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Another Libertarian Moment?

A Commentary By John Stossel

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Libertarian Party might get more votes this year.   

Before the primaries, Time Magazine, frequent pusher of trends that do not exist, put Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) on its cover and called him the "most interesting man in politics." Then Paul fizzled, and pundits said the "libertarian moment," if there ever was one, had ended.   

But Sen. Paul never ran as a libertarian. He ran as a libertarian-ish Republican, and he wasn't particularly convincing when he got to speak in debates. Americans were unimpressed.   

But now that, according to ElectionBettingOdds.com, the presidential race will be a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Americans may give libertarianism a second look.   

My TV show recently held a debate between the Libertarian Party's three leading presidential candidates. Compared to the Republican and Democratic contenders, the Libertarians sounded so reasonable to me. Take immigration.   

While Democrats pretend they will carefully vet refugees from Muslim parts of the world, Republicans talk about deporting 11 million people. By contrast, the Libertarians on my show talked about reducing border problems by simplifying our complicated immigration laws.   

Immigrants often break our current laws because the alternative is waiting years while trying to wade through our immigration bureaucracy. According to some estimates, that wait could last forever -- up to 100 years.   

"Incentivize legal immigration so that we can cut down on illegal immigration," said Libertarian candidate Austin Petersen. "If we make a simpler path to citizenship, then people will not break the law, if they know that there's a chance that they can come here."   

Republicans like Trump talk about illegal immigrants as if they're bad people who are bound to break other laws because they climbed over border fences. But as Petersen asked, "If you were living in a Third World country and your family was starving to death, who would not cross that wall?"   

My parents came here from Germany in 1930. They wanted to get away from European stagnation. Who can blame them? I wouldn't be embarrassed if they had come here illegally.   

Donald Trump shouts about bad effects of global trade, but his destructive bans and tariffs would do much more harm.  

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson asked during the debate, "Who benefits from free trade but you and I as consumers? If China wants to subsidize goods and services that they send to the United States, who benefits? We do!"   

He's absolutely right. Cheaper goods from abroad mean Americans have more money to spend on other things, and cheaper ingredients for products we manufacture. Yes, some Americans lose jobs, but more gain work, and better work, because free trade helps Americans expand businesses -- in America.   

Republicans and Democrats also engage in foolish talk about "creating jobs." Donald Trump promises, "I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created!"   

God has yet to speak up, but Hillary Clinton says not only will she create jobs, she'll create "good -paying jobs"!   

That's why Johnson was so refreshing in the debate. He said that in eight years as New Mexico's governor, "I didn't create a single job! Government doesn't create jobs. The private sector does."   

Right. But government sure can get in the way.  

"To start a business, I have to fill out a thousand forms and report to OSHA," the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said candidate John McAfee during the debate. "This is the fundamental problem. If we remove these barriers, industry will take care of itself and jobs will improve."   

The Libertarian candidates were also skeptical about government imposition on drug users, on cellphone owners who don't want their phones hacked into and on people trying to accomplish things without first begging for approval from bureaucrats.   

I liked how McAfee put it: "Some fundamental principles are all that we need to live together in a sane and harmonious fashion. We cannot hit one another. We cannot take each other's stuff. We must keep our word, our agreements and our contracts."   

That's right. And that's enough. Government should enforce those contracts but otherwise stay out of our lives. I nodded in agreement when McAfee said, "Personal privacy and personal freedom are paramount to any society in which I would want to live."   

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on Fox News and author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2016 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

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