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Do You Prefer Cats, Dogs — Or Liberty?

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

As president of the organization that publishes the world’s first and most popular online political Quiz, I was naturally interested when TIME magazine posted an online political quiz this month in an article entitled “Your Personality Makes Your Politics.”

“Can TIME Predict Your Politics?” the article’s subhead asked.

Alas, for me — and, I suspect, many other readers — the answer was a resounding NO.

I took their quiz, and TIME’s description of my political views was wildly out of synch with what I believe. Not even remotely close. And I found some of the questions downright bewildering.

There are several reasons for this, which I’ll discuss in a moment.

But the main reason TIME got my position so very, very wrong is that my political view — libertarian — was not one of the possible answers.

Yes, that’s right. TIME’s quiz attempts to shoehorn every taker’s politics as some variant of liberal, conservative, or moderate.

TIME’s quiz uses the simplistic, inaccurate, discriminatory, discredited left-versus-right view of politics — which leaves out libertarians entirely.

And there’s simply no excuse for that.

Numerous recent surveys indicate that 15%-20% or more of Americans are more libertarian than either liberal or conservative. The 2012 Cato Institute book The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center explores these results at length, and concludes that 10 to 20 percent of Americans are fiscally conservative and socially liberal-libertarian.

In August 2000 the Rasmussen polling firm gave the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz to nearly 1,000 representative American voters. Our Quiz is a far more rigorous test of one’s libertarian leanings than the looser definitions typically used by polling firms. Yet fully sixteen percent scored in the libertarian sector then — a figure roughly identical to Cato’s estimate.

And the numbers are growing fast. An August poll by FreedomWorks found that fully “78 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.” Further: “Told that libertarians generally believe individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives, 58 percent of the full national sample said they agree.”

Any attempt to identify American’s political leanings that leaves out many of these millions of libertarians and libertarian-leaners is thus doomed to fail.

The inadequacies of the left-versus-right model of politics was the main reason David Nolan created his now-famous Nolan Chart back in 1971, the graphic foundation of the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

By showing that there was more to politics than just left versus right, our Quiz has opened millions of minds to a more inclusive, more insightful political map.

This accuracy is one reason the Quiz rapidly became the world’s most popular political quiz. It’s been taken over 20 million times online. It’s been recommended by numerous major high school and college textbooks and is used in classrooms across America. It’s been translated into several languages and reprinted in newspapers and magazines with total circulations in the many millions.

All of this is because it works. Because it provides honest, essential, enlightening insights into politics. Because it realizes that no discussion of modern American politics makes sense without including the distinctive libertarian view (and its mirror-opposite, statism).

But back to the TIME quiz.

I have a lot of respect for the researcher behind TIME’s quiz. Jonathan Haidt is the author of the outstanding 2012 book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, which is carefully researched and rich in political insights. I recommend it.

That book shows Haidt has a solid understanding of libertarianism and, more than that, an appreciation of what libertarians believe. And I’m a strong proponent of Haidt’s goal of fostering more productive political discussions through a greater understanding of different viewpoints.

TIME’s quiz isn’t a traditional political quiz. It tries to identify your politics based on a number of seemingly non-political questions that have been found to correlate with a person’s political leanings. The first question, for instance is, “Do you prefer cats or dogs?”

This is an interesting line of research, but since libertarians apparently aren’t included in this — and since the overriding value of libertarians is political liberty across the board, trumping cultural or lifestyle matters — I would think it would be hard to identify libertarians in such a way (though I could be wrong). Perhaps the quiz’s lack of a libertarian score indicates this.

A few of the questions also suffer from ambiguity in wording, something libertarians are especially sensitive to. Like “Respect for authority is something all children need to learn.” What KIND of authority? Political? Family? School? Religion? Tell us more! For libertarians, the key political question is always: Is force being initiated?

By the way, Haidt himself acknowledges the problems with the left-right line. In the introduction to his TIME quiz, he notes: “many people can’t place themselves along the liberal-conservative dimension — such as libertarians, or people who find wisdom on both sides on different issues.” The results, he says, is that the TIME quiz has “moderate predictive power.”

Given this, TIME’s Quiz — like all efforts at political measurement based on the hopelessly inadequate left-versus-right model — is doomed to not work for millions of us — or to produce less than satisfying results overall.

