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Sessions Promises Crackdowns As More States Move To Legalize Cannabis

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

Sessions Promises Crackdowns As More States Move To Legalize Cannabis

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

As the former senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to make the crackdown on marijuana a priority, states like California bet on the cannabis industry instead. In the hopes that Sessions’ threats are all empty, entrepreneurs are telling themselves that the AG is just trying to act tough.

Sessions

In other states like New Hampshire, lawmakers are taking steps so that the federal government cannot use local resources to go after local marijuana businesses.

The New Hampshire State Senate has just passed a marijuana legalization bill that allows people over the age of 21 to legally possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana. The bill also allows individuals to grow up to three mature cannabis plants at home.

But despite the change to rules that impact individual users, the bill does not allow entrepreneurs to open retail locations.

This bill is different than the ones that paved the way for full legalization in Colorado, Washington, and now California, but similar to the bill that is being advanced in Vermont. In the neighboring state, the state’s House passed a legalization bill that is now waiting for a Senate vote.

In a practical way, if more bills relaxing, decriminalizing, or legalizing marijuana pass across the country, Sessions will be getting the message that the federal government’s decision to keep marijuana scheduled as an illicit drug does not matter to the individual states.

Without the states offering their own resources to go after cannabis users and retailers, the federal government’s actions are restricted. With more states saying “no” to the war on drugs, the people will be able to bring the federal government’s monopoly over personal choice finally to an end.

Moreover, federal agencies will always strive to continue to regulate our lives. Instead of worrying about who will occupy the White House next, what should matter to all of us is to see that changes are enacted locally so we can live freer lives here and now.

Why are there more guns in America than people?

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

Why are there more guns in America than people?

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

Question:

A friend asked me this question: “Why are there more guns than people?”

I have a hunch that this isn’t true. I wonder if such statistics are skewed to give support to an anti-gun position? What is your answer?

guns

Answer:

I’m not sure whether this is true or not, either. If it is, it may be because so many gun owners have more than one firearm.

Your questioner is really saying: “Something is wrong with our society because we have so many weapons.” However, the best research suggests “More Guns, Less Crime” (see John Lott Jr.’s book with that title). Even deranged shooters that fire into crowds are deterred by laws permitting law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. Rapists and burglars stay away from areas where women are publicly trained in firearms.

Once acquainted with such data, your friend may not feel that more guns are problematic.

Why Do Libertarians Often Run Away From Politics?

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

Why Do Libertarians Often Run Away From Politics?

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

In a 1998 article in The Wall Street Journal, George Melloan wrote that many “very capable persons who would make admirable public servants are turned off” by having to raise large sums of money to run for office. Spending so much time “with begging bowl in hand,” he wrote, keeps away the people who could genuinely help.

politics

Exploring this theme, economist Donald J. Boudreaux quoted Melloan and then explained that politicians do not beg for money. Instead, he wrote, they sell a very specific service. Namely, the “use of government’s coercive power to achieve for interest groups what these groups cannot or will not achieve peacefully on the market.”

This point is key to understanding politics as whole, as it showcases just how valuable the job of the politician is to the businessman, businesswoman, or any other particular member of an interest group with enough cash to buy political influence. Unfortunately, when the politician offers his future position in exchange for large donations, what he is offering is just to take part in legalized plunder while effectively reducing the freedoms of voters in general.

When we look at politics as the business of coercion, we understand its mechanisms and suddenly, what seems inexplicable becomes clear.

To politicians and those who support the concept, voluntary transactions found only in free markets are meaningless. What matters to them is to draft rules, policies, and statutes that limit other markets, picking winners and keeping entrepreneurs out of the loop. To them, consumption is a dirty word, so they will do all in their power to limit choice and with that, increase the costs of doing business to all industries under the sun.

The result? Less wealth, fewer jobs, fewer options, and more poverty.

To Boudreaux, this and many other characteristics often associated with politics necessarily disqualify the decent, honorable people who genuinely want to do good from being politicians. After all, honorable individuals couldn’t live with the idea that their salaries are paid through the confiscation of hard-earned money.

An honorable individual would also have a hard time being forced to come up with ways to reduce our freedoms even further, knowing full well that only the individual has a claim to his person and his property.

And last but not least, an honorable individual would see no use in selling influence, precisely because he or she does not see any human being as a subject to be ordered around.

As you can see, politics is a hard game for those who are not collectivists, and an even harder game for those who understand the virtues of the free market. And that is why it is a nearly impossible task to populate Washington with authentic lovers of liberty.

