BLOGS - The Advocates for Self-Government

Home » BLOGS

TSA Proves, Once Again, That It’s Not In The Business Of Boosting Safety

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Leave a comment

TSA Proves, Once Again, That It’s Not In The Business Of Boosting Safety

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in order to reportedly maintain Americans safe after the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City. But despite the allegedly good intentions that drove the George W. Bush administration to create this arm of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency has yet to prove itself useful.

TSA

Recently, a series of undercover tests have shown that the the TSA fails to intercept passengers carrying weapons and other dangerous materials 80 percent of the time. In other tests, the agency failed even more often, reaching the staggering 95 percent failure rate.

While Congress has called the high rates of failure “disturbing,” there’s little to nothing being done to either put an end to the TSA or to address the real culprit of such lack of success. Unfortunately, government agents aren’t there because their employers expect results. Instead, the agency exists as a means to create an appearance of safety. If the methods and procedures put in place by agents work or not isn’t what matters.

If the TSA truly was meant to function as a security firm would, any failure rate greater than 1 percent would be enough for consumers making use of the service to bring their contract with the agency to an end. And that means that the TSA would have been dismantled promptly after its inception as the agency has always had a high rate of failure.

But since the TSA is but a bureaucracy, not one single official employed to secure domestic and international flights is worried about showing results. After all, they have nothing to fear. Working for the government means that little is expected of you and that the agency is going nowhere, whether it’s effective or not. Without fierce competition, monopolies always win.

And if you think the TSA isn’t a monopoly, ask yourself, how many U.S. airports have you flown to or from where security was carried out entirely by private firms?

If the answer is zero, or just one, or two, that means that the TSA has a virtual monopoly on transportation security, putting us in danger of flying with a murderer, a terrorist, or an ill-intentioned individual 80 percent of the time.

After the latest report showed the TSA failed to identify weapons and other materials 80 percent of the time, changes were ordered and investigations were initiated. But as all other efforts to “fix” the TSA before this, nothing will come out of it. The more the TSA presses to be more efficient, the more taxpayer money. And what’s worse, consumers who were once happy to go to the airport to hop on a plane now live in dread of having to face what often takes one, two, or even three hours just to get through security.

The TSA is not only there to make us think we’re safe, it’s also there to hurt businesses. While the goal may have not been such, the result is clear. It’s high time we let airports and airlines deal with their own security by looking for the free market where security firms will compete by showing results. Ignoring that the TSA is actually increasing the risk of flying in America will only make matters worse.

Who Writes The Laws That You Follow?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Leave a comment

Who Writes The Laws That You Follow?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The notion that crony capitalism is inefficient because it gives the powerful access to policymakers isn’t just a reality on the federal level. Local and state governments are also filled with lawmakers and office holders who will use their power to lend a friend — or donor — a hand.

law

One consequence of this scheme is that, all too often, policies by which we’re forced to abide are often written by industry leaders who are also political donors. As a result, they will often benefit a certain group of people while hurting another. One great example of this pernicious consequence of crony capitalism is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which was written by health industry leaders with their own gains in mind, not the health of the population.

But yet another concerning byproduct of crony capitalism is that, sometimes, the collusion with special interests is such that the very policies implemented by the governmental body in question are written by anonymous authors, allowing for those who are benefiting from such policies to be completely immune from scrutiny.

According to an investigation by the Kansas City Star, at least 90 percent of the bills signed into law in the state in the past 10 years were written by anonymous authors. That’s the majority of laws Kansas residents must follow or face the legal consequences and yet, nobody knows who wrote them.

The investigation also uncovered that the Kansas police are allowed to withhold body cam videos. And if that wasn’t enough, reporters also learned that in cases of child deaths tied to the Department for Children, officials were known to pay off parents so they would keep quiet.

While the report highlights that the fact laws are written by anonymous sources is part of the state’s transparency problem, as Kansas continues to receive failing grades when it comes to transparency, that isn’t too far from the realities of other municipalities, states, and federal agencies. Meaning that no matter how transparent a government body may be, there will always be the possibility for corruption thanks to crony capitalism.

The only real solution to this problem is to simply strip the government, whether local or federal, of their ability to implement policies that impact every single aspect of our lives.If this is the case, officials won’t be able to sell anybody access to any privileges.

