Lorence Wenke, a local greenhouse owner who has served on the county commission and as a state rep, is running for the senate seat in my district. He has recently decided he’s a Libertarian. I received a lengthy email last week outlining what he’ll do if elected to the legislature. First of all, I did not subscribe to Wenke’s mailing list, so this annoys me. But going through his 16 points, I’m finding a lot to argue with. It’s the same old political rhetoric, none of which sounds terribly libertarian at all. I feel like responding to each of his 16 points. You can play along in the comments if you want.
(I copied and pasted directly from his email and posted my response directly below. Any grammatical errors and poor sentence structures in his points are entirely his.)
#1. Approximately 25% of working age people cannot or will not keep a full time job because of bad personal choices.
I will eliminate taxpayer assistance for those who choose not to work.
Great. Fantastic. I can get behind this. The problem is proof and enforcement. This falls into the realm of social worker judgment call, and that’s always dangerous territory. I think it’s the right idea, but the wrong track. This is not a plan to reform welfare, and this will never happen.
#2. Children are born into circumstances where they have little chance of success in life because they do not have parents who adequately care for them or who can be good examples.
I will support economic penalties for absent and irresponsible parents.
This is pretty vague. What kind of penalties? Are we talking child support slackers? Are we talking about children raised by their grandparents? Irresponsible in what way? This comes across as a feel good, “won’t someone think of the children??” platitude. And again, this is a judgment call. While there are some instances where it is pretty obvious that parents are irresponsible and not caring for their children, who sets the standard for what is acceptable? This is not a plan for addressing issues faced by underserved children.
#3. People are having children that they cannot take care of without taxpayer funds and we are enabling them with generous taxpayer support. See my complete birth control plan at www.votewenke.com.
I will support free birth control for all citizens but after twelve months I will discontinue taxpayer support for new babies.
Lord. You’re supporting “free birth control for all citizens”. If you were even a little bit libertarian you’d know that we’ve been complaining for actual months about having to pay for other people’s birth control. Additionally, anything called the “State of Michigan Birth Control Policy” just instantly terrifies me, because frankly, all I can think of is eugenics. Is that really what you want to inspire in potential voters? Your proposal contradicts itself in the description. Your suggestion of the use of long term birth control devices is ill advised, particularly as you are not a medical doctor. This is very bad. You really should have thought this point through more.
#4. Unfair free trade agreements, automation and outsourcing of jobs have put the American worker in direct competition with better educated, harder working and lower wage workers outside the USA. The American middle class is losing this battle and living less well because of it.
I will seek real fair trade, not just free trade and expect other nations to be comparable with our environmental and labor laws.
I’m not sure that he even understands what he’s promising here. This statement “better educated, harder working and lower wage workers” is at least a little insulting to working class Americans. What does he mean by better educated? Generally jobs that have been outsourced or sent overseas have not been filled by those who are better educated at all. Harder working? Honestly, exactly whose vote are you trying to get??? The problem that really needs to be addressed here is the reason that American countries are sending jobs overseas, and that problem is called taxes and over regulation. I can get behind fair trade vs free trade, but again, he’s missing the mark here. I don’t know though, maybe I don’t get what he’s saying. But I sure feel insulted.
#5. Government employees have excessive compensation compared to private sector workers which makes government too expensive for the private sector to support.
I will work for equality in private and public sector compensation as I have worked on this issue for 15 years.
How exactly will you work for this and how have you worked for it? This is one of the things that contributes to raising minimum wage which kills jobs for the people who need them most. Are government employees paid too much? Arguably, yes. But the way to fix that is to freeze that pay, eliminate superfluous jobs, and look at outsourcing to the private sector whenever possible.
#6. Gay people have been denied equal rights and our economy, families, and culture are reduced because of it. Gay people and their families suffer from discrimination often based on misinterpretation of Bible verses.I will amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to make it unlawful to fire people from employment because they are gay.
I will continue to speak for equal rights as I have for 15 years.
This one is going to get me in trouble with the gay community, but I have yet to find any evidence that anyone in MI has ever been fired for being gay. Yes, it’s legal to fire someone for being gay in the state of MI, but so what? Businesses should have the right to hire and fire as they choose, just as their customers should have the right to determine whether that business fails or succeeds – voting with their wallet, as it were. Are gays discriminated against in MI? I can’t find much. I find a lot of “Well, technically this is legal so it COULD happen.” Maybe there’s a whole boat load of discriminating happening that isn’t making the news, but I find that hard to believe. Gay marriage is not legal in MI, an issue that was decided by voters, but even that is going to be declared unconstitutional any minute now. Rather than amending the Elliot-Larsen Act in this fashion, if Wenke is so concerned with the gay cause, he should look into other areas, like marriage, insurance beneficiaries, etc, these are far more libertarian moves.
#7. The unfunded liability of Michigan taxpayers for Michigan government employee compensation is about $20,000 for each Michigan citizen. 41 states have less debt per citizen then Michigan.
I will allocate funding for our current liabilities and reduce our future liabilities.
You might be able to maintain the current liability, but you can’t reduce future liability unless you cut salaries across the board, and good luck with that one.
#8. The condition of Michigan roads reduces our quality of life and makes it more difficult for businesses to be profitable in Michigan.
I will look for solutions other than tax increases, but I am open to a small gradual tax increase if I am convinced it’s needed.
Muh roads!!! This translates to “We’re totally going to have to raise taxes to repair our shitty roads.” MI gasoline taxes are among the very highest in the country because MI applies the state sales tax to all gas sales. But the sales tax collected from gas sales DOES NOT GO TO FUND THE ROADS. Reallocating that 6% tax per gallon to the roads would go a long way toward fixing the problem. You don’t have to look very far for “other solutions”. But it’s good to know you’re “open” to an increase.