Oregonians Horrified That Others May Now Choose To Pump Own Gas

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

Oregonians Horrified That Others May Now Choose To Pump Own Gas

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

In Oregon, 2018 brought a new law into effect that allows state residents to pump their own gas, effectively making consumers and business owners freer to choose and to, perhaps, even pay less for fuel in the near future.

Up until now, Oregon was one of the only two states that did not allow anyone to pump their own gas. But across the country, people have already been responsible for fueling up their vehicles on their own for a long, long time. So when news regarding a rule change that allows for Oregonians to pump their own gas surfaced, locals started to lose their minds.

gas

Social media users started complaining about how dangerous the act of pumping your own gas is and how nobody should be allowed to do so, only “qualified” gas-pumping workers. Trolls promptly stepped in, mocking the fearful residents who believe that if they can’t pump their own gas then nobody else should.

While the entire ordeal was a fun one to watch as it unfolded, it goes to show that even the freedom to choose to go to an establishment where you will be allowed to pump your own gas is, sometimes, too much to some people.

Like the freedom to choose whether I want to have my hair braided by someone with a cosmetology license or my unlicensed neighbor or the freedom to choose whether I can treat my cancer with an experimental drug, the freedom to give gas stations the option to offer the “pump your own fuel” choice to its customers will scare some. But that does not mean that just because someone doesn’t like it, others can’t make their own decisions for themselves.

Hopefully, this entire debacle will help Oregonians — and others — see that freedom only exists when people are truly free to choose for themselves, even if the choices they might make may also put them in danger.

Washington To Tax Sugary Drinks, Ignore Govt’s To Blame For Obesity Epidemic

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

Washington To Tax Sugary Drinks, Ignore Govt’s To Blame For Obesity Epidemic

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

The new year has brought new government-backed rules to several states across the country. In Washington, residents are now being forced to pay extra for their sugary drinks thanks to the state’s initiative that hopes to use the new taxes to discourage consumers from drinking “unhealthy” beverages.

The new rule is already worrying Seattle store owners who believe they will be seeing a dramatic loss in income as well as an increase in expense as consumers will avoid purchasing the overly-taxed drinks.

sugaryThe new law—taking full effect this week—was approved in June but heavily criticized by everyone from consumers, store owners, and even beverage-industry workers. Still, lawmakers argued, the rule is meant to discourage people from drinking sugary drinks. Sugar, they say, is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and other maladies. But the new law says nothing about “Zero-calorie” and diet drinks, which are often tied to cardiovascular risks, are not being impacted by the new rule.

And if Washington’s lawmakers are proven right and the new tax does discourage consumers from drinking sugary beverages, they will likely end up going for diet sodas instead. On top of being detrimental to business owners and workers, the new tax will also push consumers away from a potentially dangerous drink to another potentially dangerous drink, so what’s the point?

The idea that lawmakers and bureaucrats are able to help the populace be happier, healthier, and safer with a strike of their pen is an old one, and it’s precisely why the country is currently facing an epidemic of obesity and other health issues tied to bad eating habits.

With the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies forcing an idea of a food pyramid down Americans’ throats, we were all taught to see grains and carbohydrates as the foundation of healthy eating. Unfortunately for countless Americans, this horrific assertion and irresponsible recommendation is very, very wrong.

As we now are more aware of the fact that a diet rich in carbohydrates and poor in fats will actually make you sick, we are tempted to laugh at the government, except for the reality that federal agencies and medical groups tasked with helping individuals be healthier continue to push this harmful diet down their patients’ throats.

If the state wants to help locals to be healthier, taxing a product because of its sugar content should be the last thing on their mind. Instead, they should bring an end to “official” health guides and government-backed medical advice altogether. After all, we have already learned that when it comes to healthy diet recommendations, the government has accomplished nothing but help make Americans fatter and less healthy. Are you really willing to let them dictate anything else related to what you put into your body?

Is it irresponsible for libertarians to favor marijuana legalization?

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

Is it irresponsible for libertarians to favor legalizing marijuana?

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

Question:

How can you promote the legalization of pot, and consider yourselves responsible adults?

Answer:

Don’t confuse promoting the legalization of something with the promotion of its use. That’s the trap that Prohibitionists got themselves into with alcohol earlier this century.

marijuana

After alcohol became illegal in 1920, the horrific consequences of Prohibition quickly became apparent. People died from the poisons in black market “bathtub gin.” Organized crime thrived; shootouts and turf battles endangered innocent bystanders. Police were corrupted by bribes that dwarfed their pay. The homicide rate doubled.

