Friday, November 16, 2012

Joe Kopsick vs. "Fighting Bob" LaFollette: Compare and Contrast

Before unveiling my general platform for the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial race - and before delving into the complicated world of secession, nullification, interposition, and expatriation - it will be necessary to succinctly explain the most important similarities and differences between myself and Republican-turned-Progressive Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator Robert M. LaFollette, one of the most influential senators - and most successful third-party presidential candidates - in American history.

This is especially appropriate in light of the praise of LaFollette which was recently voiced by self-described progressive Republican Arthur Louis "Art for Gov" Kohl-Riggs, the young man who ran against Governor Scott Walker in the Republican gubernatorial primary earlier this year (2012).


I stand with LaFollette in his support of freedom of speech during wartime, his opposition to the prosecution of admitted socialists, and his opposition to needless American military interventionism and involvement in foreign conflicts.

As LaFollette opposed the League of Nations, I view the modern United Nations as a potential threat to the self-determination of the country of the United States of America, and - more importantly - of the nation and the people of Wisconsin. I believe that international legal bodies of any kind pose a risk that human rights standards may deteriorate - and / or become irrational, by imposing unwarranted responsibilities upon others - due to failed leadership and corruption of wealthy and powerful nations, and due to complacency of weaker and poorer nations. This is especially risky given the veto power which the United States currently wields in the U.N. Security Council, which I see as nothing more than a form of tyranny, albeit shared with the governments of four other nations.

As LaFollette opposed the open arming of American merchant vessels during wartime, I would do the same. However, I would take a "laissez-faire" - or (for lack of a better phrase) a "don't-ask-don't-tell" - approach on this issue; that is, I would not support open admission that such ships be armed, nor would I demand that such ships be unarmed. I believe that such a position would prevent needless casualties of crew members, which could seem feasible and excusable in the eyes of our rivals, were it to become known that the crews of such ships would have insufficient means to defend themselves against initiatory aggression.


I praise LaFollette's efforts to make government more accessible to citizens and tolerant of alternative political viewpoints. Not only this, but I would call for an augmentation of many of LaFollette's projects.

These projects include - but are not limited to - voting rights for women and minorities (naturally), open and transparent government with a direct role for citizens in proposing and passing legislation, non-partisan elections and a direct and open primary system, and collegiate research on - and development of - public policy.

Additionally, I join LaFollette in his support of the home rule of municipalities, as well as of the state of Wisconsin as a "laboratory for democracy". However - being that I support municipal home rule as part of my wider support of political subsidiarity (the notion that decision-making should take place at the maximally-locally-oriented level which would not risk undermining competence), I would criticize LaFollette's support of the direct election of U.S. Senators, which became federal law in the form of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

To mix the language of LaFollette and former New Mexico Governor and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, if Wisconsin is to become a laboratory for the innovation of democracy and public policy - and if we are to support "home rule" and subsidiarity in general - then we should urge our representatives at the state and federal levels alike to allow the legislatures of the states to re-assert their influence on the country at large, by pursuing a repeal of the 17th Amendment, thereby restoring the principles of republicanism and dual-federalism as envisioned by our Founders.


As LaFollette was outspoken in his opposition to political and economic corruption, so too would I oppose the hierarchical decision-making and power structure in the two dominant political parties, the very existence of which undermine political speech, and drown out important voices and viewpoints.

I also share LaFollette’s concerns about corruption, corporate welfare, and the dominance of corporate special interests over the interests of the public, which in LaFollette’s time were known as “patronage” and “vast corporate combinations”.

Like LaFollette, I would resolve to make decisions which are in the interests of consumers and workers. Additionally – as LaFollette was outspoken in his opposition to railroad trusts – I would be vocal in my opposition to trusts in general, and in my support of anti-trust laws, as I would apply them to commerce and governmental structure alike.

However, I differ with LaFollette in his support of a protective tariff on domestic goods, being that I believe they impose an unnecessary and artificial barrier to international trade, and due to the potential that such tariffs could stand to inappropriately benefit domestic industry. I believe that the idea of “the invisible hand” is an assertion that consumers naturally act to protect and favor domestic industry through their economic choices.

They would especially do so in an environment of diminished corporate influence on public affairs, and consumers would have sufficient influence on trade such that attempts by the government to ensure that domestic production persevere would be superfluous, egregious, self-serving, and inclined towards the very sort of business corruption which has been a scourge to political freedom, and to diverse and competitive markets.


I side with LaFollette in his championing of the workers’ compensation system, the enactment of child labor laws, and social security and old age benefits, although I would take the sustainability of the ratio of revenues to disbursements of the latter program into serious consideration, with an emphasis on means-testing for recipients.

