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“Food tastes better, the sky is bluer…”

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

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

Recently I came across a 1952 poem by the renowned San Francisco poet and leftwing anarchist Kenneth Rexroth. Entitled “For Eli Jacobson,” it is a eulogy for an old friend and fellow political activist.

“For Eli Jacobson” wonderfully captures the glory of being an activist in a great cause. In particular, these lines:

We were comrades
Together, we believed we
Would see with our own eyes the new
World where man was no longer
Wolf to man, but men and women
Were all brothers and lovers
Together. We will not see it.
We will not see it, none of us.Kenneth Rexroth
It is farther off than we thought….

It does not matter.
We were comrades together.
Life was good for us. It is
Good to be brave — nothing is
Better. Food tastes better. Wine
Is more brilliant. Girls are more
Beautiful. The sky is bluer
For the brave…
Our lives were the best. We were the
Happiest men alive in our day.

I especially love those last lines. “Food taste better…” “Our lives were the best…” and the rest.

They beautifully capture the heightened awareness, the excitement and anticipation, that comes with working for a great cause. The way that such activism brings spice, meaning, and joy to life.

I also love Rexroth’s celebration of friendship forged in activism. That, too, is a key benefit of working for a great cause. In the liberty movement I have met so many wonderful people, made so many lifelong friends.

One more thing. In lines that follow those above, Rexroth says he and his friend once thought that young people would emerge to take up their socialist/anarchist struggle. But, he notes with sadness, they did not:

In our young days we believed
That as we grew old and fell
Out of rank, new recruits, young
And with the wisdom of youth,
Would take our places and they
Surely would grow old in the
Golden Age. They have not come.
They will not come. There are not
Many of us left.

For libertarians, happily, it is a very different story. Those of us who have been in the liberty movement for a long time have been blessed to see the emergence of a new generation of young libertarian activists.

We have watched our movement grow by leaps and bounds in recent years, infused by the energy and enthusiasm of young people determined to make liberty a burning issue in American politics.

What a wonderful thing to see!

I hope Rexroth’s words remind you of the privilege and the joys of being part of a great cause. I hope your personal involvement in the liberty movement makes your life richer, more meaningful, and more fun.

Go out and have fun — and change the world.

New York Magazine: “A New Generation of Libertarians”

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

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

Are cutting-edge companies like Uber and Airbnb creating a new generation of libertarians?Marc Andreessen

Consider this fascinating snippet from New York Magazine’s interview with legendary Silicon Valley entrepreneur-provocateur (and self-described “McGovern libertarian”) Marc Andreessen, in their October 20, 2014 issue.

New York Magazine: Politicians like Rand Paul are seizing on young people’s embrace of companies like Uber and Lyft and Airbnb that are disrupting heavily regulated industries and saying, “You know, if you’re frustrated about Uber, let me tell you about these other regulations that are terrible.” Are these companies breeding a new generation of libertarians?

Marc Andreessen: I guess I would say the following: If you have been in an Uber car and gotten pulled over and had the car seized out from under the driver when you were like in the middle of a trip that you were otherwise having a good time on, you might be a little bit radicalized. You might all of a sudden think, “Wait a minute, what just happened, and why did it happen?” And then you might discover what the taxi companies did over the last 50 years to wire up city governments and all the corruption that’s taken place. And you might say, “Wait a minute.”

There’s this myth that government regulation is well-intentioned and benign, and implemented properly. That’s the myth. And then when people actually run into this in the real world, they’re, “Oh, f***, I didn’t realize.”

New York Magazine: My mom is renting out my childhood room on Airbnb.

Marc Andreessen: There you go. She’s one of the lawless libertarians.

Libertarianism and Racial Discrimination

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

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: Do libertarians support laws prohibiting racial discrimination by businesses?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, businesses could refuse service to individuals for any reason. However, they would be punished for racial discrimination by losing the profit they otherwise would have made. This feedback is so powerful that even in the post-Civil War South, segregation could only be maintained when governments made integration (serving blacks and whites in the same establishment) a crime.

If integration could only be stopped by outlawing it in the post-Civil War South, surely today it would take place readily without government mandates. If some individuals, black or white, wished to maintain some separateness, why should we force them together?

In a libertarian society, laws enforcing segregation could never have been passed in the first place. Slavery would never have been legal. In short, if the U.S. had been a totally libertarian society, Africans would never have been enslaved and given second-class status. Government creates conditions that foster racial prejudice, then creates backlash and further prejudice by forcing people together.

