Butler Shaffer

Butler Shaffer, R.I.P.

Butler Shaffer, R.I.P. – By 

“We mourn the passing of our good friend Butler Shaffer, who died yesterday afternoon at the age of 84. Butler was a libertarian at a time when there were very few libertarians in the world. Like many supporters of the free market, he was first attracted to the Republican Party. He supported Barry Goldwater for President in 1964, but he soon came to realize that limited government was a chimera and that the State was by nature opposed to liberty.

Butler Shaffer

Butler Shaffer, R.I.P.

As he put the issue in a letter to me in November 2014: “It was just a few months more than 50 years ago that I sat in the Cow Palace in San Francisco as part of my state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention (i.e., the Goldwater Convention). . . Afterwards, I was enjoying a drink at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel with one of Goldwater’s advisors. I asked: “Now that Goldwater has the nomination, let us suppose that he gets elected president. What do you think he would do to begin cutting back on federal government power?” “What do you mean?” my acquaintance answered. I reminded him of Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of a Conservative,” wherein he proposed eliminating a few government programs (federal involvement in education being one area). The other man answered: “don’t be absurd: if Goldwater gets elected president, the most we would hope to accomplish would be to slow down the rate of growth of government.”

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