BLOGS - The Advocates for Self-Government

Home » BLOGS

The Federal Government is Subsidizing Wealthy Families Who Live in Public Housing

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spends $104.4 million annually to subsidize wealthy families who live in public housing, according to Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY.

Over the past several weeks, Paul’s office has published unusual examples of misguided spending by federal agencies. The Kentucky Republican calls it The Waste Report. The latest edition focuses on a recent report from the HUD inspector general that uncovered more than 25,000 families make too much money to live in public housing. Rep. David Roe, R-TN, requested the report.

government housing“Public housing authorities provided public housing assistance to as many as 25,226 families whose income exceeded HUD’s 2014 eligibility income limits. Of these 25,226 families, 17,761 had earned more than the qualifying amount for more than 1 year,” David Kasperowicz, HUD’s regional inspector general in Philadelphia, wrote in his findings. “HUD regulations require families to meet eligibility income limits only when they are admitted to the public housing program. The regulations do not limit the length of time that families may reside in public housing.”

“The 15 housing authorities that we contacted choose to allow overincome families to reside in public housing. HUD did not encourage them to require overincome families to find housing in the unassisted market. As a result, HUD did not assist as many low-income families in need of housing as it could have,” he added.

Kasperowicz, in his report, offered examples of wealthy families who live in public housing. A four-person New York City family lived in public housing since 1988. Although the family may have qualified when it first entered the system, they’ve “been overincome since at least 2009.” In 2013, the family’s income came in just under $498,000. The head of the household also had rental properties that produced more than $790,000.

An individual living in public housing in Nebraska since 2005 had been overincome for several years. “As of April 2014, the single-member household’s annual income was $65,007, while the low-income threshold was $33,500,” Kasperowicz noted. “Also, this tenant had total assets valued at nearly $1.6 million, which included stock valued at $623,685, real estate valued at $470,600, a checking account with a balance of $334,637, and an individual retirement account with a balance of $123,445. As of April 2014, the tenant paid a flat rent of $300 monthly for the public housing unit.”

Apparently, HUD objected to the audit, according to the report, “on the grounds that the governing statute and regulations require that public housing authorities not deter overincome families from residing in public housing.” Common sense, it seems, is lacking at HUD.

Let’s put this one in the “Only Government Can Be This Absurdly Wasteful” file.

#TRUMPED

in Elections and Politics, From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

He leads the polls among Republicans seeking the 2016 Presidential nomination.

He insulted a previous Republican nominee for that office and refused to apologize.

He even gave out another candidate’s personal cell phone number at a rally in that candidate’s home state.

To whom am I referring?

Donald TrumpDonald Trump. A businessman, a real estate mogul, a television personality, and, right now, the man who is DOMINATING the political news with his “boisterous personality.”

He made inflammatory statements about our southern neighbors and Mexican immigrants. He flaunted his immense wealth in a complaint about financial reporting. One national news outlet publicly relegated their coverage of him to the Entertainment section, rather than Politics.

His campaign style can only be described as a brash, insulting spectacle.

Trump is also a political enigma that stymies the traditional candidates, as they ponder whether to rush to be more like him to get their faces on television or to distance themselves from him.

Regardless of these things and his political positions (or lack thereof), Trump captivates the American public today.

He does that on style alone.

In an era where word choice, tone, and even tie color are polled and run by focus groups, he is the opposite. He is a candidate that seems to have no filter.

Americans are DESPERATE for something different from the traditionally bland selection of Governors, Senators, and Congressmen that seek the Presidency. Take a look at the campaigns of Herman Cain (2012), Dr. Ben Carson (2016), and Carly Fiorina (2016), none of whom brought with them any prior political experience in elected office.

Today, voters get that with Donald Trump. They also get flamboyance, cash, and a penchant for saying things that others would never dare say. Couple that with the desperation for something DIFFERENT, and he easily pushed to the front of a crowded field of Republicans.

Does he talk about meaningful issues? Or are people just enamored by his celebrity, his insults, and his ability to grab their attention?

Is he really a part of the debate? Or is the spectacle just something to watch?

What happens when people take a closer look? I think we all remember the media scrutiny with the also-rans in 2012 after their moment in the sun.

Do the voters really want another wealthy elite, albeit from the beneficiary side of Big Government, in charge? Maybe a better question is, will Trump’s still undefined political positions resonate with voters once the shine of his splashy entrance dulls and fades?

Maybe one of these days, someone who isn’t part of “the club” will get a chance to talk about the real issues we face and how freedom, rather that Big Government, is the catalyst to our return to peace, prosperity, and the republic the Founders envisioned.

I look forward to that day.

Surprise! The IRS Audited Campaign Donors

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Taxes by Jackson Jones Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

By now, just about everyone knows the Internal Revenue Service targeted Tea Party and other right-leaning nonprofit groups because of their ideological beliefs. But the latest wrinkle in the story, one that hasn’t been widely reported, is the IRS audited donors to right-leaning nonprofits based on the reports they submitted.

IRSAccording to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, in 2010, then-Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, D-MT, urged the IRS to “survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations .” The IRS complied, in 2011.

“In 2010, after receiving Baucus’s letter, the IRS considered the issue of auditing donors to 501(c)(4) organizations, alleging that a 35 percent gift tax would be due on donations in excess of $13,000. The documents show that the IRS wanted to cross-check donor lists from 501(c)(4) organizations against gift tax filings and commence audits against taxpayers based on this information,” Judicial Watch explained. “A gift tax on contributions to 501(c)(4)’s was considered by most to be a dead letter since the IRS had never enforced the rule after the Supreme Court ruled that such taxes violated the First Amendment. The documents show that the IRS had not enforced the gift tax since 1982.”

“But then, in February 2011, at least five donors of an unnamed organization were audited,” Judicial Watch adds.

One of the groups specifically mentioned as targets by the IRS was Crossroads GPS, which was founded by Karl Rove. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was also mentioned as an organization that could be subject to scrutiny. Lois Lerner, the disgraced former IRS official who became the subject of congressional inquiries into the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups, approved of the gift tax auditing scheme.