Want to learn more? I recommend black economist Walter Williams’ concise and hard-hitting book The State Against Blacks, which offers easy-to-read documentation on the real root of discrimination — government!

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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.

Discovery BEFORE Persuasion

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

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

What’s the fastest and easiest way to bring people into the libertarian movement?  

“Help some of them see that they are already libertarians,” says Perry Willis, former Executive Director of the National Libertarian Party and current vice president of Downsize DC.

“Discovery before persuasion. Before you try to persuade NON-libertarians to become libertarians, first look for and talk with people who are already libertarians — or mostly libertarian.”

Such people are out there — by the tens of millions. Last year, a Freedomworks poll 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.”

Such people are obviously sympathetic to libertarian ideas — but millions of them don’t know about libertarianism. The Freedomworks poll found that about 40 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds view the word “libertarian” favorably — but about a third didn’t know what it meant.

They are waiting to hear about libertarianism. How do you quickly discover these libertarian-leaning people?

A great way is by using the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz. Available as a pocket-sized card or in its famous online version, it’s the quickest and easiest way to identify someone’s political leanings. To do this in large groups, use OPH (Operation Politically Homeless), which incorporates the Quiz into a crowd-drawing fun booth that identifies and recruits new supporters.

Perry Willis’s “discovery before persuasion” rule focuses us on those who are most receptive and responsive to libertarianism.

People who are glad to hear about liberty. Who are delighted to learn that they aren’t the only ones who believe what they believe and want what they want: freedom.

Warning: Mr. Willis is NOT saying “discovery INSTEAD OF persuasion.” He is saying “FIRST discovery, THEN persuasion.”

“Discovery before persuasion” is easy, enjoyable, fast, and effective.

For us and for those we speak with.

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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.

Cosmic Bowling, Gutterballs and Liberty

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

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A couple of weeks ago I found myself giving bowling lessons — of a sort — to a Sharon Harris - Bowlinggroup of bright young libertarians.

More specifically, I demonstrated to them the fine art of… throwing gutterballs. Over and over. Right and left. How embarrassing!

Thankfully, I wasn’t there to teach these young libertarians bowling. The bowling event — “Cosmic Bowling” — was just a fun extracurricular evening activity at the Foundation for Economic Education’s “Communicating Liberty 2014: Advanced Training” seminar in Atlanta. This great event brought libertarian communication ideas to some of the brightest young minds in the liberty movement.

Forty outstanding student alumni of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) summer programs attended the invitation-only event. Without exception, the students I met and talked with were smart, articulate, and enthusiastic proponents of the ideas of liberty. What a joy it was to meet them!

Communication Training - AtlantaI had the pleasure of giving a libertarian communication workshop — sharing the very best tools, techniques and tips on communicating the ideas of liberty. The students were eager to learn and practice the libertarian communication essentials I presented.

FEE brought together a truly outstanding combination of student leaders and libertarian communicators. Speakers included Bob Ewing of the Mercatus Center, Anna Ridge of the Charles Koch Institute, and of course Lawrence Reed, president of FEE and one of the finest spokesmen for liberty of our time.

I left the event humbled by my bowling abilities — but excited about the future of liberty in America. With such gifted and enthusiastic young people gearing up to be the liberty leaders of the next generation, the future looks bright indeed!

FEE is doing outstanding work with its outreach to young people, and I was proud to be a part of this great program. FEE is the oldest libertarian think tank in America — it is impossible to imagine today’s libertarian movement without its pioneering work — and it continues to do cutting-edge essential work in educating the public and reaching out to rising young libertarian leaders to prepare them to be ambassadors for liberty.

I strongly recommend that Liberator Online readers learn more about the great things FEE is doing.

To learn more about Advocates libertarian communication workshops, visit here.

Word Choices: Pro-Market, Not Pro-Business

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Stances on Issues, Libertarianism by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Libertarians enormously appreciate the positive contributions so many businesses have made to our

world.

Because of this, libertarians are sometimes labeled “pro-business.”

But this is incorrect — and misleading.

Libertarians are not “pro-business.” We are “pro-market” — a very different thing.

The distinction is a vital one.

Libertarians support a free market where businesses are free to enter a field and offer their goods and services, in competition with any and all others who wish to do the same.

The resulting competition brings ever-better goods and services. Lower prices. Innovation. More convenience and more choice.