If you don’t champion liberty, who will?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

If you don’t champion liberty, who will?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

The libertarian movement has my best wishes and hopes for success. I am eager to see you succeed, and I will put my money and time where my mouth is. But first I want to see proof of progress. The proof I want is seeing a steady decline in the medias ability to launch lies and propaganda.

liberty

Answer:

I once saw a reproduction of the famous painting, ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware.’ General Washington’s commanding figure, however, had been cut out, leaving his soldiers leaderless.

The caption read, “What if he had said, ‘Let some other George do it?’”

Each of us has a role to play in the quest for liberty. Our natural tendency to “let some other George do it,” and wait for the “proof” of victory, can cost us that victory.

Only you can decide how long to wait before jumping into the fray. Consider the possibility of creating the proof that you seek rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Your talents will do much to further the cause of freedom!

It’s Time To Put Property First

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Leave a comment

It’s Time To Put Property First

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The very foundation of liberty seems ever so shaky as political groups try to destroy it by attacking it on every possible front. To libertarians, this reality keeps pushing us to try and spread the message of liberty at any given chance. Still, few appear to discuss the importance of property rights. Instead, libertarians tend to get too attached to policy, whether imposed by federal or state officials.

property

In his incredible 2000 essay “Property and Liberty,” James Bovard explains that liberty cannot be seen as a viable end if we do not see property as “the guardian of all other rights.”

At some point in the history of this country, Bovard writes, members of the Supreme Court were even wise enough to declare that all rights “would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen.” And still, he argues, politicians as well as judges and political philosophers have repeatedly ignored or underplayed the value of property rights and how it is the very foundation of freedom.

When looking at the relationship between the state and the individual, it’s clear that without property rights, the individual is incapable of escaping from under the state’s thumb. By boosting, celebrating, and teaching future generations about the importance of upholding property rights is that we will be able to place a limit on government power.

In countries where governments take the focus away from the individual’s right to property, it also moves toward policies that actually limit all other rights. In places like the Soviet Union, where the “anti-social individual” who enjoyed his privacy should be promptly located and reprimanded, it’s no wonder that extensive state intervention in all affairs pertaining to life led to the end of personal freedoms, Bovard explained.

In order to maximize the state’s power, elected officials often impose policies that expand their power over the economy. The more they become involved in the country’s economy, whether by regulating commerce or dictating monetary policies, the more difficulties common residents will experience, pushing the masses to demand more government interference in their affairs as a result.

As Bovard explained in his essay, “the worse the economic system [functions], the more power government [acquires].”

Whenever libertarians find an opportunity to teach others about the importance of free, voluntary transactions among individuals and how the state has turned into one giant hurdle to freedom, we must also remind ourselves that focusing on property again is how we can go about teaching others about the foundations of liberty.

As government grows and its minions become more greedy, our freedoms are taken, one by one. And it’s precisely because we have lost respect for property protections that in places like America, we’re struggling with a government that oversees too much, restricting our lives and our limiting our prospects for the future.

It’s time to go back to the basics.

Trump’s ‘Tax Cut’ Plan Will Actually Increase Inflation

in Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Leave a comment

Trump’s ‘Tax Cut’ Plan Will Actually Increase Inflation

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Former congressman Ron Paul used his latest column to talk about how Republicans in Congress are planning on passing a tax cut plan that, unfortunately, increases one of the most insidious “taxes” Americans are forced to pay on a daily basis.

tax

While the new tax cut proposal has positive elements such as the elimination of the death tax, Paul explains that the plan also adopts what’s known as the chained consumer price index, ignoring how inflation impacts our standard of living.

To the veteran congressman and liberty educator, there isn’t a worse policy than the adoption of the chained CPI. That’s because ignoring inflation allows for the population to completely forget about the single most devastating financial policy the government has ever adopted.

With the end of the gold standard during the Richard Nixon administration, the Federal Reserve was allowed to inflate the supply of currency without having anything to back it with. With greater currency circulation (higher supply), money loses its value. That means that the earnings of Americans from all walks of life actually lose purchasing power since the value of their real wages drops as the Fed pumps the economy with cheap cash.

According to Paul, the embrace of the chained CPI means that the Donald Trump administration is telling the masses that inflation does not reduce our standard of living.

Calling inflation a tax that “may be the worst of all taxes because it is hidden and regressive,” Paul explains that, over time, the use of chained CPI to adjust tax brackets may actually increase tax rates for everyone.

