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Texas Legislator Writes Best Marijuana Re-Legalization Law… Ever

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

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 10 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

David SimpsonDavid Simpson, a Texas Republican state representative who describes himself as a “constitutional conservative,” has introduced what is surely the best and most libertarian marijuana re-legalization bill yet.

His bill — introduced this month — would simply eliminate all references to marijuana in Texas law, presumably making marijuana as legal as rose bushes or pine trees.

And he justifies it as part of an overall personal and political philosophy based on Christian values, individual liberty and limited government.

Simpson explains his thinking in a remarkable op-ed in The Texas Tribune, entitled “The Christian Case for Drug Law Reform.” Excerpts:

As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.

In fact, it’s for this reason that I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.

[...]

[O]ur current ‘War on Drugs’ policies, though well intended, [are] spurring a proliferation of ever-changing exotic designer drugs and a disregard for constitutional protections in the name of eliminating drugs at any cost. Just think of no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, civil asset forfeiture and billionaire drug lords …state and federal agents are empowered to enforce laws with little to no regard for constitutional protections of individual rights, the sanctity of one’s home or the right to travel freely.

The time has come for a thoughtful discussion of the prudence of the prohibition approach to drug abuse, the impact of prohibition enforcement on constitutionally protected liberties and the responsibilities that individuals must take for their own actions.

[...]

Should we be concerned for our friends and neighbors who abuse a substance or activity? Yes, we should help them through sincere and voluntary engagement, but not with force and violence.

Is there a place for prohibition? Yes, a prohibition of aggression (Romans 13). Our laws should prohibit and penalize violent acts. This is the jurisdiction of the magistrates under the new covenant — harm to one’s neighbor.

Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor.

As Reason magazine notes, “This is not just a brief against marijuana prohibition, or even the War on Drugs in general. It is a brief against using force to stop peaceful, consensual activity. … We need more Republicans like David Simpson.”

Libertarians Are Actually Less “Isolationist” Than Other Political Views

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Libertarians who advocate a foreign policy of peaceful non-intervention in the internal affairs of other nations sometimes get labeled by critics as “isolationist.”

The words “isolationist” and “isolationism” are smears. Further, they inaccurately describe what libertarians believe. I’ve written in the past on ways to respond to this charge.

Libertarian InternationalismLast month Simon Lester, a trade policy analyst with Cato Institute, wrote an excellent column entitled “Libertarian Internationalism” at Townhall.com in which he debunks the notion.

“[T]he reality is that libertarianism is among the most internationally minded philosophies,” he writes. “Examining several key areas of international relations makes this clear: International trade, diplomacy and the military, and institutions.”

Here are some of his arguments, which are helpful to anyone in discussing this issue.

1. International trade.

“The most obvious place where libertarians are internationalists is economic relations. True libertarians advocate the free flow of trade and investment, without government restrictions. This is about as international as you can get. For libertarians, the origin of a product or service is irrelevant. People around the world should be able to buy and sell from each other without government interference. …

“Unfortunately, in most countries today, there is a strong sentiment for favoring domestic economic actors over foreign ones. This feeling manifests itself in various forms, such as tariffs and Buy National procurement policies. Libertarians stand almost completely united against this nationalist feeling, believing that trade and other economic interaction with foreign actors benefits us all.”

2. Diplomacy and the military. 

“Diplomacy and the military is a more complicated policy area, involving a number of instances of potential relations between domestic and foreign. Here, though, there is a strong case that libertarians are more internationalist than most others. Of course, in part this depends on what one means by internationalism.

“Libertarians are most frequently accused of isolationism when they object to military intervention in foreign territories. That libertarians usually object to these interventions is not in doubt. However, use of the military cannot always credibly be called internationalist. Colonialism and conquest, although they do require contact with foreigners, are not generally a positive form of international relations. …

“Thus, for libertarians, war and government aid do not reflect true internationalism. To some extent, they are really about government bullying and condescension towards foreigners, the idea that we are superior to them and can use our power to re-make them in our image. In contrast, libertarians believe in treating citizens of other countries with respect and acting with humility.”

