This morning on WBUR I heard an interview with Carla Howell, the Libertarian candidate for governor of Massachusetts. I have a lot of sympathy for libertarian positions and have seriously considered voting Libertarian, but Howell just put me right off that idea )this time) with two things:

  • She claimed that private schools operate at a cost per pupil half that for public schools. First, I have to wonder where that number came from. Second, besides the usual concerns about cherry-picking or how to account for parochial-school costs, Howell’s definition also explicitly included home schooling on the “private” side. That skews the figures pretty badly, because home-schooled students are often considered to incur zero facilities cost even though the public schools are legally required (in most states) to provide access to extra-curricular activities for home-schooled students and often offer access to their facilities to all town residents. If all of these factors were taken into account private schools might well still turn out to have lower per-student costs, but there’s no way in hell it’s 2:1 in any apples-to-apples comparison.
  • When asked about the housing market and affordable housing, Howells claimed that “government rules and regulations” (her second-favorite phrase, repeated almost as nauseatingly often as “government central planning”) were the main factor in high housing costs. That’s another claim I’d really like to see backed up. There’s this little thing called supply and demand at work too, but Howell doesn’t seem to’ve heard of it.

As I said, I’d consider voting Libertarian in general, but not for someone that dishonest and that dogmatic. Which brings me to Democratic candidate Shannon O’Brien. In the debates I’ve heard, she comes across as an uncommonly aggressive debater – cutting people off to state her opinions on opponents’ time, ignoring the moderators, and generally being rude. Republican Mitt Romney apparently referred to her behavior (rightly, IMO) as “unbecoming” and she unhesitatingly played the gender card – claiming that the word is sexist. Really, Shannon? On what planet? Back here on Earth, the most common usage of the word is as part of the phrase “conduct unbecoming an officer” and has been almost exclusively applied to men. Check that with Google if you like. Trying to play this up as a gender issue is a transparently nasty ploy.

I really hope I can find something to like about Green candidate Jill Stein or independent Barbara Johnson soon, because otherwise I just might have to vote Republican and I’d rather not do that.