WE Will Build the Roads
I’m trying something new with the From Me to You column this week, and I’d love to get your feedback on it. Please send me an e-mail to let me know if you like this, hate this, or even if you’re indifferent.
I’m trying something new with the From Me to You column this week, and I’d love to get your feedback on it. Please send me an e-mail to let me know if you like this, hate this, or even if you’re indifferent.
William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It is known for the themes of marriage, forgiveness and love. However, upon closer examination, it can also be read as a tale of people fighting the wrongs of Big Government, while pursuing self-government.
First, we have to look at what it means to “self-govern.” We give this our own meaning every day when we make decisions independent from the government. Self-Governing means that you decide how to live and are responsible for your own actions and choices.
In As You Like It, there are two opposing sides in a warring family, Duke Senior, who represents self-government and peace, and the other being Duke Frederick who represents Big Government and violence.
The major motif within the play is a family divided. Duke Senior has been usurped by his brother and banished from the kingdom, while Duke Frederick remains and banishes other members of Duke Senior’s family.
Duke Senior flees to The Forest of Arden where he lives a very minimalist life, among the shepherds who live very pastoral lives. The forest serves as a place of freedom and refuge from the evils of courtly life. The idea of the forest in literature, and especially in this play, is that it is the antithesis of civilization. The forest is the one place that man has not yet touched and made corrupt.
Living in the forest, Duke Senior builds a life for himself, finds other lords who have also left the court, and pursues a freedom in the forest. They operate completely separately from the Big Government that is back at the court, and they are happy.
As we are well aware, Big Government always tries to intervene. Rare contributor Bonnie Kristian wrote an interesting article about how even the smallest examples of government interference should concern us.
Even during Shakespeare’s time, there is government overreach. Duke Frederick and his posse go after Duke Senior. However, along the way he meets a priest who convinces him to lead a peace-loving life away from the court. Self-government, for the win!
If self-government worked in the Shakespearean era, with practice, it can work today, several hundred years later.
Most importantly, are you putting self-government into practice in your daily life?
For the last ten months, Spain has had no official government in place. And apparently, Spaniards couldn’t be happier.
It all began when neither of Spain’s major parties was able to secure a majority of seats in the national legislature. Since these parties are also unable to agree on a coalition government out of disdain for their opponents, the country of 47 million people is being left with a caretaker government instead of an officially elected body.
According to the New York times, locals are glad.
To Félix Pastor, a local language teacher, the situation has produced positive outcomes. After all, “no government, no thieves.” Ana Cancela, a civil servant, agrees. She adds that “[w]e already knew that politicians were corrupt, but now we also see that they can’t even make politics work.”
As Spain dealt with corruption and scandal throughout the last two administrations, the current situation is being welcomed by those who believe that powerful politicians do less harm when left out of power.
For the past 300 days, basic government services have continued to be funded, but in the meantime, no new legislation is being considered and infrastructure and other government-run projects are frozen. And, unlike pessimistic predictions, things are actually getting better, with interest and energy rates staying low, and the economic growth forecast showing a 2.9 percent increase by the end of 2016. According to the New York Times, that’s twice the 1.6 percent average for the eurozone expected by the European Commission.
According to the Mises Institute, this period has been important for Spaniards. Now, they are finally able to get a taste of how resilient a society can be when left alone, without the paternalistic presence of a higher body regulating every aspect of people’s lives.
Instead of chaos, the absence of a centralized power gave Spaniards economic growth, a strong tourism industry, and a safe haven for consumers, who are expected to reach Spanish shores in droves.
To libertarians, this experience should be celebrated — and shared — widely. Not just because Spain has been surviving remarkably well without a government in place, but because common Spaniards are also celebrating the current situation, instead of giving in to fear.
While campaigning for president, then Senator Barack Obama claimed that the federal government should not use its resources to prosecute marijuana providers in states where the substance was legalized for medical use. But after promising to put an end to the previous administration’s raids on medical pot providers, the current administration went on a witch hunt, cracking down on medical cannabis providers so aggressively that it managed to outdo the George W. Bush’s administration’s war on pot.
Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 25 states in America, but according to the FBI, 2015 saw 574,641 marijuana-related arrests, resulting in one pot arrest every 49 seconds. In nine out of ten cases, the arrests were carried out for possession, not production or distribution.
Accounting for 38.6 percent of the 1.5 million drug-related arrests in 2015, marijuana arrests happened more frequently than other drug-related arrests.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), only 19.9 percent of 2015 drug arrests were tied to heroin, and only 5.1 percent were tied to synthetic or manufactured drugs.
While the rate of marijuana-related arrests is still high, arrests have dropped 2.3 percent when compared to the data available 15 years ago, when 734,497 Americans were arrested “for marijuana offenses of which 646,042 (40.9 percent) were for possession alone,” the FBI reported.
Each year, taxpayers have to come up with $3.6 billion to enforce marijuana possession-related laws. And yet, ACLU reports, the drug war continues to be a failure.
Among many marijuana legalization advocates, the fact many states are gearing up to vote on recreational marijuana legalization is a major step forward. Nevertheless, the federal government is still reluctant to embrace the new trend, keeping marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance.
To Mises Institute’s Ryan McMaken, “state-level nullification efforts in the US within Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and Alaska, have weakened the US’s ability to insist on prohibition,” allowing other states and foreign governments to begin looking at marijuana-related laws under a different light. Prior to this major state-level movement to legalize marijuana locally, the US government’s drug war had been the major igniting force behind the drug wars across other countries in the continent. As more states embrace freedom, the federal government — as well as other governments — may finally begin looking at legalization as a feasible policy.
Until then, however, the US involvement with the United Nations may help to slow down the worldwide legalization trend, mainly because of the UN’s 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which legitimizes the US drug war.
It’s 2016. We are 40 days from the Presidential election.
So, how did we get here?
As a country, we’ve abandoned hope, we’ve given in to fear, and we’re seemingly okay with it all.
A long time ago, the ideals of the American Dream went away. They were replaced by people “knowing what’s better.” They promised to fix the ills of society by giving them the ability to plan what you and I do.
As with any social change, it began with something small, limiting an act in the interest of “common sense,” or “safety,” or “the future.” Once empowered, they used fear to drive public opinion to their side, limiting more and more freedom. Those limits preserve power and control.
With each step “forward,” a little bit of freedom was lost. With each act by government, at the federal, state, and local levels, we lost a bit of the American ideal.
We’ve settled for asking for permission, rather than living our own lives as we see fit. When it comes to electoral politics, we’ve settled as well. We seek to be ruled by a “good king,” rather than finding someone who understands what freedom entails and only wishes for its acts to be to protect life, liberty, and property, leaving the rest for us to figure out ourselves, as individuals.
Today, you and I are more often asking for permission, instead of reaching solutions with and for ourselves.
On the bright side, no matter what happens in forty days, more people are looking for something different.
Every day, more are tiring of the same.
Every day, more people see what’s wrong with letting others plan their lives.
Every day, more people realize that freedom is easy.
We just have to act like it.
Personally, I embrace Richard Maybury’s approach most, when he introduces two laws in “Whatever Happened to Justice?“:
I find that most libertarians handle the second of those laws quite well, as most of us subscribe to the non-aggression principle. Where we can ALL, libertarian and non-libertarian alike, use a bit of help is with the first.
Carl Jung is quoted as saying, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
What you do, or don’t do, is the foundation of your reputation to others. We’ve all heard that someone’s reputation precedes them, and a reputation can often tell others more about you that any words you may communicate. Keeping in mind that you might be the first libertarian someone has met, shouldn’t you be a shining example for who and what we are?
When we can’t live up to doing what we say we will do, we lose our credibility. Losing credibility is a deal breaker for someone trying to persuade others to examine libertarianism. It’s like putting a question mark at the end of every promise we make and every position we take. Would you really want to take a chance on losing that trust? We have many other things to overcome without having to rebuild credibility.
So, how can we make sure we live up to part of living a libertarian lifestyle and embracing #1 above?
