Annual State Convention Focuses on Growth, Activism

Liberty in action was the theme and focus of the Libertarian Party annual state convention held in Flat Rock over the weekend.

J.J. Summerell, who was reelected state chair, noted that the 50 percent increase in party membership in 2012 can be attributed to the growing dissatisfaction of voters with the Republican and Democratic parties. “A healthy part of that growth can also be attributed to youth groups such as Students for Liberty, which are spreading like wildfire on college campuses,” he added.

That activism was evident at the convention. During the Saturday session, there were a series of seminars and discussion groups on various topics, including fund raising, candidate recruitment and training, team building, and communicating libertarian ideas.

Carla Howell, Libertarian Party executive director, conducted a training session on the LP’s new training initiative “Who’s Driving.” The game is designed to teach Libertarian candidates, activists and spokespersons in the most fundamental skill needed to be effective communicators: controlling the agenda.

During his state of the party address, Summerell talked about the developing 2020 political plan. “The goal is simple: to win one seat in the state Senate and four seats in the state House by 2020, making statewide races viable for the LPNC in 2020 and beyond,” he said.

In the business portion of the convention, in addition to re-electing Summerell, John Caveny was re-elected treasurer. New officers elected were Alex Vuchnich of Charlotte, vice chair and Barbara Howe of Oxford, recording secretary.

The convention also elected eight at-large members of the executive committee. They are: Jon Byers, Arden; Britton Correll, Waxhaw; Ginny Godfrey, Morganton; Kevin Innes, Morganton; Brian Irving, Cary; Jason Melehani, Durham; Bjørn Pedersen, Chapel Hill, and; Erik Raudsep, Durham.

The convention made some changes to the bylaws, including replacing “Robert’s Rules of Order” with “Democratic Rules of Order” as the party’s parliamentary authority.

Media coverage

Hendersonville News Times – NC Libertarians converge in Flat Rock

News & Observer (Raleigh) – Under the Dome: NC Libertarians set their goals

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Is Health Care a Right?

by J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

Is health care a right?

No, health care is not a right.  Health care is a commodity.  Rights are conceptual, not material.  Consider things that are rights:

Right to free speech, right to assemble, right to contract, right to due process, right to privacy, etc,etc,etc

Health care is just a thing, not a right anymore than cars, houses and food are rights.  However, having said this, it is of utmost importance to point out that health care is one of the most important commodities in our lives because it has such an important impact on our lives.  Health care, more than any other commodity, determines the quantity and quality of the life we live.  That is, how long will we live and what will be the quality of health we have during that life.  This is certainly an extremely important commodity, but not a right.

Given the importance of this commodity it may well be that we want to provide a level of health care to all of our citizens – we are a productive and generous society.  However, to label health care as a right is to denigrate genuine rights.

If you think health care is a right, you have your rights all wrong!

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Banning Direct Auto Sales a Backward Idea

The bipartisan bill banning direct auto sales is a misguided and backward idea, the chair of the Durham and Orange County Libertarian Party said today in a letter to the Chapel Hill News

“The threat technological advancements pose to job security has been used as justification for stifling advancements for centuries,” said Jason Melehani. “Imagine all the jobs we could create if we banned electronic printing of books or banned computers from automating manufacturing processes.”

“These obviously are backwards ideas,” he said. “The ban on direct auto sales in SB 327 is backwards as well.”

Full text of the letter

When Milton Friedman visited China and saw thousands of workers digging a canal with shovels instead of tractors and excavators, his guides told him that this approach created more jobs. Famously, Friedman retorted, “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”

On Monday, May 13, the North Carolina Senate, in bipartisan fashion, unanimously approved Senate Bill 327 to ban direct auto sales to consumers by companies like Tesla Motors under the premise that it threatened the jobs of thousands who work at auto dealerships. I suspect the North Carolina Auto Dealership Association played a major role in bringing both parties together to pass this protectionist legislation.

The Senate has missed the point entirely. Their vote is stifling innovation and hurting consumers by preventing competition and leading to increased costs. The NC Senate clearly lacks an understanding of opportunity costs. When consumers are forced to pay more for a good, they ultimately can afford less of that good and others too. As Friedman pointed out, jobs are only as beneficial as the value they add to a process or product.

The threat technological advancements pose to job security has been used as justification for stifling advancements for centuries. Imagine all the jobs we could create if we banned electronic printing of books or banned computers from automating manufacturing processes. These obviously are backwards ideas. The ban on direct auto sales in Senate Bill 327 is backwards as well.

Jason Melehani
Chair, Durham and Orange County Libertarian Party

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GOP Tax Fairness Plan is Unfair

by J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

The tax reform plan announced by state Sen. Phil Berger is just another charade designed to make citizens think Republicans are actually reducing taxes. Calling it the Tax Fairness Act and claiming it’s the largest tax cut in state history is misleading at best.

In fact, it isn’t fair and it isn’t a tax cut. Senator Berger and the other Republican leaders at their press conference last week probably used the word “fair” hundreds of times.

No tax is fair. Taxes are inherently unfair. Every tax hurts someone. The only difference between taxes proposed by Republicans and Democrats is which special interest group is going to benefit and which is going to pay.

Granted, Senator Berger’s plan moves North Carolina from a system of taxation that taxes production to a taxation system that taxes consumption. This is a step in the right direction, but only a small, miniscule step rather than the major reform that is needed. The individual and corporate income taxes should be repealed immediately. One hundred percent repealed, not simply marginally reduced.

A “revenue neutral” plan that increases the number of things taxed can’t be called a tax cut. Nor can it be called “fair,” because it shifts the tax burden onto the backs of those least able to pay.

The truth is, Republicans and Democrats believe the same thing. They insist that only way to fund what they claim are essential government programs is through taxes. Whether the tax is proposed by a liberal or a conservative, the idea is based on one premise: you don’t own your money or the fruits of your labor because the State has the right to take what it wants.

Only Libertarians believe that you own the fruits of your labor and enterprise, and that government does not have the right to take it from you. We believe taxation is by its very nature destructive to the economy, especially job creation.

We propose to reduce the need for increased taxes by reducing the size of state government in every way possible. We would use the John Locke Foundation’s “Budget for Growth” as a starting point. Ending corporate welfare and state aid to special interests would save over $100,000,000 annually with no cuts to other programs.

Libertarians agree with Senator Berger on one point. We can’t fix the broken state tax code by nibbling at the edges. Yet his tax plan does just that. The senator proposes minimal change. Libertarians propose radical change.

North Carolina’s tax code is obsolete and oppressive to the working class. Libertarians are working to change that.

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