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December 15: Celebrate Bill of Rights Day!

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bill of RightsA little-known but very important U.S. holiday is coming up — one far too many Americans are unaware of. It offers libertarians a great chance to inform Americans of our heritage of liberty and the urgent need today to defend that heritage.

December 15 is “Bill of Rights Day” — a day to celebrate, honor and renew support for our precious Bill of Rights.

It was on December 15, 1791 that the Bill of Rights  — the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution — went into effect.

One hundred and fifty years later, in 1941, December 15 was officially proclaimed Bill of Rights Day. States, cities, and counties across America have passed resolutions honoring Bill of Rights day. Some classrooms will hold special Bill of Rights Day classes, and some citizens and organizations will celebrate Bill of Rights Day.

Still, most Americans remain sadly unaware of the date’s significance.

The Bill of Rights is, of course, the great protector of American liberties. It boldly declares that people have certain inalienable rights that government cannot abridge — fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and more. It also provides procedures for defending those rights — such as fair trials and limits on federal power.

The Bill of Rights doesn’t belong just to America. It has inspired freedom fighters around the world. The Founders viewed their Revolution as the first blow in a struggle to win liberty for all the people of the world. So the Bill of Rights is truly a document for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson made this clear in a letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

Use Bill of Rights Day to teach family, friends, neighbors and others about our precious heritage.

It’s a great time for a letter to the editor discussing the vital importance of our Bill of Rights freedoms, and urging citizens to speak out against current calls to sacrifice liberty for (alleged) security.

With fundamental Bill of Rights freedom under unprecedented assault in recent years, this has never been more important.

To help with that, here’s a short summary of the Bill of Rights, prepared several years ago by students at Liberty Middle School in Ashley, Virginia. (I’ve added just a few words for clarification.) While this condensed version doesn’t have the majesty, depth and detail of the entire document, it is short and easy to understand, and may be useful to you in discussions and letters:

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

1. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble peaceably, right to petition the government about grievances.
2. Right to keep and bear arms.
3. Citizens do not have to quarter soldiers during peacetime.
4. No unreasonable searches and seizures.
5. Rights of the accused.
6. Right to a fair trial.
7. Right to a trial by jury in civil cases also.
8. No cruel and unusual punishments.
9. Unenumerated rights go to the people.
10. Reserves all powers not given to the national government to the states or
the people.

All Americans should be familiar with their Bill of Rights freedoms. Sadly, numerous surveys indicate most are not. Indeed, as journalist James Bovard has pointed out, a 1991 poll commissioned by the American Bar Association found only 33 percent of Americans surveyed even knew what the Bill of Rights was. In one Gallup poll 70 percent did not know what the First Amendment was or what it dealt with.

As Adam Summers of the Reason Foundation observed in The Libertarian Perspective:

“The Founders must be spinning in their graves. Nearly everything the government does today is unconstitutional under the system they instituted. Governmental powers were expressly limited; individual liberties were not. Now it seems it is the other way around.

“If the Bill of Rights is to regain its meaning, we must rededicate ourselves to the principles it asserts and be mindful that a government powerful enough to give us all we want is powerful enough to take away everything we have.”

Let it begin with you. This December 15 is a great time to remind all Americans that we are, as the National Constitution Center puts it, a nation of “Bill”-ionaires.
Happy Bill of Rights Day!

I’m Thankful for…

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 22 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Give the Quiz at your local university!Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on the blessings of the past year and give thanks for all we’re grateful for.

At the very top of my list is… YOU!

As a Liberator Online reader, you are part of a vibrant community that is literally changing the world: activists, scholars, and other libertarian leaders who are immersed in the ideas of liberty, are learning and refining techniques for effective libertarian communication, and becoming influential ambassadors for liberty.

Your support helps us expand and reach ever more liberty-minded individuals.

Thank you!

As you’re thinking about your year-end donations, I hope you will consider making a donation to the Advocates.

Take a look at the special gifts we’ve reserved for you as an additional thank you for your support — and remember that your donation is tax-deductible.

Your support makes it possible for us continue the unique and vital work of the Advocates. Thank you so much!

Three Caterpillars, a Butterfly… and Liberty

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 21 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Three caterpillars — a conservative, a liberal, and a libertarian — looked up and saw a butterfly. butterfly

The conservative caterpillar said, “That should be illegal. Why, it’s blasphemous! If God had meant for caterpillars to fly, he would have given us wings.”

The liberal caterpillar said, “That looks incredibly dangerous! Who’s in charge of it? What’s going to happen to the crawling industry if this catches on? This needs to be stopped until the government can investigate it and set up inspection and regulation to make sure it’s safe.”

The libertarian caterpillar said, “One day we’ll all fly together, and we’ll wonder why we ever feared the freedom of flight.”