So too would I join LaFollette in his support of progressive taxation; I would support the closing of any loopholes which deviate from a graduated, accelerating (exponential) tax on income and wealth in property, especially on such wealth which is the product of the inappropriate perpetuation of unearned privilege bestowed upon special individual and business interests through means of government coercion.

While I would praise LaFollette for his efforts fighting for an eight-hour work-day and for collective bargaining in general, my support of the labor movement would be based on principles such as freedom and diversity of competition, diversity of ideology and goals within the labor movement, the right of consumers to influence trade and the labor markets, respect for the rights of minorities of all varieties, and rational and humane wage policies towards the poor and disadvantaged.

I believe that Wisconsin and the organized labor movement should not submit to the authority of the National Labor Relations Board to permit nor deny the right to strike; this undermines the freedom of union members to pursue negotiation goals which are more moderate or more radical than the goals of their leadership. There should be no such thing as wildcat strikes; in other words, no strikes should be illegal, being that the future of the labor movement relies on its independence and self-sufficiency in affecting its ends.

Were government favors and privileges for large and multinational business to be removed - and their lasting ill effects to be compensated for – I do not believe that government power would be necessary to uphold the gains of organized labor. If labor standards were to significantly deteriorate, I would call for a general strike, and for workers across the state to adopt similar standards on wages, additional compensation, and safety and health in the workplace, so that companies failing to uphold such standards remain neither fully-staffed nor profitable.

Unlike LaFollette, I would pursue the nullification of federal minimum wage laws, and the repeal of state minimum wage laws. Although laborers and the organizations which represent them will always pursue increased wages, benefits, and conditions, there would be no need for government to uphold these gains (given adequate compensation for the lasting ill effects of corporate welfare and domination of public policy by private interests).

Additionally, I would adopt the position of scholars such as Milton Friedman; that legally-enforced minimum wage laws constitute undue barriers to entry into the labor market, especially for the youth, the elderly, the disabled; and the economically disadvantaged, the under-educated, and the under-skilled; as well as the racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic minorities which are disproportionately affected by the aforementioned deficits in skills, education, and job experience.
I also believe that the endorsement of minimum wage laws by unions – as well as of the politicians who support them (and increases in minimum wage rates), and even, sometimes, the standards themselves – contributes to a lack of solidarity in the labor movement, and to unnecessary animosity between demographic groups of laborers.

While I believe that the right to strike exists independently – and regardless of – government might and fiat, I believe that the power of public employees to engage in collective bargaining undermines political and economic liberty whenever and wherever they attempt to do so in an environment of monopoly government (Statism). As such, I would support the independence and self-sufficiency of organized labor, while opposing monopolistic governmental jurisdiction on anti-trust grounds – and in the interests of diversity of political association and consent of the governed – as well as first examining how fraud and abuse may be eliminated from the state government, and sustainable government finance and balanced budgets may be restored.


I wholeheartedly support Robert LaFollette’s dedication to peace, a humble foreign policy, non-interventionism, opposition to belligerence, support of American national sovereignty, civil liberties such as the freedom of speech and ideology, voting rights, election reform, open government with direct citizen involvement, political subsidiarity, opposition to corruption and to the control of public policy by private and business special interests, opposition to trusts in industry, support of consumer’s rights and interests, social programs and individual welfare, and the struggles of organized labor.

However, LaFollette’s views on local governance and progressive economic issues (such as minimum wage laws) leave something to be desired. Luckily, after nearly a hundred years, developments in the economic and political sciences – especially in the fields of free-market economics and market-anarchist political theory – enable us to learn from the history of successes and failures of the progressive and liberal movements how LaFollette’s shortcomings may be corrected, and how his ideas may be supplemented and completed.

In truth, there is little daylight between the progressivism of Bob LaFollette and the left-libertarianism of the Agorists, the market-anarchists, the individualist-anarchists, and the classical liberals. As a candidate for governor, I hope to – as much as possible – unite and reconcile the ideologies subscribed to by the likes of the modern American socialist, Green, Libertarian, Constitution, and other political parties; not just on issues like military interventionism and civil liberties (on which they already - for the most part - agree), but also on issues which seem to be the greatest impediments to a solidified front against the domination of the political ideological landscape by the two-party duopoly, especially the most fundamental principles of such groups’ economic theories, and theories of what makes governance and authority legitimate.

Please support me - former U.S. congressional candidate Joe Kopsick – in my campaign for governor of Wisconsin in 2014. Putting a true political and economic independent – neither affiliated with nor supportive of the Democrats or the Republicans – in the Governor's Mansion will send a strong message to the nation at large that the two-party duopoly’s days are numbered.

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