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Why It Matters That Vizio Collected Personal Data For Years

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

Why It Matters That Vizio Collected Personal Data For Years

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

In the age of smartphones and mass Internet communication, it isn’t a surprise to learn that smart TV makers like Vizio and Samsung have been gathering and storing personal user data for years. What’s surprising is to know that some continued doing so without letting its customers know anything about it.

vizioWhile this action alone is grounds for a lawsuit, going to the courts won’t guarantee government agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) won’t explore this privacy breach. And that is the problem.

The security breach was unveiled after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) struck a $1.2 million settlement with the smart TV vendor Vizio. The agency alleged Vizio had used its smart television sets to track user behavior starting in 2014. While this action isn’t uncommon, Vizio failed to disclose this information to consumers and potential consumers. For years, the company advertised its “Smart Interactivity” feature by claiming it was designed to “program offers and suggestions.” Nevertheless, suggestions were never made. Instead, the company collected a great variety of consumer data, such as IP addresses, metadata, and much more using its interactivity feature. And without alerting consumers.

According to the FTC complaint, the company was so good at collecting data that it was able to “[append] specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value,” selling this information to third party organizations. These organizations then used the info to target advertising to certain consumers. Of course this was the only issue brought up by the FTC. And not the fact that law enforcement agencies could have explored this breach in order to boost its surveillance of households across the country without using due process or respecting the U.S. Constitution.

But as a consumer, the individual has the power to sue a company or service provider that broke its contractual obligations. As a citizen, the American or resident has no power to keep law enforcement from spying on his every move.

Thanks to whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, we now know that agencies like the NSA went far and beyond to obtain access to data that would have been otherwise unreachable without a warrant — and not a mass warrant covering countless of innocent individuals at home and abroad.

While we’re grateful the FTC made this discovery, it’s time to complain about this type of action over why it matters. Because we are still powerless before a big, out of control government but we aren’t powerless as consumers.

We Ignore Freedom

in From Me To You, Immigration, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

We Ignore Freedom

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

If we don’t have freedom of movement, do we really have freedom at all? If you or I can’t escape war, poverty, and oppression in search of a better life or more opportunity for ourselves, our families, our children and our grandchildren, what good are the freedoms that remain?

Does it really matter if you’re free to spend the money you earn as you wish? Does it really matter if you’re free to grow the food that would provide your family sustenance? Does it really matter if you’re free to live your life as you see fit, if you aren’t able to escape some of the worst atrocities known to man?

What we see today is a political divide that is the essence of politics as usual. We’re seeing how easy it is to divide us over one or two issues, as we fight about nuance and detail, justifying actions because this person did it previously and a precedent has been set, or by looking back at everything that’s occurred in this country, there is this tiny thing that does make what’s happening now okay.

But when we focus on the politics, nuance, and detail, we ignore the larger question.

We ignore what’s right.

We ignore what’s wrong.

Unfortunately, it also means that we ignore what really matters. It means that we ignore freedom.

Montana to Remove Middle Man, Liberating the Market from Obamacare

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

Montana to Remove Middle Man, Liberating the Market from Obamacare

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

Health care has been a hot button issue for years. Ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as Obamacare — a greater number of doctors have been opting to exit the system altogether, while patients have increasingly run away from insurance providers, opting to join health sharing ministries instead. While many hoped for a reversal of the law once a Republican president took office, any reform could take months and perhaps even years to be completed. Instead of waiting for the federal government to remove hurdles so that the healthcare market can promote competition, thus making care affordable and available to all, some states are acting unilaterally, attempting to pass their own laws nullifying the federal control over the healthcare market.

ObamacareIn early January, Montana’s Sen. Cary Smith, a Republican from Billings, introduced Senate Bill 100. The bill establishes that primary care agreements would not be considered insurance in the state, allowing doctors and patients to set their own agreements and freeing them from meeting onerous demands and regulations.

With this bill, patients would be able to have the care they need without paying through the nose with insurance. Considering monthly premiums have been increasingly dramatically over the past few years due to the burdensome regulations imposed by federal law, this could help countless low-income Montana residents to stay healthy without having to break the bank.

If the bill is signed into law, it would also create a structure that would allow the state government to regulate direct primary care provider agreements.

While this particular move isn’t exactly “freeing,” the first portion of the bill allowing doctors and patients to set up their own agreement could help to undermine federal control over health care law, giving locals a much needed break from costly insurance deals.

Furthermore, this bill would minimize costs for the doctors, since the third party payer would be removed from the equation. Allowing the medical retainer agreement deal to come to fruition would also allow the patient to pay the physician directly for routine exams and care monthly. Through their agreement, exams or treatments would cost nothing extra. Without an insurance company standing between the patient and the doctor, the patient would also have access to better care, since the relationship between the two parties would be more personal. An issue that has been damaging the quality of care across the board.

According to Tenth Amendment’s Mike Maharrey, this solution provides the type of cost control promised by the past administration with the passage of ACA. While the health care law failed to deliver on its promises, Montana residents could finally see the cost control they want if this bill is signed into law.

SB100 is now set to move to the House for consideration, where a committee will have to pass it by a majority vote before the full House can vote on the measure.

Maryland Lawmakers Closer to Legalizing Recreational Weed

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

Maryland Lawmakers Closer to Legalizing Recreational Weed

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

Maryland could soon join the group of states putting an end to the federal ban on marijuana by passing a piece of legislation that would legalize the substance for recreational use. The bill would allow the state to regulate the sales and add a tax to recreational marijuana-related transactions.

RecreationalAccording to legislators behind the effort, adults ages 21 and older would be allowed to possess and even grow limited amounts of the plant if two pieces of legislation under consideration by the state legislature pass.

The goal, one of the legislators behind the effort told the press, is to end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition across the state, establishing what they call a sensible system. The pieces of legislation are based on the “lessons learned from other states,” which goes to show how important the nullification movement has been to the anti-drug war movement.

If the bills are approved by both chambers, marijuana retail stores would be regulated, requiring entrepreneurs to have a license to open a business. Local manufacturers, as well as testing and cultivating facilities, would also be subject to regulation. The state would also establish a 9 percent sales tax on retail marijuana while cultivators would have to pay an excise tax of $30 per ounce. Revenue created by the taxation of the industry locally would be used to back community school and workforce development programs, public education, and substance-abuse treatment and prevention.

If the One Line State chooses to pass these bills, the system that will be put in place will be similar to what is currently in use in Colorado. Maryland would then be joining others such as the states where voters have approved liberating marijuana for recreational use. They include California, Alaska, Oregon, Maine, Washington, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Unlike other states, Maryland could be the first to approve the legalization of recreational weed on their own, without having to rely on the public to vote for a measure. But if legislators aren’t successful, a “Plan B” bill is also being considered, which would allow voters to decide whether the state constitution should be amended to legalize the plant for recreational use.

In 2013, Maryland approved marijuana for medical use, decriminalizing the possession of small amounts one year later. Despite the growing support for legalization even then, lawmakers killed a measure in the Maryland legislature in 2014 that would have legalized recreational marijuana.

Only time can tell whether this year’s measure will see the light of day.

 

How would roads be operated and financed in the ideal libertarian world?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Business and Economy, Economic Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

How would roads be operated and financed in the ideal libertarian world?

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

Question: How would roads be operated and financed in the ideal libertarian world? How would traffic violations, actions which may be victimless crimes but would be very likely to harm others if they were allowed to continue unchecked, be handled?

RoadsAnswer: Roads would probably be operated by companies which would finance them through tolls (highways), subscription fees (local roads), or measures similar to condominium dues (neighborhood streets). Even today, some communities finance almost half of their roadways through these alternatives, saving themselves up to 50% when compared to government-run alternatives.

Road owners would set the standards for drivers’ conduct (e.g. speed limits, alcohol load, etc.). Reckless drivers, regardless of whether they were under the influence of mind-altering substances, would probably be banned by road owners so that customer safety could be maintained.

Libertarians believe that defensive force can be used against those who initiate or THREATEN to initiate force against others. Prohibiting reckless driving could certainly fall into that category.

Go Around

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Go Around

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

Frequently, I hear from libertarians about some of the issues they face when performing outreach activities or communicating libertarian ideas. Often, they come to roadblocks that they can’t seem to get past.

In the marketplace, you and I both know what happens when you face an obstacle or a tough situation. We innovate. We bypass the roadblocks that we find.

Take a look at what Uber did to revolutionize the transportation industry. Or how Airbnb transformed how we travel and find accommodations. Bitcoin is doing something similar in the currency space, just as PayPal did with digital currency decades before. Amazon has completely changed retail shopping, as we order things online or from our phone instead of going to a brick and mortar store, having it delivered to our doorstep just a few days after placing the order.

We have the opportunity to exemplify our beliefs and show that we can back up our rhetoric, by innovating in the marketplace of ideas. Exemplifying those beliefs is going to give us credibility with others, as we can show that no only can we talk the talk, but we can also walk the walk.

When we’re innovative, it gives us an advantage, as we’re the “first to market” by utilizing the ideas that we put forth. We’re going about things in a different way and we’re revolutionizing the way we communicate libertarian ideas.

So, in short, just go around.

Email Company Targeted Over Snowden Relaunches Offering Greater Privacy

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

 Email Company Targeted Over Snowden Relaunches Offering Greater Privacy

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

Lavabit became a household name after former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden made the public aware of the U.S. government’s mass spying programs.

ComputerAt the time, the company’s founder shut Lavabit down in order to avoid allowing federal prosecutors to have access to the system’s encryption key. Due to his decision to stand by his word, protecting his customers’ privacy against the government’s overreaching powers, he was hailed as a hero by many. But that cost his business.

Years later, the company appears to be coming back. More private than ever.

According to TechDirt, the Lavabit team worked on a more secure email platform, launching the new system with an array of new privacy-enhancing features, including one that will obscure email metadata so that agencies such as the NSA or FBI won’t be able to trace communication, making officials unable to find out with whom Lavabit users are communicating.

It was the lack of this kind of security setting that caught the attention of officials prior to the closure of Lavabit in 2013. With this feature, the new Lavabit platform would be more resistant to government spying.

But the new system doesn’t only give users the peace of mind they are hoping to find by enhancing its overall security, it also protects the individual by further protecting the company from giving in under legal pressure. By closing the SSL “gap,” the company is now incapable of handing over any data that could identify users or individuals with whom they are communicating. And by locking the key in a hardware security module, Lavabit is able to generate long passphrases blindly, making the company or anyone working with the company unaware of the key’s location. But that’s not all. After generating the long passphrase, Lavabit then inserts into a tamper-resistant device and destroys the passphrase.

In order to provide consumers with the level of privacy they are seeking, the company will provide two types of high-level privacy modes: Cautious or Paranoid. The basic, more compromisable level is simply known as Trustful, placing the security duties in the hands of the company.

Cautious mode offers end-to-end encryption, placing the encryption key in the user’s device, while the Paranoid mode will require the user to move the key if he or she needs to use the service in a different device. By not allowing the encryption key to go to the Lavabit server, the company is unable to have access to the user’s communications, protecting them from government.

While this type of service is necessary, it’s important to note that, over the years, the federal government continued to fight to have an even greater access to a series of consumer technologies. At times demanding companies like Apple create a “backdoor” to their devices.

Thankfully, more private entrepreneurs will continue to step up the game, providing free market solutions to problems only governments can create.

Do libertarians favor gun control?

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

Do libertarians favor gun control?

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

QUESTION: I am unclear on the libertarian stand on gun control and crime. Should there be gun control in a libertarian society? And if so, how much?

GunMY SHORT ANSWER: Firearms, like fists, can be used for offense or defense. Libertarians would not advocate cutting off a person’s access to firearms any more than they would advocate cutting off a person’s hands to prevent a brawl.

Most people who advocate gun control do so because they believe it lowers the crime rate. In fact, just the opposite is true. Violent crime (rape, robbery, and homicide) decrease dramatically when states pass laws that permit peaceful citizens to carry concealed weapons.

One famous example: in 1966 and 1967 Orlando, Florida police responded to a rape epidemic with a highly-publicized program to train 2,500 women in the use of firearms. Orlando became the only city with a population over 100,000 which showed a decrease in crime. Rape, aggravated assault, and burglary were reduced by 90%, 25%, and 24% respectively — without a single woman ever firing a shot in self-defense.

Criminals are looking for an easy mark and avoid those who might be armed. Anyone who doubts this might wish to put a sign on their front lawn saying “This house is a gun-free zone” to experience the consequences firsthand.

Gun control is actually “victim disarmament.” It exposes the weakest among us — women, children, and the elderly — to greater risk of attack. It denies us the ability to defend ourselves against those who would harm us.