 

People have always feared the innovation and choice that liberty brings. Liberty shakes up the status quo. Liberty constantly creates new opportunities and replaces old industries and institutions with new and better ones.

This wonderful process is scary and threatening for many people. That’s understandable.

Yet the history of the progress of the human race is the history of removing government control of our personal and economic lives.

Religious liberty made both religion and the state more humane. Economic liberty — lessening government control over the economy — brought us incredible abundance and saved billions of lives. Ending alcohol Prohibition in America ended the crime and loss of civil liberties that misguided policy provoked.

Time and time again, we see that personal and economic liberty create harmony and abundance.

Yet in each of the examples above, and many more, good people from across the political spectrum feared and opposed the changes that ultimately proved to be so beneficial.

Today our liberal and conservative friends are on our side on these once-contentious issues. No one yearns for subsidies to prop up the horse and buggy industry. No one wants to return to slavery, or alcohol Prohibition, or compulsory state religion.

As libertarians, an important part of our job is to reassure our fearful friends on the left and the right that liberty works, and the more liberty we have, the better off we will be. On every issue.

Eventually, just as they did on the issues above, they will come to see the benefits of liberty on the remaining issues as well, and they will join with us on them.

As the libertarian caterpillar said, “One day we’ll all fly together, and we’ll wonder why we ever feared the freedom of flight.”

(Thanks to that most prolific of authors, A. Nonymous, for the original version of this fable that I encountered on the web.)

Won’t Big Businesses Abuse Their Power in a Free Market?

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 21 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Big BusinessQUESTION: If you free big businesses from government regulations, how do you keep these same businesses from becoming an aristocracy and turning America into a feudal state?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, you, the consumer, control businesses by voting to buy or not buy their products. You vote to keep them in business or shut them down. You eliminate the “bad guys” by purchasing only from the “good guys.”

In today’s society, government regulates some companies out of business, leaving a monopoly (like most local utility companies) or a cartel (like the banking industry). Limiting your choices limits your control.

Government doesn’t keep big business in check; government keeps big business big.

Business only has two ways to get big: by serving customers better than the competition or by getting Big Brother to regulate their competition out of business. Keeping government out of the marketplace keeps business in its true service role.

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

* “Big Business and Big Government“ by Tim Carney, Cato Institute Policy Report, July/August 2006.

EXCERPT: “The history of big business is the history of big government. As the federal government has progressively become larger over the decades, every significant introduction of government regulation, taxation, and spending has been to the benefit of some big business. …big business and big government prosper from the perception that they are rivals instead of partners (in plunder). The history of big business is one of cooperation with big government. Most noteworthy expansions of government power are to the liking of, and at the request of, big business.”

* “The Only Way to Get Money Out of Politics“ by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom Foundation.

EXCERPT: “It’s a great myth that businesses, especially big prominent corporations, want less government intervention in the economy. On the contrary, they love government power because it provides things they can’t achieve in a freely competitive marketplace where force and fraud are barred. Corporations support and lobby for interventions that benefit themselves by hampering their competitors, both foreign and domestic. You often find companies asking for tariffs and other restrictions on imports that compete too effectively with their products. Agribusinesses welcome government (taxpayer) help in selling their products abroad; they also love subsidies, price supports, and acreage allotments. … In American history big companies were behind virtually ever advancement of the regulatory state.”


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.

“Rockin’ the Vote” — with the World’s Smallest Political Quiz

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Rockin’ the vote in Chadron” was the title of a November 11 news story in the Chadron Record newspaper of Chadron, Nebraska.

The story tells how high school teacher Craig Nobiling uses the Advocates’ World’s Smallest classroomPolitical Quiz and other innovative tools and teaching methods in his U.S. Government classes to “help students understand the political spectrum and clarify their own political thinking.”

Excerpt:

Using an online version of the ‘World’s Smallest Political Quiz,’ students get a feel for where their opinions on the broadest of issues may reside.

The Advocates for Self-Government, who created the Quiz and host it online today state, “The Quiz political map is based on the ‘Nolan Chart’ created in 1970 by David F. Nolan. In 1987 Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz created the World’s Smallest Political Quiz by adding ten questions to Nolan’s Chart, along with other refinements.”

The site goes on to state, “The Quiz challenges the dominant ‘Left versus Right’ political model. The Left versus Right model tries to categorize virtually all political opinion into either left and right. This model — still widely used today — is misleading and fatally flawed. It has no place for many millions of people who don’t fit neatly into some variant of liberal or conservative, left or right. In effect, it disenfranchises the tens of millions of Americans who don’t feel that ‘left,’ ‘right,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘conservative,’ etc. accurately describe their views.”

Teacher Nobiling stresses to his students the importance of keeping up with current events, learning the views of candidates, and understanding and exploring their own political views.

