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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!

New Maine Law Shields Locals From Federal Gun Registries

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

New Maine Law Shields Locals From Federal Gun Registries

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

A new Maine law has just made the nullification of any future effort by the federal government to create countrywide gun databases more difficult to take full effect.

The Tenth Amendment Center has reported that a state law sponsored by Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican from Windham, Maine, prohibits state officials from establishing any firearms registry. Without the collection of local gun owners’ information for any purpose, the federal government is no longer capable of putting any large-scale registry of gun owners across the country together, shielding Americans from Washington, D.C.’s efforts to restrict their 2nd Amendment rights.

gun

House Bill 9 wasn’t just supported by the state legislature in Maine by Republican lawmakers. According to TAC, the effort was put forward by a bipartisan coalition, showing that, sometimes, when we act locally we are able to put traps in place that will render the federal government’s war on personal freedom and choices useless.

The bill was cleared by the House Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety by a 122-24 margin and the Senate later passed it unanimously.

As the bill was enacted, Gov. Paul LePage signed it into law on June 12. Now, in full effect, the bill prohibits state and local officials from working in any capacity to develop a registry of gun owners in the state of Maine.

As we all know, the federal government relies on information collected by local law enforcement to develop its own tracking databases. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), for instance, has a license plate tracking database that is only available because state and local law enforcement bodies collect this information. By using personal details gathered locally, the DEA is then able to have easy access to personal information from across the country without much of an effort.

By passing legislation statewide that forces officials to say no to the feds, state lawmakers are able to, one by one, nullify federal regulations that might not even be in the books yet but that could be enacted by a future administration. As a means to maximize individual freedom, this type of activism is, perhaps, one of the most effective ways of introducing libertarian principles into local politics — and one of the most effective ways of being active in politics without losing focus on what matters.

NFL Outrage: If You’re Bothered, Get The Gov’t Out Of The Sports Business

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

NFL Outrage: If You’re Bothered, Get The Gov’t Out Of The Sports Business


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

If you haven’t been completely disconnected from the world in the past few days, you may have noticed that everyone is either condemning or praising President Donald Trump for telling a crowd in Alabama that it would be nice to see an NFL owner fire any player who kneels in protest during the national anthem.

Regardless of where you stand on this subject, the reality is that the heart of this debate lies in sports and how they have become highly politicized. But this trait is anything but new. It might feel that way because the media has, for the most part, been much quicker to use anything Trump says to boost the ratings. Still, sports have been used by those making politics in America to boost the war spirit since World War I. Over time, the tradition of tying the anthem with sports in times of war expanded into a regular reminder that pride in government efforts and sports went hand in hand, at least in America.

NFL

So it’s no wonder those who feel betrayed by what the anthem represents, regardless of motives, will use such a high-profile event as a football game to show their discontent. And when a highly powerful elected official such as the president makes a strong statement against people who often embody the most American of sports, it’s also easy to see how his comments may cause divisiveness.

Still, the outrage is here because we have always allowed the U.S. government to latch its own agenda to what happens in the sports arena.

Now that the U.S. government openly invests in “paid patriotism,” spending millions of taxpayer dollars in pro-government campaigns during sports events run by the NFL — itself one of the most successful government-subsidized organizations in U.S. history — how can we claim ignorance and act as if football had, all of a sudden, become immune to government influence?

The president complains about players demonstrating against their government because football is as American as apple pie and as entangled with politics as it gets. So the solution to the outrage of the day isn’t to condemn players who refuse to stand for the anthem. The solution isn’t to complain about the president either. After all, he’s simply standing for that to which a man in his position is expected. No. The solution is to look at sports once again as a private business matter and forever untangle it from the political machine in Washington.

Unless we’re able to successfully do just that, the outrage will always be there — and the future will continue to look bleak for those of us who simply think that a game is a game and politicians should have the decency to at least handle that back to the people.

Could non-profit co-ops and “mutual aid societies” help make basic health care available for all?

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

Could non-profit co-ops and “mutual aid societies” help make basic health care available for all?

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

Question:

I think part of the problem with today’s health care system is the over-reliance on insurance companies. They are (rightfully) in the business of making money, and as a result they keep raising premiums.

care

What about the idea of competing with them by fostering the creation of non-profit insurance and/or medical co-ops? In a co-op, any profits would stay in the co-op to offset the additional cost of helping those currently lacking basic care.

