Munger for NC Governor--2008!!

Recording the campaign activities, events, and happenings of the Munger for Governor campaign.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Speech at JBS National Dinner

I was privileged to give a talk in the afternoon at the JBS annual meeting. Nice folks, and interesting comments afterward.

Report from the front: Universities

I have been a conservative for all my life. Just what that means, we could talk about if you want. It is possible we disagree about what it means.

My work experience:

Federal Trade Commission
Dartmouth College
University of Texas
UNC-Chapel (MPA)
Duke, Chair now for six years

I am cautiously optimistic, even openly optimistic, about the state of higher education in the U.S. today.

This is a consumer-driven business, and people are paying enormous amounts of money for what amounts to a political indoctrination questioning and criticizing American values. For years, universities have taught bad economics and collectivist politics.

As a consequence, lots of parents, and even students, have started looking for alternative sources of education, other ways of learning what they need to know.

Duke hasn’t really seen a drop-off in applications, much less in enrollments. We still have an extraordinary number, and diversity, of remarkable students. I teach at least one overload class every semester, just to spend time with the students. When I first got to Duke, it took me two years to begin to get good teaching evaluations. The students wanted more readings, more challenging material, and harder tests. And they said so, in the evaluations.

Some universities, including Brown (through the excellent work of John Tomasi): rent a conservative. 200 students, 9 pm on a Friday. Want to hear a professor say something they disagreed with. “I have NO IDEA why you are wrong.”

Conservative students complain they are oppressed. I have little patience for that. It’s true that there are some instances of active, malicious oppression. But mostly faculty are just expressing a liberal view, and students don’t like it.

I’ll tell you who should be upset: Liberal students! Liberal students ought to sue the faculty of their university for breach of contract. Conservative students get to play against the first team, many of America’s best liberal minds. Conservative students learn to argue, to defend themselves without becoming angry, to understand and dissect the opposite view.

What do liberal students get? They get patted on the head, and told, “Good little liberal! Here’s a biscuit!” I was in a meeting of faculty department chairs where one chair, apparently believing she was among friends, openly said, “I don’t feel like I have to talk to the liberal students much. They already have it right. So I spend my time on the conservative students, educating them about the truth. But there are so many of them! Sometimes in my classes I have 3 or 4!”

So, in my mind there is a paradox working here, but it is working on the side of good. It is the liberal students, recognizing that they are being denied the (pardon the pun) “faculties” of critical reasoning that are starting to drive a backlash against leftist hegemony in the academy.

At its base, an understanding of something fundamental, something that good citizens figure out on their own: in a republic, there are two principles, tied together tightly. The first is liberty; the second is responsibility.

It is not enough to memorize the “correct” positions. A good teacher, at any level, teaches the student to think, and reach his own conclusions. We have to have enough confidence in the idea of America, and the principles on which it was founded and on which it has prospered, to believe that students will understand.

The bad news is the left hasn’t done this. They teach students that America is a failure, a racist institution without hope of fairness or justice. But they don’t teach reasons.

So, the good news is that the left hasn’t given persuasive reasons. I personally believe it is because they don’t have any, but I don’t need to argue that.

Garrison Keilor: At his confirmation, taught to recite from memory the answers to questions that have plagued philosophers for thousands of years.

John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”: There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.

He goes on, later:

There is a class of persons (happily not quite so numerous as formerly) who think it enough if a person assents undoubtingly to what they think true, though he has no knowledge whatever of the grounds of the opinion, and could not make a tenable defence of it against the most superficial objections. Such persons, if they can once get their creed taught from authority, naturally think that no good, and some harm, comes of its being allowed to be questioned.

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. …. Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. That is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them

The task, the proper task, of the university is to educate a republican citizenry, one that is self-reliant and at the same time committed to its responsibilities for the defense and preservation of the nation.

What the universities have taken as their object instead, is a perversion of this mission. We are by and large teaching students to be citizens in a democracy, to spurn responsibility, to shun self-reliance, and to question their own natural rights to liberty and property.
What is the difference between the nation and the state?