I love reading stories about dedicated and creative high school and college educators using the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz in their classrooms. The acceptance of the Quiz as a valid educational tool is central to the mission of the Advocates. Among other things, the Quiz lets students know that there is more to politics than just left and right — that libertarianism is a vital and growing part of American politics.

The Quiz is used in classrooms across the country. We’ve shipped over 30,000 Quizzes to teachers who’ve requested paper copies.

Most teachers use the online Quiz, which has been described and recommended in more than two dozen textbooks (or their online resources) published by some of the world’s leading textbook companies.

Over the years educators have told us that the Quiz is wonderful for classroom use. It brings politics alive for students, and stimulates fantastic discussions.

Traveling around the country I’ve met more and more young people who, when encountering the Quiz, say: “Oh yes, I remember that from high school.”

And that’s great news for libertarians!

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Educators: We are delighted to send you free Quiz cards for classroom use. Just email us about your classes and how many Quizzes you need.

Forbes Features Fascinating New Use of World’s Smallest Political Quiz

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Have You Significantly Changed Your Political Views Since Age 18? If So, How?”World's Smallest Political Quiz

That the title of a fascinating article at Forbes.com featuring the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

In it, economist Michael F. Cannon describes his intellectual journey from Big Government “socially conservative social democrat” in high school to socially conservative/free market-oriented university student… and finally, a few years later, to where he is today: a full-fledged libertarian, solidly in favor of civil liberties, free markets, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Indeed, Cannon not only became a libertarian — he has become a remarkably influential one. He is director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. Though not a Republican, he served as a domestic policy analyst for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, advising the Senate leadership on health, education, labor, welfare, and the Second Amendment. His work has been featured in many of America’s most influential newspapers and magazines, and he has appeared ABC, CBS, CNN, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News Channel and NPR.

To illustrate his personal ideological journey, Cannon uses… the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. He draws different Quiz scores on the Quiz to indicate how he would have scored at different times in his life, thus creating the striking visual map of his political awakening that I’ve reprinted in this column.

I’ve never seen this done before. But the Quiz is a perfect — and crystal-clear — way to document and illustrate this. Kudos to Cannon for thinking of this!

I know over the past few decades, as libertarian ideas have spread, many millions of people have made intellectual journeys very similar to Cannon’s. (And for millions of them, the Quiz itself has been an important part of their intellectual awakening.) Whether starting from the left or the right, more and more Americans are finding themselves drawn to the logic, consistency and compassion of libertarianism.

Check Cannon’s article out — and consider using the Quiz to document and share the story of your own journey.

Snarky or Sarcastic Put-downs Can Turn People Into Permanent Enemies

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

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Have you ever been in a political argument where the other person acted like you hadn’t made a single valid point?

Ever debated morality or economics with someone who ignored everything you said?

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Beware. This is the moment in many political conversations where you or I turn to put-downs: insults, rude remarks, or sarcasm. These remarks will stick and sting. They will hurt.

Instead of a forgettable political discussion, you will leave them with an unforgettable put-down. Perhaps one that’s unforgivable.

People remember rudeness. They remember those who inflict it on them. And they tell their friends all about it.

Is this the way you want libertarianism and you to be talked about?

So, instead of lashing out — smile, thank them for an interesting discussion, say goodbye, and walk away.

Talk politics with someone else. A person who is receptive and responsive to libertarian economics or politics.

That’s the way to win people to liberty.

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

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

Halloween: Share Some Scary Facts About… Government

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

HalloweenThe scariest holiday of the year is fast approaching. Bloodsuckers, devils, demons and creeps will roam the streets, demanding we hand over our goodies — or face nasty consequences.

No, not the elections — Halloween!

Holidays can be a great time to share libertarian ideas with family and friends. We recommend libertarians gather liberty-themed facts, figures and stories specific for each holiday and share them if and when appropriate. (We try to share such info in the Liberator Online as major holidays near.)

Below is a fun and startling report from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) that gives some genuinely shocking figures about how much government is adding to the cost of your family’s Halloween celebration this year.

Unfortunately, ATR first posted this in 2011, and they haven’t updated it as we go to press. It’s still very usable, though. Just point out the date by saying something like “as Americans for Tax Reform noted a few Halloweens back…”)

So, if the opportunity arises, scare your family and friends with some of this truly terrifying information. You can share it online, too, by linking here.

You’ll surely open some minds about the creepiest House of Horrors of them all— the federal government! Happy Halloween!

The Frightening Cost of Halloween — Thanks to Government
(from Americans for Tax Reform)

Think Halloween is scary? Ha! It’s nothing compared to the Frightfest of taxes and hidden costs government adds to this beloved holiday.

