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Why Did Our Ancestors Approve the Constitution?

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

United States Constitution

Here’s a provocative thought experiment from Jacob G. Hornberger, president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. In a recent article “Why Did Our Ancestors Approve the Constitution?“ Hornberger poses this question:

“Suppose our American ancestors in 1787 had been told that the proposed Constitution, which they were being asked to approve, was going to bring into existence a federal government that would have the following powers:

  • The power to tax people’s incomes in any amount government officials deemed appropriate.
  • The power to regulate people’s economic activities.
  • The power to incarcerate and fine people for ingesting harmful substances.
  • The power to round people up and incarcerate them indefinitely without trial by jury and due process of law.
  • The power to torture people.
  • The power to assassinate people.
  • The power to invade foreign countries and wage wars of aggression against them.
  • The power to establish military bases in foreign countries.
  • The power to take money from people and give it to others.
  • The power to secretly spy on people and monitor their activities.
  • The power to incarcerate and fine people for spending money in other countries.
  • The power to make paper money the official money of the United States.
  • The power to control and regulate gun ownership.

“Imagine, also, that the American people were told that the Constitution was going to bring into existence a vast, permanent military establishment as well as a secretive governmental agency (i.e., the CIA) with the omnipotent powers to kidnap people, conduct medical experiments on them without their consent, torture people, and assassinate people.

“Imagine, also, that they were told that a vast welfare state was going to be brought into existence, with the federal government charged with the task of taking care of people with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid to dictators, and the like.

“One thing is beyond dispute: If our American ancestors had believed that the Constitution was going to bring into existence that type of federal government — the type of federal government we have today — they never would have approved it.”

There’s much more provocative reading in the rest of “Why Did Our Ancestors Approve the Constitution?

Vince Vaughn: I’m a Libertarian

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Vince VaughnVince Vaughn is one of the world’s most successful actors, screenwriters and producers. Since his breakthrough in the acclaimed 1993 independent comedy Swingers he’s become famous for his roles in some of the most popular comedies of the past decade, including The Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up, Starsky & Hutch, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Couples Retreat, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The versatile Vaughn has also played everything from romantic leads to action heroes and psychotic villains.

Vaughn’s sympathy for libertarian ideas has been well-known for several years. In particular he’s been a strong and vocal supporter of Ron Paul.

Now, in a new Playboy magazine interview, Vaughn makes his libertarianism explicit, as these excerpts make clear:

“I would use the term libertarian to describe my politics.

“I’m a very big fan [of Ron Paul]. Ron Paul woke a lot of people up to the fact that government can’t handle everything for you. Once you start playing that game, where does it stop? I like the way it was until 1913 [when the 16th Amendment was ratified, legalizing a federal income tax], when locally you had sales taxes and property taxes. That seems ethical to me, because I can move to a different neighborhood or area if I like the services they provide. To this day, your police department and your fire department are paid for with local taxes, and that makes sense, because you might use those. But the federal government looking into your books to decide what to take from you, that feels wrong.

“Trusting the federal government to know what we need and to run things well feels like a bad idea. You see that in the foreign policy of force, where the United States decides to go into another country to make things turn out a certain way. It doesn’t work. It causes more problems. … I don’t agree with a foreign policy that says you can send troops places without declaring a war and without having a plan to win the war. I would think you would look at Vietnam and suggest it wasn’t the best-laid plan.

“I feel the same way domestically. … [Adults] should be allowed to decide what’s in their interest, what makes sense for them, unless they commit fraud or physical force or take someone’s property. …

“I think history has proven without a doubt that the proper role of government is to protect individuals’ rights and liberties. That has always been the most prosperous, freest society for people to live in. And when government gets too involved, society turns into a place that gets very, very ugly. …

“America today is not capitalistic. The problem is corporatism. The government has too much authority, and it’s dangerous. It stifles productivity and freedom and prosperity and peace. …

“The Patriot Act? Let’s get rid of it. Undeclared wars, doing away with personal liberties — let’s understand how that has worked out historically to see that it has led to some horrible things. Once our personal liberties are gone, when an American citizen can be pulled out of his house and detained for six months without a trial, where is our country? Once those rights are gone, how do you get them back?”

