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“Rockin’ the Vote” — with the World’s Smallest Political Quiz

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Rockin’ the vote in Chadron” was the title of a November 11 news story in the Chadron Record newspaper of Chadron, Nebraska.

The story tells how high school teacher Craig Nobiling uses the Advocates’ World’s Smallest classroomPolitical Quiz and other innovative tools and teaching methods in his U.S. Government classes to “help students understand the political spectrum and clarify their own political thinking.”

Excerpt:

Using an online version of the ‘World’s Smallest Political Quiz,’ students get a feel for where their opinions on the broadest of issues may reside.

The Advocates for Self-Government, who created the Quiz and host it online today state, “The Quiz political map is based on the ‘Nolan Chart’ created in 1970 by David F. Nolan. In 1987 Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz created the World’s Smallest Political Quiz by adding ten questions to Nolan’s Chart, along with other refinements.”

The site goes on to state, “The Quiz challenges the dominant ‘Left versus Right’ political model. The Left versus Right model tries to categorize virtually all political opinion into either left and right. This model — still widely used today — is misleading and fatally flawed. It has no place for many millions of people who don’t fit neatly into some variant of liberal or conservative, left or right. In effect, it disenfranchises the tens of millions of Americans who don’t feel that ‘left,’ ‘right,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘conservative,’ etc. accurately describe their views.”

Teacher Nobiling stresses to his students the importance of keeping up with current events, learning the views of candidates, and understanding and exploring their own political views.

I love reading stories about dedicated and creative high school and college educators using the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz in their classrooms. The acceptance of the Quiz as a valid educational tool is central to the mission of the Advocates. Among other things, the Quiz lets students know that there is more to politics than just left and right — that libertarianism is a vital and growing part of American politics.

The Quiz is used in classrooms across the country. We’ve shipped over 30,000 Quizzes to teachers who’ve requested paper copies.

Most teachers use the online Quiz, which has been described and recommended in more than two dozen textbooks (or their online resources) published by some of the world’s leading textbook companies.

Over the years educators have told us that the Quiz is wonderful for classroom use. It brings politics alive for students, and stimulates fantastic discussions.

Traveling around the country I’ve met more and more young people who, when encountering the Quiz, say: “Oh yes, I remember that from high school.”

And that’s great news for libertarians!

* * *

Educators: We are delighted to send you free Quiz cards for classroom use. Just email us about your classes and how many Quizzes you need.

The Greatest Achievement in Human History?

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Despite the best efforts of government to restrict or sometimes even outlaw free markets, free enterprise has brought us perhaps the greatest achievement in history: the largest and fastest reduction in worldwide poverty ever.

This good news comes from economist Douglas A. Irwin’s November 2 Wall Street Journal piece “The Ultimate Global Antipoverty Program.”

The subhead gives the essence of the story: “Extreme poverty fell to 15% in 2011, from 36% in 1990. Credit goes to the spread of capitalism.”

Writes Irwin:

The World Bank reported on Oct. 9 that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty had fallen to 15% in 2011 from 36% in 1990. Earlier this year, the International Labor Office reported that the number of workers in the world earning less than $1.25 a day has fallen to 375 million 2013 from 811 million in 1991. …

The economic progress of China and India, which are home to more than 35% of the world’s population, explains much of the global poverty decline. But many other countries, from Colombia to Vietnam, have enacted their own reforms. …

Such stunning news seems to have escaped public notice, but it means something extraordinary: The past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty in the history of the world.

And free enterprise deserves the credit, Irwin emphasizes:

“To what should this be attributed? Official organizations noting the trend have tended to waffle, but let’s be blunt: The credit goes to the spread of capitalism. Over the past few decades, developing countries have embraced economic-policy reforms that have cleared the way for private enterprise.”

In contrast, “The poorest parts of the world are precisely those that are cut off from the world of markets and commerce, often because of government policies.”

Why haven’t we heard more about this? Why isn’t the world cheering?

Says Irwin: “The reduction in world poverty has attracted little attention because it runs against the narrative pushed by those hostile to capitalism. The Michael Moores of the world portray capitalism as a degrading system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yet thanks to growth in the developing world, world-wide income inequality — measured across countries and individual people — is falling, not rising, as Branco Milanovic of City University of New York and other researchers have shown.”

We have often said that spreading the ideas of liberty is “the great Cause that makes all other great causes possible,” and that liberty is literally a life-and-death matter for the people of the world. Here is proof of that.

Everyone working in our great Cause can take encouragement from this extraordinary leap forward — and redouble our efforts to remove the shackles of poverty and oppression from all the people of the world.

New FBI Report: Savage U.S. Marijuana War Continues, Despite Majority Support for Re-Legalization

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A solid majority of Americans now favor re-legalizing marijuana. Many states have eased laws War on Drugspersecuting marijuana smokers, and four states and the District of Columbia have even re-legalized it.