Each year, parents spend $1 billion on kid costumes for Halloween. On average, for the estimated 41 million trick-or-treaters, each kid wears a costume costing almost $25 — a hefty sum for parents who know this annual investment is only going to get a few hours of use.

Taxes make up a shocking amount of that cost.

Kids’ costumes are almost all made of heavily taxed synthetic fibers. On top of the state sales tax paid at the register, the government increases the cost of buying these costumes by imposing a 17 percent tariff on many of these imported costumes. Businesses not only have to absorb these costs, but also those imposed by income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workmen’s compensation taxes, and other payments to federal, state, and local forms of government.

When all is said and done, government taxes compose a terrifying 47.82 percent of the cost of the average kid’s costume — $11.66 of the average price. Boo!

But the government’s tricks don’t end there. The Halloween season brings with it $2 billion in candy purchases. Due to excise taxation on sweets in addition to the burden of taxes placed on the confectionery industry, the government takes a 30.81 percent bite out of the average trick-or-treaters’ candy haul. Ouch!

Altogether, the cost of celebrating our scariest holiday is made all the more frightening by the costs imposed by government: hidden taxes and other costs constitute 40.91 percent of your Halloween celebration. 

This amounts to a burden of $688 million — or $16.80 per kid. The remaining $1.3 billion of candy not distributed during trick-or-treating represents another $406 million in taxes. Finally, after including taxes on adults for decorations and costumes the total Halloween tax bite comes to… a bloody and bruising $2.7 billion.

And the cost is even higher if you attend a spooky party with alcoholic beverages. Wine, distilled spirits and beer are all subject to more hidden taxes. Going out to dinner instead of trick-or-treating also carries higher government costs. And if you have to drive your kids to trick-or-treat, the government bite of gasoline also takes a hefty bite out of your wallet…

Wherever you turn, wherever you go, you can’t escape the bloodsucking horror of… the federal government.

Hey, if you’re still searching for a truly bone-chilling costume idea, here’s one: dress up as… Uncle Sam.

The Biggest Danger: Terrorists or Government?

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, Middle East, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Robert Higgs

Libertarian and economist Robert Higgs writes at his Facebook page about the relative danger to you from Islamic terrorists and U.S. governments:

“Unless you go to the Middle East, the probability of your being harmed by Islamic fanatics is so close to zero that for all practical purposes it may be taken to be zero.

“If you remain in the USA, however, the probability of your being harmed by governments at every level is 1.0, an absolute certainty. These governments will certainly appropriate your wealth in a variety of direct and indirect ways for their own purposes, many of which you will regard as abhorrent. They will certainly crush your freedoms in a multitude of ways; they will treat you as if you were a child or a mental incompetent; and they will disregard your own preferences for how you wish to live your life in peace.

“By their actions they will create effects and repercussions that guarantee the future will be less prosperous, less safe, and less socially content than it otherwise would have been. In short, these governments are your enemies: they intend to harm you, they have the capacity to harm you, and they do in fact harm you.

“Yet probably hundreds of millions of Americans fear faraway Islamic fanatics and fret about the fantasy of a looming global Caliphate. Therefore they support a variety of U.S. military measures in the Middle East and elsewhere purportedly aimed at the suppression of this looming menace, and they support a variety of overbearing and tyrannical government actions within the USA justified on the grounds that they protect Americans from terrorists.

“In short, they credit the bogeyman of their fevered imaginations (stoked by government officials, fear-mongering politicians, politico-clowns on talk radio) and more or less disregard the ceaseless pillage of their wealth and the rape of their freedoms by their real enemies, who are all too real and all too near at hand.”

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Is Spanking Your Child a Form of Aggression?

in Children's Rights, Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Answers on Issues, Marriage and Family by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: It seems to me that spanking your child is a form of aggression. Would libertarians agree?

SpankingMY SHORT ANSWER: Many do, but some do not. I personally see spanking as an utter last resort, only suitable for situations where the child might otherwise be greatly harmed or do great harm to another. For example, with a child who keeps running out in traffic, despite taking away TV privileges or using other deterrents, physical censure might save his or her life. Most of the time, though, a parent has better options; for example, keeping a child inside until he or she recognizes the dangers of traffic.

When we spank or beat a child, we are teaching that might makes right. We are also teaching that hurting someone smaller and weaker can be a “loving” gesture. Surely, as parents, we should be able to come up with a better teaching tool almost all of the time. Some psychologists — rightly, I believe — fear that any kind of physical punishment can create grave problems later (see for example, http://alice-miller.com/video.php). Punishing a child with verbal abuse creates problems too.

