Note: This is the third in a series examining the positions of several minor party and independent presidential candidates on issues covered by the Acton Institute. A previous series covered the Democratic Party platform (see here and here) and the Republican Party Platform (see here and here).

logoAlthough minor parties — often called “third parties” to distinguish them from the dominant two — have always been a part of American politics, the dissatisfaction with the Republican and Democratic parties in the current election season has led some Christians to give them more consideration. The intention of this series is to provide some basic information on where some of these parties stand on issues covered by the Acton Institute.

A couple of caveats are thus in order.

1. Because there are roughly 50 minor political parties in America this series will not be able to cover them all. The choice of what will be included is undeniably arbitrary and subjective. My intention is to highlight the four or five parties (or individual presidential candidacies) that would be of most interest to our readers. Currently, the plan is to include Evan McMullin (a conservative independent candidate), the Libertarian Party, the American Solidarity Party, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party. (Others will be added if there is sufficient interest/demand.)

2. In general, the PowerBlog covers issues related to economics and individual liberty, particularly religious freedom. For this reason some social issues of concern to Christians are not included. This is not because they are unimportant or because those of us at Acton do not care about the issues. It’s merely because they are outside the focus of this blog.

3. For the sake of simplicity, this series will highlight the position listed in a party’s platform or, if they are a non-aligned independent candidate, the positions listed on their website. Unlike with the two major parties, the nominees of the minor parties often have no direct control over their party’s platform. For this reason, the positions held by the particular presidential candidates may differ radically from the positions held by the party.

4. Minor parties tend to focus more on broad principles than specific policy prescriptions. Wherever possible, I’ll try to highlight the direct policy positions. Otherwise I’ll attempt to summarize their underlying philosophy on a public policy area.

Here are the positions of the Green Party as outlined in their 2016 Platform:

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free tradeWhile the Democratic and Republican parties disagree on just about every other issue, there is one area where they seem to have common ground.  That is the issue of trade and, unfortunately, neither of the two major political party’s platform takes a liberal position on the issue.  Director of Research at the Acton Institute, Samuel Gregg, recently highlighted in an article for The Stream how the two parties have taken positions against free trade and how ultimately this will hurt the American economy.  Gregg starts his article by explaining how the alternative to free trade is protectionism which will lead directly to cronyism:

Protectionism also encourages unhealthy relationships between politicians and businesses. The latter have an incentive to lobby for favors rather than improve their performance in the marketplace. And politicians expect something in return for passing legislation that favors particular industries and businesses. In this sense, protectionism feeds a major problem already harming American politics and the economy: crony capitalism.

Gregg goes on to explain both party’s platform on the issue of trade, starting with how the growing skeptic ism of free trade in America has infiltrated the Republican platform.  This is really not surprising when considering how closely Donald Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric aligns with the ideas of protectionism.  Gregg says: (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 1, 2016
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Court Costs Entrap Nonwhite, Poor Juvenile Offenders
Erik Eckholm, New York Times

Fees and fines are levied on young offenders in every state but have an outsize effect on racial minorities and the poor, creating a two-tiered system of justice.

California Legislature Adopts Bill That Would Make It Tougher for Government to Take Your Stuff
Jason Snead, The Daily Signal

The California Senate unanimously approved a landmark civil asset forfeiture reform package last week.

Markets Are Breaking Down India’s Caste System, Turning Untouchables into Millionaires
Malavika Nair and G.P. Manish, FEE

Being born an untouchable meant a lifetime of being trapped in a low income “dirty” job with very low social status.

Restoring Our Constitutional Morality
Bruce Frohnen and George W. Carey, The Imaginative Conservative

Lacking an appropriate constitutional morality, those who govern will continue to do so through quasi-law, with all the consequences attendant thereto.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

George Soros | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Update: Thomas D. Williams at Breitbart now has a report on the Soros donations, based on the Sirico essay.

George Soros’ Open Society Policy Center recently had a large set of documents exposed by the international organization, WikiLeaks.  It turns out that these documents revealed information of how Mr. Soros’ organization made large monetary donations to two faith-based organizations in the amount of $650,000.  Acton Institute president, Acton’s Rev. Robert Sirico talks about the Open Society Policy Center leaks and the significance of these donations in a recent article for the Washington Times.  Sirico says:

On their surface, the donations seem benign. As the president of a less-activist and nonpartisan group, I understand that it takes money to disseminate an organization’s ideas to people of faith. What’s disconcerting is the crass political intention to manipulate church leaders that is evident from the leaked documents. One gets the impression that Mr. Soros and his fellow travelers view the leadership of the religious community generally and the Catholic Church in particular as mere useful idiots to be manipulated to further their own political and, frankly, secularist agenda.

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epipen_Approximately 1 in 50 Americans are at risk of anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction caused by such conditions as food allergies or exposure to the venom of bee stings. Fortunately, people at risk of anaphylaxis can get a prescription for an epinephrine autoinjector that goes by the brand name EpiPen. By self-injecting epinephrine at the onset of anaphylaxis they can be stabilized long enough to seek medical treatment.

In 2007, the cost was approximately $100 (the medicine in the injector costs about $1). But earlier this month the company that produces EpiPens, Mylar, raised the price 400 percent to $600. After an outcry from the public, Mylar announced it would introduce a generic EpiPen for $300. Because the FDA requires pharmacist to put an expiration date on the EpiPen of 12 months after the time of purchase, a new one has to be bought every year so patients have to pay hundreds of dollars a year for medication they may never even use.

Why are EpiPens so expensive? Because Mylar has a government controlled monopoly that prevents anyone else from making similar products. And yet, ironically, many economically uninformed people are blaming the rapid price increase on the free market. For example, as Sarah Kliff of Vox writes,
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Acton Research Fellow and Director of Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller joins host Bill Meyer on The Bill Meyer Show on KMED Radio in Medford, Oregon, to discuss how to genuinely help those around the world who remain mired in poverty. He notes that often, foreign aid tends to support the “big three” items: education, infrastructure, and health care. But the question remains: are these things the cause of wealth, or are they the result of wealth? The answer to that question will shed light on the effectiveness of our foreign aid efforts.

You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
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Employers Are Mediating Institutions, Too
David Lapp, Family Studies

What about employers who pay poverty wages and shepherd people into government dependence?

Concern for the Poor Involves Considering the True Nature of Poverty
Paul Cleveland, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Poverty is a symptom or a signal. It is not a thing and it is not evil in and of itself.

Study: NIMBYism Makes States More Liberal
The American Interest

According to a recent study from Jason Sorens of Dartmouth University (h/t Tyler Cowen), states’ land use regulations don’t just affect their economies; they affect their political complexions as well.

Study: The Most Generous Cities All Have This One Thing In Common

Thomas Phippen, The Daily Caller

In the most generous cities in America, most adults donate overwhelmingly through local churches, according to a new study.