The following is my reply to a survey sent out by the Denver Post to Colorado candidates. -- Ari Armstrong, September 1, 2000
I earned my B.A. in economics (with a philosophy minor) in 1994 from Pepperdine University. I worked in politics for two summers in Washington, D.C.; one for Senator Hank Brown and another for the Center for Market Processes. My political opinion articles have appeared in the *Washington Post*, the *Denver Post*, the *Rocky Mountain News*, various smaller papers, and my own *Colorado Freedom Report*. I have worked as a private tutor starting in college.
2. Amendment 21
The study your survey mentions which claims Doug Bruce's tax initiative "would eventually bankrupt most of Colorado's 1,600 special districts" relies on the false assumption that the money for essential services could not come from general revenues. Even under Bruce's tax proposal, average taxes for each Coloradan would continue to increase on a yearly basis. I am a firm supporter of Bruce's tax initiative. But it does not go far enough. As a Libertarian, I believe the money a person earns belongs to that person, not to the politicians. Therefore, I want to absolutely reduce taxes, not merely hinder their increase.
3. Smart Growth
If we want "smart growth," the last thing we should do is put it in the hands of politicians. Indeed, politicians have given us only dumb growth. Zoning laws encourage urban sprawl and traffic congestion. Politicized roadways fail to meet market demands. Federal subsidies encourage localities to pursue unneeded, counter-productive building projects. Corporate welfare and tax discrimination skews the natural growth of the economy. Politicians can't even control the growth of their own budgets. It's foolishness to believe they can ably control the growth of our communities. I am running for office so that I can return power to private citizens working in the unfettered market, not so that I can increase the size and scope of political power.
4. Local Coordination
In general, I don't believe local politicians should rule over the economy, either. If we want to stop the conflicts between local governments, the way to do it is to divest them of power. Along these lines, I do not believe private property owners should be forced to join encroaching local political units.
5. Revenue Sharing
I absolutely oppose "revenue sharing" among government units, as you put it. Ultimately, the way to end the "bidding wars" you cite is to stop tax discrimination. I believe all businesses should be taxed at an equal rate -- the rate of 0 percent. Because all business taxes are indirectly paid by consumers, all taxes should be paid directly by consumers, in order to make the tax burden more visible.
6. Internet Taxes
I absolutely oppose any new type of taxation, including any new internet tax. If we are concerned with "creating a level playing field," then we should work to reduce taxes on non-internet businesses.
7. The Youth Vote
Libertarianism is the wave of the future. Young people are sick and tired of politicians squandering their future, regulating them to death (sometimes literally), and violating their civil liberties. America's youth is rightly cynical of "Republicrat" politics. It's only a matter of time until they discover the libertarian answer to their problems.
I will work to establish an unfettered free market in water with inviolable property rights to it. In general, any economic shortage is the direct result of government interference in property rights and the price structure. The Political Economy Research Center has done some good work on this subject; I would consult with that group concerning particular proposals for Colorado.
9. Campaign Finance
Ironically, campaign finance laws introduce even more corruption into the system. Contribution limits violate the right of free speech and also hurt third parties. Campaign restriction laws make it harder for grass-roots efforts to succeed, but of course special interest groups can always find loopholes. All campaign finance laws, with the possible exception of full disclosure, should be repealed.
10. Owens' Education Reform
Governor Owens' education proposals are a joke. As Herbert Spencer warned back in 1884, measures such as incentive pay and school grades give teachers the incentive to teach to the tests. While standardized tests can give some indication of a student's competence in select basic skills, such tests in no way reflect a rich education. Like other socialized industries, our government schools are not responsive to their customers, and Owens' superficial fixes won't help. The way to overcome this problem is to restore education to the full control of the parents. I advocate the complete separation of school and state.
11. Colorado Health Plan Plus
Your survey asks if I would "seek changes" to the program. Yes, I would eliminate it. Politicians can't provide charity as well as private individuals and organizations can. It's a travesty that taxes eat up nearly 50 percent of the average family's budget. Americans have a long tradition of helping those in need. Historically, political programs have pushed out private charities. I want to reverse this trend, dramatically lower taxes, and put charity back in the hands of caring individuals.
12. Late-Term Abortions
In general, I realize that a prohibition on abortion won't work any better than the prohibition on drugs has worked, or any better than a prohibition on guns would work. That said, I don't believe abortion should be a method of birth-control. In general, I feel more comfortable leaving abortion as a moral issue between a woman, her doctor, and her spiritual or philosophical advisors. I believe the reason we have an abortion problem is that many people have abdicated personal responsibility for their own lives. There is a particular argument which gives me fits. If we all grant that a mother cannot murder her baby one minute after birth, then why should a mother be able to kill her baby one minute before birth? Because of this argument, I might be open to limited restrictions on late-term abortions.
13. School Postings
The attempt to require government schools to post the Ten Commandments or the motto "In God We Trust" is an empty political ploy intended to draw attention away from substantive issues and score points with the religious right. As previously stated, I advocate the complete separation of school and state, for many of the same reasons that I advocate the complete separation of church and state. If a market school wishes to post the Ten Commandments, "In God We Trust," or whatever motto it desires, that's wonderful. Just don't force me to pay for it. I would encourage a market school to instead post a copy of the Ten Amendments of the Bill of Rights.
14. Background Checks
As two national, independent studies have shown, background checks have failed to reduce crime. In addition, Yale scholar John Lott's study indicates background checks have actually increased rape by 3.6 percent. Why is that? Because of incomplete and inaccurate records, background checks routinely deny lawful citizens their rights to purchase a firearm for self-defense. This particularly disadvantages women who are stalked or threatened, and it disadvantages minorities, who often not as able to jump the additional legal hurdles and whose CBI records are more likely to contain errors due to racist police enforcement.
15. Drug Prohibition ("wild card" issue)
Drug prohibition doesn't work, creates a violent black market that leads to gang warfare, increases the danger of drugs, and violates all our civil rights. If I am elected to office, I will work to roll back drug prohibition at the Colorado level and resist federal prohibitions. Last year, Ismael Mena was killed by Denver police -- over a $20 cocaine allegation at the wrong address. What kind of nation have we become, that allows, indeed encourages, police brutality in drug raids? Because of prohibition, police departments are currupted by drug money, the right of due process stands raped, and the property of innocent persons is stolen to fund police agencies. If we care about the safety of our streets, if care about our fundamental civil liberties, if we care about restoring America as the Beacon of Liberty, then we must end the nightmare of prohibition.