If the Trump administration and Congress’ Republicans were actually serious about helping Americans by cutting their taxes, Paul argues, then making it easier for the Fed to keep pushing up inflation would be the last idea they would try to implement. And yet, here we are, contemplating a new “tax cut” plan that does just that.

During Paul’s two last runs for the presidency, his message of sound money was the one that inspired an entire generation of young Americans to become politically involved. The same people who filled up stadiums to listen to a doctor from Texas were chanting “end the fed” and telling friends and family members just how immoral the Federal Reserve’s policies had been since its inception. In 2017, the Fed and its policy of increasing the supply of cash are simply not being pursued by anybody who seems even remotely concerned about U.S. politics.

Unfortunately, financial policies pursued by Washington are some of the most destructive, as they impact our lives in a very direct way.

Is it time to start talking about the Fed again?

Can people today handle freedom?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Can people today handle freedom?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

While I agree with the fundamentals of libertarianism, I am afraid that, at this stage of the human evolutionary process, most people couldn’t handle complete freedom. How many people do you know who, when about to take a specific action, would stop and think whether or not their action would have an undesirable result for someone else?

freedom

Answer:

People think about how their actions affect others when they themselves experience the fallout. Libertarianism creates this link when those who harm others must make full restitution.

Today, criminals are seldom caught because so much policing is focused on victimless crimes. Today, criminals go free after stealing, raping, and killing so that peaceful pot smokers can get mandatory minimums. Today, the military is our number one polluter, literally getting away with murder because of sovereign immunity.

Without more freedom and responsibility (libertarianism), we will move more slowly along our evolutionary path!

Lawmakers Want To Collect Personal Information From Students Nationwide

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Lawmakers Want To Collect Personal Information From Students Nationwide

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Congress may be inching closer to turning the United States into a full surveillance state with a new national student database bill. Now, federalist and 10th Amendment advocates are urging liberty-loving advocates to step up and fight the government’s attempted power grab.

In 2005, the George W. Bush administration proposed a federal student record system that would allow the Department of Education to request large amounts of information from post-secondary students, having the data stored in educational databases. But in 2008, the Higher Education Act of 2008 made this move illegal.

information

Recently, the ACLU, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, and Parents Across America came together to urge the Federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking to bring an idea of pushing for a nationwide database of students down. In a letter, advocates urged officials to keep in mind that allowing the federal government to have a database with so much personal information would expose students’ privacy to a great deal of risk as abuse would be hard to prevent.

Currently, information on K-12 students is already gathered by state departments. Eventually, this data could be gathered by the federal government as states do not protect their students’ data from federal government abuse.

Unfortunately, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C., are looking into bringing the 2008 ban to an end, and if they succeed, they will be able to give the feds full control over personal information on millions of students.

Advocates for less federal government control are urging residents of varied states to act now to pass laws that would protect their students’ data ahead of any federal push for a nationwide database. Hopefully, states will begin to push back as to ensure that their resources cannot be used to enforce any unconstitutional push for less privacy.

Simply put, working locally to push for protections that would ensure state students and their data are protected from abuse is an easier task than going straight to the federal government for help. Still, the work isn’t an easy one. And unless advocates are dedicated to the cause, the results won’t be fruitful.

Real Estate Developer’s Crony Relationship With NY Mayor Revealed

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Real Estate Developer’s Crony Relationship With NY Mayor Revealed

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Crony capitalism has long been the driving force behind political shifts in the United States. And while that is usually accepted as an undeniable truth by most, many fail to see crony capitalism on city and state levels as a serious problem.

Recently, real estate developer and political donor-gone-rogue Jona Rechnitz offered testimony before the Manhattan federal court that shed some light on the quid pro quo relationship between businesses and local governments.

After having a New York City Mayor de Blasio operative contact him and ask him for a $102,000 donation so that Senate Democrats would get a boost in their efforts to remain in office, Rechnitz first refused, precisely because he wasn’t getting the favors from the city he had been after.

crony

“All you do is you come here when you need money,” he told the operative.

Rechnitz had been slapped with a series of violations due to the city’s change of policy regarding subletting rooms and whole apartments at the popular lodging app Airbnb.

While Rechnitz had paid the fines, he was still looking for a way to talk to the Housing Department directly to explain why the violations were unfair. And while he had contacted de Blasio’s office to make the meeting happen in the past, he had been ignored.

He also wanted to fast track the process to sell a home that belonged to his friend, and the city was allegedly not helping.