Yet governments at all levels continue to wage a costly, pointless, and ferocious war against peaceful marijuana users.

In early November the FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report, which gives the best look at marijuana arrests and related statistics. It covers the latest year for which figures are available, 2013.

Among the findings:

  • The good news: arrest numbers are down, slightly. In 2013, there were 693,481 arrests for marijuana charges. In 2012, there were 749,825. However, despite years of growing support for re-legalization, there were actually fewer arrests back in 1998 (682,885).
  • As always, the vast majority of these arrests — a whopping 88% — were for simple possession. 
  • The remaining 12% of arrests were for “sale/manufacture,” a broad category that includes all cultivation offenses — even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. 
  • Marijuana arrests make up 40.6% of all drug arrests, making it clear that the War on Drugs is, in reality, largely a War on Marijuana Possession.
  • Nationwide, police make an average of one arrest for marijuana possession every minute.
  • Nationwide, 51.9% of violent crimes and over 80% of property crimes went unsolved or did not result in arrest. Is there a connection?
  • Arrests for mere possession of marijuana cost, at a minimum, roughly half a billion dollars, says NORML, using an ACLU estimate of cost-per-arrest ($750). Other estimates range to several billion dollars. 
  • The effects of an arrest can be devastating, notes Paul Armentano of NORML: 

“Probation and mandatory drug testing; loss of employment; loss of child custody; removal from subsidized housing; asset forfeiture; loss of student aid; loss of voting privileges; loss of adoption rights…” and of course, for some, time behind bars.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, summed it up nicely:

“Arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable.

“Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved — or prevented — if police weren’t wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.”

They Said It… With Judge Napolitano, Seth Meyers, and More

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

OBAMA’S ILLEGAL WAR: “The war against the Islamic State is now illegal. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 gave President Obama 60 days to gain consent from Congress and required him to end ‘hostilities’ within 30 days if he failed to do so. This 90-day clock expired this week.” — Bruce Ackerman. professor of law and political science at Yale University, “Congress must act as Obama’s war against the Islamic State hits an expiration date,” Washington Post Nov. 7 2014.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS: “In case you didn’t notice, the new Congress is likely to be closer to President Obama’s views on executive power, surveillance, transparency.” — post-election tweet from Atlantic.com journalist Conor Friedersdorf, Nov. 5, 2014.

Judge Andrew NapolitanoTWEEDLEDUMB AND TWEEDLEDUMBER: “The two major political parties are more alike than they are different. On the two paramount issues of our day — war and debt — they are identical. With the exception of Democratic progressives and Republican libertarians, the two parties stand for perpetual war and perpetual debt. Both stances increase the power of the government, and each invites present and future destruction.” — Judge Andrew Napolitano, “More Culture Wars,” syndicated column, Nov. 6, 2014.

COINCIDENCE? “New Hampshire has among the least restrictive gun laws in the U.S. and the lowest homicide rate of any state.” — tweet from the Free State Project, Nov. 11, 2014.

YOUR FBI FILE: “Nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database. … Over the past years, prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates.” — reporters Gary Fields and John R. Emshwiller, “For More Teens, Arrests by Police Replace School Discipline,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2014.


VA BLUES:

Seth Meyers“It’s been announced that a Union soldier who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama over 151 years after his death. Even better, he finally got an appointment at the VA hospital.” — Seth Meyers, “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” Nov. 6, 2014.

How to Identify and Avoid Communication Landmines

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Knowing what to do will make your life better.

So will knowing what not to do.

Knowing what to say will improve your conversations.

So will knowing what not to say.

Want a quick way to recognize what not to do or say?  Want a simple and direct way to identify and avoid some of the worst communication landmines?

Go to the comments and feedback sections that follow articles and blog posts on the web. Read Internet commentswhat people have written and posted in response.

A handful of comments will provide new insights or outlooks. A few will fill in new information.

But most will show you what you should not do or say — IF you want to influence or persuade the writer or readers.

All too many insult the writer, other readers, and anyone else who doesn’t agree with them.

Many make rude and sarcastic comments.

Some condemn and denounce people who have a different point of view.

Others are dripping with hate and bitterness.

Some try to taunt or antagonize those who disagree with the commenter.

Too many exhibit basic errors of logic.

Each time you read a comment or posting that irritates or annoys you, write it down.

Every time you find one that pushes your buttons or tees you off, write it down.

When you read a remark that makes you mad enough to swear, write it down.

Do this with 10 or 15 comments sections. Then look at your list. Even if your list has 20 or 30 examples, it’ll have only 5 or 10 different landmines.

Write your 5 or 10 communications landmines on a filing card, tape it in plain view of your computer keyboard — and do not do them. Do not plant these landmines — and do not step on them.

