Bob Barr on Global Warming and Other Subjects

At a conference call for bloggers, I was able to ask Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr about his views on global warming, an area where I had criticized him last week for some seeming inconsistencies. Here is candidate Barr’s answer…

Although I certainly do not believe that there is anything approaching a clear linkage between CO2 emissions and global warming, as many maintain, I do believe that it is something we need to be looking at, to establish exactly what the parameters and correlations are, if any, between man-made phenomena such as CO2 emissions and industrial emissions and global warming.
If it bears out that it is simply a geological cyclical issue or whatnot, regardless of where we might wind up with regard to global warming, I do commend, for example, folks like Boone Pickens, who has indicated — again regardless of what we find are the causes of global warming — that we need to really start working towards developing alternative sources of energy over the long-term. Some people, as the former Vice-President has indicated, believe this is an imperative because of global warming. Others, like Boone Pickens, take a more market-driven approach, that is that global warming seems to be occurring, and we need to discover why and what the correlations are, but even regardless of that, we need to be developing alternative sources of energy over the long term.
Over the short term – and this is me talking, not Boone Pickens – we are and will continue to be petroleum-based economy. That is not going to change in the short term, and we need to therefore do everything we can to develop sources of petroleum, so that we have the energy we need in the short term so that in the long term, we will be able to develop the alternative sources we need, whether that is natural gas, solar to some extent, wind to some extent, or perhaps something that has not even been invented yet.
In response to other questions from other call participants, Congressman Barr laid out his positions on a range of other issues…
  • On social security, he wants to restore the idea of “ownership” of contributions, and move away from the entitlement assumptions that the program has taken on. He is opposed to any tax-increases to maintain solvency, but would consider raising the retirement age, as the assumptions about life-expectancy and retirement-age expectancy have changed from what they were when the current parameters were established.
  • Barr’s top priority, if elected, will be cutting government spending. He will not support any increases in the debt-ceiling, nor any “emergency” supplemental spending, unless it is really for an emergency.
  • On foreign policy, Barr believes in “robust relations” with countries around the world, which includes exchanging political ideas to spread freedom and economic ideas to promote free-trade. Barr believes in a strong military, “but for defense, not for offense”, and in maintaining the technological edge that the United States has developed. He would scale back American military commitments in places like South Korea, Japan, and Germany, and dramatically cut back foreign aid. He has “no use at all for the United Nations”, though he is not opposed, in principle, to some American participation in multilateral institutions, in bodies that have narrow and well-defined goals.
  • With regards to immigration, Barr feels that the biggest flaw in the existing system is that our federal bureaucracies give second-class treatment to people who are trying to immigrate here legally, delaying their processing sometimes for years for no other reason than bureaucratic inertia; Barr would change that, and make lawful immigration much easier. Anyone discovered in the United States illegally would have to go to “the back of the line” and then wait for some penalty period before being able to re-enter the country legally.
Barr also discussed his problems with the new FISA reform, and his feeling that allowing warrantless surveillance of electronic communications when one party is outside of the United States is too broad an expansion of government power. For me personally, this is a deal-breaker. However, given the totality of Congressman Barr’s views, this is clearly an objection to a specific program, and not a manifestation of a broader “if we conduct intelligence operations in other countries, they might get mad at us” mentality that sometimes infects contemporary libertarian thinking. Refreshingly for a high-profile libertarian, Congressman Barr seems to understand that most other foreign governments aren’t as keen on liberty as the people of the United States are, and that the United States needs to take reasonable steps to protect itself from foreign dictatorial powers including, in the long term, bringing them about to our broader views of liberty.

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15 years ago

BTW, I’m not sure what makes the 4th Amendment a dealbreaker, but this Libertarian objects to some — but not other — types of intelligence operations whether they are here or elsewhere:
Assassination (Castro)
Kidnapping (Noriega)
Manipulation of Political System (Think Iran, 1953)
Note that Castro is the only assasination attempt they’ve admitted to, and he’s still alive, which brings me to the best reason not to believe that the CIA killed Kennedy: he’s dead.
If the CIA assasinated Castro as well as they do most things, he’ll probably live forever.
It’s not just that “they might get mad at us”, though 9/11 proved conclusively that blowback can and will happen, but it is a matter of fundamental democratic principals.
If our government is doing things to which they can never admit, then what oversite to voters have over what our government does? For whom do we vote if we want behavior about which they regularly lie changed? It’s not like they can lie to the locals and tell Americans the truth!
If we want to have a republic, rather than an Empire, it implies that Americans must know what their government is doing and beable to control their government. As always, I concern myself only with what is best for America. The rest of the world is not my problem.
Don’t forget that the worst fear of the Founding Fathers was continual involvement in pointless wars on other continents. The power to declare war was given to congress in order to avoid precisely what we have now — an imperial President who acts just like any 18th century European king, with the added drawback that he doesn’t bother to plunder the countries he invades, so even when we ‘win’ we lose.

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