#9. The results of our K-12 education system are mediocre and we spend more than most states. I will ask our students, teachers and administrators to work longer and harder by extending instruction time and the school year.
I would support pay incentives for our teachers based on results.
No no no no no. Everything about this is ridiculous and wrong. Your solution to the problem of public education is to mandate more of the same crap that clearly isn’t working. I could go on about this topic for days (just ask my Reimagining Schooling professor). How are you going to measure the results? More standardized tests? How many times have standardized tests proven to be ineffective measurements of what students are learning? How is extending days and school years, (effectively torturing our children), going to fix anything? You cannot fix the problem of k12 in MI or anywhere else in this manner. Students need less state mandated curriculum and standardized testing and more innovative methods of instruction and teachers employed on merit. I’m going to stop now, because I have other things to do and there are still seven more bullet points to get through.
#10. The cost of alcohol and other addictive drugs for the taxpayer is enormous and increasing. The social cost of alcohol should be paid for by the producers of alcohol and not by the general taxpayer.
What? How about the social cost of alcohol and other addictive drugs be paid by the addicts causing the problem? Personal responsibility is a pretty fundamental tenet of libertarianism. Maybe you should pick up a copy of Libertarianism A to Z.
#11. Michigan continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Abuses by management and unions of our auto industry are the main reason.
I will use tax policy and employment benefits to reduce unemployment and create jobs.
Actually, the unemployment rate in MI has been steadily dropping since Rick Snyder took office, and while it still isn’t great, things are getting better all the time. Whenever you throw around phrases like “tax policy” (and I use the collective politician you) it ends up meaning more taxes for businesses and the rest of us. More taxes on businesses kills more jobs. And while I’m not a huge proponent of unions, they can’t be blamed for everything. The auto industry unions can only be held responsible for negotiating their workers out of their auto industry jobs. The auto industry is (was) not the only industry in MI, and it has been dying since the post WWII boom. Government should not be in the job creation business, but if it truly wants to help, it should cut taxes and reform regulation.
#12. Affordable, workable healthcare is increasingly unavailable without subsidy from taxpayers.
I will work to reduce the cost of healthcare and require more information about what and who we pay and increase co-pays in some situations.
You know what would go a long way toward making healthcare affordable? Government butting out of healthcare and out of the insurance business. Why do you get to determine what co-pays are? Who are you to decide what is a legitimate expense? This sounds an awful lot like Obamacare and government control of my healthcare. And by the way, it’d be great if politicians would stop conflating healthcare with health insurance.
#13. The value of our dollar is being decreased by Washington deficit spending with the result that prices are increasing in almost every area which is especially a burden for seniors.
I will demonstrate against debt as I have in the past on the steps of our nation’s capitol and enlist others.
You want to be elected to the Senate so you can … demonstrate. Dude. Are you even serious right now?
#14. The cost of caring for sick family members is increasing and bankrupting many people.
I will advocate for a limit on what family members can be expected to pay.
Which translates to the taxpayer picking up the rest of the tab. Look, I get it, it’s expensive, I know. But this is more government intervention, more taxation, more bureaucracy. If we were allowed more freedom in choosing insurance plans that work for our families instead of more government regulation, this would be less of a problem. More government and higher costs to taxpayers is never the answer.
#15. Too many politicians are guilty of lying, blaming the wrong people, taking credit for other people’s work and voting for special interest groups who support them with money.
I will work with the media to inform citizens of the truth.
This one just made me laugh. The truth generally isn’t that hard to find. We live in the 21st century where information is literally at our fingertips 24 hours a day. But you want to be besties with the media? Which media? Whatever. Yay for the truth I guess.
#16. The cost of electricity in Michigan is higher than most states because we do not have choice in suppliers like we do with natural gas. The Michigan legislature took away our choice and will not give it back because of pressure from special interest groups. The result is our electric bills are high and we have less money for job creation and the middle class dream.
I will be an advocate for choice because competition creates better quality products at a lower price.
Do we have high electric bills? Yes. I’m fairly certain, however, that high electric bills are not the reason the middle class is dead and jobs aren’t super plentiful. Should other electric companies be afforded the opportunity to compete with Consumers’? Yes. Why are government sanctioned monopolies OK? Advocating is all well and good, but you should probably have a better argument than what you’re presenting here. Like this: Allowing new companies to compete with Consumers’ Energy will create jobs, not because electric bills will be lower, but because there will be new companies in need of new workers. I dunno. It just doesn’t seem that hard to make a logical argument.
And that wraps up my take on the “Libertarian Lorence Wenke for Senate 16 Point Action Plan For Michigan”. I’m reasonably well convinced that Wenke has never met a real libertarian, let alone done an even cursory Google search on libertarian principles. I may not be a capital L libertarian myself, and I will freely admit that some of my ideologies tend to veer to the right, but Wenke is about as libertarian as a Clinton.
And yet, the libertarian party appears to be endorsing his candidacy. “Michigan Libertarian Party Chairwoman Mary Buzuma said in a press release announcing the decision that Wenke is a candidate who knows what it takes to create jobs, will bring people to the party and will help spread the message of the Libertarian Party of more freedom and less government.” ~ MLive, May 2014. Ridiculous. I hate to break it to you Mary, but this platform isn’t going to bring anyone to the party. I find it astonishing that the LP is standing by this. The only logical explanation I can find for this is that they couldn’t find another candidate for the job. I think they can bank on not winning this election.
Who knows? I’m not a pundit, I’m just a voter.