Consequently, many of the very people who clamored for Prohibition began lobbying for its repeal. For example, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a lifelong teetotaler and a staunch supporter of Prohibition at the start, wrote in 1932:

“When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”

After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the murder rate promptly dropped; people stopped dying from bathtub gin. Police went back to protecting the public, rather than the mob.

The lesson from Prohibition was clear: alcohol may be bad, but prohibition is worse. The same is true today with drug prohibition: the War on Drugs actually kills more people than the drugs themselves. The responsible approach is to end prohibition of marijuana and other drugs — so that we may focus our resources on helping those who are willing to trade their health for a high. Alcoholism is now treated as a medical problem, not a criminal offense; consequently, Americans are drinking less today than they did during Prohibition. If we want to end the drug problem, we must first end the even more dangerous War on Drugs.

Study Proves That US Policy Of Arming Rebels Made Us Less Safe

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

Study Proves That US Policy Of Arming Rebels Made Us Less Safe

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

During President Barack Obama’s time in office, we learned that his policy of arming Syrian rebels had done nothing but to boost and strengthen ISIS. Long before his presidential campaign, Trump criticized Obama precisely over this fact, going as far as echoing Senator Rand Paul when he said that the president sent weapons to the terrorist organization through Benghazi.

report

But what was once seen as a “conspiracy theory,” is now proven fact, vindicating countless of libertarians who often warned the public, as well as the Obama administration, that intervening in Syria would do nothing but to boost terrorist organizations.

A study carried out by Conflict Armament Research and financially backed by the European Union and German government shows that the high volume of weapons reaching rebels in the region ended up “[augmenting] the quantity and quality of weapons available to (Islamic State) forces.” All in all, the study concludes, the fact that Western powers like the United States have sent weapons to groups vowing to fight Syrian President Bashar al Assad on Syrian and Iraqi soil are now posing a threat to the same U.S.-led coalition operating against ISIS now under Trump’s watch.

Instead of helping to minimize the Islamic State’s presence and influence in the region, the official U.S. policy that has and continues to be backed by members of both major parties has done nothing but to boost a group that only destroys the region, kills, and pushes millions of Syrians and Iraqis out of their country in search of refuge elsewhere.

But as war continues to ravage through Iraq and Syria, and even as reports claim that ISIS militants have been retreating, reports discussing the real consequences of direct or indirect foreign intervention in the region are never a priority to major news outlets.

As average Americans fail to look elsewhere for their news, they are often led to believe that our war against terror, a war that was never meant to be won and that remains unwinnable, is victorious and that nothing that their government has done in the region will ever come back to haunt them. And as such, little to no outrage is seen anywhere whenever reports such as this surface. Instead, we hear a lot about a probe that has already changed its course due to lack of evidence backing initial claims, foreign boogeymen who never armed rebels fighting against the American government on American soil, and how “creepy” the Christmas decoration in the White House has become under the new administration.

It is, as we all know, all a big show. News, that is. And as the real stories of preventable tragedies get any airtime, they are often dismissed by inherently biased organizations as conspiracies.

Thankfully, Conflict Armament Research is a real organization tracking arms shipment that does not rely on the U.S. public for its funding. Otherwise, we would have never heard that we now have even more proof that taxpayer-backed intervention in Syria was never the sound option. ​

What Catalonia’s Vote for Independence Teaches Us About Democracy

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Manuel Martin 1 Comment

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

The Catalonian people voted for independence from Spain on October 1, 2017. While I personally don’t respect the arbitrary nature of democracy and the idea that others’ opinions when voting should carry weight over my life, I fully endorse the idea that a person or group of individuals should be free to associate with whomever they please. A peaceful freedom of association is how we all live our lives if someone you know doesn’t want to associate with you one doesn’t beat, shoot, or imprison them until they accept your friendship. Virtually no one acts in this manner except individuals in government.

democracy

The Catalonian people on election day were beaten by the police, dragged by their hair through the street, shot by police, and were prevented from simply exercising the freedom to associate. A Spanish judge ordered eight members of the Catalan government to be thrown in prison for expressing their opinion (voting) on whom they wish to associate with.