Frederic Bastiat describes the state as follows:

The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. (The State, 1848, same year as Comm Manif)

In a democracy, we all decide for each. The fight over the border is lost. What border? The border between what is mine and what is ours.

The first step in solving any problem is, “What should we do?” What should we do about homelessness? We should take money from those who have, and give it to those who have it not.

In a constitutional republic, we first take the step of writing down a set of things that the government cannot do. These are explicitly, consciously designed to thwart democracy, to run majority rule aground on the shoals of the law of liberty. There are many, many things I can do, without interference from the we.

In addition, in a republic I am responsible for my own choices. There is no conjuring the genie of the state, a Santa Claus figure who magically creates resources with the help of civil service elves. When we say, “The state should pay for that” it is nothing but a satisfying, even seductive way of justifying theft.

There is another difference. In a republic, the citizen is armed. Not because the police force will fail to protect us, though it will. A republican citizen is armed because he takes responsibility for the defense and protection of his property, his neighborhood, and his nation. Saying that the genie, “the state”, will protect us is no different from saying that the state should provide us with food and shelter.

I am not saying there should be no army, no police, no fire protection. We don’t live totally independently. But in a republic we are ultimately responsible, both for how we conduct ourselves and for how our government conducts itself.

In a democracy, the will of the people is the expression of the ballot box. No matter that craven demogogues distort issues, and that most people would prefer to watch “Survivor: Rocky Mount!” instead of study issues.

In a republic, the will of the people is embodied in the founding agreement, the Constitution. It “constitutes” the nation, in the most fundamental way. The actions of the legislature, which rarely or never reflect the will of the people, are at least constrained by the will of the people. The Constitution puts boundaries, builds walls of protection, not around what government can do for us, but against what government can do TO us.

So, in a republic, our liberties are the foundation, and our responsibilities as citizens are the reason we have a voice in choosing a government. Our membership in a nation means we are part of an organic body of tradition and shared values that commands our obedience out of loyalty.

A democracy is a collection of citizens who perceive themselves as having no responsibilities, only claim on the collective. Belonging to a state means that the citizen has pledged his property, and his earning power, to the collective welfare of all, and the consent of all is required before he can keep any of it. The state commands our obedience through force: anyone who resists the will of the people will be crushed.

The U.S. was founded as a nation. The responsibilities of citizens were clear, their loyalties paramount. Our liberties were carefully spelled out, and enumerated against encroachment by an expanding state.

At some point, it is hard to say just when, we lost sight of the centrality of our liberties, of the necessity of shouldering our responsibilites.

The idea that we should take care of each other, out of a sense of responsibility and shared national destiny, is at the core of what it means to be a republic.

The idea that we must take care of each other, out of sense of awe of the power of the state, and a right of entitlement to collective property, is at the core of what it means to be a democracy.

And, as was pointed out in John MacManus’s DVD lecture, Overview of America, when a democracy falls it does not fall up, back toward a republican form. It falls down, to dictatorship. American universities must begin to arrest that fall, and to restore the idea of America, a republic of America. I thank you for this chance to report a bit on my own assessment of how we are doing in that restoration.

AP Wire Story on election

Here is a published version of an interesting AP wire story on the election. Andrew Taylor and I are the local talent....

