BLOGS - Page 2 of 18 - The Advocates for Self-Government

Home » BLOGS

They Said It… With Nick Gillespie, Jonah Goldberg, and More

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

BIG CHANGES AHEAD:
Nick Gillespie“Whether you believe the ‘libertarian moment has finally arrived‘ or not, there’s no question that 2014 was a watershed for the decentralization of all sorts of cultural, economic, and political power. Thanks to technology that empowers individuals (think Twitter, Uber, cellphone cameras) and the continuing breakdown of all sorts of gatekeeper institutions (social, political, religious), more and more people in the United States and around the globe are ready, willing, and able to try and call their own shots.” — Reason.com editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie, “5 Earth-Shaking Trends To Follow in 2015 — and Beyond!,” TIME, Jan. 1, 2015.

OBAMA, MILITARY BIG SPENDER: “Defense budgets under [President] Bush… averaged $601 billion per year, while [President Obama] has presided over annual budgets averaging $687 billion between 2009 and 2014. Indeed, President Obama, who was elected during an economic crisis, will leave office having approved more military spending than any presidential administration in the nuclear era. Not too bad for a president who is often accused of trying to gut the military.” — Christopher A. Preble, Cato Institute, “Budget Snapshot: Average Annual Defense Spending by Administration,” Jan. 21, 2015.

Jonah GoldbergLIBERAL “REBELS”: “My single biggest complaint about the majority of college campuses is the widespread myth that being liberal is rebellious somehow. I always like to ask students something like: ‘So, let me get this straight. Your professors are liberal. The administration here is liberal. Your high school teachers were liberal. The mainstream media is liberal. The music industry is liberal. Hollywood is liberal. The art community is liberal. The fashion and publishing industries are liberal. And yet you people think you’re sticking it to the Man by agreeing with them?’ Being liberal is just about the least rebellious thing you can do on an elite college campus.” — conservative journalist Jonah Goldberg, interviewed by Ryan Shinkel in The College Fix, Jan. 28, 2015.

Government Recording Your Driving Habits, Tracking Your Phone Calls, and Looking Through the Walls of Your House

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The federal government is gathering information about your driving habits — when, where and why you drive. Government Recording Your Driving Habits, Tracking Your Phone Calls, and Looking Through the Walls of Your House

That’s the latest in a seemingly endless flood of revelations about secret, sinister, invasive government spy programs conducted against innocent American citizens, often without court approval, suspicion, or oversight.

Reports the Wall Street Journal, in an article by Devlin Barrett entitled “Justice Department Spying on ‘Millions of Drivers’”:

“The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.

“The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database’s use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter. …

“What hasn’t been previously disclosed is that the DEA has spent years working to expand the database ‘throughout the United States,’ according to one email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. …

“The database raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance. … It is unclear if any court oversees or approves the intelligence-gathering.

“The DEA program collects data about vehicle movements, including time, direction and location, from high-tech cameras placed strategically on major highways. Many devices also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities, according to DEA documents and people familiar with the program.

“The documents show that the DEA also uses license-plate readers operated by state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies to feed into its own network and create a far-reaching, constantly updating database of electronic eyes scanning traffic on the roads to steer police toward suspects. …

The DEA database, named EPIC, “allows any police agency that participates to quickly search records of many states for information about a vehicle. One May 2010 redacted email says: ‘Anyone can request information from our [license-plate reader] program, federal, state, or local, just need to be a vetted EPIC user.…’”

The Wall Street Journal notes that is just the latest in a stream of such revelations.

In November 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Marshals Service planes carried devices that mimicked cellphone towers, enabling them to scan the identifying information of Americans’ phones.

Earlier this month the DEA revealed that for nearly 15 years it had created and operated a secret law enforcement database that collected virtually all data relating to Americans’ outbound overseas telephone calls, without judicial oversight, which was sifted to search for possible drug law violators. Astoundingly, according to Reuters, federal agents were trained to conceal the role of the database when presenting cases to defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.

And on January 15, USA TODAY wrote: “At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance. Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used.”

Renowned libertarian Judge Andrew P. Napolitano says of this crisis:

“None of these flagrant violations of privacy, dignity and basic American constitutional values was enacted by a majority vote of any representative body of lawmakers — and yet none has been stopped by those lawmakers. That’s because we have a deep state system in American government, whereby certain law enforcement, military, intelligence and diplomatic personnel can do as they wish, no matter which party controls the legislative and executive branches and in hair-splitting defiance of the courts. … Who will keep us safe from the government? Who will keep our personal liberties safe? What representative government splits hairs in order to defy the Constitution, rather than complying with its oath to protect it?”

Uber Revolution Shows How “Competition Breeds Competence”

in Business and Economy, Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

UberThe reaction of taxi companies to the sudden new competition from Uber and Lyft is revolutionizing the stuck-in-its-ways taxi industry — and it offers an excellent demonstration of how strong competition enormously benefits consumers, says economist Mark Perry at his blog Carpe Diem.

Writes Perry:

“When government agencies or heavily regulated industries are insulated from market competition, the incentives to offer better service and lower prices, along with the incentives to innovate, upgrade and improve are either significantly weakened or non-existent. But when faced unexpectedly with some market competition, it’s amazing how the normally sclerotic, anti-consumer and unresponsive government agencies or protected industries can suddenly become responsive and consumer-friendly.”

Perry quotes an article from the Los Angeles Times:

“All taxicab drivers in Los Angeles will be required to use mobile apps similar to Uber and Lyft by this summer, according to a measure passed by the Los Angeles Taxicab Commission this week.

“The order, passed on a 5-0 vote, requires every driver and cab to sign onto a city-certified ‘e-hail’ app by Aug. 20 or face a $200-a-day fine. The move is seen as a way to make taxicab companies more competitive with rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft.

“Los Angeles cab companies reported a 21% drop in taxi trips in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period the previous year, the steepest drop on record. Cab companies largely attribute the drop to the popularity of app-based ride services.

“William Rouse, general manager of Yellow Cab of Los Angeles, says his company has utilized a mobile app for several years. The app, Curb, allows riders to hail and track a cab, provide payment and rate drivers. ‘If our industry is ever going to get a chance to move passengers from Uber back to taxis, each one of these companies should have an app,’ Rouse told The Times. ‘It’s a shame that the city had to mandate it in order for this to happen.’”

And this stunner, from ABC News last summer:

“Meet the new secret weapon to get a leg up in the cutthroat competition among cabbies — charm school. Taxi drivers in Washington state are getting lessons that they hope will give them an edge against startups such as Lyft and Uber. About 170 taxicab operators paid $60 out of their pockets for a four-hour training session to learn about topics including customer satisfaction and developing relationships with institutional clients.”

