Archive

John Stossel: Libertarian has sharp ideas for NY | TribLIVE.com
Featured Commentary

John Stossel: Libertarian has sharp ideas for NY

395627962744acde057cdeb4602802360fbcdfd8822
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo, vehicles pass a sign proclaiming 'I Love New York' on the New York State Thruway in Utica, N.Y. The 500-plus tourism signs the Cuomo administration has installed along expressways from Long Island to Buffalo are at the center of a years-long spat between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The agency says the signs pose a potential distraction to drivers traveling at high speeds and has told the state to remove them by Sept. 30 or lose $14 million in federal highway funding. No signs have been removed so far. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

“Libertarians believe that you should be as conservative or as liberal as you want to be as long as you don’t want to force yourself on others,” says Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for governor of New York.

Sharpe is an unusual Libertarian candidate because he’s doing well in some polls.

One found Sharpe getting 13 percent, and after people heard his campaign pitch,
25 percent. That would put him in second place, ahead of the Republican.

So, of course, the establishment shuts him out — he and other third-party candidates weren’t allowed in the one gubernatorial debate.

Sharpe wins fans by arguing that it would be good if individuals make their own decisions without government spending constantly getting in the way.

“What we understand as libertarians is at the end of every single law is a guy or gal with a gun who’s going to put you in a cage; if you don’t want to go in that cage, they’re going to shoot you. What that means is you should only use the law when there is loss of life, health, limb, property or liberty … not because I don’t like what you’re doing.”

That’s refreshing to hear from a politician.

No new government programs under a Sharpe administration, then?

“No, no, no, no, no, no,” he assures me.

At least one candidate doesn’t want to make government bigger.

New York faces a
$4.4 billion deficit. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed raising taxes.

Sharpe has other ideas.

“Lease naming rights on our infrastructure,” he says in my latest internet video. “The Triborough Bridge could be called the Staples Bridge, or the Apple Bridge.”

My staff asked some New Yorkers what they thought about leasing naming rights to bridges and tunnels. “Bad idea!” said one woman. “It’s commercializing!” Most people were opposed.

I said that to Sharpe.

“You know what she should do?” he responded. “Start a nonprofit, raise
$30 million, she can name it whatever she wants.”

One man said he didn’t “want to rename something after some sort of corporation!”

“Shake your fist and say, ‘This doesn’t sound good,’” Sharpe replied. “You’re going to wind up in a place where the tax burden is insanely high.”

Under our current system, many bridges and other public structures advertise anyway — but they promote politicians. Gov. Cuomo just named a bridge after his father.

“An imperial bridge named after our royal family!” said Sharpe with a laugh. “I’m embarrassed.”

“Tell you what I’ll do,” Sharpe said. “(Cuomo’s) got $30 million a year? He can keep his name on that bridge and take care of the maintenance.”

Sharpe’s campaign is attracting new people. His rallies draw bigger crowds than minor party candidates normally get.

For a libertarian, Sharpe surprised me by saying he wouldn’t dream of proposing cuts to existing welfare programs. “Pull the rug out from somebody, somebody’s going to be afraid,” he explains. If voters fear you, they don’t vote for you.

I assume he’d shrink those programs eventually, maybe after other parts of government were reduced and the economy improves as a result.

He also sounds friendlier to labor unions than most libertarians. “Collective bargaining is fine. My issue with the unions has always been: Are you forcing me? … I have a problem with (union shop laws). But you’re voluntarily doing it? I don’t have a problem at all.”

Listening to Sharpe is very different from hearing most Republicans and Democrats.

“Because no one has any new ideas,” he says. “No ideas how to fix anything or do anything right. … I’m a third party. I have to have ideas or no one will listen to me.”

John Stossel is author of
“No They Can’t! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.