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The Lessons I Learned on My Visit to the UK

By January 28, 2008No Comments
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It's rare that an American Presidential candidate gets the opportunity to travel outside the USA in the middle of Presidential campaign season. But perhaps that's the problem! We keep electing full-time politicians to run our country. And the more time they spend trying to solve our problems with bigger government, the more trouble they cause, the more damage they do to the people. Perhaps we've forgotten about the definition of a political candidate as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Just as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin envisioned, I am not a full-time politician. I am a CITIZEN LEGISLATOR. I run a small business and choose to run for political office while I continue running my business. My home state of Nevada is one of the lowest tax states in America- with zero state income tax, zero business income tax, zero capital gains tax, and zero inheritance tax. How do we do it? With a unique combination of freedom (we allow legalized gambling and prostitution), smaller government, and common sense (our legislators are part time- thereby limiting the amount of damage they can do to the people).

Why not elect a part-time President too? Why not elect someone like me- a Citizen Legislator who runs the country while he continues to face the same problems as the average American- running a small business, paying health insurance for his employees, creating jobs, taking care of a family, paying a big mortgage, worrying about how I'll find the money to pay for 4 college educations. That might be a big step in the right direction for our country- as opposed to doing "business as usual" by electing out-of-touch politicians who have spent their lives as shills for big business or big unions, or working for government- living on the taxpayer's money. Having a Citizen Legislator as President might just be a refreshing breath of fresh air for the beleaguered American taxpayer.

As a small business owner who just recently sold his business to a UK-based public company, I found it necessary to travel this past week to London to meet my new business partners, Board members and employees. I relished the opportunity to get off the campaign trail and spend some time in Great Britain- listening to the concerns of citizens (and voters) of our closest ally in a dangerous world. While I was in London, I was asked to appear on a wide variety of UK media to discuss my role as a third party U.S. Presidential candidate. I was honored to be a guest on CNBC Europe, Bloomberg Europe, Setanta TV (UK's version of ESPN), The James Whale Show (#1 evening radio show in UK with 2 million listeners), and to also sit down with a half dozen London newspaper editors. I enjoyed meeting the people of London and discussing European opinions of global issues, and hearing European thoughts about the USA politics. I respect the British people very much. But I also learned several important lessons about big government, high taxes, universal healthcare and freedom (as represented by one of my favorite issues- online gaming).

First, let's tackle the issue of big government. The British people have much more of it than Americans have ever experienced. The results are in- and it isn't a pretty picture. Big Brother is everywhere in the UK. Everywhere we drove I saw cameras- literally on every inch of London's roads and subways. Are Americans ready for this level of government intrusion? For this level of invasion of privacy? Are we ready for cameras recording our every move? Are we ready for speeding tickets from cameras (not policemen)? To be honest, I probably speed above the posted speed limit on Las Vegas highways from time to time (if only for a few seconds to pass a slower driver). Often virtually every car on the highway around me in Las Vegas is speeding. Yet I am a very safe driver- with no accidents and no tickets in over a decade. But that's in America- where a policeman must catch you speeding to ticket (and fine) you. Under the UK scenario, we'd all get 10 tickets in the mail every week (for going 5 miles over the speed limit). Do we want cameras choosing to fine us for minor offenses every day of our lives? Humans (like police officers) are capable of making decisions to go after only the most serious and dangerous offenders- not every driver going 5 MPH over the limit. What kind of society do we choose? One where the government adds to our taxes (and misery) with nonstop traffic fines based on cameras spying on our every move? Are we willing to pay for that kind of Nanny State? How high will our auto insurance rates be when we each rack up 10 speeding tickets a year?

Then there's the issue of taxes. In the UK, the average citizen keep far less of their paycheck than in the USA. Taxes are excessive (and unaffordable) by U.S. standards. Yet Europeans would say that this level of taxation cares for the poor and pays for a proper and "fair" safety net. But does it? As I've said in my many books, all high levels of taxation do is destroy hope, dreams and opportunity. I was able to tour crime-stricken, poverty-stricken minority neighborhoods in London that looked exactly like poor neighborhoods in the USA. So what has all the high taxes and big government funding paid for by UK citizens accomplished for the poor? Why are people still poor? Why are poor neighborhoods so crime ridden? Why aren't things better for the poor than in the USA? Why do teachers in UK complain of a lack of educational funding- just like teachers in the USA? Why do headlines in the newspapers complain of high levels of drop-outs and hopelessness in poor neighborhoods? Why do headlines scream about high levels of drug abuse, gangs, guns and murder among the poor? Why do headlines complain of poor health care- despite the fact that UK has Hillary Clinton's favorite form of health care (the answer to all our problems- she claims) Universal government-run healthcare?