First, don’t take on too much. Often, we see a void and we step up to fill it. As a former manager in the service industry, I realize that we often over promise and under deliver, but if we flip that, we can make sure we meet our commitments by setting reasonable expectations and wowing with our results. Switch to an “under promise, over deliver” approach and see the results of keeping things under control.
Next, honestly evaluate the level of effort or time necessary to do a good job meeting the commitments you make. Something may seem to be quick or easy on the surface, but it can really bite you when it’s more complex than you first thought. Being honest about what it will take, along with not taking on too much will help you to do what you say you’ll do.
Finally, when you can’t make things happen on the timeline you’ve set, make sure you you offer explanations, not excuses. Excuses are flimsy, and the real reason is often the better route, especially if it’s humbling.
Are you ready to do what you way you’ll do?
The opioid epidemic is a real issue in America. So much so that the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch started telling young folks that marijuana isn’t really the problem. Instead, Lynch explained, legally prescribed medications are to blame for the increase in opioid abuse.
But while learning that the head of the United States Department of Justice has just argued that weed does not represent a real threat may sound promising, it’s important to remember that marijuana is still a Schedule I drug. Meaning that the federal government still sees marijuana as a substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Recently, a group of marijuana legalization activists got an initiative known as Proposition 205 in the ballot in Arizona.
The initiative would allow Arizona residents who are older than 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public. Prop 205 would also allow consumers to grow up to six plants at home, giving them the option to give other adults up to an ounce at a time of its produce “without remuneration.”
But with the good news came another discovery.
The group that, alone, donated $500,000 to the effort to oppose the Arizona marijuana legalization campaign, is a local pharmaceutical company known as Insys, and it produces oral sprays used in the delivery of an opioid painkiller known as fentanyl.
According to Reason, the same company is planning on marketing yet another device that would deliver dronabinol, a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC: The main mind-altering ingredient in cannabis.
When donating to kill the initiative, the company contended that its opposition to marijuana legalization is due to Prop 205’s “[failure] to to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” According to Reason’s Jacob Sullum, what Insys is truly worried about is “the impact that legalization might have on its bottom line, since marijuana could compete with its products.”
And why is Insys so concerned? Perhaps because a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health contends that, in states where marijuana use is legal to a certain extent, fatally injured drivers are “less likely to test positive for opioids.” Sullum adds that this finding, along with the results of other studies show that “making marijuana legally available to patients saves lives by reducing their consumption of more dangerous medications.”
The data analyzed by researchers comes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). By looking at the data gathered from 18 states where 80 percent of drivers who died in auto crashes were drug-tested, researchers found that, between 1999 and 2013, drivers between the ages of 21 and 40 were half as likely to test positive for opioids where medical marijuana laws had been implemented.
In these same states, researchers found that painkiller prescriptions fell by 3,645 daily doses per physician. Researchers concluded that “the passage of the medical marijuana laws” are directly associated with “the observed shifts in prescribing patterns.”
As the industry begins to fear the consequences of ending the drug war, we begin to understand that their dominance over the market is mainly due to their rent-seeking practices, which keep their leaders close to lawmakers, helping the industry to exert enough influence to sway public policy in a way that benefits them.
Without the presence of a government body giving companies special protections while outlawing particular drug transactions, drug providers are able to compete freely and in the open, giving consumers better and safer options.
It’s time to finally put an end to the drug war and admit that, rent-seeking will never help the nation heal from all of the negative consequences of our country’s ongoing romance with crony capitalism.
Government has a way of making us all question our sanity. Especially when it comes to food regulations and its environmentally unsound consequences.
In many countries across the globe, the practice of washing eggs is seen as anti-hygienic. Because when egg producers wash fresh eggs, they also remove a layer of protein known as cuticle.
In the 1970s, regulators with the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that egg producers should invest in “fancy machines,” as NPR puts it, to shampoo eggs with soap and hot water. But once the eggs were washed, regulators added, producers should place them immediately in a refrigerator.
To justify the addition of yet another requirement for the egg industry, regulators claimed this step helped to avoid salmonella contamination. But washing the egg’s exterior does little to prevent contamination.