Read the rest of the interview for more.

Report: U.S. Losing Freedom of the Press

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Each year the respected international organization Reporters Without Borders issues a World Press Freedom of the PressFreedom Index that explores and ranks freedom of the press in the countries of the world. According to the organization, the Index reflects “the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.”

In this year’s report the United States is ranked a sad 49th out of 180 countries. This is the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002. (The lowest was in 2006, when the U.S. was ranked 53rd). Ranking immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.

Americans accustomed to the U.S.’s reputation as the bastion of a constitutionally protected free press may be surprised by the rankings. Reporters Without Borders cites incidents it considered in its rankings, including:

  • The U.S. government’s years-long effort to force two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal sources for his 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration.
  • The U.S. continued war against WikiLeaks and similar whistleblower organizations and individuals like Edward Snowden. 
  • The arrests of at least 15 journalists covering the police protests in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Journalists definitely feel a chill in post-9/11 America. As the Liberator Online reported last year, the PEN American Center, an organization of professional writers whose membership includes some of America’s most distinguished writers, surveyed its members and found:

“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. 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.”

It’s not just the U.S. facing such problems. Press freedom is in decline around the world, says Reporters Without Borders. They say it is “incontestable” that “there was a drastic decline in [worldwide] freedom of information in 2014. Two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed for the 2015 World Press Freedom Index performed less well than in the previous year. …

Beset by wars, the growing threat from non-state operatives, violence during demonstrations and the economic crisis, media freedom is in retreat on all five continents. … All warring parties without exception waged a fearsome information war. The media, used for propaganda purposes or starved of information, became strategic targets and were attacked, or even silenced.”

The Coming Government Debt Explosion — and How to Deal with It

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The U.S. ship of state is sailing full steam ahead — straight toward a massive debt iceberg. Debt Iceberg

Here are some genuinely shocking figures from “Medicare and Social Security Tabs Coming Due,” an article by Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, in the March 2015 issue of Reason magazine:

  • The national debt recently reached $18 trillion — approximately 101 percent of the United States’ GDP.
  • The Congressional Budget Office projects the debt will rise to $27.3 trillion within the next decade. 
  • But those numbers are actually far too low — because they ignore Social Security and Medicare’s unfunded liabilities. Add those in, and the national debt hits $90.6 trillion.
  • Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for fully 47 percent — nearly half — of federal spending, and they continue to grow. 
  • Social Security has a $24.9 trillion shortfall, while Medicare has $48 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Should healthcare costs rise, the Medicare figure could soar to $88 trillion. 
  • Just this year, Social Security will have a $69 billion cash-flow deficit. Every year after, that shortfall will worsen. And Medicare is in even worse financial shape than Social Security.

In an article at Vice News last January, Tanner described the difficult choices we face:

“To pay all the benefits promised in the future, Social Security would have to increase the payroll tax by as much as half, or find that revenue elsewhere. The government can always cut benefits, but without a tax increase those benefits would have to eventually be slashed by 23 percent. That would be very hard for seniors who depend on the program to get by.”

What to do about these problems? You can read Cato’s proposals for reforming Social Security at their Social Security reform website.

Cato’s research and proposals for health care and welfare reform (including Medicare and Medicaid and Obamacare) can be found here.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne offered his plan for replacing Social Security with consumer-based choices in his 1996 book The Great Libertarian Offer. Though the numbers are a bit dated, his explanation of Social Security’s problems, and his solution, remain very relevant, elegant, and easy to read and understand.

For a quick overview of genuine market-based health care reform, see this short 2015 article “What True Health Care Reform Would Look Like“ by Matt Battaglioli, published by the Mises Institute.

Finally, see “How to Eliminate Social Security and Medicare“ by George Reisman (Mises Institute, 2011) for more reasons why these programs should be eliminated, and a plan to accomplish this.

The Great Libertarian Idea in President Obama’s 2015 Budget

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

 Surprise! There’s at least one great — and solidly libertarian — idea in President Barac

Occupational LicensingObama’s 2015 budget: cutting back the plague of occupational licensing.

