I will be honest, I didn’t think it possible for a Libertarian to support the TPP given its privacy and digital rights implications. Point in Stein’s favor. I don’t actually have much of an issue with semi-free trade given that I’m not sure how to enforce it when the internet exists, but the implications for digital rights and company’s rights to sue governments for enacting laws against their best interests are pretty horrifying. Honestly though, I am not sure even Sanders could stop the TPP. That treaty was the crowning achievement of the second term of a Democratic president and has broad Republican support. Getting the president to table it means the next president can just sign it. Vetoing it kicks it back to congress. As far as I can tell, we’re going to win the fight against the TPP in congress, or we’re not going to win it at all.
My issues with Stein stem from this attitude that the government knows best, and that it has the capacity to change certain things from the top down without doing more harm than good.
Some of the concerns are from a certain casualness about civil liberties. Regardless of if you like guns or not, you don’t get to suspend due process for people the government puts on a secret list with no legal recourse or appeal.
Some of the concerns are more social. I disagree that some equality issues can be solved from the top down. For example, I’d be really excited to see more women on the boards of directors of companies, but my experience of seeing this pressure on speaking panels means that when women do get the post in places where a fuss is made about this, they are disregarded as unqualified and simply there for the quota, no matter how they actually got there, and that some people see it as a big career downside to get a quota post, so the candidate quality suffers.
Some of the concerns are practical, like minimum wage. I’m not sure you can legislate a minimum wage without simply increasing the cost of living. I’m also not sure minimum wage laws are effective anymore when so many companies are successfully insisting that the people who make their services work are independent contractors, and that they are therefore not entitled to basic worker’s rights. Uber, Lyft, Instacart, are unicorns (read: Silicon Valley circle jerk targets) whose entire business relies on this. Doordash is close, with Postmates following them. Companies outside Silicon Valley are trying it for everything too though: cable installers, janitors, you name it. It gets a company out of payroll taxes, healthcare requirements, minimum wage laws, liability (read: insurance costs), incentives against using illegal immigrant labor, and more. I am a small business owner, and I have seen first-hand the financial pressures for restructuring your business this way and the number of resources which are popping up to help business owners do it. It gives me very little faith that this focus is going to get the kind of results we want, especially relative to how much effort it is going to take to get it done.
Another practical concern is college education. There are a great many people who have college degrees but there are not enough jobs for people with college degrees. Funding elaborate methods by which everybody can go to college does not fix the fact that there aren’t enough living-wage jobs for college graduates, and will likely make it worse. You’re also putting pressure on more people to get college degrees for jobs where they likely don’t need them, since the only jobs available right now are for people who don’t have college degrees. That seems like it would be OK if the tuition is free, but there are a lot of second-order effects which are important. This system means you’re making families support their children financially for an extra four years to get them through college, because they can’t work full-time to support themselves. That is a very big deal for poor families, especially when you consider how many low-income highschoolers are already pressured to drop from school to support their family. Making it so staying in school longer is all but required means you’re making it harder for the kids to climb out of poverty. You’re also shortening the span of time a young person can begin saving before they come to the age where they want to do things like buy a house and raise kids. I love education and consider myself privileged to be a life-long learner, but sending everybody to college, even if it was free for everybody including the government, does not solve the problems our country faces, and makes a great many of them worse. If there were good jobs for college-educated people on the other side, it would be a totally different story, but there aren’t. We need to acknowledge that, and until we fix it we need to stop acting like putting more people in college will cause good things to happen.
There are some authoritarian things I don’t have a strong opinion on either way. A single payer health plan is obviously the government taking control of a massive issue, though I’m not actually sure that it would make anything better or worse.
In double-checking some of this information though, I have found that some places have rated Stein as more libertarian as Johnson, which is very interesting and very confusing given that she’s advocating stuff like a single-payer health plan.
In the end though, I’m not sure that my preference for Johnson over Stein counts for much. Unless we can get Jill Stein to 5%, it is hard to call her a solid alternative to Johnson. I have many issues with the Libertarian party and do not feel that they represent my views, but they are the only non-authoritarian option I see as a serious contender and the most practical thing to get serious change on issues I care about. If Stein shows the potential to get the kinds of numbers Johnson is pulling, I’m open to hearing arguments to switch, but that doesn’t look good right now.