As NPR explains, the cuticle “is like a little safety vest for the egg, keeping water and oxygen in and bad bacteria out. Washing can damage that layer and ‘increase the chances for bacterial invasion’ into pores or hairline cracks in the shell, according to Yi Chen, a food scientist at Purdue University.”
Salmonella enteritidis often infects a chicken’s ovaries, which tends to impact the yolk before the shell hardens. The bacteria can be killed when consumers cook it. Washing the exterior of the egg does little to prevent contamination. As expected, salmonella continues to expose about 142,000 individuals to infections each year.
While many contend that washing the egg and refrigerating it or leaving the cuticle both work, only the method adopted by the United States government requires a great deal of electricity use to ensure the product’s safety. Considering only 10 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption comes from renewable sources, it’s hard to see why environmentalists are not urging government to nix this particular regulation.
But too much energy consumption is not the only negative consequence of egg-washing. The cost of purchasing an egg washing machine, the device’s maintenance, required labor, and the cost of electricity employed in maintaining the product shielded from contamination all add up, increasing the price of eggs and harming the consumer.
With reports showing just how salmonella is still a problem despite the regulatory requirements imposed on the egg industry, it’s hard to contend forcing all producers to wash their eggs is somehow productive. Especially when so much electricity is required to maintain the eggs refrigerated.
Why not try freedom for a change?
After nine years, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, decided she was not quite done with telling the story of ‘The Boy Who Lived.’ Released on July 31st, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child broke pre-order records for both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the same year that we, as libertarians, are breaking records.
So, what can we learn as libertarians from the Harry Potter books? Gina Luttrell wrote at ThoughtsonLiberty.com an article discussing the overarching themes of libertarianism in the Harry Potter series as a whole, but with a new addition to the saga, there are new themes and ideas that we, as libertarians, can explore.
One of the main conflicts we see in the newest book is Harry’s son, Albus’ struggle to find where he truly belongs, both at school and in the world. He worries that the Sorting Hat will place him into Slytherin, instead of Gryffindor, the house of the rest of his family. Harry consoles him by pointing out that this doesn’t matter, that he will be loved regardless, and that The Sorting Hat will take his feelings into account.
This is similar to the struggle many of us have faced at least once, with a media telling us that there are only two political paths. Their aim is to push us to subscribe to one of their schools of thought, either a conservative or liberal viewpoint. It is important to remember there is more to politics than left and right.
Speaking as someone who formerly identified as a conservative from a conservative family, I can attest firsthand to the struggle of facing a change in philosophical identity after taking The World’s Smallest Political Quiz and realizing my values are different than I thought they were. I guess that is one way to find our “place”…The Quiz is almost like a Sorting Hat, huh?
As it has previously been discussed among libertarian scholars, Harry Potter is the perfect example of a libertarian. He values the ability to choose his own path, while fighting against the corruption within the Ministry of Magic. In previous books, the Ministry subscribed to similar ideas as the villains of the series, like ethnic cleansing, discrimination, violence, and secrecy. With a total lack of transparency, Big Government rules throughout the series.
In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child we see a very different Ministry of Magic, led by Hermione Granger, a character who has always been keen to follow the rules, but has proven time and time again that she is not afraid to deviate from them in cases of principle. We also see that Harry is serving as an Auror, or dark wizard catcher under Hermione.
So what can we take away from this shift as libertarians? Harry and his friends used to fight against the established government and their oppressive ideas, and now they ARE the government. Being a part of the libertarian movement means fighting corruption with freedom and openness, spreading the ideals of libertarianism as people become more open to it.
During this election year, I think we are experiencing a significant shift in the way people think. As people tire of the same two choices, and they get tired of Big Government ruling their lives, they are opening their eyes to libertarian ideals.
Libertarianism is more than just politics, yet we are seeing a shift in what drives people to throw their support behind a candidate. We have Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on the main stage, and although neither is perfect, they are representing new ideas that have never gained so much attention. Every day, we are changing the way people think.