The very things that irritate or anger you will usually have the same effect on others. If you stop saying and doing things that provoke or frustrate others, you will find that others are far more receptive and responsive to your libertarian ideas.

And far more friendly and open-minded toward you.

Sometimes it’s the things we don’t do, the things we don’t say, that make the biggest difference.

* * * * * * * *
Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian PersuasionMichael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

“Food tastes better, the sky is bluer…”

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Recently I came across a 1952 poem by the renowned San Francisco poet and leftwing anarchist Kenneth Rexroth. Entitled “For Eli Jacobson,” it is a eulogy for an old friend and fellow political activist.

“For Eli Jacobson” wonderfully captures the glory of being an activist in a great cause. In particular, these lines:

We were comrades
Together, we believed we
Would see with our own eyes the new
World where man was no longer
Wolf to man, but men and women
Were all brothers and lovers
Together. We will not see it.
We will not see it, none of us.Kenneth Rexroth
It is farther off than we thought….

It does not matter.
We were comrades together.
Life was good for us. It is
Good to be brave — nothing is
Better. Food tastes better. Wine
Is more brilliant. Girls are more
Beautiful. The sky is bluer
For the brave…
Our lives were the best. We were the
Happiest men alive in our day.

I especially love those last lines. “Food taste better…” “Our lives were the best…” and the rest.

They beautifully capture the heightened awareness, the excitement and anticipation, that comes with working for a great cause. The way that such activism brings spice, meaning, and joy to life.

I also love Rexroth’s celebration of friendship forged in activism. That, too, is a key benefit of working for a great cause. In the liberty movement I have met so many wonderful people, made so many lifelong friends.

One more thing. In lines that follow those above, Rexroth says he and his friend once thought that young people would emerge to take up their socialist/anarchist struggle. But, he notes with sadness, they did not:

In our young days we believed
That as we grew old and fell
Out of rank, new recruits, young
And with the wisdom of youth,
Would take our places and they
Surely would grow old in the
Golden Age. They have not come.
They will not come. There are not
Many of us left.

For libertarians, happily, it is a very different story. Those of us who have been in the liberty movement for a long time have been blessed to see the emergence of a new generation of young libertarian activists.

We have watched our movement grow by leaps and bounds in recent years, infused by the energy and enthusiasm of young people determined to make liberty a burning issue in American politics.

What a wonderful thing to see!

I hope Rexroth’s words remind you of the privilege and the joys of being part of a great cause. I hope your personal involvement in the liberty movement makes your life richer, more meaningful, and more fun.

Go out and have fun — and change the world.

Your Tax Dollars Paid for Swedish Massages for Rabbits

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Politicians are warning us that the government is broke. It’s time for higher taxes and belt-tightening. Citizens need to pay more and expect less.

But still, our leaders heroically scraped together funding for the most important, the most fundamental, the most essential government functions.

Like providing Swedish massages to rabbits.

Yep. The National Institutes of Health spent $387,000 on this project. Yes, that’s the same NIH whose director says they “probably” would have come up with a vaccine for Ebola by now, if it wasn’t for low funding (they only get $30 billion a year).

And that’s just the beginning. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has released his annual Wastebook report.

Wastebook 2014: What Washington Doesn’t Want You To Read“ identifies “100 silly, unnecessary, and low priority projects” that lay bare Washington’s loony spending priorities. Wastebook

Total bill for these one hundred projects? A whopping $25 billion. And, Sen. Coburn warns, this is “just a fraction of the countless frivolous projects the government funded in the past twelve months — with borrowed money and your tax dollars.”

Sen. Coburn further notes: “Despite all of this obvious waste, Washington politicians celebrated ending the fiscal year with a deficit under half-a-trillion dollars for the first time since 2008 — as if adding $486 billion to a national debt quickly approaching $18 trillion is an actual accomplishment deserving praise.”

Here are a few more choice items from Coburn’s Wastebook 2014:

  • $856,000 to teach mountain lions to use treadmills.
  • $307,524 to study whether sea monkeys can be trained to swim. 
  • $371,026 to study whether mothers love their dogs as much as their own children.
  • $804,254 for a video game to empower parents to persuade their kids to eat vegetables.

Just skimming the table of contents rewards you with items like these below. And each one is accompanied by a jaw-dropping description that will have you thinking you’re reading the humorous parody site The Onion:

  • Roosevelt and Elvis Make a Hallucinatory Pilgrimage to Graceland
  • NASA Wonders How Humans Will React to Meeting Space Aliens
  • Anti-Terror Grant Buys State-of-the-Art SWAT Equipment for Safest Small Town in America
  • Spouses Stab Voodoo Dolls More Often When “Hangry,” Study Reveals
  • Scientists Hope Gambling Monkeys Unlock Secrets of Free Will
  • Paid Vacations for Bureaucrats Gone Wild 
  • Taxpayers Help NY Brewery Build Beer Farm
  • Free “High-End” Gym Memberships for DHS Bureaucrats
  • USDA’s “Perfect Poop Pak” Smells Like Government Waste

Page after page, the idiocy and waste goes on and on. Read the whole thing here.