In an item entitled “Reducing Unnecessary Occupational Licensing Requirements” Obama announces plans to “reduce occupational licensing barriers that keep people from doing the jobs they have the skills to do,” noting that occupational licensing is “putting in place unnecessary training and high fees” in many fields.

President Obama proposes a $15 million in grants to states for “identifying, exploring, and addressing areas where occupational licensing requirements create an unnecessary barrier to labor market entry or labor mobility…”

This is yet another example of a libertarian/free market idea bursting into the mainstream.

Libertarians at the Institute for Justice, the Reason Foundation and elsewhere have long pointed out the harm of occupational licensing requirements.

For example:

  • Occupational licensing laws — found in all 50 states — restrict entry into over 1,100 different occupations.
  • They have grown explosively. In the 1950s, less than five percent of American workers were required to obtain a government license to do their job. But today, that number has passed an incredible 30 percent — meaning one in three Americans must obtain permission from the government to pursue their chosen profession. 
  • The cost of these laws to consumers is astonishing. One 2011 study estimated that occupational licensing laws increase costs to consumers by a whopping $203 billion per year. As a result, some people are not able to afford some services, including crucial ones like dental care. A 2009 study found that states allowing dental hygienists to provide routine dental care had fewer adults with missing teeth than those that did not.
  • Occupational licensing laws destroy millions of American jobs — by one estimate, a whopping 2.85 million jobs. They make it prohibitively expensive or too difficult for newcomers to enter fields in which they have competency but can’t afford costly and unnecessary training and licensing. 
  • Occupational licensing laws slow or even halt innovation. One recent example is the use of licensing regulations for taxi drivers to halt new, highly competitive app-based services such as Uber.
  • Among the occupations in which entry is restricted by licensing laws: interior decorators, hair braiders, foot massagers, animal breeders, bartenders, funeral attendants, upholsterers, shampooers, music therapists, auctioneers, talent agents, and ballroom dance teachers. 

Of course, supporters of occupational licensing argue it is needed to protect the public from unscrupulous or incompetent practitioners.

However, reports the Institute for Justice: “Research to date — on occupations as diverse as school teachers, interior designers, mortgage brokers, dentists, physicians and others — provides little evidence that government licenses protect public health and safety or improve the quality of products or services.”

Astute Liberator Online readers can probably guess the real reason these laws exist.

“These laws are created under the guise of ‘helping’ consumers,” wrote Adam B. Summers of the Reason Foundation in a 2007 study. “In reality, the laws are helping existing businesses keep out competition, restricting consumer choice, destroying entrepreneurship, and driving up prices.”

Further, many of these occupations are in fields where, in the past, the poor, immigrants and other challenged workers — those with the least resources — have been able to get a toehold in the economy.

To learn more, check out these resources:

Writing at National Review Online, economist Veronique de Rugy sums up the problem nicely:

“People who want to work, start businesses and make a living shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to do so. Consumers can take care of themselves, especially with our sharing economy and the easy feedback mechanisms it offers. …

“Many of the licensed occupations have traditionally provided low-income Americans with a path to self-sufficiency and upward mobility. By erecting barriers to entry to these occupations, we erect barriers to entry to the American dream.”

Government Regulation to Cost Americans $1.882 Trillion This Year

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Free to ProsperA new report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) estimates that government regulation will cost the American economy a staggering $1.882 trillion in 2015.

This is larger than the entire GDP of all but 11 countries in the entire world — including major developed nations like Australia and South Korea.

Further, the regulatory burden is constantly growing. In 2014 alone, 3,541 new regulations hit the books. Complying with regulations will take an estimated 9 billion hours of paperwork. CEI contends such regulation drives up the cost of goods and services, destroys jobs and damages the economy in other ways. They also point out this huge expense is largely out of control — unmonitored and unaccountable. Many regulations are inefficient, unnecessary, destructive, and would be far better handled by market mechanisms.

The report, “Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 114th Congress,” can be read for free and includes CEI’s suggestions for reform.

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

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

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

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

President Obama filed his latest such report on December 11.

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

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

Here’s the list:

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

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

Asks the Ron Paul Institute’s McAdams:

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

New York Times: Should We Abolish the CIA?

