“The Conscience of a Libertarian” by Wayne Allyn Root

I’m an independent voter, frustrated with both Democrats and Republicans, so I was curious to read “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizens Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling, and Tax Cuts” (2009) by anchorman, commentator, and 2008 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root.

Inspired by Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative” (1959), Root claims to be an “equal opportunity anti-politician” (page xxxi) and calls for a return to citizen legislators. According to Root, Libertarianism is not about anarchy (having no government), but about having a minimal federal government with most of the power residing with the state governments.

The book is divided into four sections: A Revolution is Brewing introduces Barry Goldwater, Conservatism, and Root’s Libertarian awakening; Let’s Talk Money and Politics discusses the Nevada model of low taxes and small government, California’s problems, the trouble with lawyers, and bailouts; Solutions for the Mess We are In outlines specific actions to reform unions, Congress, and the Legislature, downsize government, and stimulate the economy; and Protecting and Preserving Our Inalienable Civil Liberties debates government’s intrusion in our lives, education, health care, affirmative action/reverse racism, global warming, energy, and gambling.

From lists of federal government agencies that he would eliminate, to specific reforms for unions, Congress, and the Legislature, Root has idealistic and radical ideas for making government leaner and more efficient.

Root suggests the most immediate, practical, and all-inclusive solution for economic stimulus that I have ever heard:

* Give every US taxpayer a one-year tax vacation. I was absolutely stunned to realize that the $9 trillion-plus money we have spent in bailouts and stimulus bills could have more than paid for a one year tax vacation for all taxpayers! (page 238)

And he offers two tantalizing alternatives to federal income taxes:

* Impose a tax on each state in proportion to its population for federal revenue, and eliminate federal income and payroll taxes. Each state would decide how to raise its share of the money, but states would be prohibited from taxing interstate commerce (pages 170-171); or

Create a national flat tax with only two tax rates: 15% on all income up to $500,000, and 10% on all income above $500,000. Instead of punishing hard work and success, this reverse flat tax would reward success and achievement (page 238).

“The Conscience of a Libertarian” is passionate, outraged, and sometimes controversial. The book is a little long and sometimes reads like a detailed campaign brochure, but Root proposes some appealing and reasonable solutions that challenge us to reform our government, our political process, and taxes.

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