But as soon as he refused to give the mayor any money, things began to change. As a result, Rechnitz made the contribution requested of him. De Blasio even called him in person to thank him and to let him know that the contribution meant a great deal.

In no time, Rechnitz had reportedly gotten a meeting with the city to discuss the Airbnb issue. He also got the answers he needed on the property deal he was trying to make, all thanks to the money he “invested” and the subsequent bribes he allegedly carried out so that friends would invest millions in union pension funds.

Still, the mayor’s spokesperson has denied Rechnitz’s accusations. But regardless of what officials say, we know for a fact that when someone like Rechnitz says he “owns” a politician, it might as well be true.

Men of means who are willing to do anything to bring down competition will do all in their power to have a good relationship with elected officials. Not because that’s in their nature, but because government’s very involvement in businesses through regulation allows for companies and individual businessmen with the cash to pay to keep competitors at bay by influencing policy.

And it’s thanks to this reality that governments will often pass laws implementing policies that often benefit big, powerful companies while hurting small competitors who are still trying to enter the market. That’s how large companies become bigger and stronger, while competitors have a harder time even getting started.

Who loses in the end? The consumer.

Alabama Moves To Get Government Out Of Marriage

in Liberator Online, Marriage and Family, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Alabama Moves To Get Government Out Of Marriage

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

We have all heard about the importance of fighting for equality before the law when it comes to the same-sex marriage debate. What many of us haven’t seen much is political activists wanting to diminish, not enlarge, the presence of the state in the private lives of couples everywhere, whether they are gay or straight.

Fortunately, many local advocates saw the push for the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country as a good opportunity to remind folks of all walks of life that the more government is involved in our personal affairs, the more unjust their policies become.

marriage

In Alabama, a bill that abolishes locals’ need for marriage licenses has been prefiled.

Senate Bill 13’s wording would ensure that all requirements to obtain marriage licenses in the state would be stricken down, allowing for civil judges to record civil contracts of marriage with the help of signed affidavits instead.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, these judges would not have the authority to reject a marriage recording, making it completely up to the two people who are tying the knot to go on with their plan without fear that the state would stand in the way.

While the proposed legislation would still maintain some other state requirements such as prohibiting marriage between people who are related by blood or adoption, keeping minors between the ages of 16 and 18 from marrying without their parents’ consent, and not allowing judges to record the marriage if one or both parties are already married, this bill would effectively put an end to the state’s power over marriage as a couple would not have to go to the local government to ask permission to marry the person of their choosing first.

Because government became involved in marriages, prejudice became the law. As a matter of fact, state marriage licenses were only implemented because government officials wanted to find a way to prevent interracial marriages.

Over time, these same tools were used to keep same-sex couples from officializing their union as well.

Currently, this bill would help to reduce the state’s involvement in marriage altogether, helping to defy the federal government’s rules and providing locals with more freedom, which may be a reason for many to move to the state if the bill passes.

Hopefully, the bill, which will only be officially introduced on Jan. 8, 2018, will find strong supporters in both chambers of state legislature so that it may be signed into law in the near future.

How could theater and the arts survive without government funding?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

How could theater and the arts survive without government funding?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

I consider myself ideally a philosophical (and political) libertarian already, even though I’m only 15 years old. However, I have a passion for theater and the arts. What would happen if we eliminated funding for the arts? How would theater and the arts survive if it weren’t funded and supported by the government?

arts

Answer:

In a libertarian society, the theater and the arts would be supported through private patronage. However, such a society would be much wealthier than we are today (see my book, Healing Our World, available from the Advocates (2003 edition) or as a free download (1992 edition) at Ruwart.com for details). The wealthier the society, the more it spends on the arts. Consequently, the arts should flourish in a libertarian society.

Heavily Regulated Cities Are Unaffordable Cities

in Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Heavily Regulated Cities Are Unaffordable Cities

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Living in one of America’s largest cities isn’t for the faint of heart, and not only because of all the noise, crime, and yes, smell.

When it comes to finding suitable housing in big cities, the reality quickly kicks in as most of us would be incapable of affording to buy a home in some of the country’s population hubs such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City. While this has been a reality for quite some time, the deadly combination of higher demand and low supply caused by government intervention has made it particularly difficult for anyone to be able to afford to buy a home at these particular locations.

cities

Things have gotten so bad that nowadays, the average person in New York City must work 113.5 hours to pay a month’s worth of mortgage. With an average listing of $798,0000, NYC is the top most expensive city in the country to own a home, but not the only expensive place to live.

