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Do Libertarians Support a National Sales Tax?

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Question: I have read about proposals to eliminate the income tax and replace it Collect Taxwith a consumption tax (national sales tax). This seems like a very good idea. First, it would mean foreign manufacturers would pay almost the same tax as domestic ones. Second. it would remove the need for large accounting and legal departments in corporations, and would certainly simplify the paperwork of small businesses. Third, it would eliminate the ability of the wealthy to utilize loopholes in the present tax system. There are many more benefits I can see, and I can’t see a downside. Am I missing something? Do libertarians support this idea?

My Short Answer: Libertarians recognize that taxation of any kind is theft and therefore do not support taxation. However, some dedicated libertarians have been working to replace the income tax with a consumption tax, like the one you’ve outlined.

Among other things, they believe that people would feel the bite much more if everything they bought came with a double-digit sales tax. Tax increases would be more visible — and more unpopular for politicians to propose. The abuses perpetrated by the IRS would also end. Public support for abolishing taxes altogether would increase.

However, one danger many libertarians see in proposing this switch is the possibility that we would end up with a national sales tax AND an income tax.

Why not simply get rid of the income tax and replace it with nothing, as libertarian presidential candidates like Ron Paul and Harry Browne have proposed?

As Ron Paul told the New York Times in 2008: “I see a consumption tax as being a little better than the personal income tax, and I would vote for the Fair Tax if it came up in the House of Representatives, but it is not my goal. We can do better. … We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990s. We don’t need to ‘replace’ the income tax at all.”

Ron Paul is right. If all we did was to restrict government to its constitutional limits, we could provide for defense and other necessary functions with constitutionally-permitted excise taxes.

Then, libertarians could start working on getting rid of those, too!

LEARN MORE: Suggestions for further reading on this topic, pro and con, from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris:

Fairtax.org is the website of Americans For Fair Taxation, a non-profit organization that argues for the Fair Tax. Their site includes an extensive FAQ that answers common questions about the proposal.

* “There Is No Such Thing as a Fair Tax“ by Laurence M. Vance, Mises Daily, December 12, 2005. Vance says advocates of the Fair Tax are right on the evils of the income tax, but the Fair Tax isn’t the solution. He lists 17 problems with the Fair Tax from a libertarian perspective.

* “Against the FairTax Proposal“ by Jim Cox, LewRockwell.com, March 29, 2005. Additional criticisms of the Fair Tax from the author of The Concise Guide to EconomicsMinimum Wage Maximum Damage, and The Haiku Economist, the latter two published by the Advocates.

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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.

Short Essays Attract More Readers

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

(From the Persuasion PowerPoint section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Every week, more and more online and offline writers flood us with more and more information.

They write long essays and long books.Writing

You and I simply don’t have enough time to read everything worth reading.

So we skim, sift, and sort a few pages of this and a few pages of that — to determine which, if either, is worth an hour — or more.

Would you like your writing to go to the front of the line?

Would you like busy, overwhelmed readers to read your whole essay?

Write a short, short piece. 300 words.

Or write a short blog or essay. 600 to 900 words.

SurfingIn a world of long essays, the short essays stand out.

And they can be read in less time than it takes to decide whether to read the 3,000 to 5,000 word essay.

An average reader can read 300 words in 90 seconds — or 900 words in 4-1/2 minutes.

Want to quickly learn how to write brief, to-the-point essays?

First, read How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark.

Second, read The 30-Minute Writer by Connie Emerson.

Your essays will get read — by the vital, busy, bright readers you want to reach.

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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.

Would Religious References Be Removed from Money, Courts and Schools in a Libertarian Society?

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. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: I want to see the removal of all references to a god from money, courts, and schools, as I believe these are a violation of the separation of church and state. What is the libertarian stance on this?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, all schools would be private. You could send your children to a school that catered to your tastes (i.e., no references to a deity or religion) and religious people could send their children to a school devoted to Him (or Her as the case might be).

Competition in currency, which would be most likely in a libertarian society, would probably result in some private currencies without a religious reference and others with one.

Some libertarians believe that courts should compete as well; others want a monopolistic system like we have today. Since a libertarian society’s code would be ‘honoring our neighbor’s choice,’ it’s likely that courts would offer both Bible-based oaths and secular ones.

It’s a matter of choice. You choose what you want; others choose what they want. The market gives multiple choice; the government usually gives a one-size-fits-all monopoly.

If someone wants to use government to outlaw religious references, he can only do so by giving the government power to impose religious references. Rather than advocating such a win-lose situation, libertarians promote the win-win options that occur when we honor our neighbor’s choice, rather than imposing our own.

(For a more detailed explanation of what the phrase “honoring our neighbor’s choice” entails, see my book, Healing Our World, available from the Advocates. The earlier 1992 edition can be read online free at my website.)

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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.

Three Kinds of Government Waste

in Communicating Liberty by Michael Cloud Comments are off

Champagne and Beer

(From the Persuasion PowerPoint section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

1. Paying champagne prices for beer quality.

2. Buying champagne when all you need is beer.

3. Buying champagne or beer when you don’t need either.

Waste: the government doesn’t need it. Taxpayers can’t afford it.

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Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian PersuasionMichael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively in our store, 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.

“Home to Their Families”

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bring them homeIn a statement this week  — featured in the Intellectual Ammunition column in this issue — the Libertarian Party called for the U.S. to “immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and bring them home to their families.”