“These documents that we had to force out of the IRS prove that the agency used donor lists to audit supporters of organizations engaged in First Amendment-protected lawful political speech,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in a press release. “And the snarky comments about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the obsession with Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS show that the IRS was targeting critics of the Obama administration.”

“President Obama may want to continue to lie about his IRS scandal,” he said. “These documents tell the truth – his IRS hated conservatives and was willing to illegally tax and audit citizens to shut down opposition to Barack Obama’s policies and reelection.”

The IRS is, perhaps, the most corrupt agency in the federal government – and that’s saying something. The Tea Party scandal and the documents uncovered by Judicial Watch only skim the surface of recent problems. If there’s one federal agency that deserves to be torn apart, brick-by-brick, it’s this one, folks.

What Do You Think About the War on Drugs?

in Conversations With My Boys, Drugs, Liberator Online by The Libertarian Homeschooler Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Me (The Libertarian Homeschooler): What do you think about the war on drugs?
War on Drugs Is a War on UsYS (Young Statesman, 14): I think it’s none of the state’s business what we can or cannot put into our bodies and what we can or cannot do with our money.
Me: But a lot of people die from drug overdoses. For whatever reason you aren’t likely to do that, but shouldn’t other people be protected from drugs and drug overdoses? Should they just be thrown to the wolves? Don’t we care about them?
YS: You’ve made a emotional argument.
Me: How do you combat that?
YS: You could say, “Are you saying it is the responsibility of the state to protect people from making bad choices?”
Me: Right. That’s the argument that the state should protect people from bad choices wrapped in a veiled personal attack: “You don’t care about other people. You’re a bad person.” But there’s another argument. Who determines what goes into your body? Who owns your body? That’s the most compelling argument.
YS: Do you own you or does the state own you?
Me: Yes. I think that’s the most important argument. Property rights. Who owns you? That can get lost. Why did it become difficult when it became about you caring about other people?
YS: Because it became an emotional argument.
Me: How did it feel when it became an emotional argument?
YS: Oh, God. Not this again.
Me: It’s a trap.
YS: It makes your brain stop working as well.
Me: What do you have to do when faced with a emotional argument?
YS: Think about the argument that’s being given to you. You have to make it about property rights again.
Me: Is that because most arguments boil down to property rights?
YS: If you’re arguing about feels, it’s because the other person is trying to shut the argument down. Most arguments are actually about property. You have to remove the emotion. You can’t follow that trail. That’s not the real argument.
Me: Is it possible that the other person doesn’t know the real argument? They don’t know what’s at stake?
YS: Yeah. They think it’s about protecting people from a small danger but there’s a bigger danger. You are trying to show them the rest of the picture. Yes, it’s important for people not to overdose but property rights are more important.
Me: The denial of property rights, in my opinion, is the greatest evil. When we deny people their property rights we have to tell lies and create systems to justify the denial. Those lies and those systems lead to violence and slaughter.

Chipotle Increases Prices in San Francisco to Match Increase in the City’s Minimum Wage

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

If you live or work in San Francisco, the delicious burritos you buy at your local Chipotle are going to be a little more expensive, and you can thank the city’s new minimum wage law, which took effect on May 1.

American Enterprise Institute economist Mark Perry made note of a report from William Blair, an investment banking firm, which noticed the price increase and surmised its cause.

chipotle burrito“San Francisco…saw across-the-board price increases averaging over 10%, including 10% increases on chicken, carnitas (pork), sofritas (tofu), and vegetarian entrees along with a 14% increase on steak and barbacoa,” the report said. “We believe the outsized San Francisco price hike was likely because of increased minimum wages.”

In November, voters in San Francisco overwhelmingly passed a referendum mandating a gradual increase in the city’s minimum wage from $10.74 an hour to $11.05 in January and $12.25 in May. By 2018, San Francisco’s minimum wage will be set at $15.

Employers, particularly smaller ones, in San Francisco will undoubtedly face huge headaches as they try to find ways to pay for the new big government mandate. Some will be simple price increases, while others may not be so lucky.

“[T]he minimum wage is not really a political problem, it’s a math problem,” Perry explains. “And the 10-14% price increases at Chipotles in San Francisco are just the new math problem now facing the restaurant chain’s customers, who’ll now be paying about $1 extra for each burrito bowl.”

San Francisco is following in the footsteps of Seattle, which, in May 2014, enacted a similar gradual minimum wage increase. On April 1, employers in Seattle had to pay $11 an hour. Additional increases will be phased in over time, though when will depend on the size of the employer.

Restaurants in Seattle are struggling to keep up with the wage increase. They’re reducing staff hours to cut payroll costs, opening later or closing earlier, and/or increasing menu prices to make up the forced added overhead cost. One pizzeria owner, however, was forced to close because of the additional costs the minimum wage increase brought her business.

“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” said Ritu Shah Burnham, owner of Z Pizza. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”

Burnham is concerned about job prospects for her employees. “I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs,” she said, “because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board.”

When he was less interested in scoring political points and more interested in the effects of economic policy, Paul Krugman, in 1998, chided two advocates of a higher minimum wage – – economists David Card and Alan Krueger, the latter of whom would go onto served as President Barack Obama’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

“Clearly these advocates very much want to believe that the price of labor–unlike that of gasoline, or Manhattan apartments–can be set based on considerations of justice, not supply and demand, without unpleasant side effects,” Krugman wrote. “This will to believe is obvious in this book: The authors not only take the Card-Krueger results as gospel, but advance a number of other arguments that just do not hold up under examination.”

“For example, the authors argue at length that because only a fraction of the work force in the firms affected by living wage proposals will be affected, total costs will be increased by only 1 or 2 percent–and that as a result, not only will there be no significant reduction in employment, but the extra cost will be absorbed out of profits rather than passed on in higher prices,” he continued. “This latter claim is wishful thinking of the first order: Since when do we think that cost increases are not passed on to customers if they are small enough?”