Article published Oct 30, 2006
Democratic surge might hit N.C. delegation

Marshall | Emma Jean Radford almost always votes an anti-abortion ballot, which means she almost always votes Republican - even when she doesn't like the GOP candidate.
But this year, the high school teacher is thinking about voting for a Democrat. And that doesn't bode well for veteran Rep. Charles Taylor and his party, which could lose control of the House if Taylor and others fall victim to a potential Democratic surge driven by the war in Iraq and dissatisfaction with President Bush.
"I do not like Taylor, but I do know that Taylor has voted pro-life," Radford said. "I have two teenage boys, and I do feel like we need a change. We need to know where we're going."
For Democrats hoping to take control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the Republican sweep of 1994, picking off one or two Republicans in reliably red-state North Carolina could be key.
Five of the state's seven GOP incumbents - Virginia Foxx, Patrick McHenry, Howard Coble, Walter Jones and Sue Myrick - are generally considered safe. Robin Hayes, a four-term incumbent who represents a majority-Democratic district in south-central North Carolina, is thought by some to be potentially vulnerable to a Democratic surge that could push opponent Larry Kissell into office.
"I do think North Carolina is feeling the national tide," North Carolina State political scientist Andrew Taylor said. "That's the reason Taylor's in trouble and perhaps Hayes is, too."
Since last spring, polls and analysts have anticipated Heath Shuler, a moderate Democrat who opposes abortion and supports gun rights, would give Taylor his toughest race in more than a decade. Shuler has the name recognition that comes from winning three state titles as a quarterback at Swain County High School and later playing in the National Football League.
Shuler's moderate stances play well in a district that stretches from Asheville to the state's western tip, and is filled with swing Democrats who take faith and social issues seriously.
Radford was among those who heard Shuler speak recently to a group of teachers at Madison County High School.
"I really would like to look at his Web site," she said afterward. "When I really, really get a feel for what Mr. Shuler is saying, then I can make my decision. The TV (advertising) is so negative. This is the first time I've heard how he feels about any of the issues."
Kissell has won ardent liberal support by attacking Hayes for his vote in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, as well as his determination to run a grass-roots campaign - his campaign recently bragged about having less than $90. The well-funded Hayes has attacked Kissell, a high school social studies teacher from rural Biscoe, for his positions on Iraq and his criticism of the new Medicare prescription drug plan.
Representing a district in which registrations favor Democrats by about 191,000 to 118,000, Hayes captured 56 percent of the vote in winning a fourth term in 2004.
Of course, that same year, George W. Bush carried North Carolina with 56 percent of the vote. Two years later, more North Carolinians disapprove of Bush's job performance than approve, by a margin of 48 percent to 45 percent, according to a recent Elon University poll.
Duke University political scientist Mike Munger believes Democrats such as Kissell could benefit from anger in the Christian right over the scandal involving GOP Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate communications with male pages. The notion that the House GOP leadership failed to take effective action against Foley, despite years of warnings about his behavior, could keep some traditionally Republican voters home on Election Day.
"In any election, there is a moment, perhaps a trivial one, that focuses things in voters' minds. It can either make them choose a candidate, or make them lose enthusiasm for a candidate or party and stay home," Munger said in an e-mail. "The question in North Carolina is this: Is the Mark Foley affair going to be that moment?"
If so, Munger said, Hayes could lose, Taylor's 16-year House career will likely come to an end, and even Foxx could be in danger. Hayes, Taylor and Foxx, who represents a district that runs from Winston-Salem into the state's northwestern corner, were the only GOP representatives to win with less than 60 percent of the vote in 2004.
The most spirited challenge to a Democratic incumbent is being mounted in the north-central district represented by Brad Miller. There, Republican Vernon Robinson has campaigned with a series of blunt anti-immigration and anti-gay advertisements on radio, the Internet and television. In one, Robinson claims that "if Miller had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals."
Few analysts expect Robinson to oust Miller, who has represented the district since it was created when North Carolina gained a House seat following the 2000 census.
Robinson's focus on national issues, such as immigration, bucks the trend this year in North Carolina, where the lack of a Senate or presidential race at the top of the ticket has kept local issues at the forefront. Kissell, for example, has used Hayes' CAFTA vote to question whether the incumbent has done enough to attract and keep jobs in the mostly rural district, which has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs to foreign competition in recent years.
In the mountains, Shuler has attacked Taylor on ethics issues and for failing to represent "mountain values." Taylor has highlighted his efforts to improve education and Internet access in the region, emphasizing his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee that enables him to bring federal money back to the district.
It was telling that when President Bush visited North Carolina earlier this month, he didn't make campaign appearances with either Hayes or Taylor.
"Obviously, Republicans don't want North Carolina voters focusing on Washington at the moment," said Andrew Taylor, the N.C. State political scientist.