Taxi drivers going to charm school to learn how to better please customers? Talk about an economic miracle!

It all demonstrates what Perry calls Perry’s Law: “competition breeds competence.” It’s a perfect example, he says, of how “direct, ruthless, even cutthroat competition is often the most effective form of regulation, and provides the intense discipline that forces firms to maximize their responsiveness to consumers. … Government regulation typically reduces competition, which then reduces the competence of producers, and reduces their willingness to serve consumers and the public interest, which make us worse off. I say the more market competition the better, for consumers and for the human race.”

Millions Celebrate Education Choice

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Happy National School Choice Week! National School Choice Week

This week (January 25 to 31) is National School Choice Week, a non-partisan public awareness effort designed to “shine a positive spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children.”

I wasn’t aware of the scope of this project until just recently, but it is huge. And this year is its biggest, highest-profile celebration yet.

Millions of Americans in all 50 states will participate in more than 11,000 unique independently planned and independently funded events and activities celebrating school choice. These events will range from open houses and talent shows at schools to 5k runs and rallies on the steps of state capitols.

And there is growing political clout behind this diverse movement. This year the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to recognize January 25-31, 2015 as National School Choice Week. More than 100 U.S. governors, mayors and county leaders have issued proclamations recognizing National School Choice Week in their states and localities. I’m impressed!

National School Choice Week doesn’t focus on a single tactic or solution for increasing education choice and quality. Instead, it focuses on bringing public awareness to this issue and, in doing so, creating a mass movement for the broad goals of education choice and diversity.

As the group says: “Participants in National School Choice Week believe that parents should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children. Supporters plan events that highlight a variety of school choice options — from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling — while uniting with like-minded groups and individuals across the country.”

One of the resources that National School Choice Week offers is a national map that provides facts about school choice in each state. Click on a state on the map and discover the types of school choice available — and not available — to families in that state. Great resource! Check it out.

The growth of such a mass movement for liberty in education is heartening. And support is strong and growing fast, as this Beck Research national survey of likely 2016 voters proves:

“When asked, ‘Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs,’ fully 69% support school choice, including 45% who strongly support it, while 27% oppose it. School choice support has strong support across partisan lines; 60% of Democrats, 67% of Independents and 81% of Republicans back it.”

That’s astounding progress.

Of course, the ultimate goal for libertarians is what Advocates Founder and education reform pioneer Marshall Fritz called “separation of school and state.”

I’ll finish by quoting from a recent column by Ron Paul inspired by National School Choice Week. As usual, Paul gets straight to the heart of the matter:

“If Congress was serious about improving education it would shut down the Department of Education. … So as long as federal education programs exist, school children will be used as guinea pigs for federal bureaucrats who think they are capable of creating a curriculum suitable for every child in the country. …

“It would also shut down all other unconstitutional bureaucracies, end our interventionist foreign policy, and reform monetary policy so parents would have the resources to provide their children with an education that fits their children’s unique needs.

“Federal and state lawmakers must also repeal any laws that limit the education alternatives parents can choose for their children. The greater the options parents have and the greater the amount of control they exercise over education, the stronger the education system.

“These reforms would allow more parents access to education options such as private or religious schools, and also homeschooling.”

Let’s hope this week moves us further in that direction. Happy National School Choice Week!

There’s No Such Thing as an “Unregulated Market”

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Unregulated MarketMany people fear that, without government regulation, there would be no way to insure the safety and reliability of the goods and services they rely upon every day.

They fear that a free market would be an “unregulated market” where consumers would be blind and helpless before deceptive, dangerous marketers out to take advantage of them.

This is a major deal-killer that keeps many people from fully embracing free markets and libertarianism.

Happily, there’s a great answer to this concern. The truth is, there’s no such thing as an “unregulated market.” Instead, there are two kinds of regulation: regulation by government command, and far more efficient regulation by markets and consumers.

A recent article in The Freeman by economist Howard Baetjer Jr. does a great job of explaining this — and of telling why this distinction is so crucial for libertarians to make.

The article is entitled “There’s No Such Thing as an Unregulated Market: It’s a choice between regulation by legislators or by consumers.”

Says Baetjer:

“A big economic problem the world faces is semantic. That is, ‘regulation’ has come to mean ‘government regulation.’ We don’t seem to be aware of the alternative: regulation by market forces. That’s a problem because it leads us to accept so much government meddling that we would be better off without.

“We want the aims of regulation — regularity and predictability in markets, decent quality and reasonable prices for the goods and services we buy — and thinking that government regulation is the only way to get those, we accept a vast array of unnecessary, wrongheaded, and usually counterproductive mandates and restrictions.

“But government regulation is not the only kind of regulation.

“To regulate is to make regular and orderly, to hold to a standard, to control according to rule, as a thermostat regulates the temperature in a building. Market forces do this continually as competing businesses offer what they hope will be a good value, then customers choose among the various offerings, then the competing businesses react to customers’ choices. That process is the market’s regulator.”

Baetjer explains how markets and consumer feedback regulate the quality of the goods and services we buy and how market and consumer feedback forces regulate prices, thus protecting consumers from higher-than-necessary prices.

Baetjer also explains the flip side of this: how government regulations that consumers think protect them actually hamper this crucial market and consumer regulation. How market/consumer regulation is weakened as markets become less free.

Finally, Baetjer sums up the problem — and opportunity — this realization offers free market advocates:

“We never face a choice between regulation and no regulation. We face a choice between kinds of regulation: regulation by legislatures and bureaucracies, or regulation by market forces — regulation by restriction of choice, or regulation by the exercise of choice.

“Government regulation is not the only kind of regulation; market forces also regulate. Recognizing this, communicating it to others, and getting the awareness into public discourse are key steps toward greater economic liberty.

“The benefit of this semantic change — opening up the meaning of ‘regulation’ to include regulation by market forces — is to raise the question, which works better? Regulation by market forces works better, but that’s another argument. The first step is to recognize that market forces regulate, too.”

These are vital insights for those interested in spreading the ideas of liberty. Avoid the phrase “unregulated market” and others like it. Not only are such phrases scary to many people, it doesn’t at all accurately convey what we mean. Libertarians favor market and consumer regulation over inefficient, misleading, coercive and costly government regulation.

Learning to convince others that consumers and markets regulate — and do it marvelously well, and far better than government — will help you win people to libertarianism.

I highly recommend Baetjer’s article. Read it — and start sharing the good news about market and consumer regulation.