FDA Bureaucrats Kill 150,000 Americans

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Never mind Ebola, terrorists and school shootings. Abolish the FDA

What Americans should fear is… the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

The FDA’s failure to approve life-saving drugs in a timely fashion is killing thousands, even tens of thousands, of Americans every year, critics charge.

Take just one example. An estimated 150,000 Americans have died or will die from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — a disease in which tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick and stiff, or scarred, making breathing difficult — because of the FDA’s four-year delay in the approval of the drug pirfenidone — a drug already approved and marketed in Europe (since 2011), Japan (2008), Canada (2012) and China.

That estimate comes from Dr. Henry I. Miller, a medical researcher, founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology, and 15-year member of the FDA.

That’s more Americans than were killed in any American war except the Civil War and World War II.

And pirfenidone is just one example among many others. The FDA’s slow approval of beta-blocking drugs in the 1970s may have led to the unnecessary deaths of up to 100,000 people, according to Sam Kazman, J.D., of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

For many years the FDA prohibited aspirin makers from advertising the widely-accepted argument that aspirin could significantly reduce the risk of heart attack for some patients. According to economist Paul H. Rubin, “The FDA surely killed tens, and quite possibly hundreds, of thousands of Americans by this restriction alone.”

Indeed, says Reason magazine’s science correspondent Ronald Bailey, “the FDA’s increased obsession with safety may be killing more people than it saves. …After all, if it takes the FDA ten years to approve a drug that saves 20,000 lives per year that means that 200,000 people died in the meantime.”

The FDA’s approval process can take up to… 18 years. For people desperately fighting fatal illnesses, such long waits are death sentences.

Making things worse, the FDA’s review process is so expensive that,according to Yevgeniy Feyman of the Manhattan Institute: “The typical drug approval costs between $1.2 and $1.3 billion.”

According to Reason magazine’s Bailey, many drugs that could save lives are never introduced because of this cost.

In 2000, economist Daniel B. Klein of the Independent Institute wrote: “Because the FDA process is so expensive, so protracted, and so uncertain, thousands of untold drugs are never discovered or developed. It is impossible to estimate the suffering and death caused, but surely it greatly exceeds 50,000 premature deaths annually.”

Why is the FDA so agonizingly (literally) slow and expensive? Prior to 1962, the average time for FDA approval was just seven months. However, in 1962 Congress passed the Kefauver Harris Amendment, which added a new requirement of proof of effectiveness, in addition to the old standard of proof of safety, for approval of new drugs. Effectiveness is a far more difficult, and expensive, standard to meet.

Perhaps worst of all, the FDA typically doesn’t give even gravely ill patients the opportunity to choose promising treatments it has not approved. As journalist Kate Jenkins asks: “If you had a fatal disease and were told you only had one year to live, wouldn’t you prefer to be allowed to make your own choice?”

This article by Ronald Bailey gives a further look at this mess, and offers libertarian alternatives.

The Independent Institute offers an overview of the situtation and proposals for replacing the FDA.

And for a great movie that dramatizes this life-and-death struggle, see The Dallas Buyers Club starring Matthew McConaughey.

They Said It… With Ron Paul, The Libertarian Party and More

in Communicating Liberty by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

UBER BRINGS WEALTH TO THE MASSES: “Once, only the privileged few, the studio bosses and pampered starlets, could afford to have a chauffeur and a waiting car to transport them around sprawling Los Angeles. Now anyone with a credit card can enjoy that freedom. … A short ride through downtown in UberX, the company’s lower-priced service, introduced here last spring, can cost as little as $4.” — journalist Melena Ryzik, “How Uber Is Changing Night Life in Los Angeles,” New York Times, Oct. 31, 2014.

RON PAUL FEELS A DRAFT:
Ron Paul“As the burden of our hyper-interventionist foreign policy increases, it is increasingly likely that there will be serious attempts to reinstate the military draft. … This is an issue that has long united authoritarians on the left and right. … It is baffling that conservatives who (properly) oppose raising taxes would support any form of national service, including the military draft. It is similarly baffling that liberals who oppose government interference with our personal lives would support mandatory national service. Mandatory national service is a totalitarian policy that should be rejected by all who value liberty.” — Ron Paul, “National Service is Anti-Liberty and Un-American,” weekly column, Oct. 19, 2014.

CIA NAZIS: “In the decades after World War II, the CIA and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

“At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI and Allen Dulles at the CIA aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet ‘assets,’ declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called ‘moral lapses’ in their service to the Third Reich.”  — Eric Lichtblau, “In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis,” New York Times, Oct. 26, 2014.

THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY AND THE BALANCE OF POWER: “Libertarian candidates may have decided the winner in at least six federal and governor races, despite record-shattering spending levels in support of the Democratic and Republican candidates. Each race where a Libertarian threatens to affect the outcome of an election puts pressure on the old parties to move in a libertarian direction by reducing government’s size, scope, and authority.

“It’s also a sign that more Americans reject the argument that there’s any substantial difference between Democratic and Republican politicians. Voters are seeing that which of the two wins is of little consequence.” — Libertarian Party,  post-election blog post, “Libertarians play key role in highly contested races,” Nov. 5, 2014.

What is the non-aggression principle?

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Answers on Issues, Libertarian Stances on Issues by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: What is the libertarian non-aggression principle?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Libertarianism is based on a single ideal, the non-aggression Keep Calm And Be Non-Aggressiveprinciple.

Libertarians oppose the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. They reject “first-strike” force, fraud or theft against others; they only use force in self-defense. Those who violate this “non-aggression principle” are expected to make their victims whole as much as possible, via restitution.

This “Good Neighbor Policy” is what most of us were taught as children. We were told not to lie, cheat, steal, or strike our playmates, except if they hit us first. If we broke a friend’s toy, we were expected to replace it.

Most of us still practice what we learned as children with other individuals, but we have grown accustomed to letting government aggress against others when we think we benefit. Consequently, our world is full of poverty and strife, instead of the harmony and abundance that freedom (i.e., freedom from aggression) brings.

Simply put, libertarians take the non-aggression principle that most people implicitly follow in their interactions with other individuals, and apply it to group actions, including government actions, as well.

* * *
Short Answers to Tough QuestionsGot questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR tough questions on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart

Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can’t personally acknowledge all emails. But we’ll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.

Dr. Ruwart’s previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.

Dr. Ruwart’s latest book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.

Forbes Features Fascinating New Use of World’s Smallest Political Quiz

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Have You Significantly Changed Your Political Views Since Age 18? If So, How?”World's Smallest Political Quiz

That the title of a fascinating article at Forbes.com featuring the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

In it, economist Michael F. Cannon describes his intellectual journey from Big Government “socially conservative social democrat” in high school to socially conservative/free market-oriented university student… and finally, a few years later, to where he is today: a full-fledged libertarian, solidly in favor of civil liberties, free markets, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Indeed, Cannon not only became a libertarian — he has become a remarkably influential one. He is director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. Though not a Republican, he served as a domestic policy analyst for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, advising the Senate leadership on health, education, labor, welfare, and the Second Amendment. His work has been featured in many of America’s most influential newspapers and magazines, and he has appeared ABC, CBS, CNN, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News Channel and NPR.

To illustrate his personal ideological journey, Cannon uses… the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. He draws different Quiz scores on the Quiz to indicate how he would have scored at different times in his life, thus creating the striking visual map of his political awakening that I’ve reprinted in this column.

I’ve never seen this done before. But the Quiz is a perfect — and crystal-clear — way to document and illustrate this. Kudos to Cannon for thinking of this!

I know over the past few decades, as libertarian ideas have spread, many millions of people have made intellectual journeys very similar to Cannon’s. (And for millions of them, the Quiz itself has been an important part of their intellectual awakening.) Whether starting from the left or the right, more and more Americans are finding themselves drawn to the logic, consistency and compassion of libertarianism.

Check Cannon’s article out — and consider using the Quiz to document and share the story of your own journey.

Libertarian Candidates Pledge: End the Failed and Immoral War on Drugs

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the bloated federal government — in these big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%
  • End the War on Drugs

End the War on DrugsWe’re exploring each of these pledges in detail, one per issue, because the Libertarian Party has done a great job of showing that these bold proposals are not only possible, but practical and enormously beneficial. (You can read about all four positions here.)

Here’s the final one: End the failed War on Drugs.

The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to end the War on Drugs, release all victimless drug ‘criminals’ from prison, abolish the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and cut taxes accordingly.”

Here is the Libertarian Party’s case for ending the failed War on Drugs:

  • The War on Drugs has proven far more deadly and destructive than drugs themselves. 
  • Just as alcohol prohibition prompted organized crime, consumption of stronger alcoholic drinks, and an epidemic of alcohol overdose deaths, drug prohibition has prompted the formation of deadly street gangs, use of stronger drugs, and an increase in drug overdose deaths.
  • Because of the Drug War, the United States incarcerates more people than any country on earth. More than 500,000 Americans are now serving time in jail or prison for drug “offenses.” They are peaceful citizens, separated from their children and families, who could be living productive lives. Instead, their incarceration has cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion since 1971.
  • More than 658,000 people are arrested every year for mere possession of marijuana, diverting attention from where it should be: on violent criminals.
  • Marijuana prohibition denies those suffering from cancer, AIDS, migraines, glaucoma, and other serious diseases their right to an effective treatment that both reduces suffering and saves lives.