We must ask ourselves if this is the way a free society acts or if this is a result of democracy distorting how humans would naturally interact with each other? Furthermore, what should one’s opinion be of the police officers beating, imprisoning, and shooting individuals simply because the individuals don’t want to associate with the police officers employer (Spain)?

Let’s imagine Walmart respected their customers as equally as the Spanish government respects the people of Catalonia. Envision your family going to Walmart and after thoroughly looking through Walmart’s products you decide Walmart doesn’t have what you’re looking for, so your family votes on what to do and the consensus is to go shop at Target. Before you can leave the store, the store manager announces on the loudspeaker that no one is allowed to leave or shop elsewhere. Employees and shoppers at neighboring Walmart’s have voted and decided you must continue to shop at the Walmart you’re presently in. Any attempt to shop elsewhere will be met with the force of democratic consensus.
You decide this sounds like arbitrary rubbish and proceed to leave anyway.

Upon attempting to leave the store, Walmart security (which you’ve helped pay for through previous transactions at Walmart) meets you at the door. The security detail beats your family members, shoots at them, imprisons some and forces you to live according to the rules voted on by shoppers at other Walmart locations. Are the Walmart executives sacrificing and virtuous individuals who have the public good (as politicians often claim) in mind as they force you to shop at their store? How about the security team Walmart employs to force you to shop at their stores, would you say those men and women are of the utmost character and should be praised? Remember everything the Walmart executives and their security team is doing is backed by the democratic will of the people. Does this sound like a democratic social system which you would like to live under?

If this type of democratic social system sounds absurd and something one would never want to participate in then let’s stop making excuses for the violent actions of state actors. The scenario involving Walmart is the same as the scenario in Catalonia and Spain. The people of Catalonia (family) decided they didn’t want to associate with Spain (Walmart) and in order to protect their tax receipts (Walmart’s sales) the Spanish government used their national police (Walmart security) to shoot, beat, imprison individuals, and force the Catalonian (family) people to associate with Spain (or Walmart).

I’m sure everyone would agree the Walmart executives in this scenario should be given zero respect and forced to resign from their positions and personally pay damages to the individuals harmed. Concurrently the individuals who were part of the Walmart security team should lose their jobs and face legal justice for their violent actions. Most would agree that Walmart’s executives and their security detail members should be held liable, then why is it when the state carries out the same actions as the hypothetical scenario society turns a blind eye?

Democracy and the failed morals it represents moves men to use violence, force, and theft to maintain its existence. Free markets use customer service, quality, prices and other voluntary non-violent means. Walmart would never use guns and violence to attract and retain customers as patrons would quickly shop elsewhere forcing Walmart out of business. If democracy was so virtuous Spain (and other states) wouldn’t need guns to enforce and maintain it.

Markets by their very nature encourage peaceful transactions in order to secure customer goodwill and profits, states by their very nature use theft (taxation) and the threat of violence to secure their funding. Individuals gain power in free markets through the use of voluntary and peaceful human interactions, states gain power through involuntary and violent suppression. Free markets encourage human collaboration, democracy encourages political division. It’s time we put down the failed idea of democracy and shut the doors of the state.

Missouri May Soon Close Loophole Allowing Government-Sponsored Theft

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

Missouri May Soon Close Loophole Allowing Government-Sponsored Theft

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

Missouri state legislators are looking into putting an end to state-sponsored theft of private property by closing a loophole that allows state officials to go to the feds for the shares of profits taken in asset forfeiture cases.

Missouri

The loophole known as “Equitable Sharing” works by giving state prosecutors the ability to bypass asset forfeiture laws that keep state police from confiscating property from suspects without a conviction. This happens when prosecutors throw the cases to the feds, who then walk in, take said property, and share the “profits” with the state’s law enforcement agency.

But with House Bill 1501, this procedure might be partially outlawed.

According to The Tenth Amendment Center, the piece of legislation would ensure Missouri law enforcement agencies and prosecutors may not participate in any agreement involving the federal government in which assets are seized and then shared.

Still, the bill isn’t perfect as it still allows state officials to profit from asset forfeiture if the case involves $100,000 in cash. However, HB 1501 could help to bring an end to the abuses related to civil asset forfeiture at least in the state of Missouri simply by making requirements regarding the practice harder to go around.

While Missouri has some of the best, most restrictive forfeiture laws in the country, this addition could inspire other states to stand up to the federal government by not letting the feds use state resources to seize private property from its residents without a proper conviction.

The first state to close the Equitable Sharing loophole was California in 2016. Missouri is now attempting to join the Golden State, while others are still ages behind, allowing government-sponsored theft to prevail.