In Los Angeles, which comes in second, the average house listing is not too far from NYC at $748,000. The average Angeleno, however, must work 112.4 hours per month to afford a mortgage.

In Miami, the average local must work about 109.4 hours to pay a month’s worth of mortgage while in San Francisco, where the average income is higher than most of the previously mentioned cities, the common local must work 106.7 hours to pay for a month’s worth of mortgage, which isn’t cheap — the median listing in the Golden City is $1,150,000.
Unfortunately, this problem has become a reality not only for the top most expensive cities but for residents of all major urban centers across the country as well. And not because these cities are incapable of providing housing to those who are willing to do anything to stay and work, but because suffocating zoning laws have made it impossible for builders to build, pushing poor people into segregated areas and, as a result, creating privileged neighborhoods that only exist because of government intervention.

With rules that keep landlords from raising rent or that penalize them for kicking out renters who do not keep up with their bills, as well as the implementation of rules that force housing developers to produce low-cost apartments in luxury buildings, rent and cost of purchasing homes actually goes up for everyone in the process, these regulations and others have only one consequence: to jack up the price of housing across the board.

As local governments then step in to remedy the problem by passing more regulations, the results remain the same and the cost of housing goes up once again. Forcing while working and middle-class folks to live farther, and farther away, thus increasing the cost of working in these big cities, which then translate into fewer good-paying jobs.

Cody Wilson Develops New Metal Ghost Gun, Defying Regulators

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

 Cody Wilson Develops New Metal Ghost Gun, Defying Regulators

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Cody Wilson, the heroic designer of the world’s first 3-D printed gun, has now created something that will surely defy any and all existing gun legislations: An entirely untraceable metal handgun.

gun

While the federal government has yet to pass a legislation against homemade firearms without serial numbers, otherwise known as ghost guns, the state of California has already passed legislation outlawing these firearms.

According to Wilson’s gun rights advocacy group, Defense Distributed, the new software designed to be used with the group’s ghost gun machine gives anybody the ability to carve out the untraceable bodies of AR-15s from unfinished pieces of aluminum. The software also allows for the production of M1911 handguns, giving anybody the chance of owning an untraceable gun.

In the near future, Wilson said, his group will be following up with software that produces Glocks — all regulation-free.

By giving individuals the ability to produce their own guns, Wilson gives them the freedom to defend themselves without having to ask government for permission.

But in times of major lethal attack, the fearmongering rhetoric spewed by politicians on both sides of the isle ignites major political and popular campaigns that call for more restrictions on gun ownership.

With access to technology like the one being made available by Wilson, Americans everywhere won’t have to fear what legislators will come up with next — and that’s what a market response looks like.

When government officials tell us that only bureaucrats have the answer to our questions and we go along with it, we are at their mercy, incapable of answering for ourselves. Whether you agree with what Wilson does or not, you must admit that he has given individuals a way out, just like competitors do the same in an open market by offering better, more efficient, and more convenient products by taking into consideration the consumer’s needs.

When looking into what we prefer, a world overly regulated by bureaucrats who function by restricting and raising roadblocks or a free market where individuals and companies work to serve one another in a better way every day, it’s clear that the latter option will always produce better results.

Are smokers infringing on your rights?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Drugs, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Are smokers infringing on your rights?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

I disagree with your recent column on smoking. Why is it up to the non-smoker to choose a smoke-free work environment or restaurant? Isn’t this a case where a person’s right to swing their arms (i.e., smoking) ends with the next person’s nose (potential health risks and fouling the clothing of non-smokers)? Isn’t it the smokers who are infringing on my right to be free of their smoke?

smokers

Answer:

I, too, am a non-smoker who appreciates a smoke-free environment, so I know exactly where you are coming from.

Libertarians don’t support government-mandated smoking bans in restaurants and bars, because these restaurants and bars are the property of the owners, not the patrons or the government. Only the owners of these establishments have the right to determine whether smoking will be permitted.

Similarly, libertarians wouldn’t outlaw smoking in residences so that non-smoking visitors wouldn’t have to breathe the smoke of their hosts. In both cases, the owners decide what type of environment that they will invest in; patrons and visitors are free to decide if they wish to expose themselves to that environment.