Libertarians believe in making victims whole, not punishing the aggressor. If children hit a sibling, a better method of correction might be having the offender do something special for the one who was struck. Responsibility and discipline are important lessons for children to have, but it’s best to teach them as gently as possible. A correction with an overlay of aggression, belittling, or hostility, will eventually come back to haunt, not only the child, but those with whom he or she interacts.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING ON THIS TOPIC by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris:

* “Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle?“ by Stefan Molyneux. Molyneux goes into lengthy analysis of this question in a thoughtful and provocative article worth reading no matter what your position.

EXCERPT: “It is only within the last few decades that serious moral and scientific objections to spanking have spread within society, and patience and persistence is the key to convincing others of this essential and actionable moral reality.

“That having been said, however, now that you have read this essay, you need to refute these arguments and disprove the science, or stop spanking. If you lacked knowledge and clarity before, you deserve sympathy. If you cannot refute these arguments, and continue to spank, you have no excuse anymore.”

* “The Natural Rights of Children“ by Walter E. Block, Ed Smith, and Jordan Reel.

Libertarian theorist Block and his co-authors explore this topic: “What does libertarian theory, Murray Rothbard’s theory in particular, tell us about the rights of children? The two foundational principles of Rothbardian libertarianism are the sanctity of private property and the rule of non-aggression. Persons, including children, are ‘self-owners’. Yet children, at a young age, are not yet capable of functioning fully as ‘self-owners.’” Spanking, and a number of other issues, are examined.

EXCERPT: “But children are different than adults. They are not (yet) full rights bearing entities. If we leave an adult to his own devices, he is presumably able to run his own life, at least to his own satisfaction. But if a child is not cared for, for example, a three-year old, he must perish, since he cannot (yet) care for himself. Paternalism is not justified for adults, but it is for such youngsters.”

VIDEO: Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle?  Walter Block Debates Stefan Molyneux.” The authors of the above two papers debate in this one-hour video. 

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

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

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

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

National Service: Should Young Americans Be Forced To Serve the Government?

in 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. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)
National Service

QUESTION: I believe we shouldn’t be forced to participate in some kind of national service. However, some of my friends say we owe some duty to our country for being born here and living here. What about a citizen’s duty to country?

MY SHORT ANSWER: If “doing our duty” is equated to providing “service,” who decides what is service and what is not? If young Steve Jobs had been forced into some type of national service instead of being left alone to tinker in his garage, he might never have invented the personal computer. The resulting increases in everyone’s standard of living would have been lost or delayed because of a bureaucrat’s uninformed decision about what was good for the country.

Freedom is what is good for a nation, especially one that wants to help its poor. More freedom means more wealth creation and less poverty. Government interference, even well-intended, backfires. (For some examples and more detail, see my book, “Healing Our World.” The 1992 edition is available as a free download at www.ruwart.com. The updated 2003 edition is available at the Advocates online bookstore.)

Most people give generously of their time and money if this is the voluntary custom. For example, tipping is not mandatory, but almost everyone does it. Before government got involved in social welfare, almost everyone helped a less fortunate neighbor individually or as part of a formal organization because that was the custom. You were either a charity case or a provider of charity; few people wanted to be in the former group.

To return to this way of charitable thinking, the government should stop forcing people to “give at the office” through taxation and resist the temptation to force people into service. Doing so will only create resentment towards those in need, leaving little sympathy for the poor when their “help” disappears in the shifting political tides.

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

* “Shhh… Don’t call Obama’s national service scheme a ‘draft‘” by Jerome Tuccille. National service is seemingly off the front burner, but don’t let down your guard; the idea continues to circulate. This article, written in 2008 when the idea was being more strongly pushed by both Democrats and Republicans, points out the insidious nature of the concept.

EXCERPT: “Under Barack Obama’s plan, a refusal to participate in a national service program touted at the federal level will be punished by the withholding of high school diplomas by the school district in your town. And without that diploma, few colleges or employers will even bother to look at your application.

“It’s a softer sort of authoritarianism which requires no draft boards, muddles the identity of the ‘bad guy’ and produces no martyrs in handcuffs for the evening news. You just can’t get a job if you don’t do as you’re told.”

* “National Service? Puh-lease“ by Michael Kinsley, TIME, Sept. 04, 2007. Liberal journalist Kinsley does a great job of gutting the whole “national service” notion. Ignore the couple of paragraphs in the middle about democracy and taxation; the rest is brilliant and marvelously written.

EXCERPT: “Problem number one with grand schemes for universal voluntary public service is that they can’t be both universal and voluntary. If everybody has to do it, then it’s not voluntary, is it? And if it’s truly up to the individual, then it won’t be universal. What advocates of this sort of thing generally have in mind is using the pressures of social conformity and the powers of the state indirectly to remove as much freedom of choice as possible, while still being able to claim that everyone who signs up is a ‘volunteer.’”

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

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

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

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

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.”