Back to the drawing board, TIME! Meanwhile, why not offer the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to your readers — as the Washington Post, London Sunday Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miami Herald and many other outstanding publications have done?

They Said It…

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

SECRETIVE US SPECIAL OP FORCES DEPLOYED WORLDWIDE: “A review of open-source information reveals that in 2012 and 2013, US Special Operations forces (SOF) were likely deployed to — or training, advising or operating with the personnel of — more than 100 foreign countries. And that’s probably an undercount. In 2011, then-SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that Special Operations personnel were annually sent to 120 countries around the world. They were in, that is, about 60 percent of the nations on the planet. … SOCOM is weaving a complex web of alliances with government agencies at home and militaries abroad to ensure that it’s at the center of every conceivable global hot spot and power center. In fact, Special Operations Command has turned the planet into a giant battlefield…” — award-winning journalist Nick Turse, “Why Are US Special Operations Forces Deployed in Over 100 Countries? That’s over 60 percent of the nations on the planet,” The Nation, January 7, 2014.

JUDGE: FOUNDERS WOULD BE “AGHAST” AT NSA: “[N]o court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion. … I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.” — from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon‘s Dec. 16 ruling that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records was “almost certainly” unconstitutional. The issue seems headed to the Supreme Court.

SNOWDEN JUSTIFIED: “I acted on mybelief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.” — NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reacting to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s Dec. 16 ruling (above).

OUR UNCONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT: “Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution lists the activities for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. Nowhere on that list is there authority for Congress to tax and spend for: Medicare, Social Security, public education, farm subsidies, bank and business bailouts, food stamps and thousands of other activities that account for roughly two-thirds of the federal budget. Neither is there authority for congressional mandates to citizens about what type of health insurance they must purchase, how states and people may use their land, the speed at which they can drive, whether a library has wheelchair ramps, and the gallons of water used per toilet flush. The list of congressional violations of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution is virtually without end. Our derelict Supreme Court has given Congress sanction to do just about anything for which they can muster a majority vote.” — economist and syndicated columnist Walter Williams, “Parting Company,” Jan. 1, 2014.

JAY LENO STONES CONGRESS:  “In defending the budget deal, Congressman Paul Ryan quoted the Rolling Stones and said, ‘You can’t always get what you want.’ When it comes to Congress, here’s a better Stones quote: ‘Can’t get no satisfaction.’ How about that?” — Jay Leno Dec. 13, 2013.

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.

Should Libertarians Work Within the Libertarian Party?

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: I’m very disappointed in the Libertarian Party (LP). It doesn’t elect many libertarians. Shouldn’t we just try to take over the GOP and work within that party instead?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Some individuals feel called to do that, but it’s tough. After Congressman Ron Paul qualified to be nominated for president in 2012, the GOP changed the rules at the last minute to exclude him.

The LP has had great success at rolling back Big Government without electing anyone. When the city of Kalamazoo tried to take some land by eminent domain shortly after my run for city commission, an elderly gentleman came up to me and put $200 cash into my hand.

“Dr. Ruwart,” he said, “the city wants to take my bicycle shop. I know your employer, Upjohn, is going to benefit, but YOU are a Libertarian, so I know you are on my side. Take this money and fight them for me!”

Clearly, I had a conflict of interest, but this gentleman trusted me because the LP candidates had made principle their campaign focal point. The local LP joined the fight — and stopped the land grab.

This is what the LP does best. It stops eminent domain, tax hikes, etc. at the local level, even without ever electing anyone.

The LP does this at the state and national level too. LP member Steve Kubby and the California LP were key players in getting the first medical marijuana bill passed. Many states now have medical marijuana laws and a couple have decriminalized it.  Big Government was rolled back without ever electing anyone.

About 80% of the visible critics of ClintonCare (myself included) were libertarians. Although Libertarians haven’t taken credit for it, they were the prime movers in stopping ClintonCare. Big Government was thwarted — for a while, at least — without ever electing anyone.

Maybe the LP should run candidates so that people know where to turn when Big Government comes knocking at their door. Rolling back Big Government is something the LP can do, whether or not it elects candidates.

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

* “7 Vital Reasons to Join the Libertarian Party Now.” In this short piece the Libertarian Party makes its case for why it is essential in the fight for liberty.