Of course, “public” (government-owned) property, like courthouses and municipal buildings, poses special problems, because the “owners” (supposedly the entire citizenry, which include smokers and non-smokers), are unlikely to agree on whether or not to ban smoking there. So settling such disagreements is almost impossible. Such dilemmas support the libertarian notion that all property (or at the very least, as much as possible) should be private, and such decisions left to the owners. Clearly-defined property rights solve many, many problems!

LAPD’s Drone Program Is A Threat To Liberty

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

LAPD’s Drone Program Is A Threat To Liberty

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Going against privacy advocates all across the district, the Los Angeles Police Department just approved a drone program that should initially last for one year, but that could end up benefiting officials elsewhere who are looking into expanding their own surveillance programs.

drone

This move makes L.A. the largest city in the country to have embraced this type of policy and the first to openly ditch the need for a warrant while doing so.

While the LAPD swears the new program will only be used in “tactical situations, searches or natural disasters,” the use of the technology can be allowed to proceed with the OK of a “high-ranking officer,” meaning that cops may end up employing the use of drones even if they don’t fall under one of the categories mentioned previously. Without a legal framework with safeguards that allow for the persecution of officers who abuse their power, the program’s rules are sure to be broken. As a result, the privacy of Los Angeles residents is in jeopardy.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California has criticized the program, reminding the LAPD that LA residents aren’t adequately protected by the agency’s new rules. The ACLU also reminded officials that the plan to allow officers to make use of drones does not take into account public opposition to the program.

Unfortunately, the LAPD has a history of introducing enforcement programs that end up being implemented all across the country, such as the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, which were first widely used by the LAPD in the 1960s during the racially charged Watts Riots.

By implementing military-style raids using military grade equipment and tactics, the LAPD helped to kickstart the long-lasting process that has transformed our local police departments and that is often referred to as police militarization. With the implementation of the drone program, which is run entirely by the police department and without any oversight, we can make a prediction that other local police departments will follow suit. As such, we will end up with a local police force that is both fully militarized and fully equipped for total surveillance powers that will serve as an example to others.

When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the federal government’s use of questionable surveillance programs to spy on common Americans, many libertarians felt that for the first time, the country was truly concerned about privacy. But despite the advocacy of so many groups standing against giving the government massive surveillance powers, what we’re seeing with this new LAPD program is that a lot must still be done if we want to change policy effectively.

ACLU Could Soon Turn Its Back On Free Speech Over Politics

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

ACLU Could Soon Turn Its Back On Free Speech Over Politics

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Recently, Reason Magazine reported that staffers at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has a long history of defending freedom of speech rights, signed an open letter defending speech restrictions.

Claiming the organization’s stance is “rigid,” the group of staffers say that the advancement of racial justice is undermined by ACLU’s decades of putting principle before politics.

ACLU

While the Reason report also notes that conservative New York Times writers have also twisted their principles in an article calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment, what is perhaps truly shocking is that ACLU’s staffers are openly criticizing the organization’s history of freedom of speech, urging leadership to put politics before their long-held views.

To most libertarians, the very notion that principles are the foundations for a sound political philosophy is quite clear. But to those who subscribe to different political views, principles are seldom discussed.

Too often, party politics will change depending on the times. And, as volatile as parties can be, so are those who follow them. When you put principle over everything else, you have a compass by which you can live by, a moral guide that will help you decide whether you agree or disagree with a particular stance and not by simply listening and following partisans but by using your intellect and by measuring the problem at hand against your personal set of principles.

When such a well-established organization such as the ACLU begins to lose its principles, it also loses its effectiveness at being just.

While the ACLU has been engaged in cases in the past that go against property rights, it’s always been clear that when it comes to pro-freedom of speech legal activism, ACLU has always been at the top of the food chain. Once it loses its moral compass, it will also lose its effectiveness as it will lose many followers and supporters who always admired the group’s principled stance.

As individuals, we have a great deal of freedom when it comes to formulating and following our own set of principles. Still, many of us will settle with following whatever their friends, family, or party of choice believe. Learning more about libertarianism and about politics and political philosophies as a whole can give you the certainty that you’re not just following a trend, you’re actually formulating your own set of principles and checking your biases against them on a regular basis.

That’s why it would be a great loss if the ACLU does go along with the group of staffers who are now calling for an end to principle over politics. If anything, this change would inspire others to do the same.

 

Is libertarianism a combination of liberal and conservative ideas?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Conservatism, Liberalism, Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Is libertarianism a combination of liberal and conservative ideas?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

I have been on a political “soul search” lately. Someone suggested I take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. I ended up scoring as a libertarian. I have been told that libertarianism is a combination of liberal and conservative ideas. Is that correct?