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

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

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

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

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

Writes the Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron Paul: You’d Love My Government Shutdown

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 25 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the U.S. Senate averted a Ron Paulgovernment shutdown by passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill,” notes Ron Paul in a column at CNBC.

“This year’s omnibus resembles omnibuses of Christmas past in that it was drafted in secret, was full of special interest deals and disguised spending increases, and was voted on before most members could read it.”

That’s pathetic, Paul says.

“Instead of panicking over a limited shutdown, a true pro-liberty Congress would be eagerly drawing up plans to permanently close most of the federal government.”

“What would I shut down if given the opportunity for it to have any meaning?” he mused at Voices of Liberty.com.

“First, the Fed. No more welfare for the rich.

“Second, the IRS. Let the people keep all of their earnings and spend their money in their own interest.

“Third, abolish the NSA, the TSA, the CIA and all spying on American citizens.

“Spending would stop, no federal printing presses and no stolen money from the people would end entitlements, which mostly go to the rich.

“And all of our wars — we would come home from the 150 countries where we have troops stationed.

Concludes Paul: “Now that’s a government shutdown that would not go unnoticed and something to be proud of!”

New Study: Minimum Wage Hurts Low-Skilled Workers

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 25 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research brings new weight to the argument that significant minimum wage increases hurt the very people they are intended to help — low-skilled workers, especially teens and minority workers.

minimum wageEconomists Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither examine the effects of the minimum wage increases in 2007, 2008 and 2009. They find that minimum wage increases have three devastating effects upon low-skilled workers: “minimum wage increases reduced the employment, average income, and income growth of low-skilled workers over short and medium-run time horizons.”

The study indicates that the minimum wage can keep low-skilled workers from moving up to a middle class income; such workers experience “significant declines in economic mobility.” Charles Hughes of the Cato Institute explains:

“Many of the people affected by minimum wage increases are on one of the first rungs of the economic ladder, low on marketable skills and experience. Working in these entry level jobs will eventually allow them to move up the economic ladder. By making it harder for these low-skilled workers to get on the first rung of the ladder, minimum wage increases could actually lower their chances of reaching the middle class.”

Adding weight to these findings is a report earlier this year by the non-partisan federal Congressional Budget Office estimating that a three-year phase in of a $10.10 federal minimum wage option would reduce total employment by a stunning 500,000 workers.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, nicely summed up at MarketWatch the massive problems created for low-skill workers by the minimum wage:

“Minimum-wage laws criminalize low-skill work. Imagine being forbidden to work. That is the case for people with skills under $8.25 an hour. The federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25, and additional costs, such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation bring the cost of employment closer to $8.25. The minimum wage is one reason why the teen unemployment rate is 18%, the youth (20 to 24) unemployment rate is 11%, and the African-American teen unemployment rate is 28%. Those groups have markedly lower skills than average. …

“When the minimum wage is set above someone’s skill level, that person is left on the sidelines. If people cannot get their first job, how can they get their second or third? People who take minimum-wage jobs gain entry to the professional world. Once they are in, they can keep rising.”

A short, highly readable summary of the negative effects of the minimum wage is the 2004 booklet “Minimum Wage, Maximum Damage: How the Minimum Wage Law Destroys Jobs, Perpetuates Poverty, and Erodes Freedom” by Jim Cox, published by the Advocates and available at our online Liberty Store.

Yale Professor: Every Law Has a Death Penalty

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 24 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Stephen Carter, a distinguished Yale law professor and author of 12 acclaimed books, says he startles his new law students with a vital but little-understood truth about law and government:

“On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce,” he writes at Bloomberg View.

“Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.

“I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. Whatever your view on the refusal of a New York City grand jury to indict the police officer whose chokehold apparently led to the death of Eric Garner, it’s useful to remember the crime that Garner is alleged to have committed: He was selling individual cigarettes, or loosies, in violation of New York law. …

“Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right.”

Libertarian Party: Shut Down CIA, Prosecute Torturers

in Communicating Liberty by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 24 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The Libertarian Party says there’s only one way to deal with the new revelations of CIA torture and the tortureagency’s long history of other crimes: shut down the CIA and other rogue, out-of-control spy agencies.