Libertarians Save Taxpayers Billions: “Libertarian Party Successes” by “Critto” is an informal forum post at the website of the Free State Project. It lists a number of major anti-tax efforts initiated by, led by, or joined by, the Libertarian Party. It argues persuasively that the Libertarian Party has helped save taxpayers literally billions of dollars. No doubt this list, which is ten years old, could be enormously expanded. Further, similar lists could be created showing how the LP has helped defeat other oppressive legislation.

(Note, this information is provided for educational purposes. The Advocates does not, and cannot, endorse parties or candidates.)

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.

Washington Post: Year 2013 Proved “Paranoids” Were… Right

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“2013 is the year that proved your ‘paranoid’ friend right.” That’s the title of a funny, but alarming, end-of-year column by Washington Post technology policy reporter Andrea Peterson.

“Most people involved in the tech scene have at least one friend who has been warning everyone they know about protecting their digital trail for years — and have watched that friend get accused of being a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. But 2013 is the year that proved your ‘paranoid’ friend right,” Peterson’s column begins.

“It’s now a matter of public record that the NSA collects and stores the calling records of domestic phone calls, tracks the location of millions of mobile devices worldwide, infiltrates the data links between the data centers of tech companies used by millions of Americans, piggybacks onto commercial tracking mechanisms, collected potentially sensitive online metadata for years and actively worked to undermine the privacy and security measures that underpin the Internet. And considering the purported size of the Snowden cache, that could be the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.”

The NSA story alone confirms those who suspected the government of monstrous deeds, Peterson says. But there is so much more.

“For instance, the ACLU released a cache of documents showing that police around the country are collecting license plate scanner information [from people who are completely innocent] that could be used to track physical locations of many Americans… when you pool together huge databases of this type of location information, it can create incredibly intimate portraits of how individuals live their lives — including where they work, which friends they visit and what doctors they see.”

And how’s this for sheer B-movie uber-creepiness:

“Someone might be watching you through your laptop’s webcam — without even activating the warning light. Reports say the FBI has had this capability for several years, and researchers at John’s Hopkins were able to demonstrate how to covertly spy via webcams in MacBooks. Good thing you can cover up your webcam. Too bad there’s not a similarly easy solution for stopping hackers from listening in on your laptop’s built-in microphone.”

Check Peterson’s excellent article — complete with extensive links — for more disturbing examples and information.

And we suppose she ran out of room, because there is much more surveillance-state stuff she could have mentioned: public spy cameras, the huge federalarsenal of malware, US surveillance of Cloud computing… not to mention secret laws approved in secret courts, presidents who can start wars on their say-so and kill civilians without warrants or trial… but don’t get us started.

Peterson’s conclusion: “…you owe your paranoid friend a beer.”

VIDEO: 2014 — The Most Libertarian Year Ever?

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Here’s a great way to start 2014: Indulge in a healthy dose of realistic libertarianism optimism!

In this short (two minutes) video, Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie gives three solid reasons why 2014 might well be the most libertarian year ever.

The best thing is, while he’s right about all three reasons, knowledgeable libertarians can easily add many more reasons to his list.

And that’s great news indeed!

Gallup Poll: Nearly 3 in 4 Americans Say “Big Government Is Our Greatest Threat”

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

For nearly 50 years Gallup has polled the American public on this question: “In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future — big business, big labor, or big government?”

In mid-December Gallup announced this year’s result: Fully 72 percent of Americans now say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. than either big business or big labor.

That’s an all-time record — and by a sizeable margin.

A majority of Americans have always chosen “big government” when asked this question. But the 72% choice of big government as the biggest threat is the largest ever, far surpassing the prior record of 65% in 1999 and 2000.

(For comparison, when the poll was first taken in 1965, only 35% of Americans thought big government was the greatest threat.)

This year just 21% named big business as the greatest threat, and only 5%, a record low, said big labor.

Further, the response is consistent across party lines. Gallup notes: “Each party group currently rates big government as the greatest threat to the country, including a record-high 92% of Republicans and 71% of independents, as well as 56% of Democrats.”

Concludes Gallup: “This suggests that government policies specific to the period, such as the Affordable Care Act — perhaps coupled with recent revelations of government spying tactics by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — may be factors.