Answer:

You’ve pretty much described the “mutual aid societies” that once protected Americans against medical disasters — before government regulated them out of business for the benefit of the doctors and insurance companies.

David Beito’s wonderful book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State describes them in detail.

The AMA condemned doctors that worked for a flat fee for these societies. Since the AMA controlled the licensing boards, physicians didn’t want to incur their wrath.

Even though the mutual aid societies served their members well during the Depression, insurance companies successfully lobbied for regulations requiring that mutual aid societies have large amounts of financial reserves on hand.

Thus, these effective co-op-like groups were essentially regulated out of business, putting us at the mercy of the often less efficient and less compassionate insurance companies.

The free market and human ingenuity creates amazing protection for us, but government intervention destroys it!

How could society function without government-issued IDs?

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

How could society function without government-issued IDs?

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

Question:

Without a national ID (for example, Social Security numbers or driver’s licenses) how would banks and other institutions verify your identity for their services? How could they prove, for example, your claim to ownership of a piece of property or a car? How could they know you didn’t just steal or forge a deed or title?

ID

Answer:

A government-issued ID can always be forged. Already today, a thriving underground black market exists in forged Social Security cards, passports, and driver’s licenses.

Indeed, banks are losing so much money on forged ID and identity theft that many have started fingerprinting customers. With identification information, as in so many other areas, government does a very poor job.

As you have observed, identification — proving that someone actually is who he says he is, or has the qualifications he claims — is a vital need in a market economy. Private institutions have an enormous stake in being able to quickly and accurately insure the identities of customers who, in today’s global economy, may engage in transactions around the world.

In a libertarian society, banks and other financial institutions would establish the level of identity verification they needed to protect their interests, as has been the case in the past. Such institutions would have a strong interest in creating ways of identification that would appeal to — not offend or burden or harm — their customers.

Competition would quickly create new and innovative ways to meet this demand. We would expect to see the kind of constant innovation, low cost, ease-of-use, and concern for pleasing customers that we today see in other significantly unregulated areas of our economy, such as telecommunications, computers and the Internet.

People would be free to decide for themselves if they wanted to provide information in order to work with these institutions. Governments couldn’t force individuals to carry IDs. The most innovative and customer-pleasing solutions would be the most successful.

Finally, in a libertarian society there would be no danger of governments collecting vast databases of such information, a threat to our liberty.

There is a great need for identification services that aid consumers while protecting their privacy. Only the market — not government — can provide this.

Trump Never Stopped Arming Syrian Rebels

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Trump Never Stopped Arming Syrian Rebels


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

In July, it was reported that President Donald Trump had put an end to the U.S. program providing weaponry to Syrian rebel groups hoping to oust President Bashar al-Assad. But just a few months later, a groundbreaking report showing that the U.S. Department of Defense under Trump’s watch was still funneling billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry to certain groups in Syria hit the news.

Syrian

According to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Pentagon has, so far, provided groups like the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units $2.2 billion worth of weapons.

Because of the lack of oversight, the report claims, the arms trafficking is helping to fuel an already chaotic and shadowy Eastern European arms trade, allowing these weapons to fall into the hands of pretty much anyone.

According to one of the report’s authors, Ivan Angelovski, the Pentagon “is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition.”

If the report is correct then this program has stepped into the effort that had allegedly been brought to an end by Trump, equipping the so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria who want Assad out.

While on paper weapon shipments such as the ones being run by the Pentagon must include information regarding who is the end-user, the Defense Department has decided to have the equipment transfer take place without any vetting, giving any militarized group or militia access to these weapons. That includes Syrian rebels.

So in essence, the announcement that the Trump administration actually brought the program providing the Syrian opposition with arms and supplies was nothing but an empty promise.

Still, the Pentagon disputes these claims, saying that the usage of the equipment is closely monitored and that the program’s main goal is to help forces to secure territory taken from the Islamic State. But as we know from recent history, weapons and other supporting material meant for “moderate” rebels quickly fell into the hands of Islamic State militants. As a result, U.S. taxpayer-backed programs like these not only helped to fuel the Syrian war but they also helped to create the type of humanitarian crisis that is now responsible for the massive flow of refugees running away from conflict in the Middle East.

This illustrates just how little a massive government bureaucracy like the one we have in gear truly knows about the long-term consequences of their actions. And who pays for their irresponsible efforts in the end? We do.