Charlotte Observer Article

Here is an article written by David Ingram, which appeared in the big O.

Duke professor is running for governor
Libertarian candidate's 1st step, though, is to get name on 2008 ballot

RALEIGH - There are a few things you should know right away about Mike Munger.

First, as Election Day 2006 approaches, he's the only person so far to announce he's running for N.C. governor in 2008.

Second, Munger's campaign is likely to be, by any objective standard, the most interesting of what will be several 2008 gubernatorial campaigns. Just check out his resumé or his positions -- or his hair.

Third, at this moment, his campaign is not legally eligible.

"The paradox is, I'm the only announced candidate for a party that has been outlawed by the state," Munger said.

Munger is affiliated with the Libertarian Party, North Carolina's third most-popular political party and the one that gets kicked off state rolls every four years for failing to get 10 percent of the gubernatorial or presidential votes in 2004, as required by state law.

While Libertarians work to get on the 2008 ballot, Munger is trying to win support and potential future votes by drawing on a diverse background. He's a Davidson College alum, Duke University political scientist, former Republican and Reagan administration official and former orange picker.

And Munger, 48, is a first-time candidate. He's written books about elections, but he's never tried to win an election. "It struck me I knew very little about the nuts and bolts of campaign finance and elections," he said.

So the experiences he's having now are unusual for a gubernatorial candidate. He's trying to visit all 100 N.C. counties. On his campaign Web site, he describes a July 18 visit to McDowell County:

"Visited the Hardees on NC 226," he writes. "A spirited discussion about third parties with an elderly gentleman. He is apparently the honorary mayor of that Hardees, comes in to drink coffee and conduct the discussion of the day. A great guy, though he thinks that third parties are the work of the devil."

He still has 92 counties to go.

Government is not `evil'

Other N.C. academics have tried politics. Fellow Duke political scientist David Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, is a congressman. Former N.C. Gov. Jim Martin, a Republican from Lake Norman, was once a chemist at Davidson College.Alex Rosenberg, a Duke philosophy professor who gave $100 to Munger's campaign, said Munger's academic background doesn't deter voters.

"Do they think he's a pointed-headed intellectual? I don't think so. He looks more like an aging rock star," he said.

Rosenberg calls Munger a "campus leader," and in fact Munger chairs a politics department that's considered among the best in the country.

As with many Libertarians, Munger's philosophy straddles the platforms of the two major parties. He is likely to anger Democrats by favoring school vouchers and anti-annexation policies, and Republicans by favoring same-sex civil unions and lighter sentences for drug possession and prostitution.

"A lot of Libertarians think government is evil," Munger said. "I think that government often fails, but it's because we ask the government to do things that are impossible.

"Anything we think should be done but don't know how to do, we ask government to do, and then we blame government when it fails."

69,000 signatures all he needs

Still, no one can vote for a Libertarian in 2008 unless the party qualifies for the ballot by collecting 69,000 valid signatures on petitions. The party would then nominate a candidate.

Others exploring runs for governor are State Treasurer Richard Moore and Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, both Democrats, and lawyer Bill Graham and state Sen. Fred Smith, both Republicans.

Munger said he would be satisfied if he's allowed in the debates, which in the past have been controlled by interest groups or by TV stations. "

Mike Munger

Running for: N.C. governor in 2008.

Current job: Duke political scientist and department chair.

Hometown: Orange farm in Gotha, Fla., near Orlando.

Residence: Raleigh.

Family: Wife, two children.

School: Bachelor's degree from Davidson College, 1980; master's and doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis, 1982 and 1984

How to hear him: Occasional morning guest on AM 1110 WBT.

How to read him: or

On going to school near Charlotte: "We would go in and see `The Rocky Horror Picture Show' all the time. Sometimes I went Friday and Saturday."