“Americans have consistently viewed big government as a greater threat to the United States than either big business or big labor, but never more than they do now. That may be partly a reaction to an administration that favors the use of government to solve problems. Also, the revelation of widespread government monitoring of U.S. Internet activity may be a factor in raising Americans’ concern about the government. …

“In the future, Americans likely will continue to view big government as the greatest threat of the three, partly because of Republicans’ reluctance to rely on government to solve problems, and because Democrats and independents are also inclined to view big government as a greater threat than big business or big labor.”

Rand Paul and Sen. Cory Booker: We’re Taking On the Drug War in 2014

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Talk about New Year’s resolutions.

Liberal Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Liberty) have publicly vowed, via Twitter, to work together to take on the failed War on Drugs in 2014.

The idea of a partnership between the two on this crucial issue began — publicly at least — in late December, when Booker and Paul exchanged a series of tweets. After some joking back and forth about Festivus, the parody holiday popularized by the sitcom “Seinfeld,” Paul responded more seriously: “how about mandatory minimum sentencing reform instead?” Booker tweeted back the suggestion they “throw in reforming Fed Hemp & Marijuana laws.”

To which Paul replied: “I’m the Senate author of Hemp bill!” (Paul here refers to his Industrial Hemp Farming Act bill, which would re-legalize hemp for industrial uses.)Booker responded: “I know… Here is to a 2014 where we take on the failed war on drugs.”The possibility of liberty-oriented single-issue coalitions with the left and right on specific issues has long intrigued libertarians. In a year when drug reform is in the air,  Paul and Booker sound ready to lead the way.

How the Government Stole Christmas

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 24 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Forget the Grinch — it’s the government that’s stealing Christmas.

So reports Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit group that works for lower taxes and smaller government. (The following article is based on their 2011 report.)

The holidays are supposed to be a season for giving and spending time with loved ones. However, Uncle Sam has forced taxpayers to add him and his greedy local and state relatives to their gift list. Of an identified $10.72 billion of holiday spending, an incredible 43.36 percent is due to government taxes, fees, and other costs.

If you are one of the 93 percent of holiday revelers traveling this season, you will pay $69.65 in gas taxes for the average $152.47 round-trip excursion — 45.68 percent of the cost of the trip. Taking a rental is another convenient option, but 38.77 percent of your car’s rental cost is due to taxation, particularly from state and local governments.

Choose to fly to visit friends and family and 42.47 percent of your trip is made up of government costs. If you retreat from your in-laws to a hotel, remember that 39.39 percent of the cost of your stay is funneled back to the government. In Christmas 2011, the government stuffed its stocking with $3.79 billion in traveling taxes.

Holiday revelers enjoy an estimated $992 million in alcoholic beverages to celebrate the season. Savor your next mug of eggnog, because 56.31 percent of the price is taxes. Government guzzles 44.33 percent of your seasonal beer and drives up the price of your glass of wine at Christmas dinner by 32.77 percent. Sipping a soft drink won’t let you escape frosty government fees — 27.98 percent, or $61 million in taxes, is attached to the cost of soda.

When Santa comes down the chimney this year, he’ll have to save room in his sack for Uncle Sam’s gifts. Government gets $21 billion of a cumulative $69.1 billion spent on presents, consuming nearly a third of Christmas gift-giving.

All told, the government collects around $26 billion in new revenues over the holiday season.

That’s naughty — and definitely not nice!

(Please note: This excellent and entertaining report was prepared in 2011 by ATR. We deleted a section referring to a proposed Obama Christmas tree tax, which is to our knowledge no longer relevant. When sharing this information with friends and family, just add “A couple of years ago, Americans for Tax Reform found…” in case some of these figures have since changed. To see if ATR has updated this report since we published this issue, visit their website.)

Videos: Christmas Edition

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 24 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“I Saw Daddy Pat Down Santa Claus” (A Very TSA Christmas Song) 

Hilarious! See what happens when the holiday season’s most frequent flier meets… the TSA!

“I Saw Daddy Pat Down Santa Claus” is written and performed by the renowned comedian Remy, produced by Meredith Bragg, and made available by our friends at Reason TV.

A little over one minute long.

VIDEO: New Twist on a Christmas Classic: “The NSA is Coming to Town”

Yeah, they’re making a list and checking it… well, we don’t know how many times. But ONCE is too many!