But while this is definitely a step in the right direction, it’s important to note that this law originated with prohibition, being later reintroduced as part of the broad and ineffective drug war.

By justifying the seizure (read confiscation) of property based solely on the possibility that an individual is involved in the drug trade, officials have been stealing property for decades without ever first convicting the property owners, in a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. So if we are to be honest about the practice, its roots, and its immorality, we must first look at prohibition as a whole as the very reason why the government has believed for so long that it has any claim over the citizens’ private property.

What Lives Matter?

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Manuel Martin Comments are off

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

During Thanksgiving dinner the NFL protests came into the conversation, unsurprisingly many around the table thought the players were “unpatriotic” and they should be fired. Naturally, I defended the NFL player’s freedom to not stand and mentioned that we should all support their freedom to do so. Ten minutes later the conversation went from the NFL, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, to a subject which had true significance American life vs “other” life.

Happiness

A family member of mine mentioned we should all be grateful for the troops protecting us overseas (as though a rural Afghani 8,000 miles away poses a significant threat to the U.S. population). Being used to internet meme’s mocking this idea over the last five years I was caught off guard when confronted with this passionate stance in real life (apparently I need to spend less time with Libertarians). Rather than dismiss my family member’s passion I tried to understand her point of view.

I asked her to explain to me what she thinks is the driving motive behind the terrorist actions. She didn’t have an answer, so I asked a few more questions.

I asked her how she would feel towards Mexican citizens and the Mexican government if, in an effort to stop the drug lords, Mexico had for the last 16 years been flying drones over the USA and randomly dropping bombs which could kill her, her family, friends, and other innocents? Would she feel warmth towards Mexico and respect the Mexican citizens who vote for and fund that murderous government?

In an odd act to double down on her America first philosophy, she mentioned that the civilians in the Middle East aren’t Americans so they don’t have our rights. I pointed out that those innocent civilians are no different than her, neither she nor anyone else gets to choose where they’re born. Why should a birthplace determine the value of a life?

The conversation ended with her asking “so you think they want to kill us because we’ve been killing them?” Now I can’t speak for why someone else feels the needs to kill Americans. What I can say is if foreign people were dropping bombs over my head and killing my family and friends that might be all the motivation I need to respond with “terrorism.”

In 2016 the USA dropped 26,000 bombs on the primarily Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. How much murder has the United States government dished out in the Middle East over the last 16 years? It’s hard to quantify all innocent deaths in all countries affected by the United States bombings over the last 16 years, so we’ll just look at the state of Iraq. 1.2 million (3.2% of the Iraq population) citizens have been killed as a result of the war on terror.

Using the aforementioned analogy with the Mexican government, what do you think would be the typical American response to the Mexican government killing ten million (3.2% of America’s population) innocent Americans? Do you think your average farmer, soccer mom, banker, teacher, lawyer, doctor, etc. will have a favorable opinion of Mexico and the Mexican people? Do you think out of the ten million innocent deaths there might arise 100,000 passionate Americans who will undergo a mission to terrorize the Mexican government and the Mexican people? Would you consider those Americans fighting back terrorists?

I bet the average American wouldn’t see the retributive actions towards Mexico as terrorism, rather it would be viewed as patriotism, heroism, and self-defense.
It’s time to wake up and realize that all lives matter.

Blue lives matter and so do black lives, however, a person’s life isn’t more or less valuable because of a chosen profession or skin color. Likewise, all life matters regardless of one’s birthplace. America there is a fundamental truth you need to embrace if this world is to see peace and that is “American” lives aren’t more precious than other lives. It doesn’t matter if that life has the random accident of being politically labeled an American life or not. A person cannot choose where to be born, but a people can choose where to drop bombs.

Choices matter, make the right one and let’s stop voting for politicians who see non-intervention as weakness and the murder of millions as diplomacy.

The Peaceful Transition To Stateless Societies Is Already Happening

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

The Peaceful Transition To Stateless Societies Is Already Happening

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

Libertarianism provides us with the understanding that decentralization of power works best, but only if the goal is to maximize prosperity, growth, ingenuity, and yes, peace. That’s why it’s often important to discuss forms of governance that do not involve large bureaucracies working on behalf of the “public,” an idea of homogenous unity that legitimizes power-hungry paper pushers and authoritarians alike.

stateless

In his new book, “Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations,” Tom W. Bell goes through the trouble of breaking down what an essentially market-driven type of governance would look like by putting consent (and only consent) as the bedrock of its existence. And when I say market-driven, I mean it. After all, the only environment where we see consent being the condition on which people coexist is the market.