3. International institutions. 

“This is the area where libertarians are most likely to reject what is conventionally thought of as the internationalist position, as they worry about the power of these institutions. In reality, libertarians are not rejecting the idea of international institutions, but rather the specific policies pursued by some of these institutions. … If there were international institutions that supported balanced budgets (or protected property rights), for example, libertarians would likely be supportive. There is no fundamental libertarian objection to international cooperation through institutions; the only concern is on specific issues of substance.”

Finally, Lester argues that libertarianism is inherently internationalist, not isolationist.

“At a more conceptual level, the idea of limited government inherently pushes us away from nationalism and towards internationalism. As things stand now, most power is in the hands of national governments, who often use this power in ways that conflict with the interests of other governments. In other words, putting power in the hands of nation-states leads naturally to national conflict. By contrast, devolving power to local governments more closely connected with the people reduces the role of national governments and nationalism. It makes power more disbursed, and allows communities to connect with each other, regardless of the nation in which they are located.”

These are excellent points, and sharing them with critics can help refute and perhaps eventually bury the tiresome “isolationist” smear.

Read Lester’s complete argument at Townhall.com

New York Times: Should We Abolish the CIA?

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

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

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

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

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

Writes the Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concludes Stansel:

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

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

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

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

They Said It… With Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Jonathan Gruber, and More

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

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 21 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

RE-LEGALIZE MARIJUANA, SAYS GOP CONGRESSMAN:
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher“The fundamental principles are individual liberty, which Republicans have always talked about; limited government, which Republicans have always talked about; the doctor-patient relationship, which, of course, we have been stressing a lot about lately; and of course, states’ rights. … It is counterproductive to the people of this country to have our limited resources — we’re $500 billion in debt every year — to put in jail someone who is smoking a weed in their back yard, or especially for medical purposes. It is a total waste of resources. … To my fellow Republicans, this is going to help you politically. If I can’t appeal to you on your philosophical nature, come on over for just raw politics, the numbers are going this way now.” — U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), former Reagan press secretary and speech writer, quoted in the Washington Post November 14, 2014.

OBAMACARE PASSED BECAUSE AMERICANS ARE “STUPID,” SAYS OBAMACARE Jonathan GruberCRAFTER:
“If you have a law that makes explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it wouldn’t have passed. … Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the ‘stupidity of the American voter’ or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.” — Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, who was paid nearly half a million dollars to help craft Obamacare, in a 2013 video that surfaced this month.

WHERE IS THE ANTI-WAR LEFT? “Hundreds of airstrikes, over 3,000 soldiers deployed, and a request for $5.6 billion is a war, folks. Had President Mitt Romney just doubled our military presence in the Middle East and launched airstrikes that even the Kurds and the Free Syrian Army have criticized, the reaction would have been entirely different from liberals throughout the country. We once again have over 3,000 American boots on the ground in Iraq (without a peep from the anti-war left)…” — journalist H. A. Goodman, “I’m a Liberal Democrat. I’m Voting for Rand Paul in 2016. Here Is Why,” Huffington Post, Nov. 17, 2014.

YET ANOTHER DUMB WAR: “For most of this century, we’ve been fighting wars to enhance our security, and each time, we find ourselves with more enemies and less security. By now it should be clear that is not a coincidence.”— syndicated columnist Steve Chapman, “The U.S. Goes to War Without a Clue, Again,” November 6, 2014.

Buckley for Senate

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

John BuckleyOne of the most famous family names in American political history is once again on the ballot and in the national news.

John Buckley — cousin of the renowned late conservative icon William F. Buckley and former U.S. Senator James L. Buckley — is running an active campaign as Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in West Virginia.

And he’s already drawing significant national attention. The Washington Post recently described his campaign as one of seven U.S. senate races in which a Libertarian Party candidate could win enough votes to affect the outcome of the election, thus forcing the campaigns of both older party candidates to seriously consider supporting libertarian positions if they want to win.

Said the Washington Post: “John Buckley knows something about winning political races. He’s a former state legislator in Virginia, and a former employee at the American Conservative Union, the Cato Institute and the Law and Economics Center at George Mason University.” He’s also a past National Chairman of Young Americans for Freedom and has worked for the Institute for Humane Studies and the National Tax Limitation Committee.

At his campaign website he sums this up: “All through my life, I’ve worked to promote freedom and prosperity.” His lifetime of political experience, he says, soured him on the Republican Party as a vehicle for liberty and led him to the Libertarian Party.

