Roy Miller: Arizona should not be in the business of regulating personal behavior.
Earlier this year I filed to run for governor of Arizona. At that time my filing was mostly a protest against the fact that our Republican governor had declared her support for raising taxes. Such a position is not only an economic disaster in the making but also extremely damaging to a Republican Party that is attempting to recover from a recent period of time when it completely abandoned its prior commitment to smaller government.
In filing to run, I had assumed that there would be at least one highly visible anti-tax Arizona Republican who would have announced an intention to run against Gov. Jan Brewer; or that Brewer would have abandoned her fiscally irresponsible support for a tax increase.
Since neither of these events has come to pass I believe it is time to outline a broader platform that I believe a limited-government Republican should support.
Liberty and politics
First the basics: Government has only one legitimate purpose and that is to protect our liberty. This means that people who are peaceful and honest should be left alone. To put government's role in the positive, this means that it must be confined to protecting us against the initiation of force or fraud.
Thomas Jefferson put it this way, "a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
George Washington put the potential problem of keeping government contained more bluntly when he said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
The question for any candidate is how can we control and restrain this fearsome force?
Politics is the vehicle by which we accomplish this challenging task of controlling government. Therefore, it must be the primary mission of the governor of Arizona and all other elected officials to ensure that all actions of government move us "toward liberty." Government at all levels has grown so far beyond its proper role, now is the time to reduce the abuses of power that currently exist. As governor, I would support and sign any legislation that leads us in this direction. I would work against and veto any legislation that increased the size of state government.
No more taxation
I recognize that it may take as many years to reduce the size of government back to the level advocated by our founding fathers as it has taken years to build it up. That is why, in my campaign, I will emphasize the direction rather than insist on any specific programs. Essentially, I will support any reasonable efforts that move us "toward liberty."
What does this mean as it applies to the issues likely to come before me as governor? First, I will not support any increase in taxes and I will support any reasonable effort to lower taxes. Second, I will oppose any increase in overall state spending, and I will support any reasonable efforts to put controls on this growth. Thirdly, I will not support any increase in the regulatory burden, and I will support all reasonable efforts to reduce the current regulatory burden.
Some examples of regulatory agencies that should be eliminated are occupational licensing boards such as the barber board, the cosmetology board, and many of the other 200-plus regulatory boards and commissions. We should eliminate agencies like the state Department of Commerce and the Office of Tourism because they perform functions more properly handled in the private sector.
Advancing private options
One of the largest state expenditures is education. Here we should move in the direction of increasing parental choice and decreasing the power of government over how we educate our children. As interim steps I would more support charter schools, voucher programs, tax credits, etc.
Also, as an interim measure, we should pursue other cost-saving ideas such as abolishing school districts and funding schools directly. (An even better idea would be to fund children directly.) Again, the goal should be moving toward greater freedom. We should be willing to consider all ideas that help accomplish this goal. For another small example; does anyone really believe that taxpayers should be asked to pay for producing more lawyers? Of course not. Why not sell the law colleges at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.
Another significant state expenditure is transportation. Again, we should move "toward liberty," which essentially means, in the direction of privatization. I would support the passage of enabling legislation for toll roads and looking at all of our roads as earning assets. Roads that do not pay for themselves through the various taxes imposed on transportation should be sold and maintained privately or by a lower level of government. We should move toward time-of-use pricing and high occupancy toll lanes and other similar approaches that tie the cost more closely to users.
What about our personal lives? Arizona should not be in the business of regulating personal behavior. We should end the dispute over who can marry who by making marriage a private contract that government helps to enforce, just as government does with other contracts. We should allow medical use of marijuana as a step in the direction of getting government out of these kinds of personal decisions and treating excessive use of these substances as a medical problem rather than a criminal problem.
There are many other areas where creative ideas for reducing the size of government are needed, and I will be supplementing this platform as we get closer to the election.
Roy Miller of Phoenix is a financial services consultant and chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He was a co-founder and former executive director of the Goldwater Institute and is a retired Air Force pilot. He can be reached at email@example.com.