When we end the War on Drugs:

  • Crime will go down dramatically, making our streets and homes safer.
  • Law enforcement will focus more on finding and prosecuting murderers, rapists, and thieves.
  • People now in prison who never harmed another human being will be free to go home to their families. Their children will grow up with their mom or dad at home.
  • Each taxpayer will get back hundreds of dollars — every year — that they now spend on today’s failed prohibition. Money they can save, spend, or give away to others in need.
  • People suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other serious diseases will have dignified and safe access to medical marijuana, giving them their best chance for a long and healthy life.
  • Finally, ending the War on Drugs sends the right message to kids:

Be personally responsible.
Be just, be reasonable, and honor individual rights.
Admit mistakes and get rid of bad laws that don’t work.
End unnecessary human suffering.

VIDEO: “Obama’s Taylor Swift Strategy: Shake It Off (Remy Remix)”

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new video by the liberty-minded comedian Remy is always a cause for celebration.

In this one Remy rewrites the Taylor Swift hit “Shake It Off,” turning it into a kind of Obama administration manifesto. So true that’s it’s downright scary. Also, of course, hilarious, with amazing performances by Remy.

Scroll down to see the lyrics — with links on the issues Remy raises in his parody rewrite – here.

From Reason TV. Approximately 2:15 minutes. Share it with friends!

New York Magazine: “A New Generation of Libertarians”

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Are cutting-edge companies like Uber and Airbnb creating a new generation of libertarians?Marc Andreessen

Consider this fascinating snippet from New York Magazine’s interview with legendary Silicon Valley entrepreneur-provocateur (and self-described “McGovern libertarian”) Marc Andreessen, in their October 20, 2014 issue.

New York Magazine: Politicians like Rand Paul are seizing on young people’s embrace of companies like Uber and Lyft and Airbnb that are disrupting heavily regulated industries and saying, “You know, if you’re frustrated about Uber, let me tell you about these other regulations that are terrible.” Are these companies breeding a new generation of libertarians?

Marc Andreessen: I guess I would say the following: If you have been in an Uber car and gotten pulled over and had the car seized out from under the driver when you were like in the middle of a trip that you were otherwise having a good time on, you might be a little bit radicalized. You might all of a sudden think, “Wait a minute, what just happened, and why did it happen?” And then you might discover what the taxi companies did over the last 50 years to wire up city governments and all the corruption that’s taken place. And you might say, “Wait a minute.”

There’s this myth that government regulation is well-intentioned and benign, and implemented properly. That’s the myth. And then when people actually run into this in the real world, they’re, “Oh, f***, I didn’t realize.”

New York Magazine: My mom is renting out my childhood room on Airbnb.

Marc Andreessen: There you go. She’s one of the lawless libertarians.

They Said It… With Hillary Clinton, Pat Buchanan, and More

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Hillary ClintonHILLARY:  “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” — Hillary Clinton, speaking at a political rally in Massachusetts, Oct 24, 2014. (Clinton supporters claim she is quoted out of context; you can find their argument here.)

INSANITY:
Pat Buchanan“We borrow from Japan and Europe to defend Japan and Europe, though World War II has been over for 70 years.” —Pat Buchanan, “Things Fall Apart,” syndicated column, Oct. 24, 2014.

UH-OH: “The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly Janet Yellinconcern me. …I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity. …In such circumstances, society faces difficult questions of how best to fairly and justly promote equal opportunity.” — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin in a speech entitled “Perspectives on Inequality and Opportunity from the Survey of Consumer Finances,” Oct. 17, 2014.

THE NEW CONSUMER REGULATION:
Mark J. Perry“It’s important to remember that Uber drivers and Airbnb hosts are already very heavily regulated, and in some ways they are regulated even more intensely than traditional taxis or hotels by a very ruthless group of regulators — the consumers who use their services and can rate each driver after every Uber ride and rate each host after every Airbnb stay. And the regulation goes both ways — the Uber drivers rate their passengers and the Airbnb hosts rate their guests. So the issue really isn’t a choice between government regulation and a completely unregulated sharing economy; the issue really is who is the primary regulator: a) government bureaucrats and legislators who are often captured by regulated industries like taxi cartels (Big Taxi), or b) the consumers.” — Mark J. Perry, “In the battle between sharing economy entrepreneurs and regulators, I’ll bet on the entrepreneurs like Uber and Airbnb ,” Carpe Diem blog, American Enterprise Institute, Oct. 23, 2014.

Snarky or Sarcastic Put-downs Can Turn People Into Permanent Enemies

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Have you ever been in a political argument where the other person acted like you hadn’t made a single valid point?

Ever debated morality or economics with someone who ignored everything you said?