So, let’s make sure we don’t forget that there is more than two options in politics. Let’s remember to stand strong on issues of morality. Let’s fight against an oppressive government.
Political discourse is changing.
Just like the beloved Harry Potter characters did, could we be experiencing a shift in the ‘political status quo?’ Let’s hope so.
As America discusses yet another deadly police shooting, the name Terence Crutcher becomes a “viral” hashtag. And as many argue that yet another hashtag won’t make a dent in helping to put an end to the systemic violence associated with law enforcement, Washington Post’s Radley Balko continues to report on all kinds of police abuse cases, bringing certain stories to light that seldom get any air time due to their less than dramatic developments.
According to Balko, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Connecticut filed a lawsuit against the local police on behalf of Michael Picard, an open carry gun rights activist.
Picard was targeted by the local police while he was protesting a DUI checkpoint in September of 2015. He positioned himself ahead of the checkpoint, holding up a sign that read “cops ahead, remain silent.”
ACLU of Connecticut Legal Director Dan Barrett explained that, as soon as the police was made aware of Picard’s silent and legal protest, state officers working the checkpoint approached the protester and proceeded to slap the camera out of his hand. As the officer carries on, believing the camera had been broken, Picard is searched.
As an open carry activist, Picard had been carrying a gun in plain sight all along, making it easy for officers to find it immediately. Nevertheless, the officer in question announces he found a gun as loud as possible. As the officers check his permit and run a check on his records, Picard picks up his camera, prompting the officer to say “taking my picture is illegal.”
Nonsense, Barett says.
As Picard debates the officer over his constitutional rights, the officer “snatches” the camera from Picard’s hands and places it on top of the police cruiser.
Thankfully, the camera was still recording.
What happens next is why Picard is now suing the Connecticut police.
According to the footage, three troopers are caught talking about what they should do next. As they see Picard’s permit is valid, they say “oh crap. … we gotta punch a number on this guy.” Meaning they should “open an investigation in the police database.” The officer then says, “we really gotta cover our a*ses.”
They proceed, discussing what to do about Picard without facts to back their story. During at least eight minutes, they attempt to get to a conclusion as to how better they will “cover their” butts.
At no time, Balko explains, did the cops think of giving Picard his camera back and telling him he was free to go.
Toward the end of this ordeal, the officers get to the conclusion of charging Picard with two criminal infractions: “reckless use of a highway by a pedestrian,” and “creating a public disturbance.”
Thanks to Picard’s camera, we know the officers discuss how to support the public disturbance charge until a supervisor comes up with a plan.
“What we say,” he tells the other officers, “is that multiple motorists stopped to complain about a guy waving a gun around, but none of them wanted to stop and make a statement.”
After filing a complaint that led to nowhere, the ACLU took on the case.
Regardless of where Americans stand on gun rights or law enforcement, Picard’s right to protest the checkpoint in peace while carrying a weapon should always be upheld.
The same way pulling over and reaching out to the police with your arms raised should not give officers an excuse to practice target shooting over your helpless body.
In case you were wondering, school choice is popular. Especially among those who need it most.
According to a survey released by North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, 56 percent of local black voters favor public charter schools, while only 24 percent oppose them. At least 59 percent of those who participated also claimed that they support the expansion of the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Twenty-three percent do not want to see the program’s expansion.
Traditional schools, which are burdened with the heavy weight of union-backed demands, often tend to perform poorly, especially when compared to the majority of charter schools and other institutions that are not government-run.
In The Origins of the Public School, Austrian economist Robert P. Murphy explains that traditional schools became widely popular once “inefficient ‘firms’” sought to influence public school leadership in order to “hinder competitors.”
Murphy notes that this incident is “common to all expansions of state power.” Adding that the defense of standardization of curricula and centralization of “the disbursement of public funds” toward public schooling originally came from those who “would benefit financially from such policies,” including trade unions, he argues that protectionism—not education—is what drives teachers to unionize and burden school systems with their demands, sacrificing productivity for wages.
By becoming closer to the business of policymaking, teachers unions saw the removal of children from the labor market and the elimination of potential competition in the education industry as the only way to secure their position. By targeting poorer families who could not afford to put their children in private institutions, these groups succeeded greatly, demanding government to have more influence in the education of American children.
The Protestant schools were losing ‘market share’, and turned to government to pad their budgets and restrict the actions of their chief competitors, the Catholic schools. In other arenas, people can quickly see through such self-interested ‘altruism’. When a corporation clamors for an import restriction on foreign competition, most observers agree that it is acting to increase its own profits, not to protect the public from ‘dumping’. Why then do most people accept at face value the humanitarian justifications offered by the advocates of state education when such a bureaucracy confers immense wealth and power in the hands of an elite?
The idea of school choice is often attacked by groups claiming to speak on behalf of the oppressed and undereducated, and yet evidence shows that choice is what makes it possible for families in underprivileged situations to achieve greatness.
Whether you agree or not about the amplification of school choice through the charter or voucher systems, the fact minorities are benefiting from the addition of private elements to the schooling system is important. Unlike prohibitionists, families who struggle to provide their children with proper education see value in school choice because they live it.
If the education business hadn’t become a government business, choice would be the norm. Until freedom is restored in full, let’s celebrate those who have discovered—on their own—that freedom is always the best choice.
Police abuse is a real issue. Not because all police officers are corrupt, but because government institutions and its members respond to incentives. Just like us.
If an officer is given blanket authority to act only with his best interest in mind while under the guise of public security, personal responsibility is no longer part of the job. Without personal responsibility at play, individuals are no longer worried about the consequences of their actions.
While the cases of misbehavior among officers are often more popular in the media, cases of officers actually acting responsibly seldom make it to the front pages. But a story on The Washington Post has just changed this picture.
According to the publication, the police chief in Weirton, West Virginia has fired an officer for not killing someone.
The report originally comes from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And according to the original news story, the incident that led to the officer’s employment termination happened on May 6th.
Then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader was called to respond to a domestic incident. While attempting to handle the situation responsibly, Mader found that the man he was confronting was armed. Mader, who had been trained as a Marine, made the decision to look at the “whole person” in order to decide what to do next. Instead of shooting, Mader decided to use a calmer tone, noticing that the armed man was not pointing his gun at him.
The officer then proceeded to ask the man to put his gun down, but instead of doing so, the man answered by saying: “Just shoot me.” When the officer said “I am not going to shoot you, brother,” the man started flicking his wrist. According to the officer, he thinks he did that to get him to react.
He knew then that the man didn’t want to hurt anyone. Instead, he wanted to commit suicide.
When responding to the call, Mader learned that the man’s girlfriend had reached to the police, claiming that the man was attempting to kill himself.
According to Radley Balko, the writer of the Washington Post article, Mader’s reaction was “a lot braver course of action than simply opening fire when the suspect doesn’t immediately disarm.” When in crisis, he added, this is the type of attitude you expect to see coming from an officer. The trigger-happy trend, after all, is not the type of attitude that comes from a person who is thinking about the consequences of their actions.
In his article, Balko stated that what Mader did is exactly the type of work officers claim to experience on a daily basis: Putting their lives in danger to save lives.
And yet, as Mader was handling the situation safely, two other officers showed up at the scene, and ended up shooting the man dead as a result.
After the tragic killing, officers found that the victim’s gun wasn’t loaded. And while officers were not able to know that for a fact before the shooting, it proved that Mader had done the right thing by using what he learned from his training. The victim hadn’t been a threat to anybody, except himself. The situation Mader encountered was, indeed, a suicide-by-cop situation, but instead of following Mader’s lead, the other officers didn’t think twice before putting an end to the man’s life.
Once it was all said and done, the Weirton police department put an investigator to look into the shooting. According to Mader, when he tried to return to work on May 17 after following protocol and taking some time off due to his involvement in the shooting, he was asked to talk to Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander. But instead of being honored for his efforts, Alexander told him that he would be placed on administrative leave.
The reason why? He had put two other officers in danger, despite the fact that he had assessed the situation correctly, unlike his colleagues.
