AgoraFest 15. Live from a gathering of Anarchists and a few Libertarians in Frontenac, Minnesota at the Villa Maria Conference Center and Retreat, better known as Hogwarts. One thing missing from politics these days is fresh ideas. It doesn’t matter whether you are on the right, or left, it sure seems like political parties are peddling stale and recycled ideas from a time when Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was brand new. In this podcast AgoraFest attendees explain what Agorists are all about and in the process throw out some ideas that are unsettling to some. One of those ideas is to reject politics and political involvement completely, in the process of creating a community of anarchists with a free market entrepreneurial focus. One might think Agorafest is a gathering of eccentrics who spend time thinking and talking about things that don’t matter to people involved in traditional politics. To a certain extent that is true, but it is also true there is more going on here than talks about Austrian Economics and Home Brewing. At a time when traditional politicians claim an economic policy is either another tax cut, or another program to redistribute the fruits of an individual’s labor, maybe some of these ideas about self sufficiency, government power and volunteerism have some real value. Some people in what we might call traditional politics reject this kind of thing out of hand, and they might suggest rejecting political involvement is nihilistic, but it is also true that traditional politics has been unresponsive to the point where people feel their so called leaders are not listening to voters, and are more interested in retaining power. It’s this kind of behavior that adds credibility to the idea of withdrawing, working on building a community and setting an example. Podcast listeners and subscribers will have to decide whether this example is valid for them. At the very least though, they might listen and think about something besides what the bouncing news ball says they should think about. Sponsored by X Government Trucks and Pride of Homes.
Vehicle Mileage Tax. Minnesotans were shocked and dismayed this week to learn their state is one of 18 considering passing something called a VMT; A Vehicle Mileage Tax. A GPS locating device would be attached to cars, and drivers would be taxed according to the number of miles they drive. While ‘sources’ say the VMT would replace the state gasoline tax, at an average of 34 cents, that would depend on individual state legislatures and the wording of bills in those respective states. How many Minnesotans would bet the state would ‘replace’ the state gas tax with the VMT? More than likely a reduction in the state gas tax would be combined with a VMT. Advancing this story requires some research on why states spent as much as 150 percent of their gas tax dollars, and Podcast 278 provides the details. Is government efficiently spending transportation dollars? Is government spending transportation dollars on roads? Is government allowing tests of alternative methods of funding roads? Will bicycle riders have to wear GPS devices and pay a VMT too? Why not? What about the privacy issues related to GPS devices placed on the cars of citizens. States will argue ‘driving is a privilege’, and ‘you already have GPS tracking on your cell phone’. Will those arguments be good enough to prevent, or withstand a constitutional challenge if VMT’s are passed? What about ‘intermodal’ and ‘modal’ forms of transportation. How much of the transportation budget is sucked up by commuter rail, light rail, passenger rail, high speed rail and street cars, buses, and bike trails? Can Minnesotans depend on a Republican majority in Saint Paul to vote against this kind of tax. (Editor’s Note: Hint…um…No.) Is this an opportunity for birds of a different feather to flock together and defeat the measure if it is offered in the state house? These kinds of taxes, and so called infrastructure projects, controlled by central planners, rubber stamped by career politicians, create sclerotic bureaucracies and governments with too much centralized control. What strategies might be used effectively to defeat ideas like the VMT, and throw politicians who support them out of government, for good. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul.