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Special Thanks to My “Three Right Hands”

in Liberator Online Archives, News From the Advocates for Self-Government by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

It’s just impossible to thank by name all the people who have made my 20 years as Advocates president such a pleasure. (As a Liberator Online reader, you’re high on that list yourself.)

But I must acknowledge three very special people who have made my work immensely more successful, satisfying and joyful. In fact, I could not have done it without them.

Dagny Smith has been office manager for the Advocates for 15 of the 20 years I have been president. In that role, she kept the office running smoothly, made sure orders and donations were processed quickly and efficiently, and maintained the highest standards of customer service. But that’s just the start. As a representative of the Advocates at conferences across the country, she introduced thousands of people to the Quiz, OPH, and other Advocates programs, and instructed hundreds of college students on how to grow their campus outreach programs. She contributed many excellent ideas for Advocates’ programs, and she has done layout for the Liberator Online for years. If you’ve had any interaction at all with the Advocates, you’ve benefited immensely from Dagny’s expertise and caring.

Evelyn Hanson has been Advocates business manager and accountant for 13 years. Thanks to her, all things financial have been maintained at the highest level of quality and best practices. Evelyn made sure all records and reports were prepared impeccably, all deadlines for tax filings and nonprofit reporting requirements were met, and management was provided with accurate budgets, forecasts and analysis needed for decision making. But there’s much more. Evelyn’s dedication to the Advocates led her to also do extensive volunteer work, especially in the areas of prospect research and fundraising. Evelyn has further helped me enormously with brainstorming, strategizing and exploring new ideas.

James W. Harris has worked with the Advocates longer than anyone else (including me). He began in 1991 (!) as editor of the print version of the Liberator, and has edited the Liberator Online since its start nearly 20 years ago. He has been the writer or chief editor of almost everything that has been written for the Advocates since he came on board. More, he’s had key roles in virtually every major Advocates project of the past two decades. His work refining and documenting the World’s Smallest Political Quiz was profusely praised by Quiz creator Marshall Fritz. In countless ways Jimmy has contributed immensely to the Advocates’ success.

ACLU: Why the War on Drugs Is So Bad For Privacy

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The War on Drugs is a War on US!Earlier this month Jay Stanley, ACLU Senior Policy Analyst, neatly summarized why the War on Drugs is so very destructive of privacy rights. It’s a powerful argument, and very useful to bring those on the left to join libertarians in opposing the Drug War and other victimless crime laws:

“It’s important to remember a key point about why the Drug War has been so corrosive of privacy: drug use is a victimless crime.

“Why does that make it so bad for privacy? Think about it: with an ordinary crime, you have a victim who goes running to the police to tell them about the wrongdoing that has taken place. They have been assaulted, or stolen from, or otherwise wronged, and are hopping mad, and look to the police for justice. If the crime is murder, then the victim’s loved ones will do the same. While police might engage in a certain amount of patrolling, for the most part reports of crime come to them.

“But when there’s no victim, how are the police supposed to find out when the law has been broken? The only way for police to fight victimless crime is to proactively search out wrongdoing: insert themselves into people’s lives, monitor their behavior, search their cars, etc.

“The enforcement of drug laws thus relies disproportionately on surveillance, eavesdropping, and searches of private places and effects.

“This (and misguided judges) is the reason that the failed War on Drugs has generated so much bad law around privacy and the Fourth Amendment in particular.

“It’s a simple point, and I’m hardly the first to make it, but it’s well worth keeping in mind, and it’s one reason that the ACLU generally opposes victimless crimes.”

Walter Williams: Gun Control Nonsense

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Walter Williams“Gun control advocates argue that stricter gun control laws would reduce murders. They ignore the fact that Brazil, Mexico and Russia have some of the strictest gun control laws but murder rates higher than ours. On the other hand, Switzerland and Israel have higher gun ownership rates than we but much lower murder rates. These are realities that gun controllers ignore.

“Another reality completely ignored in the gun control debate is the reason the Founding Fathers gave Second Amendment protections.

“Alexander Hamilton wrote, ‘If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.’

“Thomas Jefferson wrote, ‘What country can preserve (its) liberties if (its) rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.’

“I leave it up to you to decide what representatives and rulers the Founders were talking about.”

— Walter Williams, “Reality May Be Optional,” syndicated column, April 15, 2015.

Why Not You?

in Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 20, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The libertarian movement needs individuals to help us recruit tens of thousands of new libertarians each year… then each month… then each week.

Why not you?

We need informed and skilled communicators who can win the hearts and minds of others to liberty.

Why not you?

We need shy individuals to work behind the scenes to research, write, and coach our spokespersons and leaders.

Why not you?

We need internet-savvy libertarians to help set up and run libertarian websites, blogs, email, and social media.

Why not you?

The libertarian movement needs all kinds of volunteers. Young and old. Working or retired. Women or men. Married or single. Socializers or loners.

Why not you?

When should you email or call or text to see what’s available?

Why not now?

Reservations About Gay Marriage?

in Libertarian Answers on Issues, Marriage and Family by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 20, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Marriage EqualityQUESTION: I have some reservations on the issue of gay marriage. As a logician, I rely on well-defined terms to solve problems. While I do support civil unions, marriage has always been such a term (i.e., well-defined) historically. By making the definition more inclusive, the meaning of the term “marriage” loses its cultural significance. I fear the degeneration of such cultural structures will lead to further uncertainty and greater reliance on government. Not a good thing, in my view. What do you think?

MY SHORT ANSWER: I understand your concerns. However, marriage is not as well-defined as you might think.

For example, what are you actually agreeing to when you get married? You really don’t know until you get a divorce. The laws in each state differ as to child custody and how property is divided. In some states, everything owned by either party is divided equally; in others, anything brought to the marriage by one partner can be totally reclaimed during the divorce. If you are married in one state, but divorced in another, the marriage “contract” can be quite different from your understanding on the day that you tied the knot.

In some states, you are considered married by common law if you live with your partner for 7 years even if you don’t want to be; in others, cohabitation for decades isn’t recognized. In Texas, publicly claiming another as your spouse is presumably all it takes to become husband and wife.

Custom and culture are subject to change over time. The definition of marriage is one of those cultural norms that has indeed morphed over time and is likely to continue to do so. The question isn’t will it change, but rather, who decides how it changes. Libertarians generally agree that government shouldn’t be the decision maker.

* * *

Got questions? Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR tough questions on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart

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

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

 

I’m Retiring!

in Liberator Online Archives, News From the Advocates for Self-Government by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

For the Advocates, some big changes and celebrations are coming up.

* It’s the 30th Anniversary for the Advocates.

* It’s my 20th Anniversary as Advocates president.

* And… I will be retiring as Advocates president at the end of the month.

Please note, I am not retiring as an active libertarian. I’m stepping down from the varied and time-consuming job of Advocates president and will be focusing my efforts on the activities I love most: writing and speaking about libertarianism and — my favorite topic — the most effective ways to communicate the ideas of liberty. I will also continue doing communication workshops on this topic — some of them in conjunction with the Advocates.

Being president of the Advocates for Self-Government has been the most wonderful and fulfilling job I could have ever imagined for myself!

It has been an incredible honor for me to follow in the footsteps of the previous two Advocates presidents: Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz and Carole Ann Rand.

Sharon Harris & Dagny SmithThey created a fantastic organization that has deeply affected the lives of millions of individuals. The Advocates has enormously increased the size and effectiveness of the libertarian movement, and has introduced tens of millions of people to libertarianism, first and foremost through the amazing World’s Smallest Political Quiz — the most popular outreach tool in the libertarian movement.

Of course there is much more to the Advocates than the Quiz. The original mission of the Advocates was to empower libertarians to become excellent and successful communicators of the ideas of liberty. This is a unique and vital contribution the Advocates has made to the movement in our 30 years.

As Advocates president, I’ve learned about libertarian communication from the best: Marshall, Carole Ann, Michael Cloud, Mary Ruwart, David Bergland, Harry Browne, and many more too numerous to name. We’ve helped tens of thousands of libertarians become far more persuasive and effective in their outreach. And that has enabled libertarians to successfully win others to our side, helping build a strong and growing movement for liberty.

It has been a joy teaching numerous libertarian communication classes and seminars for libertarian groups in almost every state in America. Last year alone I had the pleasure of speaking on successful communication to over 1,000 libertarians.

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I look forward to continuing this — so please contact me when you want a libertarian communication workshop in your area!

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the finest libertarians in the world — world-famous celebrities and people you may not have heard of who are making our world a freer and better place. What a privilege it has been! (I wouldn’t dream of trying to name them all — we’d fill this entire issue up, and still leave deserving people out. Thanks, everyone!)

Similarly, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with many of the very finest libertarian organizations. I must especially thank the Libertarian Party for the greatest honors of my professional career. The LP has honored me with two of its highest awards. In 2012, I received the Thomas Jefferson Award, “presented to the Libertarian Party member whose achievements merit our recognition of outstanding leadership, high character, and dedication to the principles and goals of the Party.” In 2014, I received the LP’s Thomas Paine Award for “outstanding communication of libertarian ideas, principles, and values.”

But most of all I’d like to thank YOU, my friends who read the Liberator Online, use Advocates tools and services, and support the Advocates’ work. You are the true heroes of the Advocates. You are building a successful movement for liberty that is changing our world.

I will miss connecting with you through the Advocates. I hope you will follow my new work and stay in touch with me. You can do this by “liking” me onFacebook — or emailing me. (Please do this right now, while it’s on your mind.)

I’d like to congratulate Brett Bittner, the Advocates’ new executive director! Brett has an outstanding record as a libertarian activist. He is a former executive director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia and a former Chairman of the Libertarian State Leadership Alliance. He has been working with the Advocates for the past year and will be taking the helm of the organization on May 1. You’ll be hearing more from Brett soon.

Finally, please read my President’s Column in the next issue. I’ll let you know more details about what’s ahead — including a special celebration of the Advocates’ and my anniversaries to take place in Atlanta on June 27. Hold that date on your calendar, and I hope to see you there!

New Poll: Millions of Voters Say They’re Libertarian

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new poll from YouGov brings exciting and unprecedented news for libertarians. Millenial Poll - Libertarian

Asked “Would you describe yourself as a libertarian or not?” fully one in five of likely millennial (ages 18-29) voters said yes — thus self-describing themselves as libertarians.

YouGov found that young Americans are more likely than any other age group to accept the label libertarian — great news for a growing political movement. And there is room for this figure to grow significantly as libertarian ideas spread, because, in addition to the 20% who self-identify as libertarians, another 42% said they were “not sure.” Only 39% rejected the label.

Among older voters, 17% of 30- to 44-year-olds, 15% of 45- to 64-year-olds and 9% of those 65 and older say that the word “libertarian” described their views.

More great news: a majority Americans are, broadly, embracing libertarian ideas of limiting government. Fully 51% say they want to shrink the size of government. A whopping 30% of Americans even agree with the radical libertarian statement that “Taxation is theft.” (It probably didn’t hurt that the poll was conducted April 8-9 — a week before Tax Day.)

But what is most remarkable about the YouGov poll is that it has found so many millions of voters who accept the libertarian “brand” as a label for their political views — something inconceivable just a few years ago.

Nor are these self-described libertarians tied to either of the two older political parties. The libertarian vote is up for grabs to the candidate or party that appeals most to it. Writes YouGov: “There is little difference between partisans when it comes to identifying as libertarians. Republicans (13%) are essentially no more likely than Democrats (12%) to identify as libertarian, while 19% of Independents describe themselves as libertarian.”

Notes Reason.com’s Nick Gillespie: “Let’s be clear about a couple of things: First, the fact that YouGov and other groups are hunting down the number of libertarians afoot — Pew even went ‘In Search of Libertarians’ just last year — is itself a sign that something new and different is happening. When you start touting up the way many things are breaking in a libertarian direction — the energy surrounding Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, majority acceptance of pot legalization and gay marriage, serious efforts at criminal justice reform, plummeting numbers for faith in government, the rise of school choice, embrace of a sharing economy that routes around old-style regulation, general acceptance of free trade and free speech as positive values, and much more — it’s fair to call attention to what we’ve dubbed here as ‘The Libertarian Moment.’”

For more excellent commentary on the YouGov poll see “Millennials Are More Likely to Identify as Libertarians” by Robby Soave, Reason.com.

A “Devil’s Dictionary” of Washingtonese

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

WashingtoneseLibertarian journalist James Bovard — author of a dozen outstanding and eye-opening books including Lost RightsThe Bush Betrayal, and most recently Attention Deficit Democracy — has done Americans yet another service.

In an editorial for USA Today Bovard put together a short dictionary of “Washingtonese” — the slippery lingo that politicians, bureaucrats and other such nefarious critters use to hide what they really mean.

Or, as Bovard puts it, the government’s “nebulous nomenclature [that] deters citizens from recognizing exactly how well their elected leaders serve them.”

Here’s a sampling:

  • Historic — different than last week
  • Unprecedented — different than last month
  • Emergency — the gift that keeps giving
  • Truth — whatever people will swallow
  • Legacy — any political boast that survives more than three 24-hour news cycles
  • Handout — a government benefit received primarily by the supporters of the other party
  • Mandate — whatever a winning politician can get away with
  • Honorable — any public figure who has not yet been indicted
  • Bill of Rights — (archaic) political invocation popular in 1790s
  • Fair play — any process in which politicians or bureaucrats pick winners and losers
  • Rule of Law — the latest edicts from a deputy assistant Labor Secretary or deputy assistant HUD Secretary
  • Patriotic — any appeal that keeps people paying and obeying
  • Waste — federal spending that fails to generate laudatory headlines, votes or campaign contributions
  • Freedom — whatever rulers have not yet benevolently prohibited
  • Election — when voters are permitted to freely consent to one of the two aspiring despots offered by the major parties
  • Cynic — anyone who expresses doubt about the latest bipartisan agreement to gradually eliminate the federal budget deficit over the next 117 years
  • Anarchist — anyone who advocates across-the-board spending cuts of more than 3.63%
  • Scurrilous — anyone who mentions previous federal failures when the president proposes glorious new programs

For much more Bovardian wit and wisdom, see his USA Today article.

No One “Pays” Taxes

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“You don’t ”pay’ taxes. The government TAKES them.” — comedian Chris Rock.Chris Rock

Not only is this quote funny (especially when you hear Chris Rock say it), it makes a profound point — one well worth remembering when talking about taxes and politics.

The word “pay,” in connection with taxes, is just government propaganda. Using it — saying we “pay taxes” or “paid our taxes” — hides and distorts the true nature of taxation. And that’s something libertarians shouldn’t do.

Here’s what I mean.

In common usage, the word “pay” strongly implies some kind of consensual agreement. If you’re selling apples and I want one, I pay you for it. If I don’t want the apple, I don’t have to pay. If someone else has a better deal on apples, I’m free to trade with him instead. Or I can skip apples altogether.

Similarly, if I borrow money from a loan company, I agree to pay it back with interest. If a competing company offers lower interest rates, I’m free to trade with them instead. I also of course have the option of not borrowing money at all.

Those are payments, voluntarily agreed to.

However, the word “pay” is inappropriate for a coerced exchange — like taxation.

As the great Lysander Spooner famously pointed out, if a criminal points a gun at you and demands all the money in your pocket, you aren’t “paying” the robber when you hand over your money. You didn’t “pay” — you were robbed!

If burglars enter your home at night and steal your valuables, you didn’t “pay” the burglar. He TOOK your money! You were robbed.

Libertarians view taxes as a form of coercion, no different in essence from robbery or theft. (By the way, a startlingly large number of Americans now agree with us on this. See the story “New Poll: Millions of Voters Say They’re Libertarian” above.)

So we should never use language like “pay taxes” or “paid taxes.” Saying so legitimizes taxation. It implies that taxation is just another form of legitimate exchange, like paying for goods and services you voluntarily purchased.

PickpocketInstead, when someone else uses that term, we should, if appropriate, gently disagree. And respond with something like: “Actually, I didn’t ‘pay’ taxes. No one PAYS taxes. The government just seizes money from you. There’s a big difference. Payments are voluntary. Taxes are coercive. Like… theft.”

Your wording, of course, will depend on who you’re speaking with and where. But one thing’s certain — you’ll have trouble improving on Chris Rock’s monologue:

“The messed-up thing about taxes is you don’t ‘pay’ taxes. The government TAKES them. You get your check and money is GONE! It was not an option! That ain’t a payment — that’s a JACK! I been TAX JACKED!”

Classic “Bad Attitude” Anti-Tax Verse — and Hope for Ending the Income Tax

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

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

April 15, Tax Day, is nearly here.

It’s a grim subject — so how about some comic relief? And some inspiration, some hope, for change?

First, the comic relief.

I’ve had a lot of fun over the years with the following two classic anti-tax poems. The authors are unknown, but some versions seem to date from at least the 1930s.

It’s a good reminder that a lot of Americans have always had a “bad attitude” about taxes. (Just ask King George!)

Income TaxI hope they’ll give you a good laugh — and I hope you’ll keep working with the Advocates and other libertarians to create a movement that will make income taxes as much a thing of the past as slavery, alcohol Prohibition, and the Divine Right of Kings!

Don’t forget: following the poems, some inspiration and hope for change.

* * *

The Tax Collector’s Creed

Now he’s a common, common man
So tax him, tax him, all you can.
Tax his house, Tax his bed;
Tax the bald spot on his head.
Tax his drink, Tax his meat,
Tax the shoes right off his feet.
Tax his cow, Tax his goat;
Tax his pants, Tax his coat;
Tax his crop, Tax his work;
Tax his ties, Tax his shirt;
Tax his chew, Tax his smoke,
Teach him taxing is no joke.
Tax his tractor, Tax his mule;
Tell him: “Taxing is the rule!”
Tax his oil, Tax his gas,
Tax his notes, Tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers, Tax him more;
Tax him till he’s good and sore.
Tax his coffin, Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he’s laid.
Put these words upon his tomb,
“Taxes drove him to his doom.”
Even when he’s gone, we won’t relax —
We’ll still collect inheritance tax.

* * *

The Taxpayer’s Lament

Sit down my friends and just relax,
It’s time to pay your income tax.
For whether we are great or small,
They tax us one, they tax us all.
They tax the hobo and the queen,
They tax the bull and tax his ring.
They tax the gas that runs your car
And even tax the big cigar.
They tax your whiskey and home brew,
They tax the Bible and your pew.
They tax the wristwatch on your arm
And tax the rat trap on your farm.
They tax the baby in his crib, and
Tax his shirt and tax his bib.
They tax the crib that he sleeps in,
And don’t consider that a sin.
Then they go from bad to worse
And tax the doctor and tax the nurse.
They tax the dentist and his drill
And he just adds it to your bill.
Whenever you leave this world behind
They will be there to steal you blind.
Before you reach the Golden Gate
They’ll slap a tax on your estate.
They tax the hearse on your last ride,
And shed some tears because you died.
The reason for their deep distress?
You left them with no address.

* * *

Love ‘em!

And now the inspiration. Last year I wrote an article entitled “Making the Case for Ending the Income Tax.”

It suggests 11 ways to persuade others that abolishing the hated income tax — and replacing it with nothing — is not only extremely desirable, it is realistic and politically possible.

Check it out and consider using some (or all) of them. Recently we’ve seen once-radical libertarian ideas — for example, re-legalization of marijuana, marriage choice, and a non-interventionist foreign policy — leap into the mainstream. Let’s put ending the income tax —  and replacing it with… nothing — on that list!

The Libertarian Vote: How Big Is It?

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Now that Rand Paul has officially announced he is seeking the presidency, attention is being focused on the libertarian voting bloc. Just how big is it? How many libertarian-minded voters are out there?

The answer may surprise you.

First, it’s important to note that “libertarian voter” doesn’t necessarily mean a voter who meets the stricter definition of a libertarian, i.e., someone who consistently opposes the initiation of force. Rather, it refers to someone who would be inclined to vote for a libertarian candidate in an election. Someone who is more supportive of libertarian ideas than liberal, conservative, statist or centrist ideas.

Different organizations have used different methods to determine the size of this libertarian bloc. And they’ve come up with some pretty consistent estimates.

* For 20 years Gallup’s annual Governance Survey has divided voters into liberal, conservative, libertarian, or populist, based on their answers to two questions:

  1. “Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?”
  2. “Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?”


In their 2014 survey Gallup classified 24% of respondents as libertarian (with 27% conservative, 21% liberal, and 18% populist). This is hardly a rigorous political litmus test, but it may well help single out voters who might be sympathetic to libertarianism.

  • The Cato Institute’s David Boaz has done a lot of work on this over the years, including an important 2012 book (with David Kirby Emily Ekins) that summarizes numerous polls by Cato and others on the topic: The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center.
    They conclude that, depending on the criteria used, roughly 15-18% of voters can be classified as “libertarian voters.”
  • A 2006 Zogby poll, commissioned by Cato, found surprising results. Zogby asked half of a group of 1,012 people who had voted in the 2006 election: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?” Fully 59% of the respondents said “yes.”
    Zogby asked the other half a more challenging question: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?” A surprising 44% of respondents — representing 100 million Americans — answered “yes” to that question, thus self-identifying as libertarians. This is obviously higher than the number of true libertarians in America, but certainly it at least indicates that millions of people are open to these ideas and this label.
  • Finally, here’s an often-overlooked but remarkable finding — based on the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz. In August 2000 Rasmussen gave the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to nearly 1,000 representative American voters. The Quiz is a far more rigorous test of one’s libertarian leanings than “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” or other looser definitions used by polling firms. Yet fully 16% scored in the libertarian sector then — a figure closely matching to the other estimates we’ve cited.

What can we conclude? While the numbers and the criteria in these studies vary, at the very least there is broad agreement on a figure between 15% to 20%. That’s 30 to 40 million voters — a huge, and growing, voting bloc that could easily swing an election.

Add to this the additional millions on the left, right, and center who may vote for a libertarian-leaning candidate who stresses issues of great importance to them — such as a more peaceful foreign policy, marijuana re-legalization, slashing taxes, and reforming the out-of-control surveillance state.

Which brings us back to Rand Paul’s presidential run announcement. Rand Paul doesn’t claim to be a libertarian. He has described himself as “libertarian-ish” and in 2013 told Sean Hannity “I use the term constitutional conservative, but I also use the term libertarian conservative. … I accept all of those terms if they mean they believe in limited government and more individual liberty.”

But he is certainly the most libertarian-inclined presidential candidate — outside the Libertarian Party — in memory. Cato’s Boaz notes in TIME what may well be the most important thing to come out of a Rand Paul campaign:

“One result of his campaign will be to help those tens of millions of libertarian-leaning Americans to discover that their political attitudes have a name, which will make for a stronger and more influential political faction. … Libertarianism is the framework for a future of freedom, growth, and progress, and it may be on the verge of a political breakout.”

New Poll: Voters in Three Key Swing States Solidly for Re-Legalization

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

And that makes a new Quinnipiac University poll on marijuana re-legalization so fascinating.

The poll, released April 6, finds voters in all three critical swing states solidly supporting re-legalization of marijuana for recreational use. More than 1,000 voters in each state were surveyed.

Further, voters in all three states favor legalization of medical marijuana by astounding margins — 5 to 1 or more.

Support for allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use” is 55% – 42% in Florida, 52% - 44% in Ohio and 51% - 45% in Pennsylvania.

And support for medical marijuana is near-universal. The numbers are remarkable: 84% in Florida, 84% in Ohio and 88% in Pennsylvania. You have to wonder: Why isn’t every politician jumping on this issue?

Also important: voters in these states overwhelmingly say they don’t plan to use marijuana themselves.

81% of Florida voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would not use it;  84% of Ohio voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would not use it; and 83% of Pennsylvania voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would not.

This indicates they favor legalization because the consequences of marijuana prohibition make the policy undesirable. And it indicates that one of the key arguments of prohibitionists — that re-legalizing marijuana would lead vast numbers of people to start using it — may just be dead wrong.

They Said It With Scott Eastwood, Ron Paul and More…

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

CORPORATE WELFARE, A LOVE STORY:  “Michael Moore made a movie criticizing corporate welfare called ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ and received $845,145 in corporate welfare from the Michigan Film Office.” — Michigan Capitol Confidential website, “The Irony of Michigan’s Film Incentive Program,” April 2, 2015. (Hat tip to Carpe Diem blog)

Scott EastwoodCLINT EASTWOOD’S SON ON GAY MARRIAGE AND LIBERTARIANISM: “I support gay marriage… I think everybody should be able to be with who they want to be with. My dad is the same way. He’s a total libertarian — everyone leave everyone alone. Everyone live their own private life.” — Scott Eastwood, interviewed by PrideSource.com, March 31, 2015.

WHO’S ON FIRST: “Our military is fighting in a tacit alliance with Iranian proxies in Iraq, even as it assists in a campaign against Iranian-backed forces in Yemen. We are formally committed to regime change in Syria, but we’re intervening against the regime’s Islamist enemies. Our strongest allies, officially, are still Israel and Saudi Arabia, but we’re busy alienating them by pushing for détente with Iran. And please don’t mention Libya or Al Qaeda — you’ll confuse everyone even more.” — New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, “The Method to Obama’s Middle East Mess,” March 28, 2015.

NEW IRS ATTACK ON FREE SPEECH:
Dr. Ron Paul“The IRS is drafting a new regulation that would empower the agency to revoke an organization’s tax-exempt status if that organization sends out a communication to its members or the general public mentioning a candidate for office by name sixty days before an election or thirty days before a primary. By preventing groups from telling their members where candidates stand on issues like Audit the Fed and repeal of the PATRIOT Act, this anti-First Amendment regulation benefits those politicians who wish to hide their beliefs from the voters.” — Ron Paul, “The IRS and Congress Both Hold Our Liberty in Contempt,” Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, April 5, 2015.

THEY’D NEVER DO THAT: “If you’ve used a landline to call an abortion clinic, a gun store, a suicide hotline, a therapist, an oncologist, a phone sex operator, an investigative journalist, or a union organizer, odds are the government has logged a record of the call. If your Congressional representative has a spouse or child who has made an embarrassing phone call, the executive branch may well possess the ability to document it, though government apologists insist that they’d never do so and are strangely confident that future governments composed of unknown people won’t either.” — journalist Conor Friedersdorf, “When Will the NSA Stop Spying on Innocent Americans?”, TheAtlantic.com., April 2, 2015
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Spotlight the EXCITEMENT of Liberty!

in Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Michael, most people aren’t very interested in liberty,” a 10-year libertarian told me.Spotlight

“Really?” I asked. “Would you like to find out why?”

“Yes,” he said.

“What are 3 fascinating things about freedom?” I asked.

“Well, there are lots of interesting things,” he said.

“Could you give me 3 exciting examples?” I asked.

He hemmed and hawed. But he couldn’t come up with even 3 “Wow!!!” things that liberty gives us.

Why? Because he’d never asked himself questions like these:

* “What are 3 or 4 or 5 huge, immediate, direct benefits that liberty would give us in this area?”

* “What are 2 or 4 exciting things that will happen when we abolish the federal income tax — and return every dollar every year to the men and women it was taken from?”

* “What are 3 or 5 terrific things that will happen when we end the War on Drugs and free every peaceful drug offender in prison?”

* “What are a few of the most thrilling things about giving people dramatically more freedom than we have today?”

Showcase, celebrate, sing the praises of, beat the drum for, and shout out the most exciting, engaging, jazzy things that freedom will bring the person you’re talking with — and his family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, too.

If you repeatedly and relentlessly do this in all your libertarian conversations you’ll find that people are indeed interested in liberty — and you’ll bring in dozens and dozens of new, excited libertarians.

What Is the “Costberg” — and Why Should You Care?

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The CostbergI’m always delighted to find colorful, eye-opening words and phrases that libertarians can use to help people understand and embrace the ideas of liberty.

Here are some very useful terms for bringing attention to the little-known but astounding cost of government regulations.

Wayne Crews of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been following this issue for years. A recent CEI report, “Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 114th Congress,” estimates that, just in 2014 alone, an astounding 3,541 new federal regulations were enacted.

Crews admits that estimating the costs of regulation is difficult. In fact, the subtitle of “Tip of the Costberg,” his ongoing effort to do that, is “On the Invalidity of All Cost of Regulation Estimates and the Need to Compile Them Anyway.”) Yet someone’s got to do it — the federal government certainly won’t. Crews deserves great praise for his pioneering efforts.

By Crew’s best estimate, the burden of these regulations on American prosperity is staggering: around $1.882 trillion. The federal government will spend about $3.5 trillion this year. But this extra $1.882 trillion in unseen regulatory costs is, Crews says, the equivalent of an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP.

“Regulation today is a hidden tax equivalent at least to half the amount of the fiscal budget itself,” Crews notes. “If federal regulations were a country, their cost would amount to the world’s 10th largest economy.”

This is an incredible drag on our economy, lowering our standard of living and slowing progress. Though most of us aren’t aware of it, it constitutes a sort of hidden tax that each and every American pays. In fact, Crews wonders if, as more data on the costs of regulation are compiled, we “may find taxation the lesser of the two components of governmental costs.”

This is a little-understood — though crucial — issue. But the terms we generally use to discuss it, like “excessive government regulations,” are…  kind of boring. And confusing. Listeners’ attention tends to wander.

So I like it that Crews occasionally spices up his discussion with some colorful and provocative terms that libertarians can use to help bring the issue to life for our listeners.

As noted, Crews calls this huge, ugly, dangerous mass of regulations and hidden costs the “costberg.” That’s clever, and creates a strong mental image of this “costberg” threatening to collide with and sink our ship of state, just like the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

And here’s another great term: “red tapeworm.” Last year Crews titled a blog post “Red Tapeworm 2014: Reckoning the Dollar Cost of Federal Regulation.” Red Tapeworm (as in “red tape,” slang for worthless and costly government regulation), is very useful, with a populist appeal. For example: “The red tapeworm is chewing up $1.882 trillion from the American economy — that’s money out of your pocket every year.”

Finally, you can simply refer to “the huge hidden tax of government regulation.” People understand the nature of taxes more than they do unseen regulation and mandates. Just pointing out that such things amount to hidden taxes — and massive taxes — can be eye-opening for your audience.

Try using these terms — along with facts and figures from CEI’s excellent reports — to spice up your discussions of this extremely important, but largely unrecognized, problem.

And for more on this topic, check out CEI’s “Ten Thousand Commandments” website, which regularly updates these figures and arguments.

The Most Powerful Way We Have to Change Things

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

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“I have a friend who can always be counted on to have a great book recommendation handy,” writes marketing guru Seth Godin in a recent post at his always-insightful blog.

“Another who can not only tell you the best available movie currently in theatres, but confidently stand behind his recommendations.

“And some people are eager to share a link to an article or idea that’s worth reading.”

Such people, Godin says, are surprisingly rare. Many people are hesitant to recommend something. What if the person thinks my recommendation is stupid? Or not cool enough? Or that I’m being too pushy? Or…

Yet this kind of sharing is crucial, Godin says. It can affect lives, even change our culture and our world.

“Sharing an idea you care about is a generous way to change your world for the better,” Godin writes.

“The culture we will live in next month is a direct result of what people like us share today. The things we share and don’t share determine what happens next.”

Indeed, he says, “the recommendation from person to person is now the most powerful way we have to change things.”

Which brings me to… libertarianism.

You’re reading this because you want to change the world. To spread the blessings of liberty. To awaken more people to the joys, the benefits, the goodness of libertarian ideas.

You are, whether you realize it or not, a very influential person. You likely have Facebook friends who want to be in touch with you. Family members who are open to ideas. Co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, fitness partners, friends… a network, online and off. Probably bigger than you realize.

It’s never been easier and cheaper to share ideas online. A few clicks and you can share a great pro-liberty meme with your Facebook friends (we feature a lot of good ones at our Facebook page). A few clicks and you’ve linked to a great liberty video or article or website or candidate or free book.

Offline, opportunities abound. No tool is better than the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, a simple, intriguing, fun item you can keep in your pocket or purse and hand out to friends.

Good libertarian books make great gifts. T-shirts and bumper stickers easily raise awareness.

This may sound simple. So simple, in fact, that it’s easy to ignore.

Yet Godin — one of the world’s most respected marketing experts — insists that this is a crucial way of changing our culture, changing our world. Godin’s opinion is based on years of studying and writing about change.

If everyone reading this makes a habit of regularly doing some simple, sincere, easy sharing and recommending like this, we can make millions of positive contacts for liberty in a very short time. Collectively, these kinds of contacts will open minds, shift attitudes, affect opinions, and change lives.

It just takes a (very) little time and effort. And, Godin adds, courage:

“It takes guts to say, ‘I read this and you should too.’ The guts to care enough about our culture (and your friends) to move it forward and to stand for something.”

Will you have the courage to risk sharing — smartly, appropriately, and regularly? And thereby move your friends — and our culture — to a better place? To liberty?

They Said It with John Boehner, Gary Johnson, and MORE

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

U.S. COVERED UP GASSING OF AMERICAN TROOPS: “During and immediately after the first Gulf War, more than 200,000 of 700,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq and Kuwait in January 1991 were exposed to nerve gas and other chemical agents. Though aware of this, the Department of Defense and CIA launched a campaign of lies and concocted a cover-up that continues today. A quarter of a century later, the troops nearest the explosions are dying of brain cancer at two to three times the rate of those who were farther away. Others have lung cancer or debilitating chronic diseases, and pain. More complications lie ahead. According to Dr. Linda Chao, a neurologist at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco, ‘Because part of their brains, the hippocampus, has shrunk, they’re at greater risk for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.’” — journalist Barbara Koeppel, “U.S. Nerve Gas Hit Our Own Troops in Iraq,” Newsweek, March 27, 2015.

BARACK OBAMA, PEACENIK-IN-CHIEF:
John Boehner (R-OH)“The world is starving for American leadership. But America has an anti-war president.” — U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a Capitol Hill press conference, March 26. Apparently Obama’s ongoing U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan — not to mention covert operations around the world — slipped Rep. Boehner’s mind.

U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN ONE TWEET: “US praises US ally for bombing US-equipped militia aligned with US foe who is partnering with US to fight another US-equipped militia.” — tweet by journalist/photographer Gregg Carlstromsent as Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen, March 26, 2015.

YOU’RE ENTITLED (TO PAY FOR ENTITLEMENTS): “Your 2014 tax dollars — which are due [this] month — went primarily to pay for government benefits. Major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and Social Security) devoured more than half of the 2014 budget at 51 percent of spending. Other federal benefits took another 19 percent, meaning that 70 percent of government spending went to pay some sort of benefit to someone. These additional ‘income security’ and other benefits include federal employee retirement and disability, unemployment benefits, and welfare programs such as food and housing assistance.” — economist Romina Boccia, “The Breakdown of Where Your Tax Dollars Go,” Heritage Foundation, March 17, 2015.

THE MARIJUANA DISCONNECT: “Marijuana polls 60% in favor of legalization. Huge, insane, disconnect that the minority is maintaining criminal penalties for the majority!” — tweet by Gary Johnson, 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, March 5, 2015.

Nick GillespieLET THEM BAKE — OR NOT BAKE — CAKE: “Nobody should be forced to do something they don’t want to do, whether it’s bake cakes for gay weddings or decorate cakes with anti-gay slurs. To me, whether a person’s or a business’s decision is based in religion is immaterial.” — Nick Gillespie, “Everybody’s Lost Their Goddamn Mind Over Religious Freedom,” The Daily Beast, April 1, 2015.

Tax Freedom Day is Nearly Here — Or Is It?

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Tax Freedom Day“Tax Freedom Day” is the day when, according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year.

To calculate this date, Tax Freedom Day takes all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation’s income.

For 2015 the Tax Foundation calculates Americans will pay a whopping $3.28 trillion in federal taxes and $1.57 trillion in state and local taxes — for a total tax bill of $4.85 trillion, or a staggering 31 percent of total national income.

So this year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 24 — 114 days into the year.

And… if you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day doesn’t arrive for another 14 days, until May 8.

Until then, the average American is, essentially, slaving away fulltime for the government.

To put these taxes in perspective, Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2015 than they will on the basic necessities of life — food, clothing, and housing — combined.

By contrast, in 1900, in pre-income tax America, Americans paid only 5.9 percent of their income in taxes, meaning Tax Freedom Day came on… January 22.

This year’s Tax Freedom Day is one of the latest ever. It’s a day later than last year, and is the latest since 2007, when it fell on April 25. The latest-ever Tax Freedom Day was May 1, 2000.

Awful as all this is, some critics argue that the Tax Foundation greatly underestimates the cost of government.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a group that lobbies for lower taxes and smaller government, each year calculates its “Cost of Government Day.” Cost of Government Day is the date on which the average American has earned enough to pay taxes — PLUS the cost of mandatory but unfunded federal, state and local regulations.

Last year ATR’s Cost of Government Day didn’t arrive until July 6 — meaning that government consumed 51% of national income, and the average American labored more than half the year — 186 days — to pay what the state demanded.

Further, writing in the conservative New American magazine, Bob Adelmann argues that the Tax Foundation doesn’t take into account many government costs and hidden taxes, including estate taxes and fees (such as drivers’ licenses, boat registration, building permits, hunting and fishing licenses, phone and cable bills, etc.); that it ignores the staggering cost of complying with the tax laws; and that it also ignores the devastating “hidden tax” of inflation.

Combining all the above — fees, compliance costs, regulations, hidden taxes, etc. — adds up to a government that is devouring far more than half of our incomes.

Which brings to mind the old joke: “Taxes are revolting. Why aren’t you?”

Major New Bill to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use Now in U.S. Senate and House

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States — CARERS — Act is Legalize Marijuana for Medical Usethe most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress.

It was introduced last month by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and just last week in the House by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

The CARERS Act will do the following:

  • Allow states to legalize marijuana for medical use without federal interference
  • Permit interstate commerce in cannabidiol (CBD) oils
  • Reschedule marijuana to schedule II (thus acknowledging marijuana has medicinal value and making marijuana research far easier)
  • Allow banks to provide checking accounts and other financial services to marijuana dispensaries
  • Allow Veterans Administration physicians to recommend medical marijuana to veterans
  • Eliminate barriers to medical marijuana research

“Reforming our nation’s failed drug policies is one of the few issues Democrats and Republicans can agree on,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The tide is quickly turning against marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs in general.”

This seems to be a bill whose time has come. Polls show roughly three-quarters of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize and regulate marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twelve states have laws on the books or are about to be signed into law by their governors regulating cannabidiol (CBD) oils, a non-psychotropic component of medical marijuana which some parents are utilizing to treat their children’s seizures. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for non-medical use.

“This legislation is a game-changer,” said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It is worth noting that senators with a national profile are championing this issue. Ending the war on medical marijuana is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”

The Drug Policy Alliance has created a web page where supporters of the bill can send an email to their senators urging them to cosponsor it.

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