On June 7, he received a termination letter that stated that the fact he had failed to shoot the victim meant he had “failed to eliminate a threat.” That was why he was being let go.
Unfortunately for Mader, he won’t be getting his pension, even though he didn’t hurt anybody. Meanwhile, countless others who are under investigation for actually killing innocents continue to receive their pensions, even after being dismissed from the force.
After looking for legal help, he noticed that his fight against the city wouldn’t produce any desirable outcomes, since he was a probationary employe in an “at-will” state, meaning that he could be fired for any given reason.
While many officers who are considered “bad apples” are able to quickly find work at other agencies, Mader hasn’t been able to find employment in his area. The Afghanistan veteran has two small sons and is now studying to get a commercial truck driving license to support his family. He told reporters that he would still take a job in law enforcement, the problem is that nobody seems to want to hire him.
It’s no secret that regulations are used as tools by rent-seeking firms in order to keep competitors off the market. But when US regulations restrict the production of items for long periods of time and for no apparent reason, it’s often hard to bring the same items back into particular communities.
This happened with the blackcurrant berry, which has impacted Skittles, the fruit-flavored sweets that are both produced and marketed by the Wrigley Company.
In the United States, the purple Skittle tastes like grape. But anywhere else, including the United Kingdom and Australia, the company uses blackcurrant to produce these pesky purple pieces of candy. Outside of the country, everyone knows what blackcurrant is. But in America, many haven’t even heard of the powerful fruit.
What many also don’t know is that blackcurrant berry is not widely known in America because of a regulatory black hole.
For many years, growing the sweet and tart berry in the United States was outlawed. Since the early 1990s, farmers were forced to drop the production, but it wasn’t because there wasn’t a demand. Instead, the policy was embraced after legislators learned that the berry bushes could act as a vector for white pine blister rust, which could destroy the wood. That was a problem for lumber producers, and the berry was outlawed.
While in the 1960s the federal government loosened restrictions, allowing states to set their own rules, a few have kept the ban in place. Nevertheless, most states now allow farmers to grow the berry. Regardless of the policy change, the decades of obscurity made Americans remain unaware of the very existence of blackcurrant berry. The fruit, which is widely popular in Europe, is seldom found anywhere in the United States.
One man’s journey to formally decriminalize the fruit in New York started in Germany, where he ran a restaurant in the Bavaria region. Coming back to New York, Greg Quinn lobbied local lawmakers, helping overturn the ban on growing the fruit. Ever since 2003, Quinn has been growing blackcurrants in Hudson Valley, and now counts with at least 10,000 bushes in his backyard.
Ever since the very first moment he learned about the berry, he knew he alone had to help reintroduce the flavor back to the American palate.
As his brand of juices and concentrates start to slowly hit the market, many cocktail bars and restaurants appear to like the products, but the flavor is so foreign to Americans that the product is often seen as a tough sell.
Until blackcurrant berries are popular in America again, one can only hope that this story will help others to think twice before supporting more restrictions in the future.
Editor’s Note: This was written to introduce the idea of rights to the Young Statesman.
What are rights? There are two types or rights: Negative rights and positive rights. If you’ve ever heard the Ten Commandments, you’re familiar with Negative Rights. Thou shalt not…. Negative rights make you refrain from encroaching on the person or property of another.
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Or as Libertarians like to say: Do not encroach upon the person or property of another. Simple, no? These rights don’t require you to Do anything. Only to refrain. A negative right essentially protects you from the encroachment of another person, a group, and the State. The negative right tells you that you can expect not to be subject to violence or coercion.
Negative rights are based on the idea of ownership. You own yourself and you own your property. No one has the right to infringe upon your life or your liberty or your property because they properly belong to you. For a negative right to be violated, one person, group, or State must encroach upon another. (Thou shalt not kill apparently doesn’t apply to tornadoes or earthquakes so if you’re killed by a tornado we don’t say that your rights have been violated.)
If you’ve ever heard someone argue that all people have the right to healthcare, education, food, shelter, or clothing they were making an argument for Positive rights. Positive rights make everyone responsible for providing one another with goods, services, and resources. Positive rights negate the principle of ownership. Every single argument for Positive rights without exception, no matter how kindly intended or reasonable, is an attack on self ownership and property.