Says Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas J. Sarwark:

“The CIA’s practice of torture confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Report released on December 9 shows the agency engaged in reprehensible and illegal behaviors that were, in effect, war crimes.

“The CIA and politicians redacted the bulk of the government’s report, which remains withheld from public view. One can only speculate as to the additional horrors that lie within the rest of the report, given the gravity of what was revealed.

“These acts of torture were immoral, disgusting, and un-American. And… they were ineffective.

“Yet the CIA and the Department of Justice, which sanctioned the torture, claim that it was legal and exhibit a shocking lack of remorse for the brutality inflicted on its victims.

“Whether it’s choking a man to death for selling loose cigarettes in New York or torturing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the government refuses to prosecute government employees who brutalize the vulnerable. When the government investigates itself, it almost always clears itself of any wrongdoing.

“This is why we must shut down the CIA.”

Sarwark points out that the 70-year history of the CIA is ” littered with episodes of human rights violations, illegal activities, and deception,” including:

  • Targeted killings and assassinations
  • Overthrowing democratically elected governments
  • Human experimentation, including giving the hallucinogenic drug LSD to U.S. and Canadian citizens without their knowledge
  • Dealing heroin in Asia
  • Spying on Americans, members of congress, and foreign leaders
  • Shipping war prisoners to foreign countries where torture is permissible (“extraordinary rendition”)
  • Lying to Congress

“Government-sanctioned torture is bipartisan,” Sarwark adds, noting that Republican President George W. Bush authorized the torture revealed in the Senate report, and President Barack Obama granted him full immunity. Torturers still hold high positions in government.

“Famed journalist Glenn Greenwald said ‘The Obama administration’s aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the ‘War on Terror’ crimes committed by Bush officials is now complete.’

“Whereas Democrats and Republicans have continually funded and encouraged CIA war crimes, the Libertarian Party has consistently and strongly opposed the use of torture, mass surveillance, and human rights violations by the U.S. government throughout the party’s 43-year history.

“The Libertarian Party calls for real accountability, including prosecuting all of those who authorized and performed these brutal acts.”

New Ayn Rand Novel to Be Published

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A never-before-published novel by Ayn Rand will be hitting the bookstores in a few months — the first Ayn IdealRand novel to be published in over 50 years.

According to the publisher the short novel, entitled Ideal, “tells the story of beautiful but tormented actress Kay Gonda. Accused of murder, she is on the run, and she turns for help to six fans who have written letters to her, each telling her that she represents their ideal — a respectable family man, a far-left activist, a cynical artist, an evangelist, a playboy, and a lost soul. Each reacts to her plight in his own way, their reactions a glimpse into their secret selves and their true values…”

Rand wrote Ideal in 1934, when she was in her late 20s. Unhappy with it, she put it aside and turned it into a play, which was never performed in her lifetime and went unpublished until the 1986 collection The Early Ayn Rand, edited by Leonard Peikoff of the Ayn Rand Institute. Peikoff described the play as a “philosophical murder mystery.”

The novel remained buried in the archives at the Ayn Rand Institute until 2012, when it was rediscovered while Rand’s papers were being digitized.

New American Library will publish both the novel (135 pages) and the play together on July 7, 2015.

Ayn Rand, who died in 1982, is of course most famous for her enormously influential bestseller Atlas Shrugged, which helped set off the modern libertarian movement and has, incredibly, remained in hardback since its first publication in 1957. Together her novels, including The Fountainhead and We The Living, have sold over 25 million copies.

Study: States with Economic Liberty Benefit; States Without Economic Liberty Suffer

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A just-released study shows that U.S. states with economic liberty benefit greatly from it, while residents of states with less economic freedom suffer badly from the lack of it.

Economic Freedom of North America 2014 is an annual report by Canada’s Fraser Institute that measures levels of economic freedom, and thus economic opportunity, in the 50 states (as well as Canada and Mexico).

Economic Freedom of North America 2014The report defines “economic freedom” as “the ability of individuals to act in the economic sphere free of undue restrictions.”

Elaborating on that: “The freest economies operate with minimal government interference, relying upon personal choice and markets to answer basic economic questions such as what is to be produced, how it is to be produced, how much is produced, and for whom production is intended. As government imposes restrictions on these choices, there is less economic freedom.”