Hey, Media: “Isolationist” Is an Insult and a Lie

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Stances on Issues, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“When tea party or libertarian Republicans oppose U.S. military intervention or aid in Ukraine, Syria or any other hot spot, they are regularly labeled ‘isolationist’ by mainstream media outlets. The same term is now commonly used to describe the growing number of war-weary Americans who believe the U.S. tries to do too much around the world militarily.”

So writes Jack Hunter, contributing editor at Rare.US, in a commentary entitled “Hey insult, pejorative termmedia, ‘isolationist’ is not an acceptable term.”

Hunter notes that the biggest hawks in America — liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican — immediately label as “isolationist” anyone who even dares suggest that the U.S. shouldn’t get involved in every local squabble around the world.

They’re deliberately using that term as a smear, Hunter points out. Which is wrong, but predictable.

But it’s far worse for the media to use such an inaccurate, pejorative and partisan term, he argues. Yet they’re doing it.

Hunter quotes conservative pundit and National Review editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg — who is definitely NOT a non-interventionist — from a perceptive piece Goldberg wrote last September:

“Some reporters say that they’re using ‘isolationist’ as a descriptive label, not as a pejorative term. This is nonsense. First of all, it simply is a pejorative term. But, if it’s not a pejorative term, how come nobody ever uses it to describe liberals who often want to intervene far less than conservatives do?”

Goldberg further notes that, all in all, libertarians are far less “isolationist” than most Americans:

“Why is isolationism only about military strikes? What about trade? Immigration? If you throw that stuff into the mix, libertarians are far less isolationist than most Americans, and yet libertarians are supposedly the heart of this new isolationism. How strange.”

Goldberg quotes Timothy Carney’s wonderful sarcastic Ambrose Bierce-ish definition: “Isolationist: n. Someone who, on occasion, opposes bombing foreigners.”

Then Goldberg reworks that a bit: “I’d phrase it slightly different. An isolationist is someone who doesn’t want to bomb foreigners when I do.”

So, yeah, isolationist is a smear, and that’s why the biggest Congressional interventionists use it. But the media shouldn’t let them get away with it.

It’s time to stop labeling opposition to 24-7 global warfare as “isolationism.” And it’s highly irresponsible of the media to use that term themselves, or to let hawks toss it around without challenge or comment.

Libertarians should constantly point this out. Advocates President Sharon Harris wrote a Liberty Minute column in 2011 on how to do this persuasively and effectively, and that column can be found in this issue.

THEY SAID IT…

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

IN OPPOSITION: “I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the Senator Rand Paulpresident has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat. I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a president is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court. …Are we comfortable killing American citizens, no matter how awful or heinous the crime they’re accused of, are we comfortable killing them based on accusations that no jury has reviewed?” — Sen. Rand Paul on the Senate floor May 21, 2014, explaining his objections to nominating David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

DR. OZ JUMPS ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA BANDWAGON:

Dr. Mehmet Oz

“I grew up like most of my generation believing that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans, a communist plot. But I think most of us have come around to the believe that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes.” — TV megastar Dr. Mehmet Oz on “Larry King Live,” May 14, 2014. Oz is hardly alone. Earlier this year a CBS News poll found a whopping 86 percent of Americans think doctors should be able to legally prescribe medical cannabis to patients suffering from serious illnesses. Numerous other polls indicate a majority of Americans favor re-legalization for recreational use as well.

LEGAL POT KILLS BLACK MARKETS: “It’s not worth it anymore. I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.” — Rodrigo Silla, 50, a lifelong cannabis farmer in Mexico, quoted in the Washington Post. Silla, like other Mexican pot farmers, has stopped growing marijuana because the U.S. has re-legalized marijuana or allows it for medical use in 20 states and the District of Columbia. This has gutted the market and lowered prices by 3/4s — exactly as libertarians predicted. Unfortunately, but also predictably, Mexican drug cartels are now pushing heroin harder than ever to make up for their pot losses. Hmmm… how could we stop that?

DO-IT-YOURSELF: “In 2003, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) spent $400,000 digitizing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which was among the most widely read and influential papers in 19th century America. A decade later, the library was still raising money to finish the remaining 52 years of the Daily Eagle’s run. In the meantime, [Tom] Tryniski digitized all 115 years of the paper in about five months working alone.” — journalist Jim Epstein, “A Retiree Digitizes 27 Million Old Newspaper Pages in His Living Room (and Libraries Fight to Catch Up),” Reason blog, May 18, 2014.

GOV’T KILLING AMERICAN DREAM: “Dallas Mavericks owner Fox Business' John StosselMark Cuban left school with no money and no job prospects. He managed to become a billionaire by creating several businesses from scratch. I asked him if he could do it again today, and he said, ‘No … now there’s so much paperwork and regulation, so many things that you have to sign up for, that you have a better chance of getting in trouble than you do of being successful.’ That’s tragic. … Government mostly hinders us, and then brags that it is waiting to take charge when we fail.” — award-winning libertarian journalist John Stossel, “Regulating Away the American Dream,” April 30, 2014.