The companies that succeed in this free market competition do so by doing the best job of pleasing customers. Those that fail to sufficiently please consumers go out of business. The consumer is king.

This is the market process that libertarians strongly support.

But being “pro-business” is an entirely different thing. Politicians, lobbyists, economists, pundits and others who are pro-business — or who favor a particular business entity — may lobby for special favors for a particular business or area of commerce.

This may be pro-business. But it is anti-market.

Many who are pro-business want government to help particular businesses or industries that are unable to compete effectively. Sometimes they want government to use political power and tax dollars to entice a business to locate in a particular area.

Pro-business forces may want to prop up a favored business with bailouts of tax dollars or with other tax grants. They often call for punitive taxes on competition that challenges the favored business (especially if that competition is foreign). They may offer special zoning privileges to favored businesses. They may call on the government to seize private property through eminent domain and give it to a favored business.

Pro-business forces may endorse licensing, education requirements, regulations and other obstacles that protect favored businesses from competition. It often surprises people to learn that many large businesses love government regulation because it limits their competition. But as Nobel Prize winning economist George Stigler wrote: “…as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit.”

Governments may declare a business is “too big to fail” and thus deserves a huge taxpayer bailout. Or that a field is crucial to the “public interest,” and thus deserving of subsidies and special treatment; agriculture is a prime example.

You get the picture. All of this is done by pro-business people. And all of it is deeply, profoundly, anti-market.

In an excellent article on this topic, “‘Free Market’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Pro-Business“ economist Art Carden quotes a great passage from the book The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley:

“I hold no brief for large corporations, whose inefficiencies, complacencies, and anti-competitive tendencies often drive me as crazy as the next man. Like Milton Friedman, I notice that ‘business corporations in general are not defenders of free enterprise. On the contrary, they are one of the chief sources of danger.’ They are addicted to corporate welfare, they love regulations that erect barriers to entry to their small competitors, they yearn for monopoly and they grow flabby and inefficient with age.”

The fruits of the pro-business mindset — taxes, unfairness, lack of competition and choice, over-priced goods and services, unemployment — are often the things that people hate most about our economic system. People naturally blame this on free enterprise, on the market system. Yet it is the pro-business mindset — not the market — that is responsible for these ills.

Let me give Art Carden the (almost) final word:

“In a free market, you are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to enter the mousetrap industry if you think you can build a better mousetrap or find a way to make similar mousetraps more efficiently. The other side of that coin is that you will be encouraged to leave the mousetrap industry if it turns out that your mousetraps are not better, but inferior.

“A ‘free market’ agenda is not the same thing as a ‘pro business’ agenda. Businesses should not be protected from competition, losses, and bankruptcy when they fail to deliver for the customer. All three are essential to truly free markets and free enterprise.”

Don’t use the label “pro-business.” And politely but firmly reject it if someone attempts to label you that way. Respond that you are pro-market, not pro-business. And explain the difference.

FREE Libertarian E-Book: The Morality of Capitalism

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In recent issues we’ve reviewed and recommended two outstanding free e-books available through Students For Liberty (SFL): After the Welfare State and Why Liberty.

Now we’re pleased to suggest one more great SFL title to add to your ebook library.

The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You combines the writings of renowned economists, philosophers, historians, policy experts, and entrepreneurs from around the world to make the case that not only do free markets “deliver the goods,” but that true free market capitalism is a just and moral system.

It is clear and highly readable, suitable for students and non-students alike, for newcomers to free enterprise and libertarianism as well as longtime libertarians.

As SFL notes:

“As students for liberty, we are well-versed in defending the free market. Our opponents on campus constantly claim that markets are unfair, that capitalism is exploitative, that competition is inhumane, and that government control and redistribution are the solution to society’s problems. Every day we struggle to explain that a free society that embraces free exchange is the only way to create wealth, peace, and prosperity for all.

“Most people acknowledge, if only begrudgingly, that capitalism does produce considerable wealth and material well-being. But many feel torn between material prosperity on the one hand and living a moral life on the other. The self-interested pursuit of profit that is characteristic of a capitalistic system just doesn’t feel right to them.

“The task before us, then — if we wish to actualize the truly free social system that is laissez-faire capitalism — is to provide and defend its moral justification. We must convince fellow students that capitalism is not just the most efficient system, but a virtuous one as well.”

The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You makes that case, powerfully and convincingly.

Students For Liberty has distributed over 100,000 copies to students around the world since it was first made available.