The report shows that economic liberty has clear, measurable, dollars-and-cents benefits, writes study co-author Dean Stansel in the Washington Examiner:

“States that have low taxation, limited government and flexible labor markets enjoy greater economic growth, while states with lower levels of economic freedom suffer from reduced living standards for families and less economic opportunity.

“In the three most-free states (Texas, South Dakota, and North Dakota) average personal income is about 20 percent higher than in the three least-free states (Maine, Vermont, and Mississippi) — approximately $48,000 versus $40,000. And the unemployment rate is more than seven percent in Rhode Island (45th) versus about four percent in nearby New Hampshire (5th).

“Furthermore, cities in low-freedom states like California (43rd), Michigan (37th), and Rhode Island have made headlines in recent years for declaring bankruptcy, whereas cities in high-freedom states like Nebraska (5th), Texas, and the Dakotas, have seen incomes and their tax bases expand.

“In the top ten states, total employment grew by roughly 3.5 percent, while it has barely budged in the bottom 10. Over that same period, the economy grew more than eight percent in the top 10, but only by about two percent in the bottom 10.”

Concludes Stansel:

“The research is clear: Where economic freedom is high and rising, the number of jobs is expanding and the economy is vibrant and growing. Where it’s low and declining, the economy is stagnant, limiting opportunity and quality of life for residents of those states.

“Big, costly government at the expense of the people doesn’t work. It leads to economic decline. In contrast, expanding economic freedom increases economic opportunity and provides the path to economic prosperity.”

The report ranks economic freedom along a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (full economic liberty). This brings a warning: “Historically, economic freedom has been declining in all three countries. Since 2000, the average score for Canadian provinces on the all-governments index has fallen from 7.8 to 7.6; the number for U.S. states was 8.2 to 7.5.”

The Economic Freedom of North America study is an offshoot of the Fraser Institute’s acclaimed Economic Freedom of the World index, the result of a quarter century of work by more than 60 scholars including three Nobel laureates.

How Free Enterprise Saved the Pilgrims: A Thanksgiving Story

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 22 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Thanksgiving Day is a great time to remember, and share with others, the too-Pilgrimslittle-known story of how the Pilgrims discovered and embraced the power of individual incentives and private property — and how doing this saved them from looming starvation and death.

This story has been told in many different forms over the years, and some critics have challenged versions of it. Our thanks to the Cato Institute’s Daniel Griswold for sharing a definitive version of the story, from the work of one of America’s most respected and honored historians.

Historian Nathaniel Philbrick has won numerous prestigious awards for his books. His acclaimed 2007 book Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War was a New York Times Bestseller, a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and was named one of the ten “Best Books of the Year” by the New York Times Book Review.

A passage from that book succinctly tells the story of how free enterprise principles and incentives saved the Pilgrims.

Writes Philbrick:

“The fall of 1623 marked the end of Plymouth’s debilitating food shortages. For the last two planting seasons, the Pilgrims had grown crops communally — the approach first used at Jamestown and other English settlements. But as the disastrous harvest of the previous fall had shown, something drastic needed to be done to increase the annual yield.

“In April, [Plymouth Colony governor William] Bradford had decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew.

“The change in attitude was stunning. Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before. In previous years, the men had tended the fields while the women tended the children at home.

“‘The women now went willingly into the field,’ Bradford wrote, ‘and took their little ones with them to set corn.’”

Concludes Philbrick:

“The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism. Although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.”

Governor Bradford tells the story himself in his book History of Plymouth Plantation, taken from his journals kept between 1630 and 1651, and recognized today as an American classic. Bradford describes the problems of the communal system (spelling has been modernized):

“For this community [of food and property] . . . was found to breed much confusion and discontentment, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . .

“For the young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong . . . had no more in division . . . than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc . . . thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.”

Bradford then describes the dramatic results of the shift to private plots and individual incentives:

“This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we should remember that our great abundance today is based upon our system of private property rights and free enterprise. Principles that the Pilgrims discovered for themselves, in rudimentary form, and began putting into practice nearly four hundred years ago.