This hilarious (and creepy) song and video from the ACLU is a must-see and a great online share.

Sample lyrics:

You better watch out,
You better not Skype,
You better log out,
Yeah you better not type,
The NSA is coming to town.

You’re making a list,
They’re checking it twice;
They’re watching almost every electronic device,
The NSA is coming to town…

…..and more. The accompanying video shows NSA agents in Santa suits, tracking, harassing, recording, and surveilling ordinary innocent citizens — which is what they do every day, of course. Except for the Santa suits (to the best of our knowledge).

The video ends with an appeal to reel in the security state. Now THAT’S a present we’d like to see under our tree!

They Said It…

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

(From Volume 18, No. 24 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

CHRISTMAS AND DEFICITS:  “Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it.” — Richard Lamm, former Governor of Colorado.

IS SANTA CLAUS A DEMOCRAT, REPUBLICAN, OR… “If Santa Claus were a Democrat, his elves wouldn’t make toys. They’d loot them from rich kids and toy stores. If Santa were a Republican, he’d deport all the elves back to Middle Earth. So Santa must be a Libertarian.” — online comment by “gatman7,” responding to an article at TheBlaze.com discussing whether Santa is a Democrat or Republican, December 11, 2012.

THE GOV’T SANTA STEALS TOYS: “Too many adults treat government the way kids treat Santa. But government is not magic. … Many adults want government to cover everything under Santa’s flying sleigh. Their wish lists say, ‘subsidize my retirement, my big house, a year’s worth of unemployment, my medicine, my college loans, my electric car, my auto company, my union, my bank, my bad decisions in general, and my ethanol and solar companies.’  But unlike Santa’s bottomless bag of toys, every subsidy government gives to someone must first be taken from someone else. For every happy kid there is another whose toy was ripped from his hands.” — Joseph G. Lehman, “Government as Santa,” op-ed, The Mackinac Center,  Dec. 25, 2012.

A TSA CHRISTMAS: “It’s so cold that the security guys at the airports are putting their hands in their own pants.” — David Letterman, Dec. 7, 2010.

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?

Don’t Quench Their Thirst with a Fire Hose

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

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

When someone asks you about libertarianism, how much should you tell them?

a) Enough to stimulate their desire for more?

b) Enough to satisfy their interest?

c) More than they want to know. Everything you know about libertarianism.

All too often, libertarians act on answer “c.”

We quench their thirst… with a fire hose.

We give them too much information, too fast. They can’t absorb it. Can’t digest it.

“The secret of being a bore is to tell all you know,” wrote Voltaire.

Burying our listeners with information numbs their minds and turns them off.

Drowning them with unfamiliar assertions, ideas, facts, and thinking — intimidates and overwhelms them.

When “too much” fails, “almost enough” succeeds.

Why? Because “almost enough to satisfy” is “enough to stimulate their appetite for more.”

This is the key: Almost enough. Less than enough.

“Less than enough” whets their hunger for more information about libertarianism.

“Less than enough” stimulates their thirst for more.

“Less than enough” arouses their desire to learn more.

They Said It…

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

(From Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

DOUBLE TROUBLE: “The federal budget has doubled in size in 12 years, from $1.9 trillion in 2001 to $3.8 trillion this year.” — David Eldridge, Washington Times reporter, “Rep. Nancy Pelosi: Nothing left to cut in budget…” Washington Times, Sept. 22, 2013.

CALLING MR. ORWELL: “…incorrect promise…” — New York Timesdescription of President Obama’s bogus vow that under Obamacare Americans “will be able to keep your health care plan, period.” (“Obama in Bind Trying to Keep Health Law Vow,” November 12, 2013.) Earlier, the Times reported that Obama “misspoke.”

GOV’T THINKS WE ARE IDIOTS: “In 1950, I was 14 years old and applied for a work permit for an after-school job. One of the requirements was to obtain a Social Security card. In bold letters on my Social Security card, which I still possess, are the words ‘For Social Security Purposes — Not For Identification.’ That’s because earlier Americans feared that their Social Security number would become an identity number. According to the Social Security Administration website, ‘this legend was removed as part of the design changes for the 18th version of the card, issued beginning in 1972.’ That statement assumes we’re idiots. We’re asked to believe that the sole purpose of the removal was for design purposes. Apparently, the fact that our Social Security number had become a major identification tool, to be used in every aspect of our lives, had nothing to do with the SSA’s getting rid of the legend saying ‘For Social Security Purposes — Not For Identification.’” — Walter Williams, “Do Americans Prefer Deception?”, syndicated column, Nov. 20, 2013.