Answer:

Not really. Here’s a clearer explanation. Conservatives tend to prefer individual choice over government control in many economic issues, much (but not all) of the time. Liberals tend to prefer individual choice over government control in many (but not all) personal issues. Conservatives generally prefer a strong role for government in controlling and restricting individual lifestyle choices; liberals favor a strong role for government in controlling and restricting individual economic choices.

Libertarians, in sharp contrast, believe in freedom in both areas. Libertarians believe that individuals should always be free to make their own choices, as long as they don’t assault others, steal from them, defraud them, or harm their property. Libertarians want you to be free to choose; conservatives and liberals want to control you in some areas and give you limited freedom in others.

Libertarians honor their neighbor’s choice; conservatives and liberals want to use the government to take some of those choices away.

New Jersey Patients Wait Months For Permission To Use Cannabis

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

New Jersey Patients Wait Months For Permission To Use Cannabis

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. At least that’s what they say.

When it comes to bureaucrats, all they know is to further complicate matters, turning simple tasks that could be easily accomplished in a short period into huge, complex processes filled with hurdles. So when we allow governments to run our lives, we are giving bureaucrats the power to complicate it.

marijuana

When the policy in question involves drugs that could save our lives, complicating the process in which we must take part to obtain said drugs could mean pain, suffering, and health complications.

In New Jersey, where a 9-year-old medical marijuana law has yet to be updated, patients hoping to have access to cannabis for treatment have been patiently waiting for regulators to follow the recommendations a state health panel made 5 months ago.

At the time, the panel urged regulators to expand the list of conditions that may be treated with cannabis, adding autism, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, chronic pain, migraines, and others.

But long before the health panel got together to make this recommendation, dozens of patients submitted petitions. Then, the panel met to review the case during three different hearings. During these hearings, the same patients who filed the petitions pleaded with officials for the freedom to choose what they will put in their own bodies in order to treat or soothe their ailments.

But even after all of this hard work and long months of wait, the New Jersey Department of Health does not seem to ready to embrace the changes.

Instead, officials are now saying that yet another must be held. After that and if the panel agrees that the changes must be adopted, the health commissioner will be able to sit on his hands for another six months if he so wishes before he decides whether he should adopt the panel’s recommendation.

Imagine that, waiting over a whole year just for the state’s permission so you may treat your illness the best way you see fit.

Being willing to try different treatments and drugs to help you manage or heal a certain health condition should be the patient’s decision alone. Precisely because government officials can’t possibly know what’s best for you or for me, giving him the power to tell us what we can and cannot put in our own bodies is ineffective — to say the least.

So while New Jersey patients suffer and wait for the state to listen to their plea, we hope that more states join the nullification revolution, going the opposite way of New Jersey by simply decriminalizing the use substances like cannabis so neither the federal nor the state governments are able to dictate who gets to use the substance for their health benefits and who doesn’t.

 

Maryland Nullifies FDA’s Control Over Experimental Treatments

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Maryland Nullifies FDA’s Control Over Experimental Treatments

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Maryland residents have just been allowed to choose whether they will become involved in experimental treatments that would have otherwise been blocked by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A new “right to try” legislation just went into full effect in the Old Line State, effectively nullifying the FDA’s monopoly on drug treatments.

FDA's

House Bill 584 was sponsored by Maryland’s Karen Young, a Democrat, and counted with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as co-sponsors. The law allows for terminally ill patients to have access to experimental drugs and treatments that may not have been approved for use by the FDA.

With HB 584 now fully enacted, Maryland lawmakers were able to effectively nullify the federal control on life-saving drugs.

Much like the drug war, the FDA’s control over which drugs terminal patients are allowed to use or not goes against a fundamental right: The right to self-ownership.

If an individual has the ability to make his or her own decisions regarding their own life, they should also have the right to choose which drugs they will put in their bodies.

What regulations and drug laws do is to simply make it more difficult for researchers to look into said drugs and treatment. By keeping researchers from progressing, regulators and lawmakers are keeping people from having access to information regarding these drugs that could be saving their lives.

We have seen an incredible shift in how researchers use cannabis and how many individuals have been able to use legal cannabis to treat their illnesses after states started nullifying the federal drug war against weed. With states like Maryland enacting other pieces of legislation that give the terminally ill access to more choices, states are fighting on the drug war by targeting the federal government’s prohibitionist laws and the federal regulators’ control over who gets what treatment.