(Photo Credit: Jon Gardner, of the Observer)

News and Observer Op-Ed

here is a piece I wrote for the N&O....

An excerpt:

Michael Munger
DURHAM - Six months ago, the idea of a Democratic House seemed far-fetched, and taking the Senate looked impossible. How things have changed! The odds of a House takeover are 60-40. Winning the Senate would require only that the Democrats: 1) hold on to leads against GOP incumbents in Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island (nearly certain); 2) turn out their base in Maryland, Missouri and New Jersey (very possible); and 3) get lucky in either Tennessee or Virginia (could happen).
What will happen if the Democrats win back control of Congress? Three things:

It's raining subpoenas. Committee hearings and subpoenas will be the No. 1 non-legislative priority of a Democrat-controlled House. And if the Democrats take the Senate, given its star power and prestige, we will have a new reality TV show -- "Survivor: Oversight!" -- with lots of Republican officials immediately voted off the island.

The Democrats argue, with cause, that Congress has failed to monitor thousands of administration activities. Expect hearings on administrative rule-making, wire-tapping, detainees, health care for veterans, too much corruption and not enough armor in Iraq -- the list goes on. If you are an attorney with Democratic connections, dust off your resume. Hundreds of lawyers will be needed right away.

It's the Congress, stupid. The center of power and focus for the Democrats moves even more to the Congress. Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will raise $50 million during the 2008 election cycle; Charles Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are likely to raise more than $100 million before Election Day. That is partly because both organizations work hard. But much of the reason is the grating ineptitude of National Committee Chair Howard Dean, and the apparent belief that "presidential timber" means candidates made of wood. Except for the anomaly of Bill Clinton, the last Democratic presidential nominee with leadership ability was John Kennedy. Congress is where the Democrats feel comfortable ruling.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Local Raleigh Activity, for the Outrage-Deficient

This is not the end of the world. But it is time somebody stood up to bureaucratic foolishness. And it is a good cause. The rest of this post is taken from an email written by my friend Susan Hogarth.

The City of Raleigh is harassing a local retail business (Hughie & Louie's, a costume shop), using very odd and selective enforcement of it's sign ordinance to suppress commercial free speech. Libertarianism supports a right to of all forms of free speech, whether political or commercial, unless there is fraud or some physical threat involved (certainly not the case, here). As members of the Libertarian Party, you can help a local business fight this government harassment.

There are two protests planned, both endorsed by the LP.

One is to be downtown at the city offices located at the corner of Hargett and McDowell streets, at noon this Monday (10/30/06). It is being organized by local cable access journalist Todd Mormon, who wants to bring pressure directly on city government.

The second protest, sponsored independently by the Wake Co. LP, is to be held tomorrow, from 3pm to 5pm, Saturday (10/28/06), directly in front of the business being harassed, at the Oak Park shopping center on Glenwood Avenue, just North of Crabtree Mall. We apologize for the short notice.

At last night's WakeLP meeting, some members volunteered to attend these protests. Hopefully some of you now reading about this for the first time will join us.

Here's the background:

According to the sign ordinance of the City of Raleigh, a business is not normally allowed any "special" signs. Typically for a business, a "special" sign would be a banner or other sign designed to stand in for the narrowly defined not-"special" business sign (a permanently mounted, more expensive one, which is typically put on the front of the site of a given business). In the lifetime of any business in Raleigh, the business is only allowed two "special use" permits. And these are only good for 30 days each.

Taking advantage of this are "temporary" stores, which occupy a space for only two months, then move to another location, or reopen at the same location at a later date. Even though these "temporary" businesses have the same name, the same phone number and the same stock each time they open, they are allowed fresh "special use" permits any time they change location, according to the sign ordinance enforcement officials of the City of Raleigh.

By contrast, a business which consistently stays open at one location - employing workers, providing a service to the community and paying taxes - such a business is given only two opportunities for "special use" promotions. This disadvantage is enforced simply because these, the majority of businesses, choose to maintain a stable location. And in one specific case, which has drawn the full enforcement power of the City of Raleigh's sign enforcement bureaucracy, it is questionable whether or not there would even be a "sign" violating the "sign ordinance".

