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Tip: Make Your OPH Booth a “Politically Homeless Shelter”

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

I’m always on the lookout for ways to make OPH even more fun and successful than it already is. Politically Homeless Shelter

(OPH is, of course, Operation Politically Homeless — the Advocates’ acclaimed “event in a kit,” which uses the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and other tools to transform an ordinary dull ho-hum outreach booth into a crowd-drawing, fun event.)

Danny Bedwell — Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Congress and former Chair of the Libertarian Party of Mississippi — has a neat tip I’m pleased to share with you.

On hot summer days, make your OPH booth even more attractive to passers-by: turn it into a “Politically Homeless SHELTER.”

The idea is simple, clever and easy. Just put those words — “Politically Homeless Shelter” — on a sign near your OPH booth, and prominently show that you have free iced water or soft drinks, snacks, and perhaps a shady place to pause and rest a moment.

If you’re doing OPH outside on a hot day — at a fair, festival, concert, rally or other event — this is an easy way to make your OPH booth even more popular.

When your guests take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, they will discover where they fit on the political map. You’ll be turning the “politically homeless” into people who have a true political home!  And you’ll discover lots of people who are thirsty for liberty (as well as that cold drink).

Thanks, Danny!

Learn more about OPH here.

Students: We’re giving free OPH kits to student liberty groups! Learn morehere.

Ayn Rand and American Indians

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: How do libertarians feel about this Ayn Rand statement: “[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using… [W]hat was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence. Their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out, so that you can live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it…. Any white person who could bring the element of civilization had the right to take over this country.”

MY SHORT ANSWER: I’ve never seen this comment before; thanks for sharing! Most libertarians — myself included — would disagree with it.

Native Americans did conceive of, and recognize, property rights for scarce resources, such as Naturefishing rights in rivers, which were generally held and passed down in families. Land property wasn’t usually scarce; property rights usually aren’t well-defined when a resource is abundant, since there is no competition for it. Consequently, Native Americans often did not establish land boundaries, homestead particular parcels, or recognize land claims. Some exceptions included an individual or family’s farmed fields and tribal hunting grounds.

Although by European standards, the Native American existence might be considered primitive, the land wasn’t untouched or unused. Native Americans used the land primarily to hunt, to fish, and to farm, but used sustainable practices to insure future sources of food. Natives living in our rainforests today are in a similar position as Native Americans were; libertarians often donate to a legal fund so that they can litigate for recognition of their homesteading claims.

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

* “The most ignorant thing Ayn Rand ever said?“ by Timothy Sandefur. Sandefur , a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney, Cato Institute adjunct scholar, author of several books, and Objectivist, thoughtfully examines the quote, Rand’s fallacies on this issue, and the context of her remarks.

SequoyahEXCERPT: “I consider myself an Objectivist; I think Ayn Rand’s philosophical and political arguments are basically correct, and I enjoy her literature tremendously. But I think it’s important for Objectivists to acknowledge when Rand was wrong about something, and there can be no doubt she was wrong [in this quote]… The Cherokee had property rights, as well as a written constitution, newspapers, a formal government, schools, and a capital city. Other tribes had similar institutions… I think it’s safe to say that Ayn Rand knew virtually nothing about the history of American Indians. In part this is no fault of hers, since historiography and cultural anthropology at that time was pretty shabby, and because that was a period when the silly leftist romanticization of Indians was first reaching a height which is only now diminishing.”

* “Dances With Myths“ by Terry L. Anderson, Reason Magazine, February 1997. Anderson is executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) and a leading free market environmentalist. In this article he gives numerous examples of how, at times, American Indians established and defended property rights.

EXCERPT: “American Indian tribes produced and sustained abundant wealth because they had clear property rights to land, fishing and hunting territories, and personal property. Pre-Columbian Indian history is replete with examples of property rights conditioning humans’ relations with the natural environment.”

George Bernard Shaw’s Tailor

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

(From the Persuasion PowerPoint section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each Tailortime he sees me,” wrote George Bernard Shaw. “The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”

Most of us aren’t as wise as George Bernard Shaw’s tailor.

We see people we haven’t seen for years, and we tell them, “You haven’t changed a bit!”

Or, “You’re the same as you always were.”

Are they really the same?

Or are we forgetting to take their measure anew?

Social psychology has a name for this: the High School Reunion Phenomenon.

At our 10th year reunion, or 20th year reunion, we see people we haven’t seen since high school.

We talk about old times. We relive glory days. We reminisce.

Then we go home and say, “I’ve changed a lot, but they’re the same as they ever were.”

Are they?

When we go to high school reunions, we’re scanning for similarities. Our memories are primed to find people who look just like, sound just like, and act just like the kids we went to high school with. Only older. And wrinklier.

We’re looking for similarities. So that’s what we find.

We know that we’ve changed.

Or have we?

If we rode home with some of the people that we’d just seen for the first time in ten or twenty years, we’d hear them saying, “Boy, they haven’t changed a bit… but I have.”

We didn’t take their measure anew. And they didn’t take ours.

George Bernard Shaw’s tailor was right. People do change. And unless we look for change, we’ll miss it.

This is crucial to persuasion.

People change their values. People change themselves. And events change people.

Changed values and changed lives mean new opportunities for communicating libertarianism.

Changed values and changed lives mean new wants and needs. New situations.

New concerns and interests. New conversational openings.

If we assume that the person we were talking with “hasn’t changed a bit,” we might miss out on the fact that they just got audited by the IRS. Do you think that might make them more receptive to libertarian tax cut and tax repeal proposals?

If we forget to take the person’s measure anew, we might never know that one of their close friends or family members has been sentenced to prison for a marijuana offense. They might be open to the idea of ending the War on Drugs.

If we overlook the fact that people are always changing, we might not hear about a friend being stalked or threatened. We might never know that they are ripe for a discussion of gun ownership and the right to protect themselves and their families.

If we neglect to look for how the person has changed, we might not learn that they are expecting a baby… and might be eager to hear about homeschooling. Or separating school and state.

What can George Bernard Shaw’s tailor teach us?

1. Actively look for what’s different when you meet people again. Actively ask what’s different.

2. Seek and scan for changes in their lives. Explore the changes. Ask them to talk about the changes since you last got together.

3. What’s new in their lives? New activities. New people. New events. New feelings and values. Invite people to talk about the novel and new.

4. Comment on and, where appropriate, compliment them for positive changes. Drop them notes mentioning how healthy and good they look since they’ve lost the weight. Or since they got their promotion. Send them notes and emails giving them warm feedback on the changes.

Change is opportunity. A new chance to build libertarian bridges to other people’s lives.

And we might miss this opportunity.

Unless we emulate George Bernard Shaw’s tailor.

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

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

Best Libertarian Science Fiction/Fantasy of the Year Announced

in Liberator Online Archives by James Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Cory Doctorow's Homeland

Want some great libertarian-oriented reading? The Libertarian Futurist Society has some new recommendations for you.

For more than three decades, the Libertarian Futurist Society has given its coveted annual Prometheus Awards, which celebrate outstanding current and classic works of science fiction and fantasy that stress the importance of liberty as the foundation for civilization, peace, prosperity, progress and justice.

This year’s Best Novel Award was a tie: Homeland by Cory Doctorow and Nexus by Ramez Naam.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Cory Doctorow has generously allowed readers to download Homeland — and some of his other works — for free here.

Homeland, the sequel to Doctorow’s 2009 Prometheus winner Little Brother, follows the continuing adventures of a government-brutalized young leader of a movement of tech-savvy hackers — who must decide whether to release an incendiary Wikileaks-style exposé of massive government abuse and corruption as part of a struggle against the invasive national-security state.

This is Doctorow’s third Prometheus Award for Best Novel. He won last year for his Pirate Cinema. All three are young-adult novels with strong libertarian themes.

Nexus by Ramez Naam is described as “a gripping exploration of politics and new extremes of both freedom and tyranny in a near future where emerging technology opens up unprecedented possibilities for mind control or personal liberation and interpersonal connection.”

The other finalists:

* A Few Good Men by Sarah Hoyt
* Crux by Ramez Naam (sequel to his Best Novel-winning Nexus)
* Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

The Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) winner is Falling Free, a 1988 novel by Lois McMaster Bujold that explores free will and self-ownership by considering the legal and ethical implications of human genetic engineering.

The other 2014 Hall of Fame finalists: “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a 1912 short story by Rudyard Kipling; “Sam Hall,” a 1953 short story by Poul Anderson; “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” a 1965 short story by Harlan Ellison; and Courtship Rite, a 1982 novel by Donald M. Kingsbury.

In a separate awards ceremony, four-time-Prometheus Award-winning author Vernor Vinge will receive a Special Prometheus Lifetime Achievement Award.

Author-filksinger Leslie Fish — according to Prometheus “perhaps the most popular filk song writer of the past three decades and one who often includes pro-freedom themes in her songs” — will receive a Special Prometheus Award in 2014 for the combination of her 2013 libertarian-themed novella “Tower of Horses” and her related filk song, “The Horsetamer’s Daughter.” (No, that’s not a misspelling. Filk songs are songs created from within science fiction and fantasy fandom, usually dealing with related subject matter.)

The Prometheus Award will be presented in a ceremony during the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in London, England August 14-18, 2014.

For further great libertarian fiction reading recommendations, see the list of past Prometheus Award winners and nominees.

VIDEO: Reporters Openly Laugh at State Department Defense of Obama

in Liberator Online Archives by James Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms,” declared the great libertarian H.L. Mencken.

So when mainstream reporters start snickering publicly at the president, that’s a very good sign.

Enjoy, then, this very short (one minute 36 seconds) video clip from a State Department press conference in late May, in which amused reporters openly mock State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s claim that Obama’s foreign policy record is worthy.

Psaki says to the assembled reporters, “I would argue the president doesn’t give himself enough credit for what he’s done around the world, and that’s how the Secretary feels too…”

“Credit for what?” asks one bemused reporter, clearly astounded at the idea. Others join in, eventually laughing aloud at the idea that Obama has done anything deserving credit in recent foreign policy.

We could use far more such skepticism, but this is a great start.

(Thanks to Reason.com and Hotair.com)

SWAT Teams: We’re Above the Law

in Liberator Online Archives by James Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

From a recent Washington Post column by libertarian Randy Balko, entitled “Massachusetts SWAT teams claim they’re private corporations, immune from open records laws”:

SWAT Raid

“[A] number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board ….

“Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests.

“Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences.

“And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.”

Great Libertarian Movie

in Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Movies by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Still Mine” (2013) is one of the best libertarian-themed movies I’ve ever seen. It’s based on a true story. Still Mine movie posterIn 2007 Canadian Craig Morrison, 88 years old, set out to build a small home where he could care for his wife, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. He began building it himself, on his own land, with his own hands, using lumber he sawed himself — as he’d done other times in the past.

But this time he ran into trouble — from new restrictive building codes and oppressive bureaucrats who ultimately threatened to bulldoze his home and throw him into prison.

“I thought this was a free country, that we had liberties and freedoms like we used to have, but I was sadly mistaken,” Morrison told a local newspaper. “All I wanted to do is build a house, and I was treated as if I was some kind of outlaw.”

This film is based on that story. It’s a gripping tale of one fiercely independent man facing a soulless bureaucracy. It is more than a political story. It’s about families, about aging, about love, about responsibility.

“Still Mine” is marvelously done and has received rave reviews from critics. The Canadian Globe and Mail called it “a cautionary tale of the tremendous power of the state over the individual in an age of pervasive bureaucracy. It is, indeed, a profound parable of irretrievably lost independence and casually forgotten freedoms.”

“Still Mine” stars James Cromwell, renowned for decades as a character actor, in his first lead role. His performance is wonderful (as are the other performances in the film). I was curious if he had more than a passing interest in the politics in the story.

Turns out he did. Cromwell’s father, John Cromwell, was an award-winning actor and director — who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. That left a mark on his son. In the 1960s James Cromwell did guerrilla theatre protesting the Vietnam War and fought segregation in the South. He was part of the Committee To Defend The Black Panthers, which worked to free unjustly imprisoned members of that group.

In an interview at RogerEbert.com, Cromwell said the following about the political message of “Still Mine.”

“My watchword has always been ‘Resist Authority’ and I have been involved with radical politics since the sixties…

“Somebody wrote a review [of "Still Mine"] where they said ‘Somebody who does not obey the law cannot be a sympathetic character.’ What about Gandhi? What about Martin Luther King? What about the suffragettes or those for gay rights or the people who have always stood up to oppose unjust laws and regulations?

“They have always been our heroes and in that respect, I personally think that Craig [lead character in "Still Mine"] is a hero. It is on a small scale but he says that this does not stand and cannot stand. It is not human and it is not caring. Those are the politics of this film.”

Although in one interview a few years ago he said he was a libertarian, in another more recent one he described himself as a progressive. Whatever his politics, he’s always been an outspoken champion of the downtrodden and the underdog, and in interviews he frequently urges people to “question authority.”

“Still Mine” is a beautiful film in many ways, and watching it is like seeing one of those great Institute for Justice ads about citizens resisting unjust government come to life.

It’s on DVD. I highly recommend it.

Raising the Overton Window

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In the 1990s I had the great pleasure of meeting the late Joseph P. Overton at a leadership seminar at the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Joe was senior vice president of Mackinac. He was brilliant, charismatic, inspiring and fun to be with. The liberty movement lost a great leader when he died in a plane crash on June 30, 2003.

One of Joe’s many contributions to liberty was the popularizing of a vital concept that now bears his name: the Overton Window.

Overton Window: A Model of Policy Change
The Overton Window is explained by Mackinac this way:

“Joseph Overton observed that in a given public policy area… only a relatively narrow range of potential policies will be considered politically acceptable.”

“This ‘window’ of politically acceptable options is primarily defined not by what politicians prefer, but rather by what they believe they can support and still win re-election.”