In a free market environment, service and product providers are not forced to set up shop by a government or authority and consumers aren’t driven to consumption at the point of a gun. Instead, they come in contact, exchange, or choose not to solely by consenting to serving, consuming, or not. Unfortunately, governments do not work as such and those who happen to be born or to move within the borders of a particular nation end up being subject to the rules imposed by a few, for the benefit of a few. Consent, then, is never part of the equation.

So if examples of real-world consent-based governance are to be taken seriously, as Bell attempts to do with his book by naming foreign trade zones (FTZs), Chinese special economic zones, and SEZs as examples of market-based governance, it’s clear that there are more than a couple of arguments to be made for this type of structure. Thankfully, libertarians can now discuss the practical evidence that backs their political philosophy with gusto as we now know that yes, it’s possible for us to become stateless and to do so peacefully.

Maybe now, we will finally be able to answer the age-old question regarding roads with the obvious: It doesn’t matter because the market will be the one to decide.

What’s the truth behind “gun” violence?

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Manuel Martin Comments are off

What’s the truth behind “gun” violence?

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

The United States is an enormous territory with different cultures, geographies, histories, climates, cuisines and many other aspects which differentiates a region from its neighbors. Claiming America has a gun violence issue is an incredibly vague statement that in most parts of the country lacks zero evidence, yet in other regions might just be an understatement.

gun

When looking at numbers on a state-by-state basis homicide rates vary from 1.3 per 100,000 residents in New Hampshire, to 11.8 per 100,000 residents in Louisiana. New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, and Oregon, all of which have among the lowest homicide rates in North America, get Brady Campaign score of D-, F, F, and D+. The US has a murder per capita rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 residents, Mexico is about 16 per 100,000, despite the fact that on average Mexico has 15 guns per 100 residents and the US has 101 guns per 100 residents. Last year in St. Louis, the murder rate was 50 per 100,000 residents — more than three times Chicago’s during the same period.

What all these metrics say is laws don’t matter and the number of guns owned isn’t relevant, what matters is culture and how we choose to respect each other. Culture is why Mexico has a murder rate that is three times that of the USA, despite only have 14 percent as many guns per 100 residents. Culture is why New Hampshire has a homicide rate that is just 2.6 percent of St. Louis.

Cultures which promote human respect and the acceptance of differing values will find themselves more harmonious, prosperous and with less violence than cultures which don’t value those same principles. It’s hard to advocate respect and find peace when we are constantly trying to force our personal values on others by voting for a politician to control the actions of society. Just because one may not find value in a gun, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Peaceful and respectful individuals don’t hire mobsters, hitmen or politicians to force their personal values upon others.

In 2016 1600 people were killed with knives, yet where is the outcry for knife control? There isn’t one because most people find an everyday use for knives, knives have a universal purpose to help make our lives easier. Just as knives can be used for evil, so can guns. Our culture needs to change, some states like New Hampshire have a culture which respects life, and others like Louisiana are lacking. Laws can’t change that, only moral people leading by example can.

While I don’t love guns, others do. Now think about what you love, how would you like it if a group of individuals were trying to use politicians and police to take from you what you love? Is this a recipe for peace, a nation in a constant battle over who gets to control arbitrary laws? I think we can all agree voting every two years to control one another through the proxy of a politician is not how society will achieve peace and prosperity. Changing our culture to one which maximizes human respect and values persuasion and trade over the coercive arbitrary power of government will lead to a more prosperous, civil, and less violent society.

 

Fear Of IRS Audit Leads To Suicide

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Taxes by Alice Salles 3 Comments

Fear Of IRS Audit Leads To Suicide

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

Taxation, libertarians often say, is theft. But taxation also has other implications, causing those who are the target of the state over the suspicion of tax evasion to suffer greatly.

IRS

Lowell Hawthorne, the founder of the Golden Krust Jamaican beef patty empire, appeared to fear that the huge tax debt he allegedly had with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would destroy him. Afraid of the probe into his alleged tax evasion, Hawthorne decided to end it all, committing suicide in his own office.

The whole incident was caught on tape, with Hawthorne pulling the trigger and ending his life inside of the office of his Bronx bakery and warehouse.

According to family members, the man was “acting funny” hours before taking his own life. He had reportedly talked about the debt to the IRS with family members and was afraid of what this would mean to him and his company.

