Thursday, March 02, 2006

Well, here's a first

A man I voted for in a presidential election has passed away.

I suppose this isn't as dramatic an event as it was for say, a young democratic voter in 1960 who's naive heart melted at the statement that he should "ask what he can do for his country". In fact, I expect it will go unnoticed by just about everyone I have contact with. Somewhere in the "never unpacked" boxes in the basement I have Harry's "Why Government Doesn't Work" in hardcover. It wasn't the definitive libertarian tome. By the time it came out, I was pretty much settled on my political viewpoints.

It did, however, pass into my hands at a time when I had recently had my life thrown into chaos as the victim of the unintended consequences of a change in Pennsylvania state law. Riding the bus back and forth to an unrewarding hourly wage job in Raleigh, North Carolina, I found myself thinking "THAT'S RIGHT!" and "DAMN STRAIGHT" page after page. Living on rice and beans and the apples so generously provided by a roommate's parents (they owned an orchard) while taking the bus to work ('cause the 20 year old car wouldn't start and I had no money to fix it) had me frustrated and wishing there were answers. And all this time the government was taking 12% of my paycheck for my RETIREMENT!!!??? Man I was resentful. Who the hell were these people? 60 years old, driving Lexi, and telling me at 21 or 22 that I had to stash 12% of my single digit hourly rate for retirement rather than using it to extract myself from my present situation?

So, Harry Browne was the representation of my right to make my own decisions. In a time before I read Reason or Liberty magazines, before there were blogs, before I knew what the hell Austrian or Chicago school economics were about, before I knew of John Stossel or Neal Boortz, Harry Browne and the Libertarian Party were the only representation of my political beliefs out there - that I knew of anyway. And so flawed and ineffectual as the LP may have been, I was a die hard supporter. I got supremely excited at the 3% election returns in some county in Colorado. This was the start of something big. Surely we would have 10% by 2000. And then the media would have to pay attention and then we'd really have something...

Instead the LP turned to Howard Stern and infighting over campaign money and Star Trek costumes at the conventions. But I give you credit for carrying the mantle, Harry.



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