Those principles saved their lives. Eventually, they made America the freest and most abundant country in human history. Today they offer the promise of still greater blessings to come.

And that’s something to be very thankful for — this and every Thanksgiving.

VIDEO: The Pilgrims and Property Rights — How Our Ancestors Got Fat & Happy

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 22 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Thanks to ReasonTV for a short and funny video that covers the essential points of property rights and free enterprise we explored in this article.

Great for sharing online with friends and family. About 2:30 minutes.

Silicon Valley Innovators: Gov’t Is Biggest Barrier to U.S. Innovation

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(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 21 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Innovation's biggest barrierWhat’s the worst drag on American technical innovation?

According to some of the most creative and successful people in America, it’s… government.

In a new “Silicon Valley Insiders Poll,” The Atlantic asked 50 “Silicon Valley Insiders” — described as leading “executives, innovators, and thinkers” — this question: “What’s the biggest barrier to innovation in the United States?”

The top three answers:

  1. “Government regulation/bureaucracy” — cited by 20% of respondents. 
  2. “Immigration policies” — cited by 16%.
  3. “Education” — yet another thumping government failure — cited by 14%. 

As Reason’s Nick Gillespie notes in the Daily Beast: “Given the role it plays in setting immigration policy and controlling education at all levels through a mix of money and mandates, that means government takes the gold, silver, and bronze medals at making life harder.”

(Fourth place was “Talent Shortage,” cited by 10% of respondents, which is also at least in part a consequence of the second and third government-created barriers.)

Further, it’s not just the tech sector reporting serious damage from government. A 2010 survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses asked small business owners to identify the biggest problems they face. Twenty-two percent of respondents said the single most important problem facing small businesses was “Taxes. Another thirteen percent said “Government Regulations and Red Tape.” Both, of course, are direct manifestations of Big Government. Combined, they add up to 35% — making Big Government the biggest problem small businesses say they face.

And Americans in general seem to agree. As we reported earlier this year, a Gallup poll found a record 72% of Americans picked big government as “the biggest threat to this country in the future” compared with big business or big labor.

Rand Paul: “I’ll Do Everything to End the War on Drugs”

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 21 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

On his HBO show last Friday (Nov. 14), Bill Maher asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about remarks Rand Paulhe made in 2000 concerning the War on Drugs:

BILL MAHER: “You said in 2000, ‘The War on Drugs is an abysmal failure and a waste of money.’ Are you still on that page?”

RAND PAUL: “I’m absolutely there, and I’ll do everything to end the War on Drugs….

“The War on Drugs has become the most racially disparate outcome that you have in the entire country. Our prisons are full of black and brown kids. Three-fourths of the people in prison are black or brown, and white kids are using drugs, Bill, as you know…at the same rate as these other kids. But kids who have less means, less money, kids who are in areas where police are patrolling… Police are given monetary incentives to make arrests, monetary incentives for their own departments…

“So I want to end the War on Drugs because it’s wrong for everybody, but particularly because poor people are caught up in this, and their lives are ruined by it.”

Paul also strongly defended sentencing reform and restoring voting rights to non-violent former felons.

Paul further indicated his opposition to the federal War on Drugs during an early November discussion on the Washington, D.C. marijuana legalization vote. Paul told Roll Call that he strongly favors getting the federal government out of such matters:

“I’m not for having the federal government get involved. I really haven’t taken a stand on … the actual legalization. I haven’t really taken a stand on that, but I’m against the federal government telling [Washington, DC] they can’t,” Paul said.

“I think there should be a certain amount of discretion for both states and territories and the District. I think really that when we set up our country, we intended that most crime or not crime, things that we determined to be crime or not crimes, was really intended to be determined by localities.”

His father Ron Paul sometimes has taken that position or one similar to it, calling for ending the federal War on Drugs and leaving it up to states to decide whether or not they want to pursue drug prohibition.

This let-the-states-decide position is also the premise upon which alcohol Prohibition was repealed in the 1930s.

The Greatest Achievement in Human History?

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

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

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

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

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

Writes Irwin:

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

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

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

And free enterprise deserves the credit, Irwin emphasizes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the findings:

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

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

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

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

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

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