“Bring them home to their families.” That’s very powerful wording.

Libertarians often use wording like “bring our troops home.” And that’s a very useful phrase.

But adding “back home to their families” makes that far, far Home to their familiesstronger.

“Bring our troops back home to their families.”

The use of “back home” and “to their families” creates a vivid and heartwarming picture of returning husbands and fathers, back from the wars at last, greeted and embraced by tearful, loving wives and children. Of sons and daughters welcomed by their happy and relieved moms and dads and brothers and sisters.

This phrasing has an emotional appeal, something we libertarians need to do more often.

“Bring our troops back home to their families.”

That’s exactly what we want to do. That’s where American soldiers belong — defending America, not carelessly flung abroad to fight in vague wars without constitutional legitimacy and without national defense purposes. It’s a great way libertarians can demonstrate they — to use an oft-heard phrase — truly “support our troops.”

And many Americans — especially those with friends, relatives and loved ones in the military — will respond positively to this wording.

Try it and see.

Will Libertarianism Only Work if People are Rational and Reasonable?

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: I’m not sure libertarianism can work unless people are rational and reasonable. And I’ve encountered at least as many irrational, unreasonable folks in my life as I have rational and reasonable ones. I’d like to know: how does libertarian philosophy address that issue?

MY SHORT ANSWER: The ideal political system is one which teaches people to be rational and reasonable. Only libertarianism does this by rewarding responsibility and penalizing irresponsibility.

Conversely, our current system usually does just the opposite.

You’d probably have run into fewer irrational, unreasonable folks if the 20th century had been more libertarian!

LEARN MORE: Suggested additional reading on this topic from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris:

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences-winning libertarian economist Gary Becker addresses this question briefly in his essay “Libertarian Paternalism: A Critique.

The relevant excerpts:

“Libertarians believe that individuals should be allowed to pursue their own interests, unless their behavior impacts the interests of others, especially if it negatively impacts others. So individuals should be allowed, according to this view, to buy the food they want, whereas drunk drivers should be constrained because they harm others, and chemical producers should be prevented from polluting as much as they would choose because their pollution hurts children and adults. …

“Classical arguments for libertarianism do not assume that adults never make mistakes, always know their interests, or even are able always to act on their interests when they know them. Rather, it assumes that adults very typically know their own interests better than government officials, professors, or anyone else…

“In addition, the classical libertarian case partly rests on a presumption that being able to make mistakes through having the right to make one’s own choices leads in the long run to more self-reliant, competent, and independent individuals. It has been observed, for example, that prisoners often lose the ability to make choices for themselves after spending many years in prison where life is rigidly regulated.

“In effect, the libertarian claim is that the ‘process’ of making choices leads to individuals who are more capable of making good choices.”

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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.

Questions to Open People’s Minds to Liberty

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

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

When you discuss politics or economics with others, do you ask thought-provoking libertarian questions?

Or do you make statements?

Do you invite them to consider new possibilities?

Or do you just argue?

What if certain provocative questions could get others to let down their mental defenses
and impartially consider libertarianism?

Would you be willing to experiment with several mind-opening libertarian questions — and see what results you get?

Try these.

“What if the situation is the opposite of what people in government say it is?”

“What if marijuana prohibition and the Drug War don’t contain or hold down drug use? What if they drive it up?”

“What if they have it backwards?”

“What if drug cartels and drug gangs don’t cause more drug use? What if drug prohibition and the War on Drugs promote and strengthen the cartels and gangs?”

“What if drive-by shootings are the result of drug prohibition, not drugs? How many drive-by shootings have we seen by alcohol distillers and brewers in the last 80 years?”

“What if the government ‘cure’ is worse than the disease?”

“What if the 2009 federal government bailout of Wall Street businesses caused more economic harm to taxpayers who footed the bill and other Wall Street businesses than liquidating the reckless, riverboat-gambling businesses would have?”

“What if tax-funded federal government propping-up of overpriced houses and inflated home loans made things worse for taxpayers and home buyers who were prudent and frugal and did NOT recklessly gamble their earnings and savings?”

“What if government non-involvement results in quick, efficient, inexpensive private-sector solutions?”

“What if, left alone by government, most social or economic problems were solved by private charity, private enterprise, and private ingenuity — at no cost to taxpayers?”

“What if, with NO government involvement, most social or economic problems were dramatically reduced or solved by the men and women and families in the private sector?”

Want the people you talk with to examine and embrace libertarian answers?

Why not ask them thought-provoking libertarian questions like those above?

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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.

Daily Beast: World’s Smallest Political Quiz and OPH Recruiting New Libertarians at CPAC

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

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Guess which booth at this year’s widely-covered CPAC drew the biggest, mostexcited crowds?

(CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Committee — is the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservative activists and office holders, with a strong number of libertarian students among the attendees.)

Here’s what The Daily Beast — one of the most influential news sites on the web, read by millions of readers each month – reported:

“Of all the booths, the one consistently drawing the biggest crowds was WarOnYouth, a joint project by Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty (YAL)…

“As a clever gimmick, YAL was having passers-by fill out a quickie quiz to determine where they fell on an ideological quadrant that included not just a left/right divide, but also a libertarian/statist one.

 “According to the results chart, the vast majority of respondents fell into the libertarian range, represented by — surprise! — Ron and Rand Paul.”

Yes, that’s Operation Politically Homeless (OPH) and the World’s Smallest Political Quiz working their magic on the CPAC crowd!

Once again the incredible effectiveness of the Advocates’ Operation Politically Homeless booth was demonstrated. Once again OPH has been used to reach the minds of the political leaders, activists and donors of tomorrow.

From the very first time the Advocates introduced OPH, some 25 years ago, users have told us over and over again that OPH brings their outreach booth and tabling efforts alive.

OPH consistently makes a booth the most active, the most talked about, the most fascinating, at any event. OPH consistently draws the biggest crowds, the greatest attention. It is fun and fascinating — for boothers and attendees alike.

And OPH opens minds and changes lives.

I strongly believe OPH, and the World’s Smallest Political Quiz that is the heart of OPH, has played a major role in opening up America’s political landscape to include libertarians.

Prior to the introduction of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, most Americans thought of politics using a simplistic model of left versus right — which excludes libertarians.

But for over 25 years the Quiz has opened tens of millions of minds to a better political map — one that includes libertarians.

The CPAC OPH booth is just the latest example of the crowd-drawing, mind-opening power of this remarkable tool.

Ron Paul observed the power of the Quiz and OPH many years ago, and put it very well: “The World’s Smallest Political Quiz is responsible for many Americans’ first contact with libertarian ideas. While traveling around the country, I have often heard people say, ‘I never knew I was a libertarian until I took the Quiz!’”

Over 1,000 OPH Kits Delivered FREE to Campus Libertarian Groups

More good news: I am pleased to announce a new OPH milestone.

In the past few years the Advocates has given — completely free of charge — over 1,000 OPH booths to libertarian campus organizations across America.

These kits have reached tens of thousands of students with the ideas of liberty, and they will continue to do so for years. (Student groups: learn more about OPH — and how you can get your FREE OPH kit if you haven’t already — here.)

These OPH kits are being used by libertarian campus groups to discover libertarian-leaning students and welcome them to the liberty movement. Libertarian campus organizations are using OPH to sign up new members and supporters — new libertarian activists who will work in college and after graduation to bring liberty to all America.

And that’s great news indeed!

Word Choice: Blowback — Foreign and Domestic

in Communicating Liberty, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, National Defense, War by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Blowback” is a term that originated in the CIA in 1954. It originally referred to the unintended consequences of a covert foreign operation — consequences that are often suffered by the civilians of the nation whose government instigated the covert operation. This “blowback” may take the form of riots, demonstrations, hostage-taking, terrorist attacks, and similar hostile actions. The civilians on the receiving end of the blowback don’t realize that it was their own government’s secret activities that caused the anger and violence being directed against them.

Blowback is a term heard more and more when discussing foreign policy. And its definition is often expanded to include overt as well as covert foreign interventions that have negative consequences.

Ron Paul helped popularize the concept of blowback, as well as the word itself, during his GOP presidential campaign runs. For example, in the 2008 Republican presidential primary debates in South Carolina, he introduced it this way:

“I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about ‘blowback.’ When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages, and that persists. And if we ignore [blowback], we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think… if other foreign countries were doing that to us?”

Scholar Chalmers Johnson also popularized the term in an influential trilogy of books: Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (2000); The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (2005); and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006).

Johnson defines the term and tells about the operation that led the CIA to use it:

“’Blowback’ is a CIA term first used in March 1954 in a recently declassified report on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the U.S. government’s international activities that have been kept secret from the American people. The CIA’s fears that there might ultimately be some blowback from its egregious interference in the affairs of Iran were well founded. Installing the Shah in power brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression to the Iranian people and elicited the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. The staff of the American embassy in Teheran was held hostage for more than a year. This misguided ‘covert operation’ of the U.S. government helped convince many capable people throughout the Islamic world that the United States was an implacable enemy.”

Blowback is a useful word in describing the unintended, but often terrible,  consequences of foreign intervention.

But it is a very useful term for discussing domestic policy as well.

Just like foreign intervention, domestic government intervention has many unintended negative consequences. As the word “blowback” becomes a familiar, popular, colorful pejorative in foreign policy discussions, it is also beginning to be used to describe the unintended destructive consequences of domestic government activities.

Libertarians — who are very aware of the negative unintended consequences of government domestic policy — can use the word blowback to add power and color to our discussions of domestic issues.

Some examples:

“An increase in the minimum wage would lead to blowback in the form of the loss of hundreds of thousands of desperately needed entry level jobs. This blowback would hit the most vulnerable people in our economy: the low-paid, the unemployed, the under-educated, minorities, and the young.”

“Blowback from the War on Drugs includes crowded prisons and wasted law enforcement resources, overdoses from impure street drugs, the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis B and C from shared needles, drugs peddled to children, loss of fundamental Bill of Rights civil liberties, the enriching of violent criminal gangs, the funding of terrorism, drive-by shootings by warring drug gangs… and more.”

“The blowback from government welfare programs includes the break-up of families, multi-generational poverty, dependence on government, and a weakening of the vital role that voluntarily-funded charities play in our society.”

There are innumerable further possibilities.

Blowback is a powerful, provocative word that quickly and colorfully conveys a vital concept. Many people realize its significance in the foreign policy realm. Their ears will perk up, and they may reach new understanding, when you apply it to domestic policy as well.

The FDA Vs. the Health and Safety of Americans

in Communicating Liberty, Healthcare, Liberator Online Archives by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

QUESTION: Which problem is the greatest: the FDA’s approving unsafe drugs, or the FDA’s delaying the approval of life-saving ones?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In 1992, Congress passed the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), allowing drug companies to voluntarily pay about $100,000 to get a speedier review. The money went to hire new reviewers.

The fee has grown steadily; it’s now over one million dollars per drug. The part of the FDA that reviews drug applications now receives about 50% of its funding from drug companies. FDA employees (e.g., Dr. David Graham, the whistleblower on Vioxx) have reported being told by supervisors that the drug companies — not the American public — are the FDA’s clients. This should be expected, as he who pays the bills makes the rules.

Does this mean that the FDA now approves unsafe drugs? It depends on how you look at it. Withdrawal rates (the percent of approved drugs removed from the market) from 1962-1992 and 1993-2013 are virtually identical at about 3%. As time goes on, however, more drugs approved during 1993-2013 are likely to be withdrawn. The differences may be small, though, as most withdrawals occur quickly. On the other hand, Vioxx, approved post-PDUFA, was by far the biggest drug disaster in history.

Does the FDA still delay approval of life-saving drugs? Yes! It does so by demanding that companies perform studies taking an average of 13-plus years. Prior to 1962, the average time was about 4 years. I suspect that these delays are still more costly, in terms of lives lost, than approvals of unsafe drugs.

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Buy It Now!Got 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.

How to Strengthen Your Voice and Prevent Hoarseness

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

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

If you’re a libertarian candidate, public speaker, or seminar leader, you need a strong, reliable speaking voice.

Not just for two or three 20-minute talks. But for six hours to nine hours of speeches, conversations, and questions and answers each campaign day. Each seminar day.

How do you protect or treat your voice against raw throat, hoarseness, and voice fatigue?

For years, professional speakers have used throat lozenges, cough syrup, throat spray, and other over-the-counter remedies. Results? Temporary, minimal relief.

“Not nearly good enough,” thought Steve Chandler, a longtime public speaker and seminar leader.

He looked for and finally found an all-natural, reliable and free solution.

What is it?

“Sing… for an hour a day,” urges Mr. Chandler. “Before I started my singing practice, I didn’t have much of a voice at all. Now I never have a problem with my voice. I can always fill the auditorium with it, even if the AV system goes down and the microphone goes out.”

When does he practice? When he runs errands, he plays music CDs in the car — and sings along with them. Sometimes when he works out, he plays the music on his iPod — and sings right along.

Skeptical? I was. So I put it to the test. For the last 20 days, I’ve sung along 60 minutes each day — to my favorite rock and pop singers. My voice has gotten stronger, more clear, and I have NO rawness or hoarseness.

Try it yourself. You’ll love the results.

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But It Now!Michael 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.

A Libertarian Approach to Black History Month

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Holidays and annual observances offer a great opportunity to present the ideas of liberty to new and receptive audiences. Every libertarian should collect a selection of facts and stories to share on those occasions. (We offer them frequently in the Liberator Online.)

February is Black History Month. This event, observed annually since 1976, opens the door for discussions on issues key to libertarians.

If anyone should be receptive to the message of libertarianism, it should be black Americans, who as a group have suffered from government oppression more than any other ethnic group in America, and whose historical and ongoing struggle for freedom is arguably the most dramatic one in our history.

And that story — the story of a people savagely oppressed by government power for centuries and bravely fighting to overcome that oppression — is one that Americans of all races would benefit from pondering. Libertarians have a unique angle to bring to that discussion.

As a start, I recommend “The Law Perverted: A Libertarian Approach to Black History Month,” an article by James Padilioni, Jr. of Students for Liberty. It will stimulate your thinking on this issue and provide a seldom-heard historical and theoretical background.

Black History Month is an excellent time to show how government coercion was and is the chief engine of the oppression of black Americans, as well as Americans in general. One obvious example is the War on Drugs, which is horrible for all society and from which blacks suffer disproportionately.

Here are some resources:

* “How the War on Drugs is Destroying Black America,” John McWhorter, Cato Institute.

* “Race and Prison,” drugwarfacts.org. Excerpt: “Mass arrests and incarceration of people of color — largely due to drug law violations — have hobbled families and communities by stigmatizing and removing substantial numbers of men and women. In the late 1990s, nearly one in three African-American men aged 20-29 were under criminal justice supervision, while more than two out of five had been incarcerated… orders of magnitudes higher than that for the general population. … In some areas, a large majority of African-American men — 55 percent in Chicago, for example — are labeled felons for life, and, as a result, may be prevented from voting…”

Another topic is state-created unemployment for black Americans. “Race and Economics,” a column by economist Walter Williams, examines this.

* Williams looks at the racist outcomes of the minimum wage more closely in Minimum Wage’s Discriminatory Effects.” Excerpt: “Minimum wage laws have massive political support, including that of black politicians. That means that many young black males will remain a part of America’s permanent underclass with crime, drugs and prison as their future.”

* Walter Williams’ 1982 book The State Against Blacks shows how numerous government programs, enacted supposedly enacted to help the poor have caused enormous harm to blacks and others.

* In his column “A Painful Anniversary“ economist Thomas Sowell argues that the 1960s Great Society / War on Poverty programs helped destroy black families. Excerpt: “The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”

* Another fascinating topic tailor-made for Black History Month is the little-known history of how gun rights helped protect civil rights activists and advance the civil rights movement. For starters, check out “Yes, Guns Are Dangerous. But They Also Save Lives and Secure Civil Rights” by Damon W. Root of Reason magazine. Also see this excellent review of the 2004 book The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement by Lance Hill, from The Nation magazine. This book tells the remarkable story of the Deacons for Defense, who at their peak had several hundred members and twenty-one chapters in the South.

* Ex-slave Frederick Douglass is one of the towering figures for liberty in American history.  A short libertarian look at Douglass is found in “Frederick Douglass, Classical Liberal: A fresh look at the political evolution of a great American,” a book review by Damon Root from the August/September 2012 issue of Reason magazine. Also, see  the Cato Institute’s libertarianism.org for more on, and by, Douglass.

* Finally, here’s a great collection of videos of black libertarians and classical liberals, past and present, speaking on liberty. They’re suitable for any time of year, of course, but Black History Month is a great time to share them.

Why Isn’t the Libertarian Movement Bigger and More Successful?

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

(From the Persuasion PowerPoint section in Volume 19, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Reading diet books won’t make you thin.

Reading exercise books won’t make you fit.

Reading libertarian books won’t make you free.

If you want small government and freedom, you must act.

Not just once. Regularly, repeatedly, relentlessly.

In 1995, I gave speeches at a number of Libertarian Party state conventions. After one of these speeches, a man in his thirties asked me, “Why aren’t there more women here?”

“How many women did you bring?” I asked.

“None,” he said.

“How many women did you invite?” I asked.

“None,” he said.

“How many women did you tell about this Libertarian convention?” I asked.

“None.”

“So, what’s your answer to your question? Why aren’t more women here?”

“Because I didn’t tell them, I didn’t invite them, I didn’t bring them…” he answered.

Why isn’t the libertarian movement bigger?

How many people have you shared libertarian ideas with in the last seven days?

How many people have you forwarded libertarian essays and articles to in the last seven days? How many times have you shared libertarian ideas, essays, and articles with each of them?

How many people have you invited to sign up for a free subscription to the Liberator Online?

How many people have you invited to support the vital work of the Advocates for Self-Government — so the Advocates can reach and teach more people?

What have you done to bring more people into the libertarian movement in the last seven days? What will you do to make the libertarian movement bigger in the next seven days?

Why isn’t the libertarian movement more successful?

In the last seven days, what have you done to make it more successful?

Have you used Advocates tools — like OPH and the World’s Smallest Political Quiz — to effectively reach new people and bring them into the liberty movement?

Have you done volunteer work for a libertarian political campaign? Have you donated to the campaign — so they can reach more people?

Reading diet books won’t make you thin.

Reading exercise books won’t make you fit.

Reading libertarian books won’t make you free.

If you want a bigger and more successful libertarian movement, YOU must act.

Not just once. Regularly, repeatedly, relentlessly.

What are YOU going to do?

They Said It

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

LIBERTARIANS, REPEAT AFTER ME: “Libertarians, repeat after me. The goal is Jeffrey Tuckerhuman liberty. The dream is human liberty. The ideal is human liberty. The end is human liberty. Therefore the subject is human liberty. And what does liberty encompass? All things wonderful, productive, beautiful, creative, magnificent. It’s because you believe in these things that you are a libertarian. Anything that distracts from human liberty, much less contradicts that, is irrelevant to the libertarian message. Don’t get distracted. Please. Civilization needs your voice, your passion, your love.” — libertarian writer and entrepreneur Jeffrey Tucker, Facebook, October 12, 2013.

Justice Antonin ScaliaJUDGE SCALIA: MASS ROUND-UPS, IMPRISONMENT COULD HAPPEN (AGAIN): “Well, of course, Korematsu [1944 US Supreme Court decision upholding mass incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II] was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again. ‘Silent enim leges inter arma.’ [In times of war, the laws fall silent.] That’s what was going on — the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot. That’s what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification but it is the reality.” — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaking to law students at the University of Hawaii law school, Feb. 3, 2014.

THE WAR ON DRUGS VS PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: “Our drug policy ofEugene Robinson prohibition and interdiction makes it difficult and dangerous for people like Hoffman to get high, but not impossible — and it makes these tragic overdose deaths more common than they have to be. The obvious problem is that when an addict buys drugs on the street, he or she has no way of knowing how pure the product is and what else it might contain. …As long as this commerce is illegal, it is totally unregulated. Since we know that addicts will continue to buy drugs on the street, we also know that some will die from drugs that are either too potent or adulterated with other substances that could make them lethal. Is this really the intent of our drug policy? To invite users to kill themselves?” — syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson, “Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death shows that we’re losing this drug war,” Feb. 3, 2014.

Vermont Governor Peter ShumlinVERMONT GOV. SAYS WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST: “We have lost the War on Drugs. The notion that we can arrest our way out of this problem is yesterday’s theory.” — Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, PBS Newshour, January 9, 2014.

NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRISTIE DENOUNCES “FAILED New Jersey Governor Chris ChristieWAR ON DRUGS”: “We will end the failed War on Drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse. We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable. We will fight to continue to change government so that we value our differences and honor the strength of our diversity.” — Gov. Chris Christie‘s inaugural speech, Jan. 21, 2014.

Erick EricksonLAISSEZ FAIRE: “You know what the government can do for me? Leave me the hell alone. They can’t get us through airports without groping us, they can’t deliver our mail without a bailout, they can’t fight a war without turning the military into a sociological experiment, and they can’t manage healthcare without 404 errors, death panels, and rigged numbers to hide massive debt. Leave us alone. … If they’d just leave us alone, I suspect we’d be just fine, have more freedom, and Main Street could be productive again.” — conservative commentator Erick Erickson, “Leave Us Alone,” RedState.com,  January 28th, 2014.

Word Choices: “Free Enterprise” Instead of Capitalism?

in Communicating Liberty by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Word choices are very important. Two words might mean the same thing to you. But to your audience, one word may be far more meaningful and positive than another — and may get your point across not just more favorably, but more accurately.

An example is the word “capitalism” to describe the economic system libertarians believe in.

In a past column, I described some of the positive and negative reactions some audiences have to “capitalism,” and suggested some alternatives that are better in some circumstances.

You can read that column here.

Now we have some fascinating information to add.

A January 2010 Gallup poll makes a very good case for using “free enterprise” in many situations.

This January 2010 poll asked a representative sampling of Americans whether their top-of-mind reactions to several political terms were positive or negative. Respondents were not given explanations or descriptions of the terms.

Two of those terms were “capitalism” and “free enterprise.”

Both words, of course, essentially mean the same thing in typical, common usage.

However, they drew considerably different approval ratings.

First, the word “capitalism.”

Says Gallup: “Americans are more positive than negative on ‘capitalism,’ the word typically used to describe the United States’ prevailing economic system.

“‘Capitalism’ generates positive ratings from a majority of Americans, with a third saying their reaction is negative [61% versus 33%].

Ellis Island“Republicans are significantly more positive than Democrats in their reactions to ‘capitalism,’ although majorities of both groups have favorable opinions.

“Conservatives have the highest positive image [for the word "capitalism"], followed by liberals. Moderates have somewhat lower positive ratings than either of these groups.”

Now consider reaction to the term “free enterprise.”

According to Gallup:

“Americans are almost uniformly positive in their reactions to… ‘free enterprise.’”

“Eighty-six percent of respondents rated the term ‘free enterprise’ positively, giving it substantially more positive ratings than ‘capitalism.’ Although in theory these two concepts are not precisely the same, they are in many ways functional equivalents.

“Yet, underscoring the conventional wisdom that words matter, the public clearly reacts differently to the two terms. Free enterprise as a concept rings more positively to the average American than does the term capitalism.

“Strongly positive ratings of free enterprise are generally uniform across both partisan groups [Democrats and Republicans], and across the three ideological groups [liberals, conservatives, moderates].”

Gallup sums up with a lesson effective libertarian communicators cannot ignore:

“Bottom line: As most politicians and many in business have learned, the choice of words to describe a concept or a policy can often make a substantial difference in the public’s reaction. The current research confirms that assumption.

“It is apparent that ‘free enterprise’ evokes more positive responses than ‘capitalism,’ despite the apparent similarity between the two terms.”

NOTE: The same Gallup report I link to above also offers a very useful analysis by Gallup that breaks the popularity of these phrases down further, by political ideology (conservative, liberal, and “moderate”), by party, and so on. I highly recommend this short analysis to anyone seriously interested in using these terms effectively.

A Modest Proposal for New Year’s Resolutions

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

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

We’re now well into the New Year. If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve either made New Year’s resolutions or you’re thinking you ought to make some.

“Let’s see. I ought to lose 10 pounds. And I probably ought to stop smoking. Oh yeah, I need to spend more time with my spouse,” you might say.

So you write down these items. New Year’s is a good time to improve yourself. And this time you’ll really keep your resolutions. Uh-huh.

Why did you pick these resolutions?

They’re hard. They’re important. They’re uplifting. And you’d feel really proud of yourself if you actually accomplished them.

So you start out with the best of intentions. The highest of hopes. And a grim determination.

Then you break one of them. You forget another. Before you know it, your resolutions have you on your back, all four feet in the air, another victim of resolution road kill.

You feel guilty. You get a funny-looking grin on your face when your friends ask you, “How are your resolutions coming?”

Your self-esteem plummets. Until time lets you forget all about the resolutions.

Frankly, this isn’t good for you.

It isn’t good for the people you spend time with.

But I have a solution.

It’s bold, breathtaking, and BIG.

It feeds your need to be uplifted. It gives you a steely look and the calm confidence of a poker player holding four Aces.

THE BIG TRUTH: Most of your problems are caused by other people.

Your life would be a whole lot smoother if other people were way more considerate of your wants and needs. Of your hopes and expectations.

Your life would be a whole lot better if other people would stop being so selfish.

Always putting themselves first. Always thinking about their problems. Always wanting things their way.

Most religions teach that it is better to give than to receive.

So what is the greatest gift you can give to others?

The opportunity for them to give.

THE MODEST PROPOSAL: Write New Year’s Resolutions for other people. Tell them exactly how they can make your life better, and nicer, and happier.

Why should you lose 10 pounds? After all, how many times do you look in the mirror each day? They should lose 10 pounds. You look at them more often than you look at yourself.

And they should learn to say, “You’re not fat. You’re snuggly.”

Why should you stop smoking? They should learn to appreciate the fragrant smell of burning tobacco. And enjoy the process of scooping up ashes that have fallen in the wrong place. And cleaning out ashtrays.

Why should you spend more time with your spouse?

She should appreciate the spare moments you ration out. After all, the rare is the precious. If diamonds were commonplace, who would value them? If your time were commonplace, would your wife really appreciate you?

Remember, most of your problems are caused by other people.

That means that most of your solutions can be provided by other people. Unless they insist on selfishness.

Maybe your friends don’t call you often enough. Or invite you to dinner regularly. Or listen in rapt attention when you repeat your story for the 11th time.

It is better to give than to receive. Help them give. Write their resolutions so that they can learn to give and give and give.

Write their resolutions so that they can grow and grow and grow.

So they can be more worthy of being your friend.

So make up a list of your friends. Write out their New Year’s Resolutions. The resolutions that put you first. The resolutions that make them better friends. Resolutions that let them live to give.

If they keep those resolutions, they’ll become stronger and better.

If they fail to keep the New Year’s Resolutions you wrote for them, they will feel frustrated. Guilty. They will suffer plummeting self-esteem.

Help your friends become better people. Write their New Year’s Resolutions today.

Some day they’ll thank you.

The “Trickle Down Economics” Myth — and How to Refute It

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Economist and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell begins a recent column this way:

“New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, in his inaugural speech, denounced people ‘on the far right’ who ‘continue to preach the virtue of trickle-down economics.’ According to Mayor de Blasio, ‘They believe that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work their way down to everyone else.’”

President Obama, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Paul Krugman and many other prominent persons and publications have similarly attacked “trickle-down economics.”

There’s just one problem, says Sowell. No economist in history has ever advocated such a policy. The phrase is pure propaganda; the alleged theory is a straw man. “Trickle-down economics” is a pejorative term made up by opponents of free enterprise to distort what genuine free market reform is all about and to demonize those who advocate free enterprise.

Indeed, writes Sowell: “If there is ever a contest for the biggest lie in politics, this one should be a top contender. While there have been all too many lies told in politics, most have some little tiny fraction of truth in them, to make them seem plausible. But the ‘trickle-down’ lie is 100 percent lie.”

Sowell argues, in his book Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy, in papers, and in several columns, that no economist in history has ever advocated a “trickle-down” economic theory, i.e., giving tax breaks, regulatory breaks, and other advantages overwhelmingly to the wealthy, in the belief that some crumbs from this will eventually fall to the poor.

“Years ago, this column challenged anybody to quote any economist outside of an insane asylum who had ever advocated this ‘trickle-down’ theory. Some readers said that somebody said that somebody else had advocated a ‘trickle-down’ policy. But they could never name that somebody else and quote them.”

Further, Sowell notes: “The ‘trickle-down’ theory cannot be found in even the most voluminous scholarly studies of economic theories — including J.A. Schumpeter’s monumental History of Economic Analysis, more than a thousand pages long and printed in very small type.”

In short, the phrase “trickle-down economics” is a slur, a weapon used to attack free market advocates by distorting what they actually believe.

If you hear the phrase “trickle down economics” used to describe what you believe or what free enterprise reform is concerned with, don’t accept it. Don’t allow it to define what we believe. Politely but firmly reject it, as we’ve done above.

Say instead that what you favor is genuine free enterprise. Libertarians believe free enterprise benefits everyone, especially the disadvantaged, and we want to bring those benefits to everyone — rich, middle class, and poor alike.

Then make a persuasive case that free market small-government reforms will immediately benefit the poor. Point out how government policies destroy jobs and keep skilled but unlicensed entrepreneurs from starting businesses. How the government education monopoly harms poor children. How minimum wage laws, high taxes, convoluted tax laws, regulations, corporate subsidies, drug laws and so many other government policies hurt poor families and deny them opportunity.

There’s not room to cover these issues in this column, of course. As we’ve noted in previous columns, these are the kinds of questions libertarians are frequently asked, and you should have soundbite answers and up-to-date facts at your fingertips.

Finally, when choosing the phrase to describe the economic system of liberty, consider alternatives to “laissez faire capitalism,” which provokes a negative response from many people. By far the most positive such phrase, according to recent Gallup polls, is “free enterprise.” You can read more about this in my column here.

Help the truth about this too-often-heard propaganda phrase “trickle down” to fellow freedom fighters. Pass the word on to other free enterprise advocates.

Make Your Christmas Joyous — and Libertarian

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

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 24 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Would it take a miracle to win your family or friends to libertarianism?

liberty christmas ornament

Liberty Christmas Ornament

Christmas is the season of miracles. And you just might cause one by giving your loved one stimulating and fun libertarian gifts this Christmas.

Does your family member or friend like movies? Why not buy him a DVD of an entertaining movie with a libertarian theme: “The Americanization of Emily” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (the 1950s original) or — if you’re a practicing capitalist — “Atlas Shrugged, The Movie” Parts 1 and 2, and “Other People’s Money.”

Unsure of which movie to select? Buy yourself “Miss Liberty’s Guide to Film and Video” from the Advocates this year. It contains over 250 reviews of films that deal with subjects such as free speech, the draft, drug laws, taxation, regulation, sexual liberty, immigration, and many more.

Does your sister or brother like fiction? Buy them Give Me Liberty edited by Martin Greenberg and Mark Tier. This collection of libertarian short stories might jump-start a lifetime love affair with liberty. Have them read And Then There Were None by Eric Frank Russell first. You haven’t read it? Get yourself a copy, too.

Or try these libertarian classics:

  • The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein.
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
  • The Last War (Ferret Chronicles) by Richard Bach.

Do they prefer non-fiction books?

  • How I Found Freedom In an Unfree World by Harry Browne can shatter their prejudices and open their minds. It’s available as an ebook at HarryBrowne.org
  • Why Government Doesn’t Work and The Great Libertarian Offer by Harry Browne are simple and direct, engaging and readable books. They make great presents — and you CAN give YOURSELF a Christmas present, too. Also available at the Harry Browne link above.
  • Libertarianism in One Lesson by David Bergland. A short and elegant read, hailed by many critics as “the best short guide to libertarianism available.”
  • Healing Our World by Dr. Mary Ruwart. Do you have progressives or New Agers in your life? This book really connects with them.
  • Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion by Michael Cloud. This is the gift that keeps giving the gift of liberty. It will multiply the effectiveness of every libertarian conversation. This is the perfect gift for the libertarians in your life. Including you. Available from the Advocates.
  • One suggested CD set: “Personal Responsibility is the Price of Liberty,” a 2-CD set that makes a powerful case for the libertarian concept of individual responsibility. Many people who are NOT receptive and responsive to our message of individual liberty open their hearts and minds to personal responsibility.

These are a few popular libertarian Christmas gifts. The Advocates has many more at their Liberty Store, and until the end of the year, they’re available at a huge 30% discount!

These are Christmas gifts that may well make a difference in your brother’s or sister’s or friend’s life. Christmas gifts they will cherish for years to come. Make this season one of glad tidings and hope for your loved ones. Make their Christmas joyous — and libertarian!

Comparisons: Questions that Make People Think

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Government is often inconsistent and unfair. 

By asking the right questions, you can get people to see this unfairness and inconsistency, and lead them to question commonly-accepted coercive government programs.

Here are some examples:

“Why should people who spend their own money on country music be forced by the government to subsidize the tastes of people who like classical music?”

“Why should people who pay their own money to subscribe to newspapers and pay for cable news be forced by the government to subsidize the news preferences of NPR fans?”

“Why should families who are working and scrimping and saving so they can send their kids to a private school that best suits their values be forced by the government to also pay for the education of children of other families, many of whom are better off economically than they are?”

“Why should people who want to teach their kids to play tennis be forced by the government to pay for baseball, football and soccer fields for other people’s kids?”

“Why should people who don’t like sports, or who support other sports besides professional sports, be forced by the government to pay for stadiums and other giveaways to wealthy sports corporations?”

Note: I like to say “forced by the government” so it is clear that force is being used, and clear who is doing it.

To questions like this, you can also point out that many people suffer from these programs. I did that in some of those questions. Here’s another example, using the first question above:

“Why should people who like country music — and who, in these difficult economic times, may be struggling to pay mortgages and household bills — be forced by the government to subsidize the tastes of people who like classical music?”

And it’s not just music and sports, of course. Here’s a variation:

“Why should people whose intoxicant of choice is marijuana be arrested and imprisoned by the government, while people who prefer intoxicants that are arguably more dangerous, like liquor and tobacco, are left alone?”

“If someone needs a job, and someone else is willing to pay less than the minimum wage to have some work done, why should this private, consensual, and mutually beneficial arrangement be forbidden by the government?”

“Why are some people forbidden by the government to gain work skills by offering to work for less than the minimum wage, while university students are allowed to work as interns with low or even no pay in order to learn the ropes of high-paying professions?”

What other comparisons can you think of that will change your listeners’ minds, open their hearts, and let them see the injustice of government programs through the eyes of those who are harmed by them?

What happens to farmers if we end government farm subsidies?

in Communicating Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: If you remove all farm subsidies, what happens to the farmer when drought or flood hits and he losses his crop for one year?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Like other business people, farmers plan for bad years through savings, insurance, etc. If they fail to make such plans, they suffer the same fate as other businesses operating on the edge — they go under in tough times. They are bought out by someone who manages better. The displaced farmers find an occupation more suited to their particular talents.

Subsidies discourage good management and encourage inefficiency. As a result, consumers pay more for less.

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

* “Five Reasons to Repeal Farm Subsidies“ by Chris Edwards, Cato Institute, May 31, 2013.

EXCERPT: “Why is farming so coddled by the government? It’s a risky business, but not uniquely so. Industries such as high technology, newspapers, and restaurants are very risky, yet they don’t rely on government handouts. Farming faces certain risks such as adverse weather. But high-tech companies are vulnerable to rapid innovations by competitors, and restaurants are vulnerable to changing consumer tastes and intense competition. … If farm subsidies were ended…a stronger and more innovative agriculture industry would emerge that would be more productive and more resilient in the long run.”

* “GOP Hypocrisy and the Farm Bill“ By Michael Tanner, Cato Institute, Huffington Post, July 12, 2013. In this op-ed Tanner dissects a federal farm bill and shows the anti-market, anti-consumer nature of farm subsidies — and the shockingly huge conservative support for them.

EXCERPT: “In 2011, the last year for which full data is available, the average farm household had an income of $87,289, 25 percent higher than the average for all U.S. households. And about a third of the farm subsidies go to the largest four percent of farm operators. If you want to see real ‘welfare queens,’ look no further than Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyler Farms, and Riceland Foods.”

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