The ordinance itself does not refer to clothing, nor to uniforms, nor to costumes. Having read the ordinance, the management of Houie & Louie's decided to use costumes as a way to promote itself. To advertise itself during the Halloween season, Houie & Louie's dressed some family members and friends as Santa and Mrs. Clause and two elves and had them stand in front of the store, next to the road waving to passers by. They were not holding signs, nor was there any writing on their clothing.

But according to the officials of the City of Raleigh, this was a violation of the "sign ordinance". The reasoning given was that the shop sold costumes, and was thus displaying it's product. So any costume on display to the public in front of the store was going to be called a "sign", by the sign ordinance enforcement officials, who would then demand a "special use" permit, or impose a penalty.

There were no complaints from any citizens about the people in costumes. The sign ordinance enforcement officials of the City of Raleigh, we may speculate, had chosen to give special attention to this situation (and in doing so stretch their jurisdiction), merely because the business had drawn attention to itself, by an earlier complaint about the discrimination in favor of businesses which move frequently (described above).

Ideally, Houie & Louie's would like to use costumed employees with signs promoting their business every Halloween - their busiest time. But the City of Raleigh has warned Houie & Louie's that wearing their merchandise on the street in front of their shop, even without a sign, is punishable by a fine of $500 a day. Meanwhile car dealers who display cars in front of their businesses, clothing store employees who wear clothes in front of their businesses, etc. are being left alone.

Unfortunately, in the City of Raleigh, and in most of the USA, the notion of Freedom of Speech does not automatically extend to commercial speech. If someone were to do exactly what Houie and Louie's wants to do, but do it for reasons of political protest, it would be "protected" expression.

I talked with one of the owners of Houie & Louie's and asked if they would mind if the Libertarian Party of Wake County did exactly that. Not surprisingly, this small business would welcome such political free speech. And as a political group, we can bring signs which express our concerns. Mine will read "the Libertarian Party protests discrimination by the City of Raleigh against HUGHIE & LOUIE'S COSTUME SHOP".

Those capital letters might be in a larger font.

Clip for FAN event on Wednesday

The John Locke Foundation sponsored a Faculty Affiliate Network event here at Duke on Wednesday, October 25.

Here is a clip of all four speakers.

It was pretty fun. Thanks to JLF, and to Karen Palasek in particular, for all the hard work setting up everything.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Podcast

For podcast fans, I have a new one at EconTalk. Pretty darned fun. I got to talk about the "Tullock airbag." You'll love it....

And for fans of old-fashioned reading, a similar subject, but with a discussion of "Glock Airlines."

Interesting Conversations

Spent most of yesterday at the "Dixie Classic Fair" in Winston Salem.

Very fun, got to talk to lots of people. I mostly want to acknowledge four
people who work all the time on stuff like this, but don't always get acknowledged.

1. Susan ("If you touch the display, I'll kill you!") Hogarth, Wake County. Organizer of nearly everything.
2. Rob Sinnott, Guilford County
3. Paul Elledge, Guilford County
4. Jack Wyatt, citizen of the world

To say that their constant efforts on behalf of the LP in NC are unsung is an understatement. They work on things all the time. I showed up for one long day, and really enjoyed. What is important is to acknowledge the people that work for the cause of liberty day after day. Thanks to all!

We gave out a lot of literature and material on LP, and we heard a lot from the citizens of NC. Very interesting, and very useful.

My favorite line (after Susan's death threat, and if you think she was kidding you are crazy) was from an elderly gent who stopped by the booth. He suggested a slogan which I like very much. I'm going to use it whenever someone asks me why I am running, because it is accurate:

I'm tired of leaders telling the people what they want to hear. As Governor, I want to tell the people what they need to know.

And we talked a fair amount, in several of the shifts, about Bastiat's famous definition of the state:

"The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."