MINIMUM WAGE MYTHS: “Arguably the most important thing in the debate about the minimum wage is that hardly anyone makes it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics less than 3 percent of all workers take home $7.25 or less an hour and half who do are 24 years old or younger. And the vast majority — 77 percent — of minimum wage earners belong to households that are above the poverty line. So when Fast Food Forward declares, ‘We can’t survive on $7.25!’, the good news is that very few people have to (and to the extent that they do, their income is supplemented by anti-poverty programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and housing subsidies). Staying at the minimum wage is also usually mercifully short-lived. For instance, between 1977 and 1997, two-thirds of full-time workers had moved on to higher pay within a year.” — Nick Gillespie, “Big Labor’s Big Mac Attack,” The Daily Beast, Dec. 4th, 2013.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE: “Libertarianism is growing fastest among the young, and groups like Students for Liberty give me hope. These young people certainly know more about liberty than I did at their age. Maybe they will avoid prior generations’ big-government mistakes.” — libertarian journalist John Stossel, “The Libertarian Era?”, syndicated column, Nov. 13, 2013.

UH-OH: “Members of the Tea Party gathered outside the White House to demand President Obama’s impeachment. The president said he appreciated their views and he is setting up a new website where they can voice their opinion.” — Conan O’Brien, Nov. 20, 2013.

* * * * * * * * * *
“They Said It…” is compiled by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris.

FREE Libertarian E-Book: Why Liberty

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

 why_liberty_coverLast issue we reviewed an outstanding free ebook from Students For Liberty (SFL), After the Welfare State.

Now we’re pleased to suggest another SFL title to add to your ebook library.

Why Liberty is a highly readable book edited by distinguished libertarian scholar Tom G. Palmer. It is suitable for absolute newcomers to libertarianism as well as longtime libertarians.

Why Liberty is a collection of short articles from experts in the fields of policy, academia, business, media, and student organizing. The articles are unified by an emphasis on liberty as a dynamic and liberating force with the power to change the world. They point out the urgent need all people have for liberty.

Why Liberty examines the libertarian idea through the lenses of culture, entrepreneurship, health, art, technology, philosophy and more. The articles can be read in any order — a reader can dip anywhere into the book and start learning and enjoying. “Think of it as a bag of healthy snacks for the mind,” suggests SFL.

You can learn more about Why Liberty here. Download it as a FREE PDF ebook on that same page (scoot down to the link entitled “Read the full Why Liberty here!”) or go here.

Here’s the table of contents: 

1. Why Be Libertarian, by Tom Palmer
2. There Ought NOT to Be a Law, by John Stossel
3. Libertarianism as Radical Centrism, by Clark Ruper
4. The History and Structure of Libertarian Thought, by Tom Palmer
5. The Times, They Are A-Changin’: Libertarianism as Abolitionism, by James Padilioni, Jr.
6. The Political Principle of Liberty, by Alexander McCobin
7. No Liberty, No Art: No Art, No Liberty, by Sarah Skwire
8. The Humble Case for Liberty, by Aaron Ross Powell
9. Africa’s Promise of Liberty, by Olumayowa Okediran
10. The Tangled Dynamics of State Interventionism: The Case of Health Care, by Sloane Frost
11. How Do You Know? Knowledge and the Presumption of Liberty, by Lode Cossaer and Maarten Wegge
12. The Origins of State and Government, by Tom Palmer

As David Boaz of the Cato Institute notes, “Once your rights are taken away, it’s hard to get them back. The authors of Why Liberty explain why you should fight for your freedom.”

Highly recommended. Why Liberty is published by SFL in conjunction with the Atlas Network.

Student groups note: Free print copies in bulk for student libertarian groups to distribute are also available. You can learn more about that here.

Video: Hilarious Remy Lampoon of Obama’s Broken Healthcare Promises

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The great pro-liberty comedian Remy is back! Welcome to Remy’s “If You Like Your Plan You Can Keep It: The Rap.”