What my trip to UK proves beyond a shadow of a doubt is that bigger government is not the answer. Just as in high tax U.S. states like New York, Illinois and California, no matter how high the taxes, it's NEVER enough. No matter how high the taxes, government spends it all (and then some). No matter how high the taxes, the poor are (get ready- are you sitting down?) POOR! No matter how much money government grabs (at gun point) from hard-working taxpayers to pay for government poverty programs- there is still high levels of poverty. No matter how much money government spends on programs to eradicate poverty, poor neighborhoods are filled with drugs, guns, gangs and hopelessness. No matter how much welfare we throw at the poor, they're lives are filled with misery. No matter how high the property taxes, government-run public schools are still failing (in every country). No matter how much money we give government to solve the health care crisis, health care is still a mess. And with government running it- it gets even worse (and far more expensive).

As a matter of fact, anything government touches is a mess. But one thing does change when you make government bigger and more powerful- in countries where taxes are high, the lives of middle class and upper middle class taxpayers are made worse. They live in smaller houses; live farther from their jobs (because higher taxes leave them with less money for a down payment- thereby pushing them further away from expensive cities); enjoy far fewer of life's luxuries (vacations, eating out, massages, playing golf); enjoy less time with their families (because they are too busy paying for all the taxes); and enjoy far less opportunity to own their own small business (because high taxes stop citizens from saving enough money to start a business). Far more people in the UK live in a small apartment instead of owning their own home; far fewer people own a car (thereby depending on cramped, uncomfortable, dirty, dangerous public transportation); far fewer people own their own business or even dream of doing so. Is that the life we choose in the USA? Do we want to give up a better life, a much higher quality of life- all in the name of paying more taxes to fund bigger government?

Then there's education- perhaps the biggest problem in every country. It seems the problem is always the same: many of the children in government-run public schools are failing. And no amount of government intervention or spending solves the problem. Why is that? Because it's not the money, stupid (as James Carville might say). It's not the teachers. It's not the system. It's the parents. Parents need to be involved in their children's lives. Children need love and discipline from their parents. Without parental involvement (and more importantly- parental choice), kids are destined to fail- no matter how much money we throw at the problem. Parents must take a central role in the process and must have freedom of choice- to send their kids to private school, religious school, magnet schools or to choose home-schooling. Government cannot solve the problem. As all Libertarians know, the solution starts and ends with the individual, not Big Brother.

Finally we come to the arena of personal freedom. Yes, we have it better in America when it comes to taxes, government and the higher quality of life we enjoy. But not everything is rosy (or better) in America. I found that despite the size of government and loss of privacy in the UK, when it comes to personal freedoms- the British often have it better than Americans. Big Brother in the UK doesn't care what British citizens do in the privacy of their homes. Gay marriage is legal in UK. The use of marijuana results in a warning, not a prison sentence. And online gaming is perfectly legal. Making a bet on your favorite soccer, cricket or rugby team is not only legal- but considered a normal part of everyday life. Gambling is seen as fun and entertainment- not a moral sin. Online gaming web sites are even sponsored by professional soccer teams- and advertised at sporting events. There are gambling shops on virtually every corner of London- where any adult can place a bet on his favorite sporting event, horserace or even political election. In the UK, any adult is free to bet on Hillary, Obama, McCain or Romney to win the U.S. Presidential election. And why not? How is that a crime? Why are Americans put in prison by the tens of thousands for smoking pot- but not for drinking or smoking a cigarette? Why are we spending (and wasting) billions to hold so many Americans in prison for non-violent drug arrests? Why are we wasting billions to prosecute victimless gambling offenses when gambling is nothing more than entertainment? What's the difference between making a bet on sports online (which is illegal)…or making a bet on a horserace or lottery (which is legal)? What is the difference between risking $1000 on a game of online poker (which is illegal)…or risking $1,000,000 on IBM or Microsoft with your online Charles Schwab account? Why do we care if someone is straight or gay? Why is any of this the business of government? In many ways, our country is MORE Big Brother than any other nation in the world. In many ways, we enjoy less freedom than our friends and allies in the UK.

I learned many lessons on my trip to UK this past week. The most important one is that the solution to any problem is simple- less government, lower taxes, more personal responsibility, more rights for the individual, more choice, more free market competition (to solve the education and health care mess), and far more freedom. That's the Libertarian message. That's not the message you'll hear from any Democrat or Republican Presidential candidate. Perhaps it's time to make a change- to vote for a third party alternative, to vote for freedom, to vote for smaller government, to vote for a part-time Citizen Legislator, to vote Libertarian for Wayne Allyn Root for President.

Wayne Allyn Root is a Libertarian Presidential candidate. For more about Wayne and his bold stands on important political issues, go to: