My neighbors that don't have sprinkler systems don't have to bother with that process and they don't have to write a check.

All of Lee County residents paid for this service, whether they used it or not, to the tune of $202,986 per year.

The Mobile Irrigation Lab serviced an average of about 34 lawns a month. That's about $497 per lawn.

You can probably see what's coming by now.

That's right, in that well-attended meeting of the Water Conservation Board, our newly elected Libertarians were about to terminate what was obviously a wasteful government program.

Once again, here's Kim Hawk's take:

"Chairman Jack Tanner quickly moved through the agenda until he opened the floor to discuss the termination of the mobile irrigation laboratory and our two employees. The next 45 minutes or so were consumed by a series of earnest and emotional pleas by the government managers. Phrases like 'millions of gallons wasted' and 'billions of gallons saved' were used. Papers were pushed around with columns, charts and graphs. A case was cited in which an elderly, feeble, poor woman, unable to manage her lawn sprinklers, was 'saved' by our wonderful program."

As the debate wound down and Mr. Hawk announced how he would vote, he continued:

"I now know how uncomfortable and awkward it feels to look government workers in the eye and tell them 'You're fired.' I felt sad for the two men whose income was lost and at the same time I felt exhilarated thinking of the thousands of taxpayers who will keep more of their own money.

"I looked around the room. Some looked bewildered. Some looked shocked. Our employees, Nik and Garry, were visibly angry. Garry was muttering something I'm glad I couldn't hear. Jack called for a vote. Ron Edenfield brusquely pushed back his chair and stood, announcing, 'Let the record show I don't have time for this. . . ' Ron walked out. Jack was unfazed. Paul Dinger voted to keep the service saying, 'I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water.' Jack, Tom and I voted to end the program."The government managers were mumbling to each other. I heard phrases like 'this is unbelievable!' They stayed behind to discuss their next move.
"I felt many conflicting emotions on my way out. As the day wore on I gradually realized that this was a dream come true. I am 49 years old. For 35 years I have complained about our intrusive and expensive government. Now I am government, and I am doing something about it. I have found my nirvana. Jack, Tom and I will do whatever we can to prevent other agencies from thwarting our attempts to reduce government waste and regulation. We owe this to the taxpayers and ourselves."

After learning of this story, I called up Jack Tanner just to let him know how much we all appreciate their work. It's one thing to be an elected Libertarian; it's another to govern as a Libertarian.

It is not easy to endure the criticism of the majority.

It is not easy to have to look good employees in the eye and fire them simply because they held a government job.

But that's the duty of an elected Libertarian.

Thankfully, the men and women of our party who run for and win public office stand by principle and do their jobs regardless of how unpopular or uncomfortable things may become.

The next time someone asks you, "What do Libertarians do?" You can proudly respond by saying, "They stand by principle."

Best Regards,

Shane Cory
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

P.S. To read all of Kim Hawk's commentary on the Lee County board meeting, click here.


Tim Zank said...

Mike, That is a great example of government actually doing the right thing.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Yeah, it seems to me the lab employees would be well served to start their own irrigation reap unlimited profit potential instead of drawing a fixed government stipend. The conservation district did something that government has the power to do, but seldom does: They created opportunity instead of stifling it. The two employees already had the experience and a pre-built customer about a slam-dunk. I start salivating when I hear of opportunities like that.

Eric Dondero said...

It's good that at least LP National is paying attention to the importance of elected Libertarians.

I gave a presentation two weeks ago to the Harris County Libertarian Party (Houston) on getting elected to the Draft Board. (I am one of three 20-year Selective Service Federal appointmentees in the Nation). Presented to them how easy it was to gain an appointment, and stressed the importance of Libertarians actually winning appointments and lower level offices.

They were polite and attentive. Thanked me for my presentation.

Afterwards, I spent half a day getting all the info together for them on how to get these appointments and the Houston area vacancies.

Did a quick follow-up yesterday. The local LP Chair told me that none of their members were really interested in getting appointed, and that they had tabled the project.

Go figure!!!

Fuuuck man, and people wonder why we libertarian Republicans are so frustrated with the Libertarian Party???

Bottom line: Very few Libertarians in the LP are really serious about politics.


Withouth the RLC our libertarian movement would be doomed!

Eric Dondero, CEO said...

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