Bill Protecting Californians’ Personal Data Headed To Governor’s Desk

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

Bill Protecting Californians’ Personal Data Headed To Governor’s Desk

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

The state of California has just passed a bill that essentially nullifies any effort from the federal government that would force the state to collect data concerning an individual’s religion, national origin, or ethnicity.

Senate Bill 31 was authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara and it was written to prevent local or state agencies from collecting any information that could later be placed in a federal database targeting people for their religious beliefs or ethnicity. This bill was supported by local nullification activists who do not want information from California residents ending up in a national database.

data

Since the federal government often relies on states to collect this type of information for later use, this bill could help protect people who may be targeted by rogue executive administrations. In President Donald Trump’s era, this means that people who subscribe to Islam or who are from particular countries targeted by his travel ban wouldn’t be forced to share that information with any state agency. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other organizations supported the bill at the time it was introduced by saying that it served as means to create a database firewall.

But to libertarian-leaning individuals who have been working with organizations such as the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC), SB 31 also serves as a perfect example of why the nullification of federal rules within a city or state government is a battle worth fighting for.

To Brian Gonzalez, a nullification activist who has worked closely with TAC and other coalitions, the passage of SB 31 was an important step toward shielding Californians from the federal government’s power grab. Now that the bill is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, he told The Advocates for Self-Government he’s hopeful that the bill will protect Californians from participating in the federal government’s paranoia.

“Over the years, we’ve witnessed a peeling away of our civil liberties here at home,” Gonzalez said. “Indefinite detention, mass surveillance, civil asset forfeiture, etc. [The creation of a] database or registration is just another step into mass paranoia and injustice.”

By keeping the state shielded from having to comply “with federal requests for information based on race, religion, ethnicity for the purpose of creating a database/registry,” Gonzalez added, the bill doesn’t just protect Californians from the Trump administration’s plans but also other administrations that may want to target individuals over different characteristics in the future.

If anything, nullification is the most practical tool we have at our disposal to make sure the states are not cooperating with the federal government when its goal is to violate our rights. And with SB 31, this becomes even clearer.

Now, Gonzalez is alerting his friends and fellow advocates on social media that is time to contact Gov. Brown to let him know the bill has a great following and that he must sign it into law as soon as possible.

How can I make a difference in the world without money?

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

How can I make a difference in the world without money?

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

Question:

I’m a college student. I want to support libertarian and/or charitable organizations to make the world a better place. But I don’t have the money. I can barely afford to get by now. Yet I can’t just sit back and continue reading about atrocities any more. I want to make a difference. What can I do?

money

Answer:

Money is useful in trying to change the world, but by far activism is the key ingredient. Activists can show others the importance of setting things right. Those who have money instead of time will take care of the finances.

First, educate yourself on the principles of liberty. The Advocates site Libertarianism.com is a great place to start.

Second, learn how to effectively communicate those ideas. (This is a specialty of the Advocates. Each issue of the Liberator Online has communication information, and there is a wealth of similar material on powerful libertarian communication at the Advocates Web site .)

Third, find other people who share your interests. You can do this online. For instance, there are (at least) three U.S. national libertarian-oriented campus organizations:

* Students for Liberty
* Young Americans for Liberty
* Libertarian Party list of campus libertarian organizations

And there are plenty of other libertarian organizations that do local activism:

* The Libertarian Party has many local chapters across the U.S.
* The Republican Liberty Caucus is for liberty activists working in the GOP.
* Campaign for Liberty was formed after the Ron Paul presidential campaign to encourage grassroots activism.
* The International Society for Individual Liberty has links to many organizations in America and around the world that offer opportunities local activism. Click on their “Freedom Network” button at their home page.

That’s just a sampling. There are many other fine activist organizations out there, too. And there are also numerous organizations that focus on specific issues, such as the War on Drugs, gun rights, tax reduction, and so on.

(Please note, this list is for informational purposes. The Advocates is a non-profit educational organization, and does not endorse political campaigns or lobby to pass legislation.)

The people who attend these meetings can tell you what’s happening in your area. Get involved. Donate your time if you don’t have the money.

(And tell ‘em the Advocates sent you!)

Learn. Get active. Spend two or three hours a week making the world a better place instead of watching TV. You’ll feel much better afterwards!

Why Are People So Oblivious To Government’s Fiscal Follies?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why Are People So Oblivious To Government’s Fiscal Follies?