Krugman seemingly laughed off the assertion that workers wouldn’t suffer, calling it “a non sequitur at best.” They will, according to more recent analysis of the effects of a minimum wage increases.

“Imagine that a new local law required supermarkets to sell milk at, say, 25 cents a gallon,” Krugman added. “The loss in revenue would be only a small fraction of each supermarket’s total sales – but do you really think that milk would be just as available as before?”

The full economic consequences of San Francisco’s minimum wage increase may not be fully understood for some time, and Chipotle’s price increase may be a blip on the radar. But when all is said in done, workers in the city may have a tough time finding employment because of a new hurdle in their way, and consumers will be shelling out a lot of money than they would otherwise be spending for more than just burritos.

No, Immigrants Don’t Make the U.S. Less Safe

in Immigration, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Immigration has been catapulted back into the national political discussion in recent weeks, thanks to the comments of a bloviating celebrity businessman who is desperately seeking relevance.

immigrant family

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said last month. “And some, I assume, are good people.”

While some justifiably cringed at the notion, immigration restrictionists have praised the comments, especially after the tragic death of Kate Steinle, who was murdered by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a rabidly anti-immigration group, declared, in the wake of Steinle’s murder, that the celebrity’s “widely mocked warnings of this very danger have been vindicated.”

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, who, in 2010 signed the toughest anti-immigration law in country, said the celebrity “is kind of telling it like it really, truly is.”

“I think that the people of Arizona realize that we picked up the tab for the majority of the violence that comes across our border in regards to the drug cartels, the smugglers, the drug houses,” Brewer said. “It has been horrendous.”

But is it true that immigrants bring crime to the United States? The answer may surprise you. Writing at Reason in July 2009, Radley Balko noted that despite its close proximity to Ciudad Juarez, which has been ravaged by Mexican drug cartels, El Paso, Texas “is among of the safest big cities in America.”

“There were just 18 murders in El Paso [in 2008], in a city of 736,000 people. To compare, Baltimore, with 637,000 residents, had 234 killings,” Balko explained. “In fact, since the beginning of 2008, there were nearly as many El Pasoans murdered while visiting Juarez (20) than there were murdered in their home town (23).”

“Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years repeatedly and consistently have found that, in fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or to be behind bars than are the native-born. This is true for the nation as a whole, as well as for cities with large immigrant populations such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami, and cities along the U.S.-Mexico border such as San Diego and El Paso,” he added.

On Tuesday, Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy expert at the Cato Institute, further countered the argument that more immigrants mean more crime in the United States.

“Both the Census-data driven studies and macro-level studies find that immigrants are less crime-prone than natives with some small potential exceptions. There are numerous reasons why immigrant criminality is lower than native criminality,” Nowrasteh wrote. “One explanation is that immigrants who commit crimes can be deported and thus are punished more for criminal behavior, making them less likely to break the law.”

“Another explanation is that immigrants self-select for those willing to work rather than those willing to commit crimes,” he added. “According to this “healthy immigrant thesis,” motivated and ambitious foreigners are more likely to immigrate and those folks are less likely to be criminals.”

None of this touches on the economic benefits of immigration or the dishonorable intentions of anti-immigration groups that drive the fear mongering. Those are topics, perhaps, for another day. But the fears about crime committed by immigrants are completely and utterly unfounded.

Outsourcing is TERRIBLE!

in Communicating Liberty, From Me To You, Liberator Online, Walk the Walk by Brett Bittner Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Jobs shipped overseas!

Sweatshops exploiting the poor!

Workers laid off!

Camden NJ

We’ve all seen a politician or two try to score political points by talking about outsourcing and how outsourcing destroys the fabric of America… Or it takes jobs from Americans… Or it is bad for the economy…

What if I told you that none of those politicians sees that they serve as the mechanism by which EVERY American outsources the worst thing we possibly could.

We outsource responsibility.

Within (and hopefully outside) the libertarian movement, we discuss individual liberty and all that flourishes with that liberty, while recognizing that the price of individual liberty is responsibility, both personal and social.

Today, Americans outsource responsibility to government.

Rather than seeking knowledge about what is in the food we eat and how safe it is, we outsource that responsibility to the FDA and USDA. They do such a great job of preventing outbreaks of foodborne illness and ensuring that we have nutritious meals every time we eat, don’t they?

Rather than caring for others through mutual aid societies and private charity, we outsource that responsibility to the alphabet soup that is SNAP, AFDC, and TANF. Those programs keep people from going hungry and from living on the street so well, don’t they?

Rather than choosing the type and quality of education our children receive, we outsource that responsibility to a school system that chooses for our children the type and quality based on our ZIP code. Government schools continue to provide the highest-quality, individualized education that each of our children will need to succeed in the world they will face as adults, don’t they?

What if we chose to take back the responsibility of all that we’ve outsourced to government and focus on how we can flourish with the liberty that comes along with it?

Will you be more responsible with me and end this outsourcing?

When Should ID Be Required?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

QUESTION: What is your position on requiring ID to buy firearms? What about voting?

MY SHORT ANSWER:

IDMost libertarians don’t believe that ID should be required for purchase of firearms. Recording a person’s ID or making them register a handgun allows the government to easily confiscate weapons if it wants to disarm part of the population.

Some libertarians believe that a background check, which would require ID, is a reasonable way to keep violent criminals from easy access to firearms. However, people who are willing to murder and assault others typically steal the guns used during a burglary or purchase them on the black market, so that the gun cannot be connected to them. Thus, laws that require those purchasing a gun to show an ID probably do not deter much gun-related crime.

With regard to the second half of your question, there are some libertarians do not believe in the validity and structure of government as we have it today. Consequently, they believe that voting isn’t appropriate and may constitute force. For these libertarians, your question would likely be met with “Why does it matter?”

However, as long as we have voting—and some libertarians believe that we always will—it would seem reasonable to make sure that only those “qualified” to do so are marking ballots. Showing ID helps, but it isn’t foolproof, as ID can be counterfeited.

What’s Your Number?

in Communicating Liberty, From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

3500

That’s my number.

I’ve administered The World’s Smallest Political Quiz 3500 times. This week, I crossed that threshold with a research project I’m in the midst of.

Quiz TIP CardThat figure doesn’t count the number of times I’ve left our “TIP Card” along with my business card to a server at lunch or dinner.My number above just counts the interactions I’ve had with people at county fairs, gun shows, on campus, for research, and as part of conversations with friends, new and old. That is a lot of conversations about liberty and libertarianism.Before I joined the Advocates, I was already passionate about liberty and the libertarian movement. Now, I get to turn up the gas on that flame for liberty.

So, back to my original question, how many times have you given The World’s Smallest Political Quiz? What were the outcomes of the conversations that the Quiz broke the ice for? Did you find an existing libertarian? Did you discover a NEW libertarian?

I want to hear from you about your successes. I also want to hear from you about your challenges.

Have you found that your outreach was more successful the more outgoing and gregarious the Quiz-giver shows themselves to be? I know that I have.

Recently, I visited an outreach booth of a local libertarian organization that I knew would be administering the Quiz, and I gave them some tips that tripled the number of people who took the Quiz over the prior year. They also saw a tremendous amount of activity under the tent, as passersby took an interest in libertarian philosophy.

What did we do to make such a big difference?

We re-arranged the “standard” booth layout, by putting the table at the BACK of the booth. This put all of the volunteers IN FRONT of the table, removing the barrier between those volunteers and the festival goers. Moving the table to the back of the booth also made it almost impossible to sit down, so the volunteers were on their feet with a lot more energy, and that energy spilled over into their conversations.

What better way to start a conversation about liberty than filled with energy?

What about you?

What tips do you have for tabling or outreach that you’d like to share? I may feature them here in a future issue or on social media as a tip for our supporters who are passionate to dispel the Left-Right political myth.

Who’s ready to get an Operation Politically Homeless kit to begin a conversation about our burning passion for a more libertarian society and way of life?

If you already have one, try something new with how you present your tabling/outreach effort and share your successes.

I love it when liberty wins the day, so let’s share what we’re doing to talk about libertarianism in a positive and effective way.

South Carolina Senate Votes to Remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the State House

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Passions may run high on both sides of the debate over the Confederate battle flag, but the South Carolina Senate voted overwhelmingly on Monday to remove a symbol of Southern rebellion that has flown over the state Capitol since 1961.

SC Capitol FlagsAlthough the flag was placed to mark the centennial anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, it remained in place through much of the civil rights era – a tumultuous period in American history when Southern states resisted federal legislation aimed at protecting minorities. The Confederate battle flag, to many Americans, particularly those of color, is offensive and represents racism, even more so since last month’s tragedy in Charleston.

The debate over the flag in the South Carolina Senate was conciliatory. Most legislators wanted the issue behind them so they could begin to heal the wounds that have stemmed from the senseless, racially motivated murders in Charleston. Some, however, seemed clueless about the debate.

At the beginning of the debate, over the flag, state Sen. Lee Bright, a Republican who represents Greenville and Spartanburg counties, went into a peculiar, incoherent rant against same-sex marriage.

“It’s time to make our stand and we’re not doing it. We can rally together and talk about a flag all we want but the Devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him. It’s time to make our stand,” Bright said in a three-minute speech that has since gone viral. “Let South Carolina discuss it.”

Later in the debate while presenting an amendment to replace the battle flag with the first national flag of the Confederacy, Bright launched into another incoherent rant rife with revisionist history about the nature of the Civil War. It wasn’t about slavery, he declared, but “states’ rights.”

“[Confederate soldiers from South Carolina] were fighting for their state. They were fighting against an oppressive federal government that oppresses us today,” said Bright, who claims to have read Palmetto State’s declaration of secession. “If I believed that [slavery] is what people fought for, I’d be there with you climbing up to take that flag down. But that’s not what they fought for.”

If Bright truly read South Carolina’s declaration of secession, he would realize that the slavery, which is mentioned 18 times in the document, was at the core of its separation from the Union, specifically, the Northern states’ resistance to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required that any slave who escaped captivity be returned to their “owner.”

“For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution,” South Carolina’s declaration of secession reads before specifically mentioning states that passed measures against the Fugitive Slave Act. “Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.”

The animosity toward Northern states and President Abraham Lincoln – against whom there are many valid criticisms, including his abuse of executive power and assault on civil liberties – continues in the document. It goes on to exalt the “right of property in slaves” and blast the denunciations of slavery as a “sinful” institution.

“A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery,” the secession document further states. “He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that ‘Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,’ and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.”

One South Carolina native who used to espouse rhetoric about “states’ rights” being the primary motivation behind Civil War has changed his tone. Once known as the “Southern Avenger,” Jack Hunter, who worked for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., until his past defenses of the Confederacy became news, recently explained his shift.

“I’ve heard countless arguments for many years about why the Confederate flag doesn’t stand for slavery or racism. Some arguments are valid,” Hunter wrote. “But whatever your favorite talking point for defending the Confederate flag, it does not change the fact that millions see it as a symbol of racial terrorism. It does not change the fact that black Americans have many good reasons for seeing it as such.”

The debate over the Confederate battle flag now heads to the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Obama Administration Spends $500 million to Train Only 60 Syrian Rebels

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

As the Obama administration tried to convince Congress to support intervention against the dictatorial regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the summer of 2013, officials insisted that only a quarter of Syrian rebels had ties to Islamic extremist groups. That turned out to be inaccurate. An estimate produced by IHS Jane’s found that nearly half were Islamic extremists.

Fast-forward to June 2014, when the administration asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip to several thousand so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels to, now, fight the Islamic State, which operates in Syria, as well as Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. Congress approved the funding request in December.

CNN reports, however, that the only 60 rebels have been vetted to participate in the program. Recruits cannot have any ties to terrorist organizations. “We make sure that they, for example, aren’t going to pose a green-on-blue threat to their trainers; that they don’t have any history of atrocities,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee of the vetting process on Tuesday.

“I expect that number to improve,” he said, “but you deserve to know the truth.

The plan was to train some 15,000-rebel fighters over three years. Although 7,000 potential recruits are currently being vetted, Carter’s testimony didn’t sit well with members of the committee, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a prominent foreign policy hawk who has criticized the administration for its handling of the Islamic State, as well as not ousting Assad in 2013.

“I’ve got to tell you after four years [since the Syrian Civil War began], Mr. Secretary, that’s not a very impressive number,” McCain told Carter. McCain suggested that U.S.-trained fighters be allowed to target Assad’s forces, whom they aren’t trained to engage.

The numbers may be low because many would-be fighters are more interested in toppling Assad and taking control of Syria than fighting the Islamic State, which is just one extremist group fighting the regime. Others include al-Qaeda and Hamas. Hezbollah and Iran are supporting Assad.

The foreign policy venture in Syria is already proving to be a failure, and yet, it’s amazing that some, like McCain, want to United States to get further involved by allowing fighters to go after Assad’s forces in addition to fighting the Islamic State. It may not be as sordid of an affair as Iraq, but it could be.

If there’s anything our history of intervention has taught us is that we’re not very good at it. Perhaps we would be better served if, for once, we stayed out of the fight.

Who Owns You?

in Communicating Liberty, Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by The Libertarian Homeschooler Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Me: Who owns you?
Baby Anarchist (10): Me. I own me.
Me: Can someone else sell you?Who Owns You?
BA: No.
Me: Why not?
BA: A living person is his own property.
Me: Can someone else rightfully take away your life if you are being peaceful?
BA: There’s no rightful way to encroach on a peaceful person.
Me: Can someone else rightfully stop you from peacefully owning your rightfully acquired property?
BA: No. No one can stop you from keeping the thing you have peacefully gotten. If you’ve earned it, traded for it, been given it as a gift, it’s yours.
Me: Can someone else rightfully stop you from making a peaceful contract with another person?
BA: Nope. You’re peacefully doing it. It’s not hurting anyone. There’s no reason they should stop you.
Me: So no one is allowed to take away your right to make contracts?
BA: No one is allowed to take away your right to make contracts. You own you. No one can take away your right to enter into contracts.
Me: Did you know that years ago it was illegal for black persons to enter into marriage contracts with white persons?
BA: During slavery?
Me: After slavery. When they acknowledged that people were not the property of other people.
BA: That doesn’t make sense. If you are your own property then you can enter into contracts.
Me: If someone else can stop you from entering into a contract what does that make you?
YS (14): A slave.
Me: Is yesterday’s decision (2015 Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality) about love, son?
YS: it’s about self ownership.
Me: Why did it have to be couched as a decision about love?
YS: Because people won’t respond to self ownership.
Me: Why don’t they want to hear that they don’t have self ownership?
YS: It’s complicated and bad.
Me: Love is nicer but the reality is people who own themselves are not denied the right to enter into peaceful contracts that don’t encroach on others.

Celebrate Your Independence!

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

239 years ago today, 56 men came together to vote against a continued colonial existence under the rule of Great Britain and King George III.

Declaration of IndependenceAs we approach Independence Day, I ask you, “Would you be so brave to do the same today?” Would you say this to the people who subject you to tyranny?

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Those words birthed a nation, and their power holds today. Will we harness them to take back our liberty?

The Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Decision was Completely Avoidable

in Liberator Online, Marriage and Family, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

On Friday, the Supreme Court issued an opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license marriages between two people of the same sex.

wedding couplesMost expected at least a narrow ruling in favor of same-sex couples that would require states with prohibit same-sex marriage to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states. If a same-sex couple had gotten married in Massachusetts, for example, Georgia, which had one of the strongest bans on same-sex marriage by even refusing to recognize civil unions, would have been required to recognize the license, though still allowed to deny in-state licenses for same-sex marriages.

The logic behind this is because during oral arguments back in April, Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed concerns about extending marriage rights to same-sex couples because the definition of marriage – between one man and one woman – “has been with us for millennia.”

Still, Kennedy, who authored the majority opinions in Windsor (2013) and Lawrence (2003), has been seen as one of the Court’s biggest proponents of “gay rights.” So his opinion isn’t exactly a surprise, per se, though his dissent in Hollingsworth (2013) was a defense of voter-driven ballot initiatives, specifically California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8. The majority on the Court held that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to defend the initiative in the absence of the State of California, which refused to do so.

“In the end, what the Court fails to grasp or accept is the basic premise of the initiative process. And it is this. The essence of democracy is that the right to make law rests in the people and flows to the government, not the other way around,” Kennedy wrote in his dissent, which was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor. “Freedom resides first in the people without need of a grant from government.”

Nevertheless, Kennedy, whose opinion in Windsor laid the groundwork for Obergefell, made the connection that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license same-sex marriages, despite states having voter-approved constitutional amendments or ballot measures prohibiting the practice.

“It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality. Here the marriage laws enforced by the respondents are in essence unequal: same-sex couples are denied all the benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples and are barred from exercising a fundamental right,” Kennedy wrote in Obergefell. “The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry.”

Commentators, while philosophically correct, have criticized Kennedy’s opinion. Writing at The New Republic, Brian Beutler, a leftist journalist, called the opinion “a logical disaster.” Similarly, Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University who contributes to the libertarian-leaning Volokh Conspiracy, called the outcome “a great result, but based on dubious reasoning.”

“Ultimately, Kennedy does not clearly conclude that either the Due Process Clause or the Equal Protection Clause by itself creates a right to same-sex marriage,” Somin explained. “Rather, his claim is that the combination of the two somehow generates that result, even if neither can do so alone.”

“If a sufficiently important right (Due Process Clause) is denied for discriminatory reasons (Equal Protection), then the Fourteenth Amendment has been violated. However, both the criteria for what makes the right important enough, and the criteria for proving discrimination seem extremely vague. Thus, it is difficult to tell what – if, indeed, any – implications this ruling will have for future cases,” he added.

Somin, by the way, co-authored a brief to the Supreme Court urging justices to strike down state same-sex marriage bans.

The reaction to the ruling, as some might expect, has been predictable. Opponents of same-sex marriage (now accurately called “marriage,” without the qualifier) are calling for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman. Others, including many conservatives and libertarians, have wondered aloud about any government involvement in marriage.

“For thousands of years, marriage flourished without a universal definition and without government intervention. Then came licensing of marriage,” wrote Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.) in a Facebook post on Friday. “In recent decades, we’ve seen state legislatures and ballot initiatives define marriage, putting government improperly at the helm of this sacred institution.”

“Those who care about liberty should not be satisfied with the current situation. Government intervention in marriage presents new threats to religious freedom and provides no advantages, for gay or straight couples, over unlicensed (i.e., traditional) marriage,” he continued, adding “we shouldn’t blame the Supreme Court for where things stand.”

Amash’s words are sobering, and perhaps he’s correct. Maybe government shouldn’t be involved in the marriage business. If only Republicans had realized that in 2004 rather than further meddling in people’s personal lives for political gain.

I’m Retiring!

in Liberator Online, News From the Advocates for Self-Government by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

For the Advocates, some big changes and celebrations are coming up.

* It’s the 30th Anniversary for the Advocates.

* It’s my 20th Anniversary as Advocates president.

* And… I will be retiring as Advocates president at the end of the month.

Please note, I am not retiring as an active libertarian. I’m stepping down from the varied and time-consuming job of Advocates president and will be focusing my efforts on the activities I love most: writing and speaking about libertarianism and — my favorite topic — the most effective ways to communicate the ideas of liberty. I will also continue doing communication workshops on this topic — some of them in conjunction with the Advocates.

Being president of the Advocates for Self-Government has been the most wonderful and fulfilling job I could have ever imagined for myself!

It has been an incredible honor for me to follow in the footsteps of the previous two Advocates presidents: Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz and Carole Ann Rand.

Sharon Harris & Dagny SmithThey created a fantastic organization that has deeply affected the lives of millions of individuals. The Advocates has enormously increased the size and effectiveness of the libertarian movement, and has introduced tens of millions of people to libertarianism, first and foremost through the amazing World’s Smallest Political Quiz — the most popular outreach tool in the libertarian movement.

Of course there is much more to the Advocates than the Quiz. The original mission of the Advocates was to empower libertarians to become excellent and successful communicators of the ideas of liberty. This is a unique and vital contribution the Advocates has made to the movement in our 30 years.

As Advocates president, I’ve learned about libertarian communication from the best: Marshall, Carole Ann, Michael Cloud, Mary Ruwart, David Bergland, Harry Browne, and many more too numerous to name. We’ve helped tens of thousands of libertarians become far more persuasive and effective in their outreach. And that has enabled libertarians to successfully win others to our side, helping build a strong and growing movement for liberty.

It has been a joy teaching numerous libertarian communication classes and seminars for libertarian groups in almost every state in America. Last year alone I had the pleasure of speaking on successful communication to over 1,000 libertarians.

I look forward to continuing this — so please contact me when you want a libertarian communication workshop in your area!

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the finest libertarians in the world — world-famous celebrities and people you may not have heard of who are making our world a freer and better place. What a privilege it has been! (I wouldn’t dream of trying to name them all — we’d fill this entire issue up, and still leave deserving people out. Thanks, everyone!)

Similarly, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with many of the very finest libertarian organizations. I must especially thank the Libertarian Party for the greatest honors of my professional career. The LP has honored me with two of its highest awards. In 2012, I received the Thomas Jefferson Award, “presented to the Libertarian Party member whose achievements merit our recognition of outstanding leadership, high character, and dedication to the principles and goals of the Party.” In 2014, I received the LP’s Thomas Paine Award for “outstanding communication of libertarian ideas, principles, and values.”

But most of all I’d like to thank YOU, my friends who read the Liberator Online, use Advocates tools and services, and support the Advocates’ work. You are the true heroes of the Advocates. You are building a successful movement for liberty that is changing our world.

I will miss connecting with you through the Advocates. I hope you will follow my new work and stay in touch with me. You can do this by “liking” me onFacebook — or emailing me. (Please do this right now, while it’s on your mind.)

I’d like to congratulate Brett Bittner, the Advocates’ new executive director! Brett has an outstanding record as a libertarian activist. He is a former executive director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia and a former Chairman of the Libertarian State Leadership Alliance. He has been working with the Advocates for the past year and will be taking the helm of the organization on May 1. You’ll be hearing more from Brett soon.

Finally, please read my President’s Column in the next issue. I’ll let you know more details about what’s ahead — including a special celebration of the Advocates’ and my anniversaries to take place in Atlanta on June 27. Hold that date on your calendar, and I hope to see you there!

New Poll: Millions of Voters Say They’re Libertarian

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new poll from YouGov brings exciting and unprecedented news for libertarians. Millenial Poll - Libertarian

Asked “Would you describe yourself as a libertarian or not?” fully one in five of likely millennial (ages 18-29) voters said yes — thus self-describing themselves as libertarians.

YouGov found that young Americans are more likely than any other age group to accept the label libertarian — great news for a growing political movement. And there is room for this figure to grow significantly as libertarian ideas spread, because, in addition to the 20% who self-identify as libertarians, another 42% said they were “not sure.” Only 39% rejected the label.

Among older voters, 17% of 30- to 44-year-olds, 15% of 45- to 64-year-olds and 9% of those 65 and older say that the word “libertarian” described their views.

More great news: a majority Americans are, broadly, embracing libertarian ideas of limiting government. Fully 51% say they want to shrink the size of government. A whopping 30% of Americans even agree with the radical libertarian statement that “Taxation is theft.” (It probably didn’t hurt that the poll was conducted April 8-9 — a week before Tax Day.)

But what is most remarkable about the YouGov poll is that it has found so many millions of voters who accept the libertarian “brand” as a label for their political views — something inconceivable just a few years ago.

Nor are these self-described libertarians tied to either of the two older political parties. The libertarian vote is up for grabs to the candidate or party that appeals most to it. Writes YouGov: “There is little difference between partisans when it comes to identifying as libertarians. Republicans (13%) are essentially no more likely than Democrats (12%) to identify as libertarian, while 19% of Independents describe themselves as libertarian.”

Notes Reason.com’s Nick Gillespie: “Let’s be clear about a couple of things: First, the fact that YouGov and other groups are hunting down the number of libertarians afoot — Pew even went ‘In Search of Libertarians’ just last year — is itself a sign that something new and different is happening. When you start touting up the way many things are breaking in a libertarian direction — the energy surrounding Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, majority acceptance of pot legalization and gay marriage, serious efforts at criminal justice reform, plummeting numbers for faith in government, the rise of school choice, embrace of a sharing economy that routes around old-style regulation, general acceptance of free trade and free speech as positive values, and much more — it’s fair to call attention to what we’ve dubbed here as ‘The Libertarian Moment.’”

For more excellent commentary on the YouGov poll see “Millennials Are More Likely to Identify as Libertarians” by Robby Soave, Reason.com.

A “Devil’s Dictionary” of Washingtonese

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

WashingtoneseLibertarian journalist James Bovard — author of a dozen outstanding and eye-opening books including Lost RightsThe Bush Betrayal, and most recently Attention Deficit Democracy — has done Americans yet another service.

In an editorial for USA Today Bovard put together a short dictionary of “Washingtonese” — the slippery lingo that politicians, bureaucrats and other such nefarious critters use to hide what they really mean.

Or, as Bovard puts it, the government’s “nebulous nomenclature [that] deters citizens from recognizing exactly how well their elected leaders serve them.”

Here’s a sampling:

  • Historic — different than last week
  • Unprecedented — different than last month
  • Emergency — the gift that keeps giving
  • Truth — whatever people will swallow
  • Legacy — any political boast that survives more than three 24-hour news cycles
  • Handout — a government benefit received primarily by the supporters of the other party
  • Mandate — whatever a winning politician can get away with
  • Honorable — any public figure who has not yet been indicted
  • Bill of Rights — (archaic) political invocation popular in 1790s
  • Fair play — any process in which politicians or bureaucrats pick winners and losers
  • Rule of Law — the latest edicts from a deputy assistant Labor Secretary or deputy assistant HUD Secretary
  • Patriotic — any appeal that keeps people paying and obeying
  • Waste — federal spending that fails to generate laudatory headlines, votes or campaign contributions
  • Freedom — whatever rulers have not yet benevolently prohibited
  • Election — when voters are permitted to freely consent to one of the two aspiring despots offered by the major parties
  • Cynic — anyone who expresses doubt about the latest bipartisan agreement to gradually eliminate the federal budget deficit over the next 117 years
  • Anarchist — anyone who advocates across-the-board spending cuts of more than 3.63%
  • Scurrilous — anyone who mentions previous federal failures when the president proposes glorious new programs

For much more Bovardian wit and wisdom, see his USA Today article.

No One “Pays” Taxes

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“You don’t ”pay’ taxes. The government TAKES them.” — comedian Chris Rock.Chris Rock

Not only is this quote funny (especially when you hear Chris Rock say it), it makes a profound point — one well worth remembering when talking about taxes and politics.

The word “pay,” in connection with taxes, is just government propaganda. Using it — saying we “pay taxes” or “paid our taxes” — hides and distorts the true nature of taxation. And that’s something libertarians shouldn’t do.

Here’s what I mean.

In common usage, the word “pay” strongly implies some kind of consensual agreement. If you’re selling apples and I want one, I pay you for it. If I don’t want the apple, I don’t have to pay. If someone else has a better deal on apples, I’m free to trade with him instead. Or I can skip apples altogether.

Similarly, if I borrow money from a loan company, I agree to pay it back with interest. If a competing company offers lower interest rates, I’m free to trade with them instead. I also of course have the option of not borrowing money at all.

Those are payments, voluntarily agreed to.

However, the word “pay” is inappropriate for a coerced exchange — like taxation.

As the great Lysander Spooner famously pointed out, if a criminal points a gun at you and demands all the money in your pocket, you aren’t “paying” the robber when you hand over your money. You didn’t “pay” — you were robbed!

If burglars enter your home at night and steal your valuables, you didn’t “pay” the burglar. He TOOK your money! You were robbed.

Libertarians view taxes as a form of coercion, no different in essence from robbery or theft. (By the way, a startlingly large number of Americans now agree with us on this. See the story “New Poll: Millions of Voters Say They’re Libertarian” above.)

So we should never use language like “pay taxes” or “paid taxes.” Saying so legitimizes taxation. It implies that taxation is just another form of legitimate exchange, like paying for goods and services you voluntarily purchased.

PickpocketInstead, when someone else uses that term, we should, if appropriate, gently disagree. And respond with something like: “Actually, I didn’t ‘pay’ taxes. No one PAYS taxes. The government just seizes money from you. There’s a big difference. Payments are voluntary. Taxes are coercive. Like… theft.”

Your wording, of course, will depend on who you’re speaking with and where. But one thing’s certain — you’ll have trouble improving on Chris Rock’s monologue:

“The messed-up thing about taxes is you don’t ‘pay’ taxes. The government TAKES them. You get your check and money is GONE! It was not an option! That ain’t a payment — that’s a JACK! I been TAX JACKED!”

Classic “Bad Attitude” Anti-Tax Verse — and Hope for Ending the Income Tax

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

April 15, Tax Day, is nearly here.

It’s a grim subject — so how about some comic relief? And some inspiration, some hope, for change?

First, the comic relief.

I’ve had a lot of fun over the years with the following two classic anti-tax poems. The authors are unknown, but some versions seem to date from at least the 1930s.

It’s a good reminder that a lot of Americans have always had a “bad attitude” about taxes. (Just ask King George!)

