This is a candidate review of former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, the presidential nominee of the Justice Party. In this article, we will focus on his stances on important issues and whether they agree or disagree with a libertarian perspective. You can learn more about him at his campaign website, as well as from his collected statements. The libertarian perspectives come partly from the Libertarian Party platform as well as Wikipedia’s articles on libertarianism.
Abortion: Rocky Anderson believes that abortion is a woman’s right and the decision of abortion should be left to those most intimately involved. He supports free and comprehensive provision of contraceptives.
Libertarian perspective: Abortion is a divisive issue among libertarians, with pro-choice libertarians claiming that denying a woman the right to choose is an illegitimate act of aggression against her, while pro-life libertarians claim that an abortion is an illegitimate act of aggression against a fetus. Since Mr. Anderson’s position agrees with some libertarian positions but not others, this issue is not scoreable.
Budget/Economy: Rocky Anderson believes we should have more spending cuts than tax increases. He opposes expanding free trade and wants more disincentives and safeguards in trade agreements.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians support the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.
Corporations: Rocky Anderson wants to break up too-big-to-fail banks and prosecute Wall Street fraud. He supports ending the legal concept of corporate “personhood”. He would end corporate welfare by implementing campaign finance reform and tax reform.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association. Libertarians seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals. Libertarians oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Industries should be governed by free markets.
Crime: Rocky Anderson strongly opposes the death penalty and mandatory sentencing laws.
Libertarian perspective: The Libertarian Party takes the same positions. However, Murray Rothbard advocated capital punishment for all cases of murder, except in those cases where the victim has left a will instructing his or her heirs and assigns not to levy the death penalty on any possible murder.
Drugs: Rocky Anderson opposes considering drug abuse to be immoral, and wants to treat drug abuse as a health matter, not a criminal matter. He believes it is time to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp in the United States.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Education: Rocky Anderson believes we must re-prioritize on education to keep up with the rest of the world. He opposes parents choosing schools via vouchers. He is against teacher-led prayer in public schools. He believes that school curricula should be set by national standards, with local flexibility.
Libertarian perspective: Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, libertarians would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.
Energy/Environment: Rocky Anderson wants to take back international leadership in the research, development and commercialization of low-carbon energy technologies. He would end taxpayer subsidies of fossil and nuclear energy and shift them to a revenue-neutral public investment in research and commercialization of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. He supports increasing regulations on hydraulic fracturing. He would champion a market-based approach to reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, but support and defend the authority of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions if market mechanisms prove insufficient. He believes that because the damages and costs of climate change grow larger with each passing year, America’s plan for reductions must be front-end-loaded.
Libertarian perspective: While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. Libertarians oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production. Libertarians support a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of our natural resources. Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Pollution and misuse of resources cause damage to our ecosystem. Governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. Libertarians realize that our planet’s climate is constantly changing, but environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.
Entitlements: Rocky Anderson opposes privatizing Social Security. He believes that the payroll tax is as regressive a tax as known to mankind.
Libertarian perspective: Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system.
Foreign policy: Rocky Anderson opposes illegal wars of aggression. He believes we should build relationships instead of having an imperialist foreign policy. He would respect the United Nations Charter and international law, and cease aid and assistance to countries that do not. He opposes regimes that abuse human rights and suppress democracy. He wants to close down all overseas military bases that are not demonstrably critical to our security, along with at least a 50% reduction in the Pentagon budget. This money would be allocated to domestic priorities, including reducing the accumulated debt and interest burden.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. Libertarians would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. Libertarians oppose any form of compulsory national service.
Gay marriage: Rocky Anderson believes that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally. He supports same-sex domestic partnership benefits.
Libertarian perspective: Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.
Gun control: Rocky Anderson opposes the absolute right to gun ownership and believes that the only reason for assault weapons is to kill people quickly.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians affirm the individual right recognized by the Second Amendment
to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. Libertarians oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition.
Healthcare: Rocky Anderson supports universal government-funded healthcare in which government is the sole payer, but not the sole provider. He wants to end the for-profit insurance industry. He has criticized Obamacare and Romneycare as “insurance company care”.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. Libertarians recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want, the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines.
Homeland security: Rocky Anderson opposes the PATRIOT Act and wants to repeal it. He opposes expanding the armed forces and military spending. He believes we should reduce our own nuclear weapons stockpile before we call on others to do so.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians support the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure should include records held by third parties, such as email, medical, and library records.
Immigration: Rocky Anderson’s approach toward an immigration solution would put qualifying undocumented immigrants on a path to legal residence and eventually citizenship, and he believes that most illegal immigrants should be able to stay in the United States. He believes that a nation that has grown and prospered as a result of immigration requires a compassionate, reasoned approach. As Mayor of Salt Lake City, he established the Family-to-Family program to address injustices suffered by immigrant families. He opposes making English the official language of government. He believes that visa quotas for unskilled and semiskilled workers must be raised to meet the law of supply and demand, and that the rules and regulations for highly skilled immigrant workers should be better tailored to U.S. economic needs.
Libertarian perspective: For those workers already in the United States illegally, we can avoid “amnesty” and still offer a pathway out of the underground economy. Newly legalized workers can be assessed fines and back taxes and serve probation befitting the misdemeanor they have committed. They can be required to take their place at the back of the line should they eventually apply for permanent residency.
Jobs: Rocky Anderson believes that the federal minimum wage needs to be increased to $10 per hour, with future increases to be tied to the rising cost of living. He wants to strengthen labor laws and increase union bargaining power. He supports offering tax incentives for companies that keep their manufacturing facilities in the United States, subsidies for high-tech start-ups to support the private sector in bearing risk, and prioritizing financial assistance for university students looking to pursue postgraduate degrees in engineering, physics, computer science, and related fields.
Libertarian perspective: Libertarians support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment. Libertarians oppose government-fostered forced retirement. Libertarians support the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union. Libertarians oppose government interference in bargaining, such as compulsory arbitration or imposing an obligation to bargain.
Taxes: Rocky Anderson strongly supports progressive taxation, and believes that higher tax rates on people earning more money is fair and moral. He believes that big tax cuts just cause more budget deficits.
Libertarian perspective: All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. Libertarians call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. Libertarians oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors.
Welfare/Poverty: Rocky Anderson opposes churches providing welfare services.
Libertarian perspective: The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals. Libertarians believe members of society will become more charitable and civil society will be strengthened as government reduces its activity in this realm.
Overall: Rocky Anderson is a mostly average candidate for libertarians, but he has glaring failures on key issues such as gun control, healthcare, and taxation.
Overall Grade: C+.