“In general, then, the window shifts to include different policy options not when ideas change among politicians, but when ideas change in the society that elects them.”

This is a powerful concept. You can see it clearly when you illustrate it, as Joe did, by lining up possible positions on a political issue in order from more free to less free.

Let’s do this with drug policy. Here are a few positions on this issue, lined up (starting from the bottom) from most oppressive to least oppressive:

All drugs are legal for adults to buy, sell, and consume
“Hard drugs” legal but only with doctor’s prescription
Some other drugs in addition to marijuana also legal; other still illegal
—————————————————————————
Marijuana legal to own, grow, sell with permission from government
Marijuana legal to buy but not sell
Marijuana legal for medical purposes only, with doctor’s prescription
Marijuana illegal but only minimal punishment
All drugs illegal with stiff penalties
—————————————————————————
Mandatory drug tests for all Americans
Harsh punishment for drug use
Death penalty for drug use, possession, sale

See the two lines I made in the middle of that list? Those lines show the area of today’s most politically-acceptable options. That’s an approximation of where we are right now.

Those lines show the top and the bottom of the Overton Window at this time.

Those policies inside the Overton Window are politically acceptable. It doesn’t mean they are right, universally agreed on, or that they are law. It just means that people holding or seeking political office can say they support them, and still get elected.

In contrast, the policies outside the Overton Window are not very politically acceptable. It is far harder to advocate them and get elected. Not impossible, but more difficult.

The Overton Window makes our goal as libertarians clear: to raise the window. To push it ever higher. To make currently unpopular libertarian positions acceptable. To bring those positions into the mainstream political debate.

As we do so, we also raise the bottom part of the window, so that previous authoritarian solutions are no longer acceptable.

How do we do this? Surprisingly, not by electing politicians, according to the Mackinac Center:

“Many believe that politicians move the window, but that’s actually rare. In our understanding, politicians typically don’t determine what is politically acceptable; more often they react to it and validate it. Generally speaking, policy change follows political change, which itself follows social change. The most durable policy changes are those that are undergirded by strong social movements.”

Politicians are lagging indicators; that is, they usually reflect what is acceptable, rather than making radical political change.

The Overton Window model gives us some major insights into how we can effectively change government policy. Rather than just hoping to elect the “right people” to office, it suggests that the most powerful way to changing government policy lies in changing the views of the public as to what is acceptable.

Do this, and the politicians will follow. Witness the growing popularity of the movement to relegalize marijuana. It’s not a movement that was brought about by politicians. Rather, politicians are reluctantly accepting it because of the years of work by liberty activists to educate the public to demand reform.

That means our job as libertarian communicators is to constantly be pushing the window up — gently but persuasively — in the direction of liberty. In our discussions with people, in our outreach efforts, in our casual conversations.

When, for example, relegalizing medical marijuana is politically possible, we support that — but we also argue that marijuana should be legal across the board, for everyone. And as that idea begins to win, our job is to push it further, until we reach the full libertarian ideal: adults are free to use whatever substances they wish.

Similarly, on taxation, our goal right now might be a particular tax cut or reducing the tax burden. But we also want to argue for something that’s now outside the Window — like ending the income tax, for example — in order to introduce that idea into the debate and thus raise the Overton Window. And as that idea gains traction, we discuss more seriously the libertarian ideal: ending all taxes.

Important: This does NOT mean that we should deliberately pursue gradualism or avoid discussing long-range and ultimate libertarian goals. We don’t have to move one small step up the Overton Window at a time. I strongly agree with the great abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: “Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.” I strongly believe we should be ready and happy to argue persuasively for the full libertarian position any time. Indeed, doing so is part of raising the Overton Window.

However, during a political discussion in which there is general agreement on a particular libertarian reform, there is often a great opportunity for us to push the discussion a bit further — to raise the Overton Window higher. Be alert for such opportunities.

This also suggests that, for most of us, using effective and persuasive communication methods, such as those taught by the Advocates, is crucial. While we need our Menckenish curmudgeons and pundits, most of us can’t do that well. We can be most effective by winning the trust of our neighbors and community members, bringing them to our side.

Ultimately it is public opinion, not political power, that changes society. Which means we have in our hands the ability to make bold political change. Which means the more successfully and persuasively we can communicate our ideas, the greater our chance for victory.

So let’s use that power to push the Overton Window up, up, up until it’s wide-open — and we welcome in the fresh air of liberty.

*  *  *

More on the Overton Window can be found at this website: The Overton Window, A Model of Policy Change by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This web page has several short essays on the Overton Window, illustrations of the Window in action, videos, thoughts on how to move the Window up, and more. Essential.

Also of interest: Murray Rothbard challenges gradualism in his essay “The Case for Radical Idealism.

Do Libertarians Support a National Sales Tax?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Short Essays Attract More Readers

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

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

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

They write long essays and long books.Writing

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

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

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

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

Write a short, short piece. 300 words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They Said It…

in Liberator Online Archives by James Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It… section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

THE MOST LIBERTARIAN GENERATION EVER: 

Alexander McCobin

“Today’s youth is the most libertarian generation that has ever existed. Today’s youth have grown up socially tolerant, but at the same time skeptical of government intervention in the economy. And we’re fed up with excessive military intervention in foreign affairs by the U.S. government, not to mention we’ve seen the failed presidential administration of both a big-government Republican and a big-government Democrat.” — Alexander McCobin, founder of Students for Liberty, at the Libertarian Party of Texas state convention, April 12, 2014.

LIBERTARIANISM “ON THE RISE”: Libertarianism [is] on the rise. There is,Chris Cillizza without question, an expanding libertarian streak within the Republican party — particularly among younger voters. The ideas of limiting foreign entanglements, spending less time cracking down on marijuana use and being OK with same-sex marriage are all growing in terms of their mindshare within the GOP. Need evidence? Six in ten young Republicans — defined as between 18-30 years of age — are in favor of same-sex marriage in new Pew data.” — award-winning journalist Chris Cillizza, “It’s time to start taking Rand Paul seriously,” Washington Post blogs, March 17, 2014.

NY TIMES EDITOR — OBAMA VS. JOURNALISM:

Jill Abramson

“The Obama years are a benchmark for a new level of secrecy and control. …Collectively [the Obama administration's criminal leak investigations] have really, I think, put a chill on reporting about national security issues in Washington. Sources who want to come forward with important stories that they feel the public needs to know are just scared to death that they’re going to be prosecuted. Reporters fear that they will find themselves subpoenaed in this atmosphere.” — Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, interviewed at The Takeaway.org, April 10, 2014.

RAND PAUL GOES FOR THE PRIVACY VOTE: “[Young voters] have all got a Senator Rand Paulcell phone and they all think the government shouldn’t be looking at their cell phone or listening to their cell phone without a warrant. We get to the young people with privacy. It’s not a conservative or Republican issue. It’s an area where we can connect with people who haven’t been connecting. Obama won the youth vote 3 to 1 but he’s losing them now. Hillary Clinton’s as bad or worse on all of these issues. It’s a way we can transform and make the party bigger or even win again, but we’ve got to be as proud of the Fourth Amendment as we are the Second Amendment.” —Rand Paul at an NH GOP rally at the Cottage by the Bay in Dover, N.H, April 11, 2014.


CAPTAIN AMERICA MEETS CAPTAIN CHINA:

Conan O'Brien

“‘Captain America’ is currently the No. 1 movie in China. The Chinese say their favorite part is when Captain America asks Captain China for a $17 trillion loan.” — Conan O’Brien, April 9, 2014.

THANKS A LOT, OBAMA: “The White House just releasedJimmy FallonPresident Obama’s tax returns, which show that he and Michelle paid $98,000 dollars in taxes last year. When he saw that, even Obama said, ‘Thanks, Obama.’” — Jimmy Fallon, April 11, 2014.

RE-QUOTED AND NOTED

AYN RAND ON RACISM:

Ayn Rand

“Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage — the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.” — Ayn Rand, quoted by Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation in his article “In Praise of ‘Thick’ Libertarianism.” See Rand’s full quote here.

TV and Film Star Rob Lowe: Is He a Libertarian?

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

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

Renowned TV and film star Rob Lowe is promoting his new Is Rob Lowe A Libertarian?autobiography Love Life. And he’s been making some very libertarian-ish statements along the way.

In an interview with the New York Times, he described his politics this way:

“My thing is personal freedoms, freedoms for the individual to love whom they want, do with what they want. In fact, I want the government out of almost everything.”

He sounded even more libertarian during an April interview with Bill O’Reilly, though he seemed determined not to let O’Reilly stick a label on his views. Here is the relevant portion:

BILL O’REILLY: You also have said in your promoting of this book that you want less government intrusion. Is that correct?

ROB LOWE: I do. Yeah.

O’REILLY: But your pinhead friends in Hollywood, they don’t want, they want equality for everyone, which takes a massive government.

LOWE: Well, I’m — equality for everybody is great. That would be amazing. I just think that individuals usually do a better job than collective big government.

O’REILLY: So you don’t want the government to be telling you how to live, that’s kind of a libertarian position.

LOWE: Well, that’s funny, does that make me a libertarian? I’m a Hollywood pinhead, Bill, I don’t know about political labels.

O’REILLY: The libertarians want less government and more personal freedom, which I think is what you are saying.

LOWE: That is what I’m saying.

