The Libertarian

Michael Skram

Photo By Tom Angel

If you’ve lived in Chico for any length of time, you’ll most likely recognize Michael Skram. The soft-spoken Skram has lived here 30 years and worked as a clerk in stores such as Target, The Underground and his current position at Tower Records. A California native who served three years in the Air Force in Texas, where he also worked for the post office, Skram attended college in Napa and Chico. As one of the few registered Libertarians in the area, he was once seriously involved in local and national politics. But disillusionment and the recent loss of his longtime partner Jessica Strock (see “Ironing-board activist silenced,” Newslines, Feb. 5) have tempered his enthusiasm.

Where were you born?

Sacramento. It’s kind of ironic. I used to go to the Tower Theater at 15th and Broadway to the kiddie matinees and used to go into the pharmacy where Russ Solomon’s dad was the pharmacist and ran the business and allowed Russ to have kind of a little record rack that eventually grew into what it’s become, and after all these many years have gone by, I’m now employed by Tower Records here in Chico.

How long have you been a Libertarian?

Pretty much from day one when I met Jessie [Strock]. She was aware of the party and Ed Clark, who was the candidate for president that year, 1980. The party was founded in 1971. She was not actively involved; we just knew there was a party you could register in.

What is the philosophy of the Libertarian party?

It’s basically not that far from the principles we heard about that drove the founding fathers—self-determination; along with that, however, self-responsibility. We don’t believe the government should be involved in your life either to tell you how to live it or on the other hand to help you live your life better.

I’ve heard it put: Do you want stop signs or not?

An interesting thing happened once when we were down at the corner of Second and Broadway circulating referendum petitions. There was a power outage, and the lights stopped working. What we observed was spontaneous order, which was kind of a principle that we believed in, in the abstract, but it’s difficult to ever illustrate to people how that manifests in the real world. People actually remembered the things you bone up on when you take your DMV test and knew which direction should yield and everything all of a sudden was fine. People were flowing through in a pretty orderly fashion. We took that as a moment of inspiration. We think people understand how they should be with one another before government codifies these things.