Buckley tells more about his background and beliefs at his Facebook page:

“I turned 60 in 2013 and, with what I see happening under the presidency of Barack Obama (and even the astonishing growth of government under President George Bush), I want to do my part to try to turn America around. We need less government, not more!

“I have also realized that principles of limited government should be applied across the board, not just as to taxes, spending, and economic regulation, but to personal, ‘lifestyle’ decisions as well. Thus, I favor drastically lowering the level of federal government taxes and spending, embracing Second Amendment gun ownership rights, and respecting private property;

“I also support the legalization of marijuana (common sense tells us it’s time to end the ruinously expensive, counterproductive, and failed ‘War on Drugs’), same-sex marriage, and ending Big Brother’s snooping and spying on American citizens.

“Most Americans don’t like being told what to do and don’t relish telling others what to do, either. The American way is ‘live and let live.’ We may not like the decisions our friends and neighbors make, but we express our moral suasion voluntarily (through churches and family and other peaceful expressions of community standards), not through laws and dictates.

“We certainly don’t like politicians, and especially not Congress or whoever is president, telling us what to do. Whether it’s fluorescent light bulbs, ‘Big Gulp’ sodas, how we run our businesses, how we choose to meet the moral obligation to help our neighbors in need, the curriculum of our children’s schools, our right to keep and bear arms, what we smoke or drink, who we can love or the terms of our health-care.

“I am in favor of liberty — that’s what ‘Libertarian’ means, favoring liberty. It’s the American way of life, but I’m afraid the principles of liberty have been largely abandoned under mainstream Republicans and Democrats. Let’s reclaim the greatness of the American system of limited government. I’ll hope you’ll join me in this campaign.”

They Said It… With Ron Paul, Antonin Scalia And More

in Liberator Online Archives by Advocates HQ Comments are off

TAXATION IS CONFISCATION: “The latest scandal in Jay LenoWashington, of course, is raising questions about the IRS. You know, I have a question. Why is it called the Internal Revenue Service? How is having your money confiscated a service?” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

SOME GOOD FROM TAX SCANDAL: “A Democratic congressman said that he worries that the IRS scandal might have a chilling effect on the IRS and that they might be afraid to audit people. So finally some good is coming out of all of this.” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

IRS’S VERY JOB IS TO VIOLATE LIBERTY:
Dr. Ron Paul“While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.” – Ron Paul, “The IRS’s Job Is To Violate Our Liberties,” Texas Straight Talk, May 20, 2013.

DON’T FUND AL-QAEDA: “We should not aid the allies of al-Qaeda in Syria, nor should we be giving weapons to radical extremists who might use them against Syria’s two million Christians.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arguing against arming Syrian rebel groups allied with Al-Qaeda. See ten-minute Senate video of Paul arguing this before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations here.

CUT GOV’T, END POVERTY: “The Feds spend almost 4 trillion dollars and most people have no clue about what to cut? Well, I have a few ideas. Who needs a Commerce Department? Commerce… just happens. The Education department? Department of Energy? Labor? Cut those too! If we cut government to the limited government the founders had in mind, poverty would become something so rare our kids would have to learn about it in history books.” — libertarian journalist John Stossel, “The Fight Over ‘Austerity,’” May 30, 2013.

Justice Antonin Scalia

SUPREME COURT SAYS NEVER MIND THAT PESKY FOURTH AMENDMENT: “The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment. … Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. …I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection. ” – Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissenting opinion in Maryland v. King, June 3, 2013. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police can collect DNA from people merely arrested, not convicted of a crime.

THE REAL PURPOSE OF GOV’T SCHOOLS: “The real purpose of public (i.e., government) schooling is to produce good little citizens who defer to the authority of the federal government. Through 12 years of regimentation within an army-lite structure, the minds of people are gradually molded from childhood to trustingly defer to the judgment of federal officials, especially when it comes to things like ‘national security.’” – Jacob G. Hornberger, President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, “An Example of Deference to Authority,” May 31, 2013.

JOBS, WHO NEEDS ‘EM: “President Obama gave the commencement address at Morehouse College over the weekend. Great speech, very inspiring. He told the young graduates their future is bright — unless, of course, they want jobs.” — Jay Leno May 21, 2013.