O’REILLY: So now you’re a libertarian?

LOWE: So all this time shedding the dogma of political labels and you’re telling me now I have to go back to living under political labels.

O’REILLY: No, no, it’s not bad. You just have to hang out with Stossel which is very, very difficult.

LOWE: Well then I take it back.

O’REILLY: You know, I think, look, I’m not a libertarian but I don’t think that the government can solve the problems that the government purports to be able to solve.

LOWE: And just for the record we do need government for a lot of big ticket items. Not total.

Libertarian, or libertarianish, positions aren’t new to Lowe. In 2012 he defended Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged on Twitter, tweeting: “Can someone explain the vitriol whenever Ayn Rand comes up? ‘Atlas’ is the greatest motivator for the individual that I can imagine.”

VIDEO: It’s Almost Illegal to Start a Business in the U.S.A.

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

Believe it or not, in what was once the land of the free, fully one in three Americans must seek and win a government-issued license before they can start a business. No wonder unemployment’s so high!

This funny — and horrifying — animated cartoon from the libertarian Institute for Justice (IJ) brings this important issue to life. Watch prospective entrepreneur Chuck try to start business after business across the country— and get slapped down time and time again by the outrageous maze of unjustifiable laws that stop would-be business owners from getting their ideas off the ground.

And… well, we don’t want to give anything away, but you just won’t believe what happens to poor Chuck in the end. And it’s all true.

The Institute for Justice says one of the principal obstacles to creating new jobs and entrepreneurial activity across the country is the complex web of regulations cities and states impose on small businesses.

IJ has lots of back-up information for this video at their website. Their report “License To Work” is a good place to start.

Share this entertaining and enlightening video with friends. Let them get mad about it too! About 5 minutes.

Libertarian Party Voter Registration Increases 11% As Republicans, Democrats Wane

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Party by James Harris Comments are off

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

Voter registration in the Republican and Democratic parties has decreased significantly in recent years.

Libertarian Party LogoHowever, according to American’s leading ballot access expert Richard Winger, Libertarian Party voter registration in the U.S. is growing — by a whopping 11.4% since late 2012.

According to Winger, the most recent figures available from state governments show 368,561 registered Libertarians in March of 2014, compared to 330,811 in November of 2012.

That’s from the 30 states that, along with the District of Columbia, allow voters to include a party affiliation with their voter registration.

Libertarian Party Chair Geoffrey Neale was, naturally enough, pleased. “I think it’s great that Libertarian registration is increasing throughout America, while the Democrats and Republicans have been shrinking,” he said in a media release. “Maybe it’s our across-the-board message of ‘more freedom, less government.’”

The states with the largest percent increases were Idaho (161% increase), Wyoming (68% increase), Nebraska (55% increase), and Louisiana (33% increase).

The surge comes after the 2012 election season in which Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson won a record 1.276 million votes, double the 2008 vote. In total, 2012 Libertarian Party candidates received nearly 16 million votes nationwide, and set new records in several categories.

Worse and Worse: 101 Years of the Federal Income Tax

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

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

“The American income tax is perhaps the most dramatic example of how government grows at the expense of liberty,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), last week. “Slowly. Constantly. Inexorably.”

Indeed, the 101-year history of the federal income tax has been marked by more and more taxpayers paying higher and higher amounts of tax, accompanied by ever-increasing complexity and confusion, as this chart from ATR shows:

101 Years of the Income Tax

And that’s just the start. Consider the incredible burden and costs of compliance. According to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU)

  • The total time burden of tax compliance totals an astounding 6.1 billion hours this year.
  • That is the equivalent of about 3.05 million employees working 40-hour weeks year-round with just two weeks off; or more than the number of workers at three of the biggest retailers in the Fortune 500 — Wal-Mart Stores, McDonald’s, and Target — combined.
  • When calculated at the average hourly employee compensation cost, the value of the labor involved in tax compliance is a jaw-dropping $192.6 billion.
  • Individuals spend a combined $31.7 billion a year on tax software and other out-of-pocket costs related to tax compliance.

NTU thus estimates the total compliance burden of the income tax is a horrific $224.3 billion. And that does NOT include “numerous hours taxpayers spend on state and local taxes, pursuing tax minimization strategies, or responding to IRS notices and audits; nor do they include the huge ‘growth penalty’ imposed on the nation’s economy by high tax rates.”

Then there are the numerous severe civil liberty problems with the income tax. “Ten Ways the Income Tax Harms Civil Liberties,” a short commentary by the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards, summarizes some of them.

If you’re tired of this madness, why not start convincing your family, friends, neighbors and community leaders that it’s time to end the hated income tax — and replace it with… nothing.

Yes, it’s both fiscally and politically possible, as Ron Paul, Harry Browne, and many others have pointed out. In this article Advocates President Sharon Harris offers some some background info and suggestions to help you make that argument persuasively and effectively.

Can We Abolish the Income Tax?

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

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In this issue‘s Intellectual Ammunition section you will find some truly shocking facts about the federal income tax.

It’s enough to make you mad — and, I hope, ready to do something about it.

In recent years libertarian arguments in many areas have made remarkable Abolish the IRSprogress. The re-legalization of marijuana and other drugs has moved from a theoretical possibility to legislative reality. We’ve seen the elimination of centuries-old anti-gay laws. In foreign policy, the ideas of non-intervention are catching on so fast it’s scaring the political establishment. And the idea of libertarianism itself has gone from being an obscure, little-understood political philosophy to being the hottest idea in politics today.

None of this happened by accident. It came about because libertarians and others who favored liberty on these issues spent years challenging the status quo, opening minds, and bringing the libertarian position into public debate.

I think it’s high time we added abolishing the income tax to that list.

A few years ago I wrote a series of articles on how to argue for eliminating the income tax and replacing it with nothing.

I’ve combined those into one article, which you can read here. I hope it helps you in the crucial work of pushing the “abolish the income tax and replace it with… nothing” meme into mainstream American politics.

In my Liberty Minute column in this issue, I discuss the concept of the Overton Window, a very useful model for advancing the ideas of liberty. One of our major goals as liberty advocates is to raise the Overton Window to include ever-bolder libertarian ideas.

Can we do this with the idea of ending the income tax? Can we make that a part of the national political debate? You bet we can. It’s what Hollywood describes as “high concept”: it makes sense, it is exciting, and it is easy to grasp. Ron Paul’s longtime support for this issue is another big benefit. Paul’s millions of influential and active followers have the manpower to bring this idea alive for the mainstream.

Perhaps, not so long from now, the income tax will go the way of censorship, sodomy laws, Jim Crow, and other discredited and vanished tyrannies liberty lovers have sent into oblivion.

Before You Click “Share”

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Oops! Was my face red!

Last week I saw a fascinating article on Facebook. It was entitled “Amazing things you didn’t know your cell phone could do.”

Wow! I had no idea cell phones could do all that. I immediately shared it with my Facebook friends.Don't Believe Everything You Read On the Internet - Abraham Lincoln

Bad move. I was quickly informed that the article was almost totally bogus. (I’m sorry to inform you that you can’t use your cell phone to unlock your car — unless, as a friend pointed out, you throw it through the window.)

Normally I check such things out before forwarding them. But this time my enthusiasm got the best of me — such amazing and useful information! — and I made the classic Internet mistake of forwarding info I hadn’t checked out. Ouch!

In this particular case, the consequences weren’t dire. I wasted a bit of my friends’ time and made myself look silly.

But sharing false political information can have much more serious consequences. Especially for libertarians.

When we send something around that turns out to be false, people may wonder: “Are libertarians just stupid — or are they trying to deceive me?”

They may think, “This libertarian has sent me something I know isn’t true. So I can’t trust anything he or other libertarians say.”

Those aren’t reactions we want from our social media outreach.

This is a serious problem. The web is clogged with fascinating facts, mesmerizing memes, compelling quotes and startling stories — that are not true.

So before you hit that “Share” button on Facebook or the “Forward” button in your email, take a moment confirm the validity of the material.

Note, this doesn’t mean you have to verify everything you share. Jokes, fables, cartoons, cat videos… fire away.

But before sending a quote or a fact, take a moment and fact-check it.

It’s easy. Type it wholly or in part into Google. See if it can be verified at a reliable source. Something like “funnytruequotes.com” (I just made that up) isn’t sufficient. A legitimate online thesaurus, book, scholarly site, or reputable newspaper or magazine source is needed.

You can also use Google Books to instantly search millions of books to see if the quote or fact shows up in a reputable book.

Does this sound like too much trouble? Do you just “know” your quote is accurate, because it just “sounds right”? I invite you to try it on a few anyway. You will be shocked how many false quotes are attributed to the Founders, to Ron Paul, to various presidents, and the like.

The more amazing the fact or quote, the more it confirms your prejudices… the more likely it needs to be vetted. “Eighty percent of U.S. tax dollars goes to foreign aid” might sound plausible to some people, but check it out and you might be surprised. If you can’t verify it at a legitimate source (newspaper, magazine, think tank, book, etc.) don’t send it out.

If a story sounds too good to be true, that’s a warning sign. Check out snopes.com or a similar site to see if it’s one of the thousands of phony tales mugging truth-seekers on the web. (I know, Snopes.com has its own biases, but it’s a great place to start.)