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

Two years ago, I worked on an article that looked into a California coalition attempting to raise taxes on the wealthy without offering a justification for their efforts.

oblivious

At the time, I wasn’t just trying to understand why common Californians weren’t as concerned about the budget and the gloomy state of the local government’s finances, I was also trying to understand why anybody would simply ignore budgetary concerns anywhere in the country. After all, if the state notices it has run out of your money to pay its bills, the only way it has to make ends meet is to take more from taxpayers. Shouldn’t people be worried about that?

In order to find an answer to my question, I talked to Truth in Accounting (TIA)’s Founder and President Sheila Weinberg. And while I wasn’t surprised she was as smart as I would have imagined, I was in awe of the simple answer she gave me when discussing the importance of talking about balancing the budget before trying to raise taxes.

“The way it is now,” she calmly explained, “taxpayers can’t hold their elected officials accountable because they are getting more government than they are paying taxes for.”

As simple as it may sound, I thought, the fact that people are getting “more government than they are paying for” is exactly why they are not paying attention.

If the taxpayer isn’t bothered by the amount of taxes he pays, that might be because, perhaps, he isn’t paying for as many of the agencies, programs, and regulations as he is being told. Instead, governments (both local and federal) often run on creditsborrowingfederal grants, and yes, on taxes, but mostly they are always in the red, borrowing from future generations in order to pay for yesterday’s debt.

Taxpayers don’t notice their future is in jeopardy because they believe their taxes are covering it all — except they aren’t. So when higher taxes are announced or when local officials begin to talk about bankruptcy, individuals are often oblivious to how they got there.

As the tax burden grows, under those circumstances, taxpayers who are targeted and forced through legislation to give more end up fleeing to find greener pastures elsewhere, where they get to keep more of their money. As a result, the number of taxes being collected drops and entire cities (and sometimes states) break.

And it’s precisely because the overwhelming majority of locals simply get more government than they are paying for that they often ignore the warning signs that doomsday is just around the corner.

As Maine Fights For Food Sovereignty, The Federal Government Closes In

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

As Maine Fights For Food Sovereignty, The Federal Government Closes In


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

Decentralization continues to be an important goal for many practical libertarians, and for good reason. After all, when you take the power away from a big, overbearing government body and brings it back to the hands of small communities, you allow individuals to make decisions for themselves along with their neighbors. You give autonomy back to small groups of people, keeping powerful politicians and lobbyists from having the last say on how people run their lives.

Maine

In Maine, Governor Paul LePage has just signed a Food Sovereignty Bill into law. The piece of legislation works by giving Maine towns the power to regulate local food production on their own. With this new bill, the state has essentially nullified the federal government’s monopoly on food regulations.

The first town to have enacted this type of legislation was Sedgwick, which is located in Hancock County in Maine. After passing its own law giving locals the right to produce and consume whatever food item they wish, such as meats from local plants or even raw milk (the horror!), the rest of the state followed suit. Now that the nullification fever spread across the state, others are hoping it spreads across the country.

In other states like Wyoming, similar laws also strip the federal government from its monopoly over food regulation. Unfortunately, they do not go as far as Maine’s new law.

With a law protecting the citizen’s right to sell homemade food without a license, Wyoming is one of the states that have fought for food sovereignty recently. Still, it’s only when we see states going as far as Maine that we’re reminded that battles fought locally are more likely to succeed. For libertarians, this is a message worth embracing as we often look for ways to ensure that individuals are the freest they can be regardless of who’s sent to oversee the executive branch in Washington, D.C., every four years.

Still, we must keep in mind that the federal government doesn’t let go of its powers that easily.

Unfortunately for Maine residents, the new law protecting their food rights is already being attacked by the feds.

Scheduled to go into effect in early November, the governor has urged the state government to hold a special session so they may listen to the federal government’s objections before allowing the bill to run its course.

This follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s threats regarding the state’s meat and poultry industries. If the law goes into effect as is, the USDA threatened the state’s meat to be transferred to the federal government’s inspection program. This would then defeat the bill’s purpose, giving the federal government its power to have the last word when it comes to meat and poultry products back.

Hopefully, the state will stand strong in the face of a threatening almighty federal government attempting to keep locals from making their own food-related decisions. And if that is the case, then Maine will serve as a real example of what courage looks like.

Gov’t Allows National Guard To Confiscate Locals’ Guns In Light Of Irma

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

Gov’t Allows National Guard To Confiscate Locals’ Guns In Light Of Irma


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

Following the destruction and horror caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, government officials and locals started bracing for the potential destruction that Hurricane Irma is about to bring the southeast coast. But in at least one place in particular, government officials seem to be using the hurricane as an excuse to expand the U.S. civil asset forfeiture powers.