The entrepreneur launched his business in 1989, employing several relatives. In his note, the business founder and Jamaican immigrant apologized to his family. But perhaps, who should really be apologizing to his children and grandchildren is the IRS.

For many years, the United States survived without any income tax, a reality that former presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul often highlights in his speeches. But as the federal government expanded, launching the American Civil War, the need for an income tax to maintain pay for the efforts became a reality. Over time, the tax burden only grew in America, especially after the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. And while we still struggle to pay the bill for our involvement in World War I, the debt continues to grow, making the future of every single man, woman, and child in this country a little more bleak.

While Hawthorne was also being targeted in a civil lawsuit regarding labor law violations, it was the fear of what he would experience under an IRS probe that led the grandfather to shoot himself.

The stress many business owners go through during IRS audits and other probes revolving around taxes is enough to make people sick, and, as we can see, crushing enough to make someone consider suicide. So when will we admit that, perhaps, it’s time to rethink taxation in the United States?

The End Of Prohibition Started With The States

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles 1 Comment

The End Of Prohibition Started With The States

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

This week marks the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition of alcohol all across the United States.

The move was made official when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was repealed by the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. But long before this policy shift was finally embraced by the federal government, local and state governments had already not only stood to federal prohibition in theory but also embraced policies that rendered the federal government’s decision to prevent Americans from drinking alcohol useless locally.

prohibition

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the decision to defy the federal government “created the atmosphere where this repeal was inevitable.”

Long before wealthy industrialist John D. Rockefeller Jr., a former supporter of prohibition, came to realize that laws against alcohol drinking actually led to an increase in alcohol consumption, the state of Maryland had been the only state to forego passing laws that enforced prohibition locally. Due to the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, states felt compelled to pass their own laws enforcing prohibition except Maryland was never onboard.

Eventually, other states joined. New York was the first, passing legislation in 1923, but others quickly followed suit, feeling that the enforcement of prohibition required too many resources.

Talking about the federal prohibition, Maryland Senator William Cabell Bruce told Congress in the mid-1920s that while the amendment had been into effect for six years, “it can be truly said that, except to a highly qualified extent, it has never gone into practical effect at all.”

By 1925, six other states had passed their own laws, keeping local police from investigating prohibition-related infractions. And with cities growing tired of the feds meddling with their affairs, local officials were also refusing to provide aid. By 1928, 28 states had said no to aiding the feds in going after locals breaking prohibition rules.

With both individuals regularly breaking the federal law, producing alcohol in their own homes or visiting speakeasies where alcohol consumption was the norm, and state and local officials defying the feds, Congress had nothing else to do except to move toward bringing an end to the prohibition on paper, even though it had technically been dead for years in practice.

Much like what states are doing now with the drug war, nullifying marijuana prohibition locally first, the pressure built up until it was impossible for the feds to ignore that their  influence wasn’t making a dent.

Like Americans then, Americans now understand that the fight for freedom begins locally. As libertarians, we know that this creates real competition between small, local governments, giving residents more options. With more and more states joining the nullification bandwagon, everything from federal health to monetary policies are being defied locally. And hopefully, this is just the beginning of a broader movement that might eventually completely tie the hands of the federal government, allowing individual Americans to take their lives back from regulators.

 

Bothered By Trump’s Drone Use In Yemen? You’re Not Alone

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, News You Can Use, War by Alice Salles 1 Comment

Bothered By Trumps Drone Use In Yemen? You’re Not Alone

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

The United States is actively involved in the immoral and incredibly damaging Saudi military campaign in Yemen. And as millions of women and children die, the Donald Trump administration finds a way to aid Saudi Arabia by sending drones to the already devastated country.

But as Trump’s use (read abuse) of the executive branch’s drone program begins to troublesome well-meaning liberals who opposed him during the presidential campaign, one must wonder where were these same liberals with President Barack Obama also abused the drone program put in motion by President George W. Bush to kill innocent women and children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East.

Yemen

After an American teenager was killed without due process under the orders of Obama, few, if any, progressives attacked the president for it. But now that we’re effectively using our drone fleet to aid the Saudis in the further destruction of an already-war torn land, people seem to be finally getting angry at the president.

As noted by Matt Taibbi in a recent Rolling Stone article, the “ability to kill by remote control without judicial review was one of the many gifts we bequeathed to Trump prior to his inauguration.” And that’s because the powers granted to Obama were never challenged when Bush was in power, and they were certainly seldom challenged with Obama lived in the White House.