In this Reason TV video Remy takes on Obama’s infamous “you will be able to keep your health care plan” bogus promise.

The lyrics, printed onscreen and under the video with links, are wonderful. Sample:

Selling hope’s like selling soap, son, I’ll tell you why
You can’t make either one without a little bit of lye

Laugh at it, then share with friends! About 1:50 minutes.

Study: American Writers Self-Censoring Due to Fear of Gov’t Reprisal

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Fully 16% of American professional writers in a recent survey say they have avoided writing or speaking on a political topic or other controversial topic because they fear it will provoke government surveillance. An additional 11% have seriously considered doing so.

The survey was conducted in October and results were released in November by the PEN American Center, an organization of professional writers that defends freedom of expression and whose membership includes some of America’s most distinguished writers.

The survey questioned 528 PEN members, and allowed them to make personal statements as well. (It should be noted that PEN strongly promotes free speech, and members may therefore be more concerned about censorship issues than other writers.)

PEN concludes:

1. PEN writers now assume their communications are monitored.

2. The assumption they are under surveillance is harming freedom of expression by prompting writers to self-censor their work in multiple ways, including:
a) reluctance to write or speak about certain subjects;
b) reluctance to pursue research about certain subjects; and
c) reluctance to communicate with sources, or with friends abroad, for fear that they will endanger their counterparts by doing so.

Among the survey findings:

  • 28% of writers surveyed have curtailed or avoided social media activities, and another 12% have seriously considered doing so;
  • 24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it;
  • 16% have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic, and another 11% have seriously considered it;
  • 16% have refrained from conducting Internet searches or visiting websites on topics that may be considered controversial or suspicious, and another 12% have seriously considered it;
  • 13% have taken extra steps to disguise or cover their digital footprints, and another 11% have seriously considered it; 

Quotes from writers in the survey are disturbing. A few samples:

“I have dropped stories… and avoided research on the company telephone
due to concerns over wiretapping or eavesdropping.”

“As a writer and journalist who deals with the Middle East and the Iraq War in particular, I suspect I am being monitored.”

“I have made a conscious, deliberate choice to avoid certain conversation topics in electronic emails out of concern that those communications may be surveilled.”

“I have felt that even to comment on the Snowden case in an email would flag my email as worthy of being looked at.”

The PEN report concludes: “73% of writers have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today. …

“Writers are self-censoring their work and their online activity due to their fears that commenting on, researching, or writing about certain issues will cause them harm.

“Writers reported self-censoring on subjects including military affairs, the Middle East North Africa region, mass incarceration, drug policies, pornography, the Occupy movement, the study of certain languages, and criticism of the U.S. government.

“The fear of surveillance — and doubt over the way in which the government intends to use the data it gathers — has prompted PEN writers to change their behavior in numerous ways that curtail their freedom of expression and restrict the free flow of information.”

Survey: Americans Embracing Libertarian Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Record numbers of Americans are embracing a libertarian, non-interventionist, Ron Paul-style foreign policy.

That’s the startling, but very welcome, finding of a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in conjunction with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Fully 52% of Americans — a solid majority — now say the United States “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” Just 38% disagree with that statement.

Pew sums up: “This is the most lopsided balance in favor of the U.S. ‘minding its own business’ in the nearly 50-year history of the measure.”

Yet this is in no sense “isolationism” or a desire to detach from the rest of the world. The same poll found that “Even as doubts grow about the United States’ geopolitical role, most Americans say the benefits from U.S. participation in the global economy outweigh the risks. And support for closer trade and business ties with other nations stands at its highest point in more than a decade.”

Says Pew: “Fully 77% say that growing trade and business ties between the United States and other countries are either very good (23%) or somewhat good (54%) for the U.S. Just 18% have a negative view. … Two-thirds (66%) say greater involvement in the global economy is a good thing because it opens up new markets and opportunities for growth.”

What Americans clearly seem to be yearning for is a return to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, perhaps never better expressed than in Jefferson’s March 4, 1801 inaugural address: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”

It is libertarians who have, almost alone, taken the lead in arguing for embracing Jefferson’s advice, and this exciting new poll finding is yet another indicator of the fast-growing influence of libertarianism in American politics today.

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