By controlling which drugs are allowed and which aren’t, the FDA dictates who lives and who dies. It’s because the FDA will rather see someone in their deathbed perish instead of giving them the option to try different and experimental treatments that passing these right to try pieces of legislation are so important and yes, urgent.

Now Is The Wrong Time For More Gun Control

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Now Is The Wrong Time For More Gun Control

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The horrific and heartbreaking mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, has already sparked calls for more gun control legislation. Still, on the aftermath of such incidents, the number of Americans running to gun stores to purchase firearms always increases, showing that regardless of whether public figures, news reporters, or progressive politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to think, most Americans put their own well-being and self-defense rights before politics.

gun

While it’s impossible to discuss the tragic killings of dozens in an attack that left more than 500 injured simply because the details regarding the attacker are still being investigated, we must always remember that it’s in times of crisis that politicians will try to tell us they know how to make it all better.

Whether Republican or Democrat, elected officials, and hopeful candidates will go over their talking points in times of tragedy, telling us that their solution will work this time, all we have to do is to trust them.

New legislation, they say, will help remedy this situation by cracking down on gun owners, or individuals with health issues, or gun salesmen. But while these pieces of legislation target everyone under the sun, they fail to target bureaucrats with guns.

These politicians often ignore the countless instances of abuse involving law enforcement agents, government security agents, and members of other agencies tasked with border securitydrug law enforcement, and even surveillance.

Their guns are never at risk.

When it comes to allowing government to oversee all aspects of an individual’s life, the consequences are usually disproportionate.

Government will create rules that hurt good people while giving law enforcement little to no incentives to go after the real bad guys. That’s precisely what happens when gun control laws are enacted.

When rules are applied to gun purchases, delaying the gun purchasing process, the law-abiding citizen has to prove his innocence before being able to take that gun home. To criminals, all that it takes is the willingness to steal a gun or a weapon to commit a crime. No background checks necessary.

In the case of mass shootings involving distraught individuals, many were able to obtain their guns legally and yet, no background check was able to detect any issues that could have led authorities to believe that these individuals were going to eventually turn into mass murderers.

With the media feeding the fear surrounding these instances of mass shootings and using heavy anti-gun rhetoric, those who do not feel either represented or protected by government officials become anxious. So instead of feeding into this fear and paranoia, how about understanding that, ultimately, it’s up to the individual whether he decides to purchase a gun for personal safety or other ends, and realize that the government should have no say as to what property one has the right to have access to. Just like it doesn’t have a moral reason to tell an individual whether he can or cannot use a substance such as cannabis on his own body.

Are libertarians aware of safety concerns regarding legal marijuana?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Drugs, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Are libertarians aware of safety concerns regarding legal marijuana?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

I think libertarians are wrong to support legal marijuana. Do you really think it wise to smoke pot and work with machinery, cars, trains, planes, or motorcycles, or weapons? Do you want to risk your child’s bus ride to school, or a field trip, after the driver has smoked pot? Or do you want the captain of your plane to smoke pot prior to your trip to Bermuda?

marijuana

Answer:

Libertarians agree with you that no one should drive or operate machinery or engage in similar behavior while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Further, libertarians believe that employers have the right to require their employees to take performance tests or drug tests, and fire them if they take anything — even prescription medication — that imperils their coworkers or customers.

However, why shouldn’t someone be free to smoke pot, drink alcohol, or use other substances, in the privacy of their own home? If there is no harm to others, there is no foul.

One could legitimately argue that the use of marijuana and other currently-illegal drugs may harm some users’ long term health. However, the same is true of many, many substances that are completely legal, ranging from alcohol and tobacco to fat, salt, sugar, and so on. Chronic overeating is especially damaging, yet having our calorie consumption regulated by the “Twinkie police” would be prohibitively expensive and invasive as well as outrageous.

We all make choices everyday that compromise our health. People die every year in sporting accidents, but the idea of prohibiting skiing, skydiving, and scuba seems ridiculous. Some people have higher thresholds for risks, and take chances that other people would not. That’s their right — as long as they don’t endanger others.

Living is dangerous and death is just a matter of time. We may want to spend life enjoying it as we see fit, rather than trying to prohibit others from doing so!

Page 1 of 4512345...102030...Last »