I Wanted to Change the World…

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

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

I love this wonderful little reflection, attributed to “an unknown monk” writing around 1100 A.D.:

I Wanted to Change the World…
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I Wanted to Change the World
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. 
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation… and I could indeed have changed the world.

Changing the world: that’s what we, as libertarian activists, want to do. As the wise monk points out, changing the world must begin with… changing ourselves. And that’s a lifelong process. How do we do that? Here are a few suggestions and some resources for this lifelong journey:

  • Keep developing your understanding of libertarianism. What does liberty mean to you? Why are you a libertarian? Commit yourself to a joyful lifetime of learning. Read books, watch videos, talk with knowledgeable people. Periodically return to the basics. Be open to learning new arguments for liberty. Stay up to date: follow quality libertarian blogs, magazines, podcasts and new books. Be able to speak knowledgeably on libertarian solutions to current problems. David Bergland’s Libertarianism in One Lesson, published by the Advocates, is widely hailed as the best short introduction to libertarianism available. The Ludwig von Mises Institute has created one of the great online libertarian treasures: they’ve made hundreds of classic, essential libertarian books available online, for free
  • Learn how to communicate the ideas of liberty effectively and persuasively. Here’s where the Advocates can be of great service to you! Successful libertarian communication has been a key part of our mission since our founding. Check out our online Liberty Store for books, CDs and DVDs on how to do this. Plus, every issue of the Liberator Online has new articles on the best ways to communicate libertarianism. If you want to learn to do public speaking for liberty, consider joining Toastmasters.  And call 800-932-1776 or email us to learn how you can have a fun, engaging and enlightening Advocates libertarian communication workshop in your area. 
  • Develop your personal skills. How you present yourself is critically important — and you’d be shocked at how often this crucial point is neglected. Be friendly. Dress appropriately. Listen respectfully to others. Be a good friend, family member, neighbor — people are far more likely to listen to your political ideas if they already like and respect you as a person. 
  • Be prepared to answer questions. Learn to answer in bite-sized soundbites. Be ready to persuasively answer the tough questions libertarians are commonly asked. 
  • Meet other liberty activists. Go to libertarian meetings. Join a campus or local libertarian group. Network with libertarians online. From these meetings may come the “family” in the monk’s story above that will help you change your community, your country… and the world. 
  • Use proven tools. The world-famous World’s Smallest Political Quiz was developed by the Advocates to make explaining liberty easy and fun. Millions of people have encountered libertarianism through this single tool. Our OPH (Operation Politically Homeless) kit gives you the ability to find dozens or even hundreds of libertarians and liberty-friendly people wherever people are gathered. 

When to begin your journey? I love this phrase, attributed to Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”

Libertarian Party Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address: Why Not Peace, Liberty and Abundance for All?

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Immediately after President Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican response, America’s third-largest political party, the Libertarian Party, weighed in with their take, offering a ringing pro-liberty alternative to the Big Government agendas of the two older parties.

The mass media declined to carry it, but don’t let that stop you from encountering a genuine libertarian State of the Union address. It was delivered by Arvin Vohra, vice chair of the Libertarian National Committee. You can see and read the entire response here.

Some highlights:

On education: 

“Mr. President, we can have world-class education. The first step is defunding and eliminating the federal Department of Education, abolishing Common Core, and allowing parents to take full control over their children’s education. Free-market competition will raise educational standards, lower costs, and prepare students to compete in a global economy.”

On ending the income tax: 

“Here’s how we really grow the economy and create jobs: dramatically cut taxes and government spending. Libertarian candidates have pledged to sponsor legislation to cut federal spending to 1998 levels and eliminate the income tax. That means that you keep the money you earn, and spend it how you see fit: on charities and the arts, science research, education, and the health care of your choice.

“Eliminating the income tax also defunds government’s ability to infringe on our privacy, to create enemies through needless wars, and to imprison our fellow citizens for victimless crimes.”

On ending the War on Drugs:

“Mr. President, so many of your supporters have begged you to defund and end the War on Drugs, but you have refused their pleas. Drug prohibition separates families, fosters violence, and destroys communities. You can end the War on Drugs today, by doing what so many Libertarian gubernatorial and presidential candidates have pledged to do: pardon all nonviolent drug offenders.

“Libertarian candidates have pledged to completely end the War on Drugs, and thereby eliminate the black market profits that fund violent cartels. Ending the Drug War will make our streets safer, and people will no longer have to fear incarceration if they seek help overcoming an addiction.”

On online privacy: 

“Americans should be able to use their computers and phones without fear of anyone listening in or recording their communications through mass surveillance. … To protect privacy, Libertarian candidates have pledged to defund the NSA’s mass surveillance program, repeal the Patriot Act, and massively downsize and consolidate redundant spy agencies.”

On war, military spending, and foreign intervention: 

“Mr. President, your party and the Republican Party are damaging lives here and abroad through misuse and overuse of the military. Libertarian candidates have pledged to sponsor legislation to end all foreign military operations, shut down needless foreign bases, cut military spending by at least 60 percent, and bring our troops home.

“Even after those spending cuts, we will still outspend both Russia and China combined. We will also be safer, because our military will be focused on defense. We will stop creating enemies through unwarranted military intrusions.”

On ending Obamacare:

“Republicans have talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare. With what? Romneycare? That will continue to damage businesses and make health care worse. When Republicans controlled the House, they had the chance to defund Obamacare. They refused.

“Libertarian candidates have pledged to completely repeal Obamacare along with the many laws that stand in the way of low-cost, high-quality health care. Providers will compete for customers by lowering costs and increasing quality.

“To help people in need, Libertarian candidates will make charitable hospitals legal. Doctors should not have to leave our borders to be able to offer free care.”

On the need for the Libertarian Party:

“We need to massively downsize and defund the federal government. But Republican and Democratic politicians only want to make it bigger. Get involved with the Libertarian Party in your state by going to LP.org, and by voting Libertarian.”

Food Stamps Shocker

in Business and Economy, Liberator Online Archives, Welfare by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!

Exploding Cost of Food StampsSome startling numbers on the recent explosive growth of the food stamp program (aka SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), from journalist Ali Meyer of CNSNews.com:

  • The number of Americans receiving food stamps has topped 46,000,000 for 38 straight months, according to the Department of Agriculture. 
  • In 1969, the average participation in the SNAP program stood at 2,878,000. In 2014, the average participation grew to 46,536,000 — an increase of 1,516.96 percent. 
  • About 14.6 percent of the U.S. population — about one in seven Americans — receives food stamps. 
  • Just under 20 percent of the nation’s households — one in five households — receive food stamps. 
  • Food stamp recipients have exceeded 46 million every month since September 2011.
  • Rapid increase: in October 46,674,364 Americans were on food stamps — an increase of nearly a quarter-million people (214,434) in just one month. According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, the number of food stamp recipients grew by about 26.39 million people from 2003 to 2013.
  • The 46,674,364 people on food stamps in the United States in October 2014 exceeded the total populations of Columbia (46,245,297), Kenya (46,245,297), Ukraine (44,291,413) and Argentina (43,024,374), and is just less than the population of Spain (47,737,941).
  • Households on food stamps got an average benefit of $261.44 in October. 
  • In October alone the program cost taxpayers $5,978,320,593 — just under $6 billion. 

While food stamp (SNAP) enrollment and spending have both grown dramatically under President Obama, the Cato Institute notes that the explosion in food stamp use and SNAP eligibility actually began with conservative Republicans under the leadership of George Bush, via the 2002 and 2008 farm bills.

They Said It… With Patrick Cockburn, Jimmy Kimmel, and More

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Lew RockwellTHE THREE BRANCHES OF GOV’T: “The Arizona government will now force all students in government schools to pass a government civics test. One proponent complained that students couldn’t name the 3 branches of government, which is shocking because it’s so obvious: CIA, Pentagon, NSA.” — Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., “Civics: All Hail Government,” LewRockwell.com blog, January 16, 2015.

BLOWBACK FROM THE BLOWBACK: “Interior and justice ministers from Europe and the U.S. gathered in Paris on Sunday, calling for increased Internet surveillance and stricter border security to counter attacks like the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo weekly newspaper. … French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that ‘fundamental liberties’ would be still respected under increased surveillance measures.” — Voice of America News, January 11, 2015.

BIN LADEN’S VICTORY: “The most important victory of Osama bin Laden did not come on the day the 19 mainly Saudi hijackers took command of the planes, but in the months and years which followed as President Bush led the U.S. into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which American troops fought Muslims. As the U.S. resorted to rendition, the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, expanded security agencies and limited civil rights for its own people it delegitimised itself and acted as recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda and its clones. If bin Laden had been hiding in the attic of the White House giving instructions to those in the rest of the building he could not have devised a cocktail of measures more likely to aid his cause.” — journalist Patrick Cockburn, “Paris attacks: Don’t blame these atrocities on security failures,” The Independent, January 11, 2015.

OBAMA-SECURITY:
Jimmy Kimmel“President Obama is focused now on cyber security. He’s pushing for new laws to protect companies from hackers. And who better to do that than the people who brought us the Obamacare website? Not only couldn’t hackers get in, no one could penetrate it.” — Jimmy Kimmel, January 14, 2015.

Two Questions on Blackmail

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 20, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

BlackmailQUESTION: I am concerned about the problem of blackmail. Some libertarians, as you recently discussed, consider blackmail simply an economic interaction involving the exchange of information that, however distasteful, does not involve direct use of force against others, and therefore should be legal. However, I am hard pressed to think of any instance of blackmail where no one is being harmed. As libertarians shouldn’t we base our actions upon sober observation of what is actually happening in a given situation, not on some abstract concept of free speech?

Please comment on these two examples:

EXAMPLE ONE: A gay man lives in a conservative neighborhood, but loves his community. His friends would not understand his orientation. I find out, and offer to not tell anyone — for a fee. Is it just a business interaction that I hold the threat of ruining his life over his head to coerce him into giving to me what belongs to him, when he has harmed no one?

MY SHORT ANSWER: I suspect that not all libertarians would have the same answer to this question. Here’s mine:

If you simply told this man’s friends that he was gay, you would only be saying what is true. It would be his so-called friends who harm him by shying away from him because of that truth. This very scenario undoubtedly happens a lot. The only reason that you would share this information is to disrupt this man’s life by revealing something he has kept private. While that’s certainly unkind, it isn’t legally actionable.

Sexual orientation is something that most of us would consider private, and not something that neighbors and friends should necessarily be privy to. But If the man wants to pay you not to reveal the truth to his friends, you aren’t coercing him.

Of course, someone could make a living discovering things about people that they wouldn’t want broadcast and suggesting that they pay him not to tell unsavory truths. That could backfire if one of his “clients” decided to share just how this person made his money, leaving few people excited about interacting with him.

EXAMPLE TWO: A young woman is assaulted and I know who did it. I offer to keep silent for a fee. Is it merely a business interaction if I allow a rapist to continue to prey on the community so I can get paid?

MY SHORT ANSWER: No. In this case, you know the identity of an aggressor. In today’s society, and most likely in a libertarian one, you would be considered an accomplice if you let the aggressor pay you to keep silent.

The principle here is not, in my opinion, free speech, but whether you are using first-strike force, fraud, or theft against your neighbor. In the case of accepting money from the rapist, you are colluding with an aggressor so that he can continue to perpetrate harm on others. That would make you, in most people’s eyes, an aggressor too.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further reading on this topic:

* “Defending the Blackmailer” by Walter Block. Walter Block has been writing about libertarianism and blackmail for decades. His collected writings on this topic are in his 2013 book Legalize Blackmail. This provocative selection is a chapter from his classic 1976 book Defending the Undefendable, which you can download as a free ebook from the Mises Institute.

Excerpt: “What exactly is blackmail? Blackmail is the offer of trade. It is the offer to trade something, usually silence, for some other good, usually money. If the offer of the trade is accepted, the blackmailer then maintains his silence and the blackmailed pays the agreed-upon price.

“If the blackmail offer is rejected, the blackmailer may exercise his rights of free speech and publicize the secret. There is nothing amiss here. All that is happening is that an offer to maintain silence is being made. If the offer is rejected, the blackmailer does no more than exercise his right of free speech.”

* Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick. Nozick was a libertarian and one of the premiere philosophers of the twentieth century, and Anarchy, State and Utopia is widely regarded as one of the most important philosophical books of the century. Nozick briefly discusses blackmail and the case for prohibiting it near the end of chapter four, but unfortunately I cannot find an excerpt online. You can read a summary of Nozick’s argument in “Blackmail, Extortion and Free Speech: A Reply to Posner, Epstein, Nozick and Lindgren“ by Walter Block and David Gordon, who disagree with it and offer opposing arguments.


Short Answers to the 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.

See You at the World’s Largest Gathering of Libertarian Students!

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Mark your calendar!

ISFLC 2015The 8th Annual International Students For Liberty Conference will be held in Washington, DC, Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15.