GOV’T PERMISSION REQUIRED TO WORK:

Antony Davies

“At the state level, government regulation has become so lucrative for crony-capitalists that today almost 40 percent of U.S. jobs require a government license versus about 5 percent a generation ago. Louisiana requires $2,000 plus 80 hours of study to become a florist, while Utah requires hair braiders to get a beautician license that costs $18,000 and 2,000 hours of study.” — economist Antony Davies, “Consumers Are the Best Regulators,” US News & World Report online, May 12, 2014.

RE-QUOTED AND NOTED

MILTON FRIEDMAN ON FOUR WAYS TO SPEND MONEY: “There are four ways in which you can Milton Friedmanspend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.” — Milton Friedman, Fox News interview (May 2004), requoted by Mark D. Friedman in comments field of BleedingHeartsLibertarian.com article.

Are You Waiting for Our Libertarian Ship to Come In?

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

(From the Persuasion PowerPoint section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

big ship“Big Government is unsustainable,” said one libertarian. “It’ll collapse and that’s when we’ll get liberty.”

“I’m part of the Remnant,” said another. “Liberty is doomed…for now. My job is to quietly share libertarianism until the world is ready for liberty.”

“Our tax-burdened, regulation-strangled economy can’t last,” said a third. “When it falls apart, liberty will march in.”

Passive waiting is NOT a strategy. Nor even a good choice — if you want freedom in our lifetime.

You have to send out ships — if you want our ship to come in.

Do you know where the phrase “waiting for my ship to come in” came from?

In the 19th Century, English investors and entrepreneurs built huge sailing ships. It took months to build them, months to stock them with trading goods and provisions, and months to hire a good captain and crew.

Then these ships were launched to seek out foreign producers and traders. To exchange English goods for gold and silver and jewels, for silk and spices and other precious things.

Some of the ships hit reefs and sank. Others were destroyed by storms. Some were seized by pirates. Others mutinied — and went to Australia.

There were no shortwave radios. No telegraphs. No cell phones. No way to communicate with the ships until they returned to England.

“Waiting for my ship to come in” was coined by those who sent their ships out.

How many ships have you sent out? How many have you helped make ready to launch?

For our libertarian ships to come in, we must first send out many more seaworthy ships.

Have you acquired an Operation Politically Homeless (OPH) libertarian outreach kit for your local libertarian organization? OPH is a proven, tested way to discover new libertarian-leaning people and bring them into the liberty movement. That’s one ship sent out.

If you’re a student, the Advocates is giving OPH kits FREE to any campus libertarian organization that agrees to use them a minimum of three times in the coming year. Have you requested one for your campus group? That’s a second ship sent out.

Have you volunteered to work at an OPH booth? That’s a third ship sent out. (AND the most fun you can have with your clothes on.)

Have you forwarded thought-provoking articles from the Liberator Online to interested friends? That’s a fourth ship launched.

Have you bought an Advocates book or product — say, Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion — for libertarian friends and acquaintances? For their birthdays? Or just because? That’s a fifth ship. (And a handbook on “shipbuilding” for liberty.)

Work for liberty! Send out more and more ships. And you will stand a much better chance that YOUR libertarian ship will come in — and that you will have liberty in our lifetime.

* * * * * * * *
Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion by Michael CloudMichael 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.

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

in Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Celebrities by James W. 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.”

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.

MintPress: Young Libertarians and Progressives Redefining American Politics

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

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

“Libertarians, Progressives Poised to Redefine American Politics” is the title of a Feb. 25, 2014 article by Frederick Reese at MintPress News, a new independent online journalism site.

“With an historically high 42 percent of Americans identifying themselves as independents as of January, the United States is becoming a nation increasingly not served by either the Republican or Democrat label,” Reese writes. “According to a December 2013 Gallup poll, 72 percent of all Americans believed that Big Government is a bigger threat to the United States than Big Business (21 percent) or Big Labor (5 percent).

“While this may be burn-out from years of government malpractice — an increase in unmanned drone usage, the largest government surveillance apparatus; several scandals involving the Executive Branch; a government shutdown in an attempt to repeal the patient Protection & Affordable Care Act followed by more than 40 repeal attempts — the general feeling is that the young vote has been moving away from the ‘Big Government’ parties.”

This portends huge change in the near future for American politics, the article predicts. Reese noted that young progressives and libertarians share many concerns on civil liberties and foreign policy issues — and those concerns are not being addressed by the two-party Establishment.

