Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 427, July 22, 2007

"We are in a position to alter history."


Questions for Presidential Candidates, Part One
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

As we are forced to wade deeper into that cesspool called the 2008 election season, it's important that we all assist the one or two good candidates we hope will bob up the surface to distinguish themselves from the foul dregs already starting to settle into the muck at the bottom.

One way is to ask them all questions that will make our champions shine, while at the same time they expose the others as what they are: liars, thieves, murderers, and rapists of the Bill of Rights. Since, for the most part, the system is rigged to render them unnaproachable, the best way is to make it impossible for the mass media—usually the best friends liars, thieves, murderers and rapists have—not to ask those revealing questions. That way, it is we libertarians who set the tone, the level of discourse, the very parameters of the 2008 debate.

We can do this with a well-organized "spontaneous" barrage of letters to the editor, phone calls to talkshows, avalanches of e-mail, our well-known—and often complained about—domination of the web, and by showing up at public functions demanding answers. Before long, our questions become the news, and we are in a position to alter history.

Of course they must be the right questions, phrased so simply that even a brain-damaged farm animal—or a journalist—can understand them.

Let's get started.

Every time I see or hear a news story these days about the price of gasoline or the general scarcity of energy, I get extremely angry. All of it—every last bit of it—is lies, meant to enrich the already rich and powerful, and shorten their leash on the Productive Class.

That's you and me.

To begin with, energy is not scarce. There is coal, oil, and gas enough under American soil to supply our need for centuries. The only problem is that every time someone even thinks about extracting it, he's immediately surrounded by environmentos waving picket signs and lawsuits.

Gasoline comes from petroleum, which some geologists have called "the second most abundant liquid on the planet". Those who offer lack of refinery capacity as an excuse for the highway robbery now being carried out at the pump either want you to believe that oil company directors are the stupidest people on Earth—for not having planned for contingencies like refinery fires—or they just believe that you are.

Even if petroleum were scarce and growing scarcer—which it is not; in fact, many older oil fields once thought depleted seem to be filling up again from underneath—it's irrelevant. Petroleum can now be manufactured from virtually any sort of organic garbage at roughly ten and a half percent of the current price of traditionally extracted stuff.

Let me repeat that, because it's extremely important in several different ways: petroleum from under the ground now goes for about seventy-six dollars a barrel—before it even gets to a refinery, I'll point out. Left entirely to itself (which turns out to be a big assumption), petroleum made from garbage would cost about eight. (If I weren't a lifelong libertarian, I'd be tempted to suggest that the first organic garbage into the hopper should be environmentalists). The trouble is, the technology—called "thermal depolymerization"—has been viciously suppressed both by the government and by various corporations.

There even appears to be evidence of outright physical sabotage.

That's too bad, because thermal deploymerization can solve at least two huge problems that once looked completely unsolvable. First, it can provides us with high quality fuel at an extremely low price. And it can take care of our garbage problems—environmentalists and others have been whimpering and pointing fingers about that for decades—to the point of turning our landfills into energy mines. Given another century, the whiners will be going on about a trash shortage.

There is yet another source of energy that has been suppressed by our glorious cultural and political leaders. Catalytic fusion is a phenomenon a great deal less mysterious and disreputable than the media—both popular and "scientific"—have systematically made it appear. Rooted in perfectly respectable physics, it has the potential to make each and every individual household on the planet independent, with a footlocker-sized reactor in every back yard or basement that companies will pay householders for the privilege of servicing, because of the heavy hydrogen isotopes that can be harvested from them.

Research continues on what's popularly known as "cold fusion", sponsored by governments and corporations. Put those words into a search engine and see what lunges up at your face. One hopes that the research doesn't consist of making the system huge, cumbersome, and centralized, like the nuclear power industry (or Big Power in general) today.

There is some danger of that because, as is, this power source gores just about every lumbering government and corporate ox on the planet.

That's why it's important to ask the candidates where they stand on efforts of government and corporations, abetted by their courtesans of both sexes in the round-heeled media—to suppress vitally needed technology. Those who desperately wish to keep their power over other human beings consolidated want everyone to be compelled to buy energy from centralized sources that they control, at increasingly inflated prices.

"Will you immediately halt all government efforts to suppress new energy technology or to force non-market choices between technologies on the public? Will you also investigate—and where appropriate, prosecute—corporations and others who are suppressing new energy technology?"

If you can make it pithier and more powerful, please have at it.

It used to be popular among science fiction writers to proclaim that innovation must be rationed, that new science must be spoon-fed to a civilization consisting—in the minds of those writers—of infants. If a candidate makes noises like that, then he's an enemy of freedom.

If, on the other hand, a candidate embraces new energy technology and displays confidence in the ability of the free market system to distribute it properly, then he's a keeper. There is a correlation between the amount of energy available to any given individual in a civilization and the amount of freedom that the individual can enjoy. Progress in both areas—politics and technology—advances in parallel.

Giving new meaning to the old phrase "Power to the People!"

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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