And it’s going to be an event to remember.

Students For Liberty describes the conference as “the premiere event of the year for students dedicated to liberty and advancing freedom on campus.” Last year’s conference featured over 1,200 attendees from 26 countries — and SFL expects this year’s to be bigger and better than ever before.

The Advocates will have a booth there, and we’re looking forward to meeting friends new and old and sharing Advocates tools and programs like Operation Politically Homeless (now FREE for campus groups) with students and other attendees.

The conference is opening with a bang — a Friday night conversation between Ron Paul and Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, moderated by Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

And that’s just the start. The conference has lined up a stellar list of speakers. Among them: John Stossel, Congressman Justin Amash, Cato’s David Boaz and Tom G. Palmer, Jeffrey Tucker of Liberty.me, Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Libertarian Party executive director Wes Benedict, The Freeman editor Max Borders, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Rob Kampia… and that’s just a few of the outstanding speakers you’ll have a chance to hear. See the whole list of speakers here.

In addition to main-stage speakers, the weekend will feature over 80 breakout sessions on topics such as the militarization of police, the War on Drugs, free speech, and Bitcoin. The conference will also have an ongoing liberty fair with over 60 sponsor organizations. Plus there are networking opportunities with potential employers, and socials where you’ll have a great chance to meet with fellow lovers of liberty.

PS: You don’t have to be a student to attend. SFL says that, while the conference (as with other SFL programs) is focused on students, everyone is welcome to attend no matter what your age or status as a student might be.

Learn more and register at the conference website.

Hope to see you there!

Obama: U.S. Currently Fighting Wars in 14 Countries

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The War Powers Resolution requires the President to report twice a year to Congress on U.S. military operations being conducted overseas without a congressional declaration of war.

President Obama filed his latest such report on December 11.

The report went virtually unmentioned in the mainstream press. Yet in it, Obama reports the startling, little-known fact that “the United States has deployed U.S. combat-equipped forces” in no less than… 14 countries.

As Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity summarizes: “In other words, the U.S. government is at war in 14 countries!”

Here’s the list:

  • Afghanistan
  • Troops Around the GlobeIraq
  • Syria
  • Somalia
  • Yemen
  • Cuba
  • Niger
  • Chad
  • Uganda
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Kosovo
  • Central African Republic
  • Tunisia

The list does not include countries in which the U.S. is engaged in covert activities, or where U.S. troops are stationed in non-combat positions, or where the U.S. has participated in joint exercises with military allies, which, together, would probably include most countries in the world.

Asks the Ron Paul Institute’s McAdams:

“Where else would the neocons have the U.S. military deployed for the next half-year report? Iran? Ukraine? Russia? North Korea? We can only imagine their wish list. Meanwhile, the $1 trillion spent annually on the military is quickly bankrupting the country, making us new enemies every day, and as a result making us less, not more, safe.”

Marijuana Re-Legalization: Its Effects on Teens

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

One of the most often-heard arguments against marijuana re-legalization is fear it will encourage marijuana use by teens.

Marijuana Use By Colorado TeenagersHowever, reports Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), several recent significant studies indicate that hasn’t been the case thus far. Studies indicate no connection between legalization of medical marijuana and teen use. Studies also find a recent decrease in teen use nationwide — including Colorado, which legalized marijuana in 2012.

Finally, a new article in Rolling Stone makes the controversial argument that decriminalization in California has brought enormous benefits to teens and to the state as a whole, by removing teen offenders from the criminal justice system.

Armentano first points to the University of Michigan’s highly regarded Monitoring the Future study, which tracks trends in substance use among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades. Each year the national study, now in its 40th year, surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in about 400 secondary schools throughout the United States.

This year Monitoring the Future found that marijuana use among teens declined slightly in 2014, with use in the prior 12 months declining from 26 percent to 24 percent. This small but significant decline follows five years of increasing use.

Armentano also reports on Colorado, which re-legalized marijuana in 2012: “Separate data published earlier this year by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment similarly found that fewer high-school students are consuming cannabis, despite voters’ decision in 2012 to legalize the possession, production, and sale of the plant to adults.

“According to the survey, the percentage of Colorado high schoolers reporting having consumed marijuana within the past 30 days fell from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013. High school students’ lifetime use of cannabis declined from 39 percent to 37 percent during the same two years.”

(For an excellent analysis of this report, see “Despite Legalization, Colorado Teenagers Stubbornly Refuse to Smoke More Pot” by Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine.)

What about states that legalized marijuana for medical use? Armentano reports on a July 2014 paper by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research that examined federal data on youth marijuana use and treatment episodes for the years 1993 to 2011 — a time period when 16 states authorized medical cannabis use.

The study concluded: “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students.”

As Jacob Sullum of Reason points out, these studies are consistent with earlier data from the Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys from 1993 through 2011, which show little evidence of any connection between legalizing marijuana for medical use and the use of marijuana by high school students.

“Study: Legalizing medical marijuana has not increased teen pot use” was a headline in the April 24, 2014 Washington Post. According to the article: “the first comprehensive study of teen drug use in the states where marijuana is available for medical uses shows that [increased teen use] just hasn’t happened.”

The Washington Post was reporting on a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The authors of the study conclude: “Our study suggests that — at least thus far — the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has not increased adolescent marijuana use, a finding supported by a growing body of literature.”

Decriminalization has also had major benefits for youth in California, reports Rolling Stone magazine in an article entitled “The War on Drugs Is Burning Out” by Tim Dickinson, January 8, 2015.

In late 2010 California decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana became an infraction, like a parking ticket, with a maximum $100 fine.

Importantly, notes Rolling Stone, the law applied to users of any age — not just those 21 and over.

The result?

“The impact of this tweak has been remarkable,” Rolling Stone says.

“By removing low-level youth pot offenses from the criminal-justice system, overall youth crime has plummeted by nearly 30 percent in California — to levels not seen since the Eisenhower administration.

“And decriminalization didn’t lead to any of the harms foretold by prohibitionists. Quite the opposite: Since the law passed in 2010, the rate of both high school dropouts and youth drug overdoses are down by 20 percent, according to a new research report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Non-marijuana drug arrests for California youth, meanwhile, are also down 23 percent — fully debunking the gateway theory.

“Decriminalization in California, the report [from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice] concludes, has reduced the harms of prohibition for thousands of California teens. ‘Fewer young people, its authors write, ‘are suffering the damages and costs of criminal arrest, prosecution, incarceration, fines, loss of federal aid and other punishments.’”

The authors also point out that perhaps the most important result of decimalization is that it gives police “one less pretext to disrupt the lives” of young blacks.

They Said It… With Lew Rockwell, Bruce Fein, And More

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

THE ENDLESS WAR: “The [Afghanistan] war thus far has lasted as long as U.S. David Swansonparticipation in World War II plus U.S. participation in World War I, plus the Korean War, plus the Spanish-American War, plus the full length of the U.S. war in the Philippines, combined with the whole duration of the Mexican-American War.” — author David Swanson, “Renaming Afghan War, Renaming Murder,” DavidSwanson.org, December 29, 2014.

FREE SPEECH HYPOCRITES:
Lew Rockwell“The big French free-speech march was led by such ‘world leaders’ as Hollande, Cameron, Merkel, and Netanyahu, all of whom enthusiastically jail people for thought crimes expressed in speech or print.” — Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., “No Irony in Paris,” LewRockwell.com blog, January 11, 2015.

ABOLISH THE UN-AMERICAN CIA: “The CIA should be abolished. … The CIA has made Americans less safe. … It will never accept accountability for its actions — including torture, kidnappings, and extrajudicial killings — because it salutes the motto that the ends justify the means, that savagery is justified to defeat perceived savages. …The CIA is un-American. It sneers at our nation’s signature creed that it is better to risk being the victim of injustice than to be complicit in it. …abolishing the C.I.A. would make Americans safer and their liberties more secure.” — Bruce Fein, constitutional scholar and Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, “It’s time to abolish the CIA,” Washington Times, December 31, 2014.

PLEASE, NO NEW GAS TAX: “Gas tax supporters say that it is time to raise the tax because it has not been raised in two decades. What they leave out of the story is that the gas tax rate more than quadrupled between 1982 and 1994 from 4 cents per gallon to 18.4 cents… Thus, looking at the whole period since 1982, federal gas tax revenues have risen at a robust annual average rate of 6.1 percent (based on Tax Foundation data). So, again, we have a spending crisis, not a funding crisis.”— Chris Edwards, Cato Institute, “Highways and the Federal Gas Tax,” Jan. 10, 2015.

WE TAKE MAGIC FOR GRANTED: “The aggregate effect of competitive capitalism is indistinguishable from magic, but we are so used to its bounty that we never stop to notice that no king of old ever enjoyed quarters so comfortable as those found in a Holiday Inn Express, that Andrew Carnegie never had a car as good as a Honda Civic, that Akhenaten never enjoyed such wealth as is found in a Walmart Supercenter. The irony is that capitalism has achieved through choice and cooperation what the old reds thought they were going to do with bayonets and gulags: It has recruited the most powerful and significant parts of the world’s capital structure into the service of ordinary people. And it would do so to an even greater degree if self-interested politicians… would get out of the way. — Kevin Williamson, “McDonald’s is Microsoft,” National Review Online, December 29, 2014. (Hat Tip to Mark Perry, Carpe Diem blog.)

Are We Nearing the Libertarian Tipping Point in America?

in Communicating Liberty, Libertarian Answers on Issues by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

…and if we are, what can YOU DO to speed up the process?

A number of libertarian researchers, thinkers, and writers strongly believe that the Libertarian Tipping Pointlibertarian movement is growing faster and moving forward faster than ever before.

They cite the growing and snowballing numbers of libertarians in the Millennial Generation.

Seventy-four million Millennials — ranging from 10 to 33 years old — are becoming more and more libertarian.

They point out the large number of 18- to 35-year-old voters who supported and voted for Ron Paul for President in 2008. And the larger and growing number of Millennials who campaigned and voted for Ron Paul in 2012.

And they note the increasing percentages of these young voters who voted for Libertarian Party candidates in 2012 and 2014.

The momentum is increasing each election.

And, just as importantly, it’s increasing between elections. In high schools. On college campuses across America. On talk radio. On TV talk shows. And online.

If these numbers are right, if these trends are happening… what can YOU do to speed up the process? To get us nearer to the Great Libertarian Tipping Point?

  1. Talk with high school and college students about liberty. 
  2. Talk with 18- to 35-year-olds about liberty — and the difference it can make for their future.
  3. Ask for permission to forward them links to short YouTube videos or clips or talks. Then do it — sparingly.
  4. Get their permission to send them online links to well-written essays and articles. Or email newsletters such as the Liberator Online. Then ask them to forward the stuff they like best to their friends and classmates.

Here’s the secret to speeding up libertarian growth among the Millennials: winning more Millennials to liberty… and getting them to share it with their friends and classmates and colleagues.

Share your best libertarian conversations and online materials with a dozen receptive Millennials for several weeks or months, and then ask THEM to share the libertarian conversations and writings with a dozen of their friends and classmates. With people roughly their own age who know them and like them and trust them.

You can set this in motion in less than 30 minutes a week.

Then, together, we will push past the Tipping Point — and begin dismantling Big Government and expanding liberty.

Libertarians Are Actually Less “Isolationist” Than Other Political Views

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Libertarians who advocate a foreign policy of peaceful non-intervention in the internal affairs of other nations sometimes get labeled by critics as “isolationist.”

The words “isolationist” and “isolationism” are smears. Further, they inaccurately describe what libertarians believe. I’ve written in the past on ways to respond to this charge.

Libertarian InternationalismLast month Simon Lester, a trade policy analyst with Cato Institute, wrote an excellent column entitled “Libertarian Internationalism” at Townhall.com in which he debunks the notion.

“[T]he reality is that libertarianism is among the most internationally minded philosophies,” he writes. “Examining several key areas of international relations makes this clear: International trade, diplomacy and the military, and institutions.”

Here are some of his arguments, which are helpful to anyone in discussing this issue.

1. International trade.

“The most obvious place where libertarians are internationalists is economic relations. True libertarians advocate the free flow of trade and investment, without government restrictions. This is about as international as you can get. For libertarians, the origin of a product or service is irrelevant. People around the world should be able to buy and sell from each other without government interference. …

“Unfortunately, in most countries today, there is a strong sentiment for favoring domestic economic actors over foreign ones. This feeling manifests itself in various forms, such as tariffs and Buy National procurement policies. Libertarians stand almost completely united against this nationalist feeling, believing that trade and other economic interaction with foreign actors benefits us all.”

2. Diplomacy and the military. 

“Diplomacy and the military is a more complicated policy area, involving a number of instances of potential relations between domestic and foreign. Here, though, there is a strong case that libertarians are more internationalist than most others. Of course, in part this depends on what one means by internationalism.