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Beware. This is the moment in many political conversations where you or I turn to put-downs: insults, rude remarks, or sarcasm. These remarks will stick and sting. They will hurt.

Instead of a forgettable political discussion, you will leave them with an unforgettable put-down. Perhaps one that’s unforgivable.

People remember rudeness. They remember those who inflict it on them. And they tell their friends all about it.

Is this the way you want libertarianism and you to be talked about?

So, instead of lashing out — smile, thank them for an interesting discussion, say goodbye, and walk away.

Talk politics with someone else. A person who is receptive and responsive to libertarian economics or politics.

That’s the way to win people to liberty.

* * * * * * * *
Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian PersuasionMichael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

Halloween: Share Some Scary Facts About… Government

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

HalloweenThe scariest holiday of the year is fast approaching. Bloodsuckers, devils, demons and creeps will roam the streets, demanding we hand over our goodies — or face nasty consequences.

No, not the elections — Halloween!

Holidays can be a great time to share libertarian ideas with family and friends. We recommend libertarians gather liberty-themed facts, figures and stories specific for each holiday and share them if and when appropriate. (We try to share such info in the Liberator Online as major holidays near.)

Below is a fun and startling report from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) that gives some genuinely shocking figures about how much government is adding to the cost of your family’s Halloween celebration this year.

Unfortunately, ATR first posted this in 2011, and they haven’t updated it as we go to press. It’s still very usable, though. Just point out the date by saying something like “as Americans for Tax Reform noted a few Halloweens back…”)

So, if the opportunity arises, scare your family and friends with some of this truly terrifying information. You can share it online, too, by linking here.

You’ll surely open some minds about the creepiest House of Horrors of them all— the federal government! Happy Halloween!

The Frightening Cost of Halloween — Thanks to Government
(from Americans for Tax Reform)

Think Halloween is scary? Ha! It’s nothing compared to the Frightfest of taxes and hidden costs government adds to this beloved holiday.

Each year, parents spend $1 billion on kid costumes for Halloween. On average, for the estimated 41 million trick-or-treaters, each kid wears a costume costing almost $25 — a hefty sum for parents who know this annual investment is only going to get a few hours of use.

Taxes make up a shocking amount of that cost.

Kids’ costumes are almost all made of heavily taxed synthetic fibers. On top of the state sales tax paid at the register, the government increases the cost of buying these costumes by imposing a 17 percent tariff on many of these imported costumes. Businesses not only have to absorb these costs, but also those imposed by income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workmen’s compensation taxes, and other payments to federal, state, and local forms of government.

When all is said and done, government taxes compose a terrifying 47.82 percent of the cost of the average kid’s costume — $11.66 of the average price. Boo!

But the government’s tricks don’t end there. The Halloween season brings with it $2 billion in candy purchases. Due to excise taxation on sweets in addition to the burden of taxes placed on the confectionery industry, the government takes a 30.81 percent bite out of the average trick-or-treaters’ candy haul. Ouch!

Altogether, the cost of celebrating our scariest holiday is made all the more frightening by the costs imposed by government: hidden taxes and other costs constitute 40.91 percent of your Halloween celebration. 

This amounts to a burden of $688 million — or $16.80 per kid. The remaining $1.3 billion of candy not distributed during trick-or-treating represents another $406 million in taxes. Finally, after including taxes on adults for decorations and costumes the total Halloween tax bite comes to… a bloody and bruising $2.7 billion.

And the cost is even higher if you attend a spooky party with alcoholic beverages. Wine, distilled spirits and beer are all subject to more hidden taxes. Going out to dinner instead of trick-or-treating also carries higher government costs. And if you have to drive your kids to trick-or-treat, the government bite of gasoline also takes a hefty bite out of your wallet…

Wherever you turn, wherever you go, you can’t escape the bloodsucking horror of… the federal government.

Hey, if you’re still searching for a truly bone-chilling costume idea, here’s one: dress up as… Uncle Sam.

Abolish NSA, Exonerate Snowden, Stop Illegal Spying: Libertarian Candidates Pledge

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 17 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the bloated federal government  — in these big and specific ways:

* Eliminate the federal income taxEnd Spying - Abolish the NSA
* End the War on Drugs
* Abolish the NSA
* Cut military spending by 60%

We’re exploring each of these pledges in detail, one per issue, because the Libertarian Party has done a great job of showing that these bold proposals are not only possible, but practical and enormously beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead of us and read about all four positions right now.)

Let’s look at the pledge to abolish the NSA (National Security Agency).

The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to abolish the NSA, grant clemency and full whistleblower protection to Edward Snowden, consolidate our 18 spy agencies into one accountable agency, and cut taxes accordingly.”