Once you’ve pushed the “Share” button, it’s hard to take it back. Some people will never see your retraction, and many of your friends will have already forwarded it to dozens or hundreds of others. In one irreversible moment, you’ve helped contribute to the ignorance of the human race. Not good.

As ambassadors for libertarian ideas, we need to make sure we always display integrity. As seekers of the truth, we must always be truthful in the information we share with others in making our case for liberty.

As Liberator Online columnist Michael Cloud is fond of saying, “The facts are friendly to freedom.”

We’ve got the truth on our side. Falsehoods and bad information only hurts our cause.

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

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Kinds of Government Waste

in Communicating Liberty by Michael Cloud Comments are off

Champagne and Beer

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

1. Paying champagne prices for beer quality.

2. Buying champagne when all you need is beer.

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

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

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

They Said It…

in Liberator Online Archives by James Harris Comments are off

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

FACES TO VOICES: “President Obama now is meeting with the G-7 leaders… it must be fun for him to put faces to the voices he hears on the wiretaps.” — David Letterman, March 24, 2014.

PERVERSE INCENTIVES: “The War on Drugs creates perverse incentives. When the police find The Economistassets that they suspect are the proceeds of crime, they can seize them. Under civil asset-forfeiture rules, they do not have to prove that a crime was committed — they can grab first and let the owners sue to get their stuff back. The police can meanwhile use the money to beef up their own budgets, buying faster patrol cars or computers. All this gives them a powerful incentive to focus on drug crimes, which generate lots of cash, rather than, say, rape, which does not. This is outrageous. Citizens should not forfeit their property unless convicted of a crime; and the proceeds should fund the state as a whole, not the arm that does the grabbing.” — editorial, The Economist magazine, “Armed and dangerous,” March 22, 2014.

WHY DOES THE GOV’T HURT SICK PEOPLE: “It states in the Bible not to abuse a drug, it doesn’t say you can’t use it. If you ask me, cannabis is a gift from God.” — preacher’s daughter Aimee Curry, who found marijuana was the only medicine that relieved agonizing muscle spasms from a near-fatal car accident. She told her story on CNN’s “Weed 2: Cannabis Madness: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports,” Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

LEGAL POT GETTING PEOPLE OFF DANGEROUS PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: 

Dr. Mark Rabe

“Patients often come into my office and drop down a brown bag full of pill bottles on my desk and say,’I'm off Oxycodone; I’m off muscle relaxants. I’m off Ambien; I’m off Trazodone,’ because medical cannabis does the job better. Time after time these patients tell me that medical cannabis works better than the pills, and with fewer side effects. Cannabis has such a good safety profile and is much less addictive than opiates. In my mind, cannabis is a good potential replacement for opiates.” — Dr. Mark Rabe, a Northwestern University School of Medicine-trained physician who treats Aimee Curry, quoted above. Rabe noted that deaths from prescription drugs are on the rise, while death from marijuana overdose is virtually impossible.

NEW JERSEY GUN-GRABBER WANTS TO CLASSIFY ORDINARY GUN OWNERS AS “TERRORISTS OR GANGSTERS”: “Our top priority is a 10-round limit on magazine size. NobodyNew Jersey gun control activist Brian Miller needs a 15-round ammunition magazine unless they are a domestic terrorist or a gangster.” — New Jersey gun control activist Bryan Miller on proposed state legislation to outlaw possession of such guns in the state, including 43 commonly-owned rifles. The Post says the bill “has no grandfather clause and no amnesty period. So as soon as this legislation becomes law, everyone in possession of these rifles is automatically a felon and the guns are subject to seizure by the government. …The penalty is up to 10 years in jail and a mandatory minimum sentence of three to five years, with no chance of parole.” The legislation is expected to pass the state House and Senate and land on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

LIBERTARIAN PARTY’S NO-TAX CONVENTION:
Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict“Democrats and Republicans each got about $18 million of government money for their national conventions in 2012. We Libertarians pay for our own conventions.”— Wes Benedict, executive director of the Libertarian National Committee, quoted in the Washington Times, “Libertarians Strut Their Stuff,” March 19, 2014. Learn more about the upcoming LP convention — to be held in Columbus, Ohio, June 28-29 — here.

David Letterman

LETTERMAN ON TAX SLAVES: “The average American citizen — you hear the statistic all the time — works six months out of the year for the government. That’s how difficult the taxes are in this country. We work six months out of the year. Government employees don’t even do that.” — David Letterman, March 14, 2014.


NOT RIGHT AWAY:
Jimmy FallonYesterday Edward Snowden urged technology companies to improve their encryption techniques in order to prevent hacking. Then he said, ‘But not right away. I’m still using Obama’s Netflix password to watch ‘House of Cards.’”— Jimmy Fallon, March 11, 2014.

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