“Libertarians are most frequently accused of isolationism when they object to military intervention in foreign territories. That libertarians usually object to these interventions is not in doubt. However, use of the military cannot always credibly be called internationalist. Colonialism and conquest, although they do require contact with foreigners, are not generally a positive form of international relations. …

“Thus, for libertarians, war and government aid do not reflect true internationalism. To some extent, they are really about government bullying and condescension towards foreigners, the idea that we are superior to them and can use our power to re-make them in our image. In contrast, libertarians believe in treating citizens of other countries with respect and acting with humility.”

3. International institutions. 

“This is the area where libertarians are most likely to reject what is conventionally thought of as the internationalist position, as they worry about the power of these institutions. In reality, libertarians are not rejecting the idea of international institutions, but rather the specific policies pursued by some of these institutions. … If there were international institutions that supported balanced budgets (or protected property rights), for example, libertarians would likely be supportive. There is no fundamental libertarian objection to international cooperation through institutions; the only concern is on specific issues of substance.”

Finally, Lester argues that libertarianism is inherently internationalist, not isolationist.

“At a more conceptual level, the idea of limited government inherently pushes us away from nationalism and towards internationalism. As things stand now, most power is in the hands of national governments, who often use this power in ways that conflict with the interests of other governments. In other words, putting power in the hands of nation-states leads naturally to national conflict. By contrast, devolving power to local governments more closely connected with the people reduces the role of national governments and nationalism. It makes power more disbursed, and allows communities to connect with each other, regardless of the nation in which they are located.”

These are excellent points, and sharing them with critics can help refute and perhaps eventually bury the tiresome “isolationist” smear.

Read Lester’s complete argument at Townhall.com

To the Death

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Je ne suis pas d’accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire.”

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

This magnificent declaration of free speech, tolerance, and liberty, attributed to the great 17th century French champion of liberty Voltaire, is now whirling around the globe in French and English, in print and online, in tweets, memes, newsfeeds and editorials.

The outcry over the murder of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo — killed for exercising their right to speak freely, killed for creating satire, killed for drawing cartoons — has thrust those words and the principle behind them into the minds of millions.

It is heartening to see such an overwhelming response in favor of freedom of speech, one of the most important and sacred of rights.

Freedom of speech has not always been tolerated well even here in America. Right up through the 1960s many novels, including books now considered masterpieces by authors like Henry Miller and William Burroughs, were illegal to sell. For most of America’s history, some words were unprintable, and writing about some ideas — birth control, for example — was forbidden. In the 1960s, Lenny Bruce, one of America’s greatest and most incisive comedians, was constantly harassed and arrested merely for using four-letter words in nightclubs; in despair, he died of a heroin overdose. Theater owners were arrested for showing sexually explicit films, convenience store clerks arrested for selling adult magazines.

Those who stood for freedom of expression in the past, even here in tolerant America, often fought a lonely and difficult struggle. All of us have benefited tremendously from their courage and passion.

Even today, even in America, those on the cutting edge of speech face threats. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, Joe Randazzo, former editor of the satirical publication The Onion, wrote at MSNBC: “I’ve personally spoken on the phone with at least two individuals who threatened to rape me and kill my family” because of his writing.

Randazzo continues: “Satire must always accompany any free society. It is an absolute necessity. Even in the most repressive medieval kingdoms, they understood the need for the court jester, the one soul allowed to tell the truth through laughter. It is, in many ways, the most powerful form of free speech because it is aimed at those in power, or those whose ideas would spread hate. It is the canary in the coalmine, a cultural thermometer, and it always has to push, push, push the boundaries of society to see how much it’s grown.”

Around the world, crowds numbering in the thousands have gathered in defense of this most fundamental of freedoms, some waving pencils and pens, some holding signs reading “Je Suis Charlie” — “I Am Charlie.” Cartoonists worldwide have rallied to honor their fallen brothers-in-ink with an outpouring of creative and defiant tributes.

How glorious, how thrilling to see such passionate defense of free speech in response to those who would use violence to shut out views they disagree with.

Free speech is a value millions hold dearly. But that wasn’t always true. We believe so strongly in free speech today because of the centuries of political activism that won that freedom, defined it, argued for its value, and made it a central part of our lives.

As we libertarians build a consensus on other fundamental freedoms — peace, the right to control our bodies, the right to own and keep the fruits of our labors — we will see these ideas, too, embraced by the people of the world, and vigorously defended when attacked.

I’ll end with another quote from Voltaire, with a message I hope will be taken up one day soon with the same passion as the one at the beginning of this column:

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

New York Times: Should We Abolish the CIA?

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

It’s exciting news when a bold libertarian idea moves into the mainstream. We’ve seen this again and again in recent years.

Now the New York Times — the very definition of mainstream, Establishment opinion — has asked a critical and timely question in the “Room for Debate” section of its Opinion Pages:

Abolish the CIA?“Do We Need the C.I.A.? Would the security needs of the United States be better served if the agency were dismantled?”

Writes the Times:

“Since Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan introduced bills in 1991 and 1995 to abolish the Central Intelligence Agency and transfer its powers to the State Department, many have continued to share his concerns about the agency’s competence and performance. The Senate intelligence committee’s report on the use of torture is the latest example of the agency’s controversies. …

“Would the security needs of the United States be better served if the C.I.A. were dismantled?”

That such a question is being asked and debated is great news, says Jacob Hornberger, president of the libertarian Future of Freedom Foundation:

“That is a remarkable development. When was the last time you read that question being asked by anyone in the mainstream press? Wouldn’t we ordinarily see the question posed in the following manner: ‘Is It Time to Reform the CIA?’ …

“Libertarians have long called for the abolition, not the reform, of the CIA… The fact that the Times even asks the question is a testament to the importance of hewing to libertarian principles rather settling for reform proposals. Over time, ideas on liberty percolate and find their way into the minds of others. And suddenly there are prominent people in mainstream American life asking, ‘Why not abolish the CIA?’”

Hornberger gives his own answer to the New York Times’ question.

“The existence of an agency like the CIA is totally contrary to the principles of a free society. … It’s not just the post-9/11 torture scandal. The CIA has been engaged in evil, immoral, dark-side activities since its inception, all guided by the mindset of ‘patriots’ who were protecting ‘national security’ from the communists and, later, from the drug dealers, the ‘terrorists,’ and anyone else who could be used to scare Americans into keeping quiet about the CIA’s steady acquisition of secret, omnipotent power.

“The CIA knowingly employed Nazis, including ones who had participated in the Holocaust, all the while keeping it secret from the American people.

“The CIA destroyed democratic regimes all the over the world and installed brutal and tyrannical dictatorships in their stead.

“The CIA initiated horrendous medical experiments on unsuspecting Americans in its MKULTRA program and then destroyed its records so that the American people would not discover the full details of what they had done. …

“The CIA initiated a formal program of assassination and, in fact, participated in the assassination or execution of people around the world…

“The CIA has engaged in assassination and torture since at least the 1950s… At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it continues to assassinate people in different parts of the world…

“From its inception, the CIA has meddled in the affairs of other countries and continues to do so. It is without a doubt the world’s biggest troublemaker, and it is the American people who are bearing the brunt of all the trouble.

“Where in the Constitution does it authorize an agency like the CIA? The fact is that the very existence of the CIA has converted the original concept of limited government into unlimited government. For as long as one part of the government has unlimited powers, that automatically means that the federal government has unlimited powers. …

“So, New York Times, the answer to your question is: Yes, most definitely, the time for abolishing the CIA is long past due. It’s a key to restoring a free, prosperous, and secure society to our land. Thanks for asking the question because it will almost certainly cause others to ponder it.”

Polls Show Growing Support for Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy

in Communicating Liberty, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, National Defense by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

David Boaz of the Cato Institute points out at the Huffington Post that support for a non-David Boazinterventionist, or at least far less interventionist, foreign policy is growing rapidly in America.

Refuting pundits who charge that such ideas have little popular support, Boaz cites some recent major polls.

“Perhaps most broadly,” writes Boaz, “a massive Pew Research Center survey in December 2013 found that 52% of respondents said the United States ‘should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.’ That was the most lopsided balance in favor of the U.S. ‘minding its own business’ in the nearly 50-year history of the measure.”

Boaz also cites a CBS News/New York Times poll  from June 2014 showing that fully 75% of Americans believe the result of the war in Iraq was not worth the loss of American lives and other costs of the invasion. Only 18% thought it worthwhile. The percentages were about the same whether those surveyed were Republicans, Democrats and independents. It’s hard to imagine a more thorough repudiation.

A YouGov poll in March found, Boaz writes, that “the American public has little appetite for any involvement in Ukraine… Only 18% say that the U.S. has any responsibility to protect Ukraine.” Boaz further notes that “Republicans were barely more supportive: 28 percent yes, 46 percent no.”

In April, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found strong and deep support for less intervention, and almost no desire for further involvement in the internal affairs of foreign nations.

The Wall Street Journal summarized its poll’s findings: “Americans in large numbers want the U.S. to reduce its role in world affairs… In a marked change from past decades, nearly half of those surveyed want the U.S. to be less active on the global stage, with fewer than one-fifth calling for more active engagement — an anti-interventionist current that sweeps across party lines. …

“The poll findings, combined with the results of prior Journal/NBC surveys this year, portray a public weary of foreign entanglements and disenchanted with a U.S. economic system that many believe is stacked against them. The 47% of respondents who called for a less-active role in world affairs marked a larger share than in similar polling in 2001, 1997 and 1995.

Concludes Boaz:

“Americans, including Republicans, are getting tired of policing the world with endless wars. Support for the Iraq war is almost as low as approval of Congress. Interventionist sentiment ticked up in the summer of 2014 as Americans saw ISIS beheading journalists and aid workers on video. But even then most voters wanted air strikes, not more troops.

“Here’s a prediction: 13 months from now, when the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire begin voting for presidential candidates, Americans will be even more weary of nearly 15 years of war, and U.S. intervention will be even less popular than it is now.”

Boaz notes that only one potential major party presidential candidate thus far has rejected interventionism in favor of a far less interventionist policy: libertarian-leaning Republican Rand Paul (R-KY).

They Said It… With Doug Bandow, Judge Andrew Napolitano And More

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

THE DRUG WAR GULAG: “The U.S. rate of incarceration, with nearly one of every 100 adults in prison or jail, is five to 10 times higher than the rates in Western Europe and other democracies… America puts people in prison for crimes that other nations don’t, mostly minor drug offenses, and keeps them in prison much longer. Yet these long sentences have had at best a marginal impact on crime reduction.” — former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and Nicholas Turner, “The Steep Cost of America’s High Incarceration Rate,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 25, 2014.

DEATH BY FDA: “The paternalist FDA long has delayed the approval of life-saving drugs, thereby killing thousands of people, far more than the number likely saved by preventing the sale of dangerous medicines.” — Doug Bandow, Cato Institute, “Close the Government to Close Bad Government Programs,” Cato Blog, December 31, 2014.

POLICE WATCHING YOU ONLINE:
Scottish Police on Twitter“Please be aware that we will continue to monitor comments on social media & any offensive comments will be investigated.” — tweet by the Scottish police, Dec. 30. Such monitoring is on the rise in the UK, according to the UK Independent; about 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online, and some have been arrested and imprisoned.

Judge Andrew Napolitano

NAPOLITANO ON TORTURE: “All torture is criminal under all circumstances — under treaties to which the U.S. is a party, under the Constitution that governs the government wherever it goes, and under federal law. Torture degrades the victim and the perpetrator. It undermines the moral authority of a country whose government condones it. It destroys the rule of law. It exposes our own folks to the awful retaliatory beheadings we have all seen. It is slow, inefficient, morbid, and ineffective. It is a recruiting tool for those who have come to cause us harm. All human beings possess basic inalienable rights derived from the natural law and protected by the Constitution the CIA has sworn to uphold. Torture violates all of those rights.” — Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, “The CIA and Its Torturers,” syndicated column, Dec. 11, 2014.

100 YEARS OF THE WAR ON DRUGS:
Mark Thornton“The War on Drugs … kills thousands of people, destroys untold number of lives, and wastes hundreds of billions of dollars every year. … What has the War on Drugs accomplished? It has not reduced access to illegal drugs. It has not reduced illegal drug use or abuse. It has not reduced the rate of addiction. If anything, the rates of use, abuse, and addiction have increased over the past century. Prison population statistics clearly indicate that it has been used to suppress minorities.

“It has also greatly increased the powers of law enforcement and the legal system and reduced the legal rights and protections of citizens under the tradition of the rule of law. It has greatly increased the militarization of the police and the use of the military in police work. It has also led to a significant increase in U.S. political and military intervention in foreign nations, particularly in the drug supply nations of Central and South America. … it is the number one cause of crime, corruption, and violence in the United States, as well as many of the countries of Central and South America.” — economist Mark Thornton, “The War on Drugs Was Born 100 Years Ago,” Mises Daily, December 17, 2014.

Page 2 of 1812345...10...Last »