While Sen. Rand Paul stood for 13 hours in a filibuster that went down in history for targeting Obama’s drone program and its unconstitutionality, few on the left helped to elevate the debate among their own circles, allowing the president to go virtually unchallenged for most of his presidency.

Now that Trump has inherited these powers, we are once again forced to ask ourselves if the federal government isn’t simply too powerful, and if there is anything we can do to put an end to this.

As we can see, there is no way we can shrink the power of the federal government by putting another president in Trump’s or Obama’s or Bush’s place. It’s also impossible to shrink the government and its power by pushing Congress to act. The only way to actually force the government to abandon its unlawful — and immoral — activities is to actually spread liberty.

The more people understand that liberty, and not a powerful federal government, is the only framework capable of giving us the proper environment to develop both economically and morally, the faster we will stop looking at the government for all answers, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

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

Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

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

Question:

What is the libertarian view on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs? Do libertarians support tax dollars going to help our nation’s veterans with health care and other services, including disability benefits? Or is that also considered pork-barrel spending by libertarians?

economic

Answer:

In a libertarian society, military personnel would have compensation that was guaranteed by written contract. Funding these benefits wouldn’t depend upon taxation of future generations, as it is today. Instead, the benefits would be supplied by annuity-like funds that would grow over time. Thus veterans’ benefits wouldn’t become a political football.

Some libertarians do indeed support the use of tax dollars to fulfill promises to veterans, retirees, and others. Unfortunately, government has promised so much to so many that the only way these promises could actually be completely fulfilled would be to inflate the currency, which essentially imposes additional “taxes” upon us all.

Some libertarians have suggested selling off government assets, such as its 40% of the U.S. landmass, in order to attempt to fulfill these promises. I personally prefer this solution.

However, I suspect that none of us will ever see more than a fraction of what the government has promised us. The government operates a Ponzi scheme by spending today what has been promised for tomorrow. Because we, as a nation, have gone along with this Ponzi scheme, we will all eventually suffer the consequences. I fear there will be no easy way out.

Very few politicians will ever share this unpleasant truth with you, because they fear you’ll lose your faith and trust in them. However, the truth does set you free — to take another path and work to create a libertarian society!

Compassion Can Only Exist In The Market

in Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use by Alice Salles 1 Comment

Compassion Can Only Exist In The Market

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

As we approach Christmas, a holiday season ripe for the usual anti-capitalism sentiment as countless of people who celebrate the date prepare to buy presents to put under the tree, we are reminded that in times of crisis, only individuals working in a private business, where they have incentives to act responsibly so that they may also benefit themselves, will be able to meet the market’s demands.

market

In the end, no government bureaucrat can do what a simple pizza delivery man can. The story of Eric Olsen of Omaha, Nebraska, is a perfect example of this.

After Hurricane Matthew hit Florida, forcing countless of locals to be shunned from the world as communication lines were cut due to the natural disaster, Olsen knew he had to do something to make sure his 87-year-old grandmother was OK.

As he attempted to communicate with her, Olsen contacted the local police and the sheriff’s department, and yet nobody could tell him if Claire Olsen, his grandmother, was alive. After two days of agony, Olsen finally had a brilliant idea.

Instead of calling another government agency in search for help, Olsen found a local pizza place and made the call that changed everything.

“I just [finally] said, ‘I’m going to order her a pizza, and if they can deliver it, then I know she’s alive,’” Olsen told reporters.

Letting the delivery person know about his grandmother’s situation, Olsen asked the delivery person to call him when he finally delivered the pizza. So once the delivery man arrived, he put Claire in contact with her grandson.

“Police and fire couldn’t do it, but Papa John’s got there in 30 minutes and put the cellphone to her ear,” he jokingly said.

But as it turns out, the joke is really on anyone who truly believes that in a time of crisis, only governments should be trusted to act on our behalf.

When we trust the government to take on the responsibilities that truly should be our own, we also give bureaucrats and politicians powers over our own lives that should never be delegated to anyone else but ourselves.

If anything, this story goes to show that the market takes care of its consumers not because it has power over them, but because it has a responsibility to deliver, otherwise, it loses customers to competitors.

Once we all truly understand this, there will be no more need to convince anybody that a party is superior to another, and that a candidate in particular will do anything for us, as the public will finally realize politicians are not to be trusted.

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 Comments are off

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 1 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.

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