Positive rights are based on the principle that we do Not own ourselves nor do we own our property. Therefore access to the property and person of another without their consent–theft and servitude–is fair and reasonable.
Positive rights require that you Do something. This is a violation of the principle of self-ownership. If I own myself, I am not required to Do anything at the behest of another. A Positive right guarantees the encroachment of another person, a group, and the State against your person and property. You will be subject to violence and coercion if you violate the right of another to your labor and property.
Constitutionally, the preservation of Negative rights is the purview of the State. Negative rights are ancient and history has shown that despots violate them first by claiming the ‘general welfare’ or ‘common good’ is being served and after establishing that the people will tolerate their breach they will do away with them in all but name.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
He’s right! The best way to learn is to get involved, and just do it.
While reading books, watching videos, and listening to speeches can deliver a positive learning experience, I learn best by doing.
On top of that, there is nothing more motivating than my being told that I can’t do something. In that, I’m sure that I’m not alone.
Ten years ago, I’d never stuffed envelopes for a candidate or a political organization, let alone run for office (or won re-election). The majority of what I learned didn’t come from books, videos, speeches, or seminars. It came from “getting my hands dirty” in the actual work necessary to achieve something in the political realm.
Whether we’re talking about planning outreach events, executing political rallies, strategizing for campaigns, or general knowledge about politics beyond where to vote, I found the most useful knowledge came when I followed Nike’s advice and just did it.
Were there stumbles along the way? Sure.
Real-world experience, however, trumped anything I’d read, seen or heard, because I was learning by doing. I didn’t have the biases and handicaps of others, because as I worked to forge my own way, I researched best practices from a variety of sources. Often, those best practices found themselves at odds, depending on the source, so examining them without the distortion of a lens helped me find the best path.
As libertarians, we are often hear that we can’t win an election, influence public policy, or that we’ll move society in a libertarian direction. When I hear things like that, I’m motivated to prove them wrong. Thus far, I’ve done all three.
What can you accomplish if you just do it?
Not to exaggerate things, but life-changing moments happen every day. With every interaction, we act in a way that can change someone’s life. We have the potential to use this for a variety of outcomes, whether positive, negative, or neutral. The best part is WE influence the outcome.
When we consider that we might be the first libertarian those we encounter ever meet, we have an opportunity to make an awesome first impression.
As libertarians, we should embrace the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. We can open others’ eyes to a world where peace, prosperity, and liberty thrive, rather than living in the shadow of a government that dictates to us our lives and actions. Do you remember how your life changed when you embraced libertarianism?
So, how can we share that experience with everyone?
We can change lives by making a positive impact on everyone we meet, and this doesn’t happen strictly at outreach booths. It isn’t even hard to accomplish. The key is being aware that every interaction is potentially life-changing and acting accordingly to make each of them positive for others.
When we adopt a mindset that we are ambassadors to libertarianism with everyone we meet, we are always “on.” That mindset shift to make a positive impact attracts people to you, and you can be a shining example to them of what it means to be a libertarian.
This approach not only augments our outreach beyond scheduled events, we create other ambassadors for our actions as they are attracted to us. By building relationships with those we attract, we can also add the fun of fellowship to the mix. A fun-loving, positive group of people engage others and bring more into their circle. That growth breeds further growth, and a cohesive, attractive group of people will continue to grow in their size and influence.
As our peer groups grow in this manner, we’ll continue to add more libertarians to the fold. In turn, that means a more libertarian mindset as we continue toward the critical mass necessary to impact society as whole, going beyond our pockets here and there. We’ve built quite a movement, and we need to continue it’s growth, winning over hearts and minds to bring about a freer society.
As we’ve discussed before, libertarianism won’t suddenly catch on, taking hold all at once, with one election or one law being passed, like you might flip on a light switch. While the light of liberty shines bright for you and me, there are many for whom it’s quite dim.
Let’s turn up the dimmer switch to brighten their lives too.