Irma In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth Mapp gave the National Guard the OK to confiscate locals’ guns, ammunitions, explosives, and any other material that is seen as needed to respond to Irma. This move shocked conservatives nationwide. Now, many are asking since when does the seizure of private property give response teams advantages in fighting a national disaster?

If anything, those who own weapons and ammunition would feel less safe if the government were to take them away from them, especially in light of reports involving house break-ins and violence in Texas following Harvey.

Unfortunately, the practice of giving law enforcement the power to seize private property has now become so common, with one of its most staunch defenders of civil asset forfeiture serving as President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, that when this report hit the news few mainstream, left-leaning news organizations bothered to cover it.

Still, civil asset forfeiture-related practices should concern any American, regardless of political affiliations, as such actions are nothing but transfers of wealth from citizens to governments. And unlike what is going on now in the U.S. Virgin Islands, civil asset forfeiture doesn’t only hurt pro-gun rights advocates who are rightly upset at this order. The practice hurts the poor, minorities, and even students who dare to own any property.

As countless people see their money or their cars being taken away without being able to fight in court due to the prohibitive costs of such legal cases, we see few civil rights activists worried about criticizing the government now for allowing the use of a natural disaster to confiscate private property. Perhaps, that’s because many believe that guns and ammunition shouldn’t be seen as prized personal possessions, especially if they are owned by the civil population.

After all, what good could such personal items do in case something like what happened in 2005 in New Orleans happened now or if houses in the U.S. Virgin Islands were attacked like houses in Texas were? One can only wonder.

Why Government Is Responsible For Harvey

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

Why Government Is Responsible For Harvey

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

Whenever a major natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey hits the United States, many of us often wonder why is it that so many people still live in areas that are at risk of being greatly impacted. After all, why would people continue to build homes and buildings in areas that are more likely to be hit by a hurricane than others?

As you can imagine, the answer lies with the government.

Harvey

As Politico reports that the powerful home builders’ lobby was successful in killing new legislation that would have brought government-backed insurance coverage for new constructions in high-risk areas to an end prior to Harvey, it fails to explain why we have a National Flood Insurance Program in the first place. It also seems to ignore that the very existence of government-backed insurance is what created the problems we are experiencing now in Texas.

In 1968, when the NFIP was created, the program was sold as an answer to the high costs of federal disaster assistance.

But this issue could have easily been addressed if disaster relief had been allowed to be provided mainly by charities and local governments, just as it used to all across the country up to 1917.

Instead of scaling the federal government’s involvement down and giving the taxpayer a well-earned break, politicians decided to go the other way, making sure that new construction plans for risk areas would only be put into action if they were covered by the insurance program first.

But as the always insightful James Bovard wrote in 2006, the only thing this bloated U.S. government program achieved was to serve as a perverse incentive that pushed more and more companies to build in “river flood plains and coastal areas long favored by hurricanes.”

In an old ad showcasing NFIP to average Americans, FEMA told viewers then they couldn’t “replace your memories,” but they would “help you build new ones.” Instead, Bovard wrote, all that FEMA and the NFIP did was to “[induce] people to build homes in areas where their memories get swept away.”

Still, many alerted both Americans and the federal government that the program was nothing but a sham.

In 1997, a report by Idaho Statesman revealed that NFIP “[brought] more people into harm’s way” by making dangerous development “look not only possible, but attractive.”

Scott Faber, the former Senior Director for Public Policy for American Rivers and current Vice President of Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group, once said that the NFIP had essentially become a tool in the hands of powerful construction overlords against the environment.

“Prior to the 1960s, you didn’t have much development in flood-prone areas because you couldn’t find any insurer crazy enough to underwrite it,” Faber told Bovard. “But the federal government came along and said it is okay — we are going to make it financially possible for you to live in a flood plain. The effect of this has been much more dramatic in coastal areas, where we have seen a huge boom in coastal development in the last 30 years.”

Thanks to government’s involvement, we now have many more damaged properties, people being displaced, and some even being killed thanks to floods than if insurance hadn’t been subsidized by the taxpayer. And we have nobody but government to thank for it.

So when time to rebuild comes and people call for more federal government involvement, how about reminding our fellow Americans why Hurricane Harvey had such great impact in Houston, Texas, in the first place?

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