Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 423, June 24, 2007

"Never Give up, Never Surrender!"


What Part of "One Dollar Gas" Did You Fail to Understand?
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Nine months ago, in September of 2006, I presented the Libertarian Party—both the national and state organizations—with a handsome gift.

What I gave them was an issue, and a new, uniquely libertarian way of addressing it, that would attract more attention to the sacred cause of individual liberty we share, than anything else we've ever done.

To sum up, the price of gasoline is outrageous. This is making everyone—for which read "voters"—very, very angry. The other two parties mushmouth their way through lame excuses, or promise to hold idiotic hearings to punish those who are least guilty, for a crime carried out at the highest level, as the price keeps going through the ceiling.

Only libertarians have solutions that make sense, and voters are willing to listen right now. The trouble is, having been handed this once-in-a-lifetime gift, as far as I can see not a single libertarian candidate, not a single party organization, has done a blessed thing with it. This annoys me beyond my ability to adequately express it. If the situation continues as is, then Michael Medved is right: we are a bunch of "losertarians" craving failure because success is just too scary.

Let's review, and along the way, examine some details I didn't go into before. Despite those who hold a contrary view (some among us, perhaps unduly influenced by Ayn Rand, never seem to have absorbed the unpleasant fact that corporations are not our friends and don't give a rap about freedom) I do not for an instant believe that the current price of gas—over four dollars in some places, with predictions going as high as six—has anything at all to do with natural market forces.

The commonest maundering you hear when this topic is discussed, is that there's a lack of refinery capacity, brought about by a couple of disastrous refinery fires a few years back. If this is true, then the oil industry isn't simply evil, it's impossibly stupid for not having included such a contingency in its plans. Moreover, as my wife points out, they can throw up a new office building in three months if they really want to. What's so much mysteriously harder about rebuilding a refinery?

The simple, ugly fact is that, while ordinary, productive-class Americans are going to the poorhouse, just to buy gas enough to get their kids to school, themselves to work, and go to the grocery store, the oil companies are raking in record profits—as who wouldn't, selling the world's second most abundant liquid for four dollars a gallon?

Another simple, ugly fact is that, when George W. Bush assumed office, his administration was the oil industry. Every member of Bush's cabinet, and Bush, himself, had come from the oil industry, except for Norman Minetta, the Senator from Lockheed. Condoleezza Rice even has a goddamned oil tanker named after her. And the principal financial beneficiary of the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq is none other than Halliburton Energy Services, an oil industry mainstay to which Vice President Dick Cheney is inextricably linked.

Artificially bloated prices serve other, overlapping interests, too. They seem to be the only way that Algore can get Americans out of the comfort, privacy, and safety of their beloved SUVs and down into dangerous, dirty public transporation, where they can be brutalized and murdered by the police, or by the criminals liberals adore and identify with so intimately, and where bottom-feeding scum like Alberto Gonzales can pen them up and herd them around like the cattle they've become, and illegally search their persons several times a day.

How can libertarian candidates promise voters one-dollar gas? Read my article. There are at least three approaches to the problem that end with gasoline costing considerably less than it does now—or has for a long time. To those who claim that, adjusted for inflation, gas costs no more now than it did in the 50s or the 20s or in 500 B.C., I say, since when are we satisfied merely staying where we are? If everyone took that attitude, pocket calculators would still cost $400, and computers would be house-sized objects being fed vacuum tubes by slaves.

Read the article.

After we've established one dollar gas as a trademark concept every voter recognizes as uniquely libertarian, we can go to work on some other projects I've suggested over the years. For example, we need a stringent penalty clause in the Constitution to enforce the Bill of Rights. We can count for support in this on liberals and real conservatives.

Although libertarians oppose all taxes on principle (except maybe for gradualist, incrementalist "reform" types who have no principles) the place to start is by abolishing all taxes on anything protected by the Bill of Rights, or on anything that has to do with the five basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and self-defense.

Another thing we need: if it can be established beyond reasonable doubt that some activity of government (oh, let's just say the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) were actually instigated on behalf of outfits like (oh, let's just say Halliburton), then those who benefitted from that sort of corruption should be legally compelled to reimburse the taxpayers, even (or especially) if it means liquidating the entire company.

A world without Blackwater USA is a better, cleaner place.

We might even take a hard look at the concept of revoking limited liability in such a context, as well. The idea of Dick Cheney on some street corner selling pencils from a tin cup is a highly attractive one. Any candidate who makes an offer like that in the right place—like a college campus—would run the Democratic Party right out of business.

In a speech I made in 2003, I suggested a new law under which any government employee—appointed or elected—convicted of lying should be publicly hanged by the neck until dead. Since then, I have never mentioned the idea without tremendous applause as a result: Yet I have never heard of a single libertarian candidate making such a promise. I can only guess the reason: fear. And any candidate who's afraid to make radical but principled promises should find himself another party.

Finally, there's the argument I made in the first major speech I ever wrote, "Unanimous Consent and the Utopian Vision" or "I Dreamed I Was a Libertarian in My Maidenform Bra", that eliminating taxes and regulations would make us all at least eight times richer than we are now. It's a mighty big promise, but I can back it up, and I have done so on many occasions. I've made grown men laugh and weep in the space of five minutes with this speech, and a lot of impressively high-powered folks—Robert Anton Wilson, for example—have had very nice things to say about it.

So where are the candidates offering this idea to the voters? I'll tell you where: hiding under the bed, desperately afraid—even in the pursuit of individual liberty—that they'll look or sound silly telling people the truth, making promises that can be kept only by libertarians.

What can be done? I'd start by putting together a little book called Advanced Campaigning for Real Libertarians or something like that, to include the issues I've mentioned here (but in more detail), and perhaps half a dozen others that would throw the spotlight on libertarian candidates wherever they have the courage to introduce them.

If you're interested, you know where to find me.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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