You can learn more about The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won’t Tell here.

Download it as a FREE PDF ebook here.

Here’s the table of contents: 

Introduction: The Morality of Capitalism by Tom G. Palmer
The History of a Word
Free-Market Capitalism vs. Crony Capitalism

Section I: The Virtues of Entrepreneurial Capitalism

  • Interview with an Entrepreneur featuring John Mackey (Whole Foods CEO)
  • Liberty and Dignity Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey
  • Competition and Cooperation by David Boaz
  • For-Profit Medicine and the Compassion Motive by Tom G. Palmer

Section II: Voluntary Interaction and Self-Interest

  • The Paradox of Morality by Mao Yushi (Translated by Jude Blanchette)
  • The Moral Logic of Equality and Inequality in Market Society by Leonid V. Nikonov
  • Adam Smith and the Myth of Greed by Tom G. Palmer
  • Ayn Rand and Capitalism: The Moral Revolution by David Kelley

Section III: The Production and Distribution of Wealth

  • The Market Economy and the Distribution of Wealth by Ludwig Lachmann
  • Political and Economic Freedoms Together Spawn Humanity’s Miracles by Temba A. Nolutshungu

Section IV: Globalizing Capitalism

  • Global Capitalism and Justice by June Arunga
  • Human Betterment through Globalization by Vernon Smith
  • The Culture of Liberty by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • A Little Further Reading for Fun and Profit (and Better School Papers) by Tom G. Palmer

The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You is published by SFL and the Atlas Network. We highly recommend it.

Student groups note: SFL offers a limited number of hard copies at no cost to student groups. You can learn more about that here.

Word Choices: “Free Enterprise” Instead of Capitalism?

in Communicating Liberty by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Word choices are very important. Two words might mean the same thing to you. But to your audience, one word may be far more meaningful and positive than another — and may get your point across not just more favorably, but more accurately.

An example is the word “capitalism” to describe the economic system libertarians believe in.

In a past column, I described some of the positive and negative reactions some audiences have to “capitalism,” and suggested some alternatives that are better in some circumstances.

You can read that column here.

Now we have some fascinating information to add.

A January 2010 Gallup poll makes a very good case for using “free enterprise” in many situations.

This January 2010 poll asked a representative sampling of Americans whether their top-of-mind reactions to several political terms were positive or negative. Respondents were not given explanations or descriptions of the terms.

Two of those terms were “capitalism” and “free enterprise.”

Both words, of course, essentially mean the same thing in typical, common usage.

However, they drew considerably different approval ratings.

First, the word “capitalism.”

Says Gallup: “Americans are more positive than negative on ‘capitalism,’ the word typically used to describe the United States’ prevailing economic system.

“‘Capitalism’ generates positive ratings from a majority of Americans, with a third saying their reaction is negative [61% versus 33%].

Ellis Island“Republicans are significantly more positive than Democrats in their reactions to ‘capitalism,’ although majorities of both groups have favorable opinions.

“Conservatives have the highest positive image [for the word "capitalism"], followed by liberals. Moderates have somewhat lower positive ratings than either of these groups.”

Now consider reaction to the term “free enterprise.”

According to Gallup:

“Americans are almost uniformly positive in their reactions to… ‘free enterprise.’”

“Eighty-six percent of respondents rated the term ‘free enterprise’ positively, giving it substantially more positive ratings than ‘capitalism.’ Although in theory these two concepts are not precisely the same, they are in many ways functional equivalents.

“Yet, underscoring the conventional wisdom that words matter, the public clearly reacts differently to the two terms. Free enterprise as a concept rings more positively to the average American than does the term capitalism.

“Strongly positive ratings of free enterprise are generally uniform across both partisan groups [Democrats and Republicans], and across the three ideological groups [liberals, conservatives, moderates].”

Gallup sums up with a lesson effective libertarian communicators cannot ignore:

“Bottom line: As most politicians and many in business have learned, the choice of words to describe a concept or a policy can often make a substantial difference in the public’s reaction. The current research confirms that assumption.

“It is apparent that ‘free enterprise’ evokes more positive responses than ‘capitalism,’ despite the apparent similarity between the two terms.”

NOTE: The same Gallup report I link to above also offers a very useful analysis by Gallup that breaks the popularity of these phrases down further, by political ideology (conservative, liberal, and “moderate”), by party, and so on. I highly recommend this short analysis to anyone seriously interested in using these terms effectively.