“As Millennials may represent the most Progressive or Libertarian generation ever, and as Millennials are expected to constitute 75 percent of the workforce by 2020, one might be tempted to say that the fate of the ‘Big Two’ parties lies in the embrace of their small-government cousins,” says Reese.

The article quotes Carla Howell, political director of the National Libertarian Party, on this coming sea-change:

“As the views of Americans, and especially young voters, converge with the Libertarian platform, we are attracting more votes than the party has ever seen,” Howell told MintNews. “Over 15,000,000 votes were cast for Libertarians in 2012. The Robert Sarvis for governor campaign in Virginia last year garnered 6.5 percent of the vote, the highest vote total for a candidate who was neither a Democrat nor a Republican in a southern state in over 40 years. His vote among those aged 18-29 stood at 15 percent.

“Both Democrats and Republicans have expanded Big Government to the limit that they could get away with for years, especially in the last 14 years during both the Bush and Obama administrations,” Howell continued. “Bailouts, FEMA, needless wars, Obamacare, the Drug Prohibition and NSA spying — all of which have failed their stated mission. They failed to create jobs, failed to stop the escalation of health care costs, violate personal liberties and put people and our country more — not less — at risk. Young voters have witnessed these abysmal failures and see that government is not the place to turn to solve human problems.”

(Hat tip to Libertarian Party blog)

World’s Smallest Political Quiz Taken 21 Million Times Online

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Great news!

QuizAs of this week, the online World’s Smallest Political Quiz has now been taken more than 21 MILLION TIMES since we first put it on the Web in 1995.

Regular readers will remember we celebrated the 20-million milestone just a few months ago, in late October. So we’re delighted that in the four months since then, the Quiz has been taken an additional million times, reaching so many more people with the mind-changing idea of a new political map — one that includes libertarianism!

The Quiz has become an Internet legend — the world’s first, and by far most popular, Internet political quiz.

And the numbers don’t stop there. We’ve distributed over 12 million Quiz cards. Millions more people have encountered the Quiz in classrooms, major textbooks, newspapers, books, on talk radio, at Facebook, at Operation Politically Homeless (OPH) booths, and elsewhere.

This is fantastic news for libertarians. Because the Quiz is arguably the most effective tool for libertarian understanding and outreach ever invented.

When people take the Quiz:

* They learn that libertarianism is a major part of the American political spectrum — that there is more to politics than just left versus right.

* They get insights into their own political views, and they think about some of today’s most important — but often ignored — political issues.

* They learn that, on many key issues, libertarians are their allies, even if they consider themselves liberals or conservatives or centrists.

* A large percentage of Quiz takers discover they are libertarians, or have more in common with libertarianism than any other political philosophy.

* At our website, Quiz takers are given instant access to outstanding information about libertarian ideas. Their questions are answered. They are given the opportunity to become active in the libertarian movement. And they are offered tools and training to help them become ever more effective and successful in their libertarian outreach.

Please note: the amazing success of the Quiz is no accident. The Advocates has spent many years developing, refining and promoting the Quiz.

The World’s Smallest Political Quiz was created by Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz in 1987. It was built on a revolutionary multi-spectrum political chart created in 1970 by David F. Nolan (a co-founder of the Libertarian Party). Fritz added ten short questions and a graph to Nolan’s chart. The questions and graph allowed people to quickly plot their place on the political spectrum, as well as giving other political insights.

From the beginning, Marshall insisted that the Quiz be not just fast and fun, but above all honest and accurate — giving reliable and useful insights to those who take it.

The result is a tool so effective and mind-opening that non-libertarian educators, journalists and others can — and do — use it and recommend it.

During the past decade, the Quiz has been featured in many of America’s best selling college and high school textbooks or their supplementary material, including more than a dozen key textbooks by the biggest names in publishing. And we’ve supplied educators, at their request, with tens of thousands of card Quizzes for their classrooms. (Are you a teacher, professor, or other education professional? Email me for information on free Quizzes for your students, or fill out the request form at the bottom of this page.)

This is tangible, real-world outreach success. And it is making a real difference.

As Ron Paul has said: “The World’s Smallest Political Quiz is responsible for many Americans’ first contact with libertarian ideas. While traveling around the country, I have often heard people say, ‘I never knew I was a libertarian until I took the Quiz!’”

The success of the Quiz is great news for the entire liberty movement. We’re finding and educating the libertarian leaders, activists and supporters of tomorrow!

NONE of this success would have been possible without the help of the many wonderful people who support the work of the Advocates with their generous donations.

If you would like to join them by becoming an Advocates donor, we have some fantastic “thank you” gifts for you. Check them out here. Or call us toll-free at (800) 983-1776.

Thank you! Now, on to the NEXT million!

Do You Prefer Cats, Dogs — Or Liberty?

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there’s simply no excuse for that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But back to the TIME quiz.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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