Here are the benefits of fully restoring the Fourth Amendment, exonerating Edward Snowden and shrinking the American spy apparatus, according to the Libertarian Party:

* Privacy! No more snooping on your private emails, phone calls, text messages, Skype sessions, and other personal communication without your consent. No risk of embarrassment and humiliation due to others’ unwelcome knowledge of your personal life. You alone will control your private information.

* Consolidating the 18 U.S. spy agencies will enable substantial cuts in federal taxes. Each American family will get back, on average, $540 every year that they now pay in taxes.

* Assurance of privacy will increase the use of online banking and shopping, creating greater convenience for shoppers and increased sales for online vendors. It also encourages use of email, which cuts costs for businesses, cuts prices for consumers, liberates personal communications, and reduces paper waste.

* Protection from warrantless government search and seizure will greatly reduce the risk of unjust arrests and prosecution of innocent Americans, and will lessen the risk of America devolving into a state of tyranny.

* Exonerating Edward Snowden will grant him the respect and freedom he deserves, and will make it safe for whistleblowers to speak up when the government violates the rights of citizens.

 

VIDEOS: The 5 Best — and 5 Worst — Libertarian TV Shows Ever

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 17 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Reason’s Nick Gillespie recently went out on a limb and picked the 5 best libertarian-themed TV shows ever.

And then, while arguments were still raging — how could you leave off Yes Minister, Firefly, and Green Acres, you @#%%^^^!!! — Gillespie crept further out on that same limb and picked the five most anti-libertarian TV shows ever.

Check these two videos out and see his choices. Sure, you’re going to disagree with him on some things (indeed, we predict riots may break out in some cities over his choice for worst-ever anti-libertarian show) but that’s part of the fun.

And if you discover a new show or two to watch, it’s well worth the few minutes it takes to watch these short (3 and 4 minutes) and fun videos.

Major Study: U.S. and World Economic Liberty is Fading

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

Economic Freedom of the WorldEconomic liberty — essential for human progress and well-being — has dropped significantly worldwide. And the United States — once the very symbol of economic freedom — has fallen behind many other countries in this crucial area.

That’s the disturbing finding of the 18th annual Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report, a highly-regarded measuring of economic freedom around the world.

The annual study is prepared by the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes in nearly 90 nations and territories worldwide. The group describes their report as “the world’s premier measurement of economic freedom.”

The report defines the cornerstones of economic freedom as: personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property.

The report measures economic freedom in five different areas: (1) size of government, (2) legal structure and security of property rights, (3) access to sound money, (4) freedom to trade internationally, and (5) regulation of credit, labor, and business.

Each year’s report ranks the nation of the world in relation to one another, and assigns a score from zero to ten on the amount of liberty in each nation.

This year’s study covers the year 2012, the most recent year for which the data is available.

It reports that the United States, “long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom during the past decade.”

The fall has been fast. From 1980 to 2000, the U.S. was generally rated the third-freest economy in the world, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Singapore.

However, in this year’s study the United States now ranks 12th in the world, tied with the United Kingdom and behind countries including Canada, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

More disturbing than the rankings is the U.S. score of 7.81, which shows a continuing pattern of losing economic freedom. After generally rising from 1980 to reach second place and a score of 8.55 in 2000, the U.S. has now fallen considerably lower.

The reasons? According to the study: “Due to a weakening rule of law, increasing regulation, and the ramifications of wars on terrorism and drugs, the United States has seen its economic freedom score plummet in recent years, compared to 2000 when it ranked second globally.”

Worldwide economic freedom dropped slightly in this year’s report, and it remains well below its peak level of 6.92 in 2007. The average score fell to 6.84.

Hong Kong retained the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.98 out of 10. The rest of this year’s top scores are Singapore, 8.54; New Zealand, 8.25; Switzerland, 8.19; Mauritius, 8.09; United Arab Emirates, 8.05; Canada, 8.00; Australia, 7.87; Jordan, 7.86; and, tied for 10th at 7.84, Chile and Finland.

These scores are extraordinarily important, because, as the report shows, economic liberty is literally a matter of life and death. Extensive research shows that people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer life spans.

As the report notes: “Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per capita GDP of $39,899 in 2012, compared to $6,253 for bottom quartile nations. Moreover, life expectancy is 79.9 years in the top quartile compared to 63.2 years in the bottom quartile, and political and civil liberties are considerably higher in economically free nations than in unfree nations.”

Further, the poorest 10 per cent of people in the freest nations are nearly twice as prosperous as the average population of the countries with the least economic freedom.

The 10 lowest-rated countries for economic freedom are: Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Chad, Iran, Algeria, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, and, lastly, Venezuela. (North Korea and Cuba could not be included because data was unavailable.)

“The link between economic freedom and prosperity is undeniable,” said Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute, one of the institutes involved in producing the report. “The most economically free countries offer the highest quality of life and personal freedoms, while the lowest-ranked countries are usually burdened by oppressive regimes that limit the freedom and opportunity of their citizens.”

The report is available free online.

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