Income TaxI hope they’ll give you a good laugh — and I hope you’ll keep working with the Advocates and other libertarians to create a movement that will make income taxes as much a thing of the past as slavery, alcohol Prohibition, and the Divine Right of Kings!

Don’t forget: following the poems, some inspiration and hope for change.

* * *

The Tax Collector’s Creed

Now he’s a common, common man
So tax him, tax him, all you can.
Tax his house, Tax his bed;
Tax the bald spot on his head.
Tax his drink, Tax his meat,
Tax the shoes right off his feet.
Tax his cow, Tax his goat;
Tax his pants, Tax his coat;
Tax his crop, Tax his work;
Tax his ties, Tax his shirt;
Tax his chew, Tax his smoke,
Teach him taxing is no joke.
Tax his tractor, Tax his mule;
Tell him: “Taxing is the rule!”
Tax his oil, Tax his gas,
Tax his notes, Tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers, Tax him more;
Tax him till he’s good and sore.
Tax his coffin, Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he’s laid.
Put these words upon his tomb,
“Taxes drove him to his doom.”
Even when he’s gone, we won’t relax —
We’ll still collect inheritance tax.

* * *

The Taxpayer’s Lament

Sit down my friends and just relax,
It’s time to pay your income tax.
For whether we are great or small,
They tax us one, they tax us all.
They tax the hobo and the queen,
They tax the bull and tax his ring.
They tax the gas that runs your car
And even tax the big cigar.
They tax your whiskey and home brew,
They tax the Bible and your pew.
They tax the wristwatch on your arm
And tax the rat trap on your farm.
They tax the baby in his crib, and
Tax his shirt and tax his bib.
They tax the crib that he sleeps in,
And don’t consider that a sin.
Then they go from bad to worse
And tax the doctor and tax the nurse.
They tax the dentist and his drill
And he just adds it to your bill.
Whenever you leave this world behind
They will be there to steal you blind.
Before you reach the Golden Gate
They’ll slap a tax on your estate.
They tax the hearse on your last ride,
And shed some tears because you died.
The reason for their deep distress?
You left them with no address.

* * *

Love ‘em!

And now the inspiration. Last year I wrote an article entitled “Making the Case for Ending the Income Tax.”

It suggests 11 ways to persuade others that abolishing the hated income tax — and replacing it with nothing — is not only extremely desirable, it is realistic and politically possible.

Check it out and consider using some (or all) of them. Recently we’ve seen once-radical libertarian ideas — for example, re-legalization of marijuana, marriage choice, and a non-interventionist foreign policy — leap into the mainstream. Let’s put ending the income tax —  and replacing it with… nothing — on that list!

The Libertarian Vote: How Big Is It?

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Now that Rand Paul has officially announced he is seeking the presidency, attention is being focused on the libertarian voting bloc. Just how big is it? How many libertarian-minded voters are out there?

The answer may surprise you.

First, it’s important to note that “libertarian voter” doesn’t necessarily mean a voter who meets the stricter definition of a libertarian, i.e., someone who consistently opposes the initiation of force. Rather, it refers to someone who would be inclined to vote for a libertarian candidate in an election. Someone who is more supportive of libertarian ideas than liberal, conservative, statist or centrist ideas.

Different organizations have used different methods to determine the size of this libertarian bloc. And they’ve come up with some pretty consistent estimates.

* For 20 years Gallup’s annual Governance Survey has divided voters into liberal, conservative, libertarian, or populist, based on their answers to two questions:

  1. “Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?”
  2. “Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?”


In their 2014 survey Gallup classified 24% of respondents as libertarian (with 27% conservative, 21% liberal, and 18% populist). This is hardly a rigorous political litmus test, but it may well help single out voters who might be sympathetic to libertarianism.

  • The Cato Institute’s David Boaz has done a lot of work on this over the years, including an important 2012 book (with David Kirby Emily Ekins) that summarizes numerous polls by Cato and others on the topic: The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center.
    They conclude that, depending on the criteria used, roughly 15-18% of voters can be classified as “libertarian voters.”
  • A 2006 Zogby poll, commissioned by Cato, found surprising results. Zogby asked half of a group of 1,012 people who had voted in the 2006 election: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?” Fully 59% of the respondents said “yes.”
    Zogby asked the other half a more challenging question: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?” A surprising 44% of respondents — representing 100 million Americans — answered “yes” to that question, thus self-identifying as libertarians. This is obviously higher than the number of true libertarians in America, but certainly it at least indicates that millions of people are open to these ideas and this label.
  • Finally, here’s an often-overlooked but remarkable finding — based on the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz. In August 2000 Rasmussen gave the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to nearly 1,000 representative American voters. The Quiz is a far more rigorous test of one’s libertarian leanings than “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” or other looser definitions used by polling firms. Yet fully 16% scored in the libertarian sector then — a figure closely matching to the other estimates we’ve cited.

What can we conclude? While the numbers and the criteria in these studies vary, at the very least there is broad agreement on a figure between 15% to 20%. That’s 30 to 40 million voters — a huge, and growing, voting bloc that could easily swing an election.

Add to this the additional millions on the left, right, and center who may vote for a libertarian-leaning candidate who stresses issues of great importance to them — such as a more peaceful foreign policy, marijuana re-legalization, slashing taxes, and reforming the out-of-control surveillance state.

Which brings us back to Rand Paul’s presidential run announcement. Rand Paul doesn’t claim to be a libertarian. He has described himself as “libertarian-ish” and in 2013 told Sean Hannity “I use the term constitutional conservative, but I also use the term libertarian conservative. … I accept all of those terms if they mean they believe in limited government and more individual liberty.”

But he is certainly the most libertarian-inclined presidential candidate — outside the Libertarian Party — in memory. Cato’s Boaz notes in TIME what may well be the most important thing to come out of a Rand Paul campaign:

“One result of his campaign will be to help those tens of millions of libertarian-leaning Americans to discover that their political attitudes have a name, which will make for a stronger and more influential political faction. … Libertarianism is the framework for a future of freedom, growth, and progress, and it may be on the verge of a political breakout.”

Page 1 of 2112345...1020...Last »