Since the courts have ruled that the police have no obligation to protect an individual citizen from attack, we have no legal recourse if they fail to do so.

Acting in self-defense, armed citizens kill more criminals each year than police do, yet shoot only one-tenth as many innocent people by mistake. Clearly, armed citizens act as responsibly (if not more so) than trained law enforcers.

Libertarians believe that everyone has the right to self-defense. America’s founders did too. Libertarians strongly support the Second Amendment. Libertarians do not support the victim-disarmament laws collectively known as “gun control.”

For more details, including references for the examples cited above, see Chapter 16 of my book, Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression, available from the Advocates (2003 edition). The 1993 edition can be read online for free at my website.

 

No Property Rights: CO Supreme Court Allows Cops to Destroy Seized Pot

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

No Property Rights: CO Supreme Court Allows Cops to Destroy Seized Pot

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

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that police are allowed to destroy marijuana seized in criminal investigations, reversing the requirement that police store marijuana as personal property.

Property RightsAccording to the Associated Press, local police disliked the requirement that forced officers to care and store marijuana gathered as evidence correctly. As a result, the recent decision has been welcomed by local law enforcement.

The decision stems from a 2011 case revolving around a medical marijuana patient from Colorado Springs whose plants were seized after he was accused of having more plants than allowed by law. Currently, residents are allowed to grow up to 12 plants .

As a result of the investigation, the Colorado Springs resident lost more than 60 pounds, which were held by the police and then returned moldy. While the accused was later acquitted, he lost access to his possessions because of police’s lack of proper care to the product.

According to Colorado Justice Allison Eid, a possible Supreme Court nominee, the return provision that had been en vogue violates federal law. The decision supported that Colorado law enforcement should thus follow federal rules, despite comments made by dissenting judges who argued that the return provision does not violate federal law.

To libertarians, this decision sounds beyond appalling for a simple reason: it ignores property rights altogether in the name of the U.S. government’s long lasting war on personal choice — also known as the war on drugs.

While Colorado set an example to the entire country by legalizing marijuana for recreational use, restrictions concerning growth of the plant require law enforcement officials to violate property rights of the individual in question by not allowing individuals to do what they please in their own property. And by ruling that even during an investigation seized marijuana is not to be treated as personal property, the state’s highest court just emphasizes both the state and local governments’ lack of dedication to the individual’s right to the fruits of his labor.

Instead of spending precious resources seizing, investigating, and arresting individuals for exercising their right to keep and maintain personal property, it’s time to put an end to the madness that the nationwide war on substances seen as immoral or damaging. After all, it’s up to the individual whether he is willing to expose his own body to whatever substance available or not. And the government has no moral obligation to stop him.

Where Is Your Compassion And Understanding?

in Liberator Online, Walk the Walk by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Where Is Your Compassion And Understanding?

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

How are we different?

For many, we have the understanding that nothing can be in the best interest of everyone, save the freedom to decide for ourselves. There is no “one size fits all” solution to any particular issue, because we all have different situations and needs.

At our core, we understand this, as we recognize individualism. Our belief in the individual leads us to point out a lack of compassion and understanding when we see solutions involving force. We understand why a person should not be forced to buy a product they do not wish to consume. We also share compassion for those who are wrongfully arrested for the crime of helping their fellow man.

understandingThis clarity on ACTUAL understanding and compassion is what sets us apart from other political ideologies, but what about when it comes to beliefs differing from our own?

Often, we fail to recognize any other belief’s legitimacy as an option for others, especially those who haven’t embraced libertarianism, to consider.

By going straight on an attack, we alienate our potential new libertarian. We put them in the defensive position, standing up for their beliefs, rather than allowing them to understand the ideas we wish to share.

By no means should we endorse a belief that doesn’t meet our own moral and ideological standards. We should simply offer our understanding that an opposing view exists and use questions to get a better understanding of their reasoning for holding such a belief.

When faced with a discussion surrounding the personal life decisions of an individual, we often sound “heartless” by pointing to prior decisions as the cause for situational strife. A touch of understanding can go a long way when discussing issues regarding those in lower socio-economic strata.

By showing compassion for the sequence of life events that brought them to their current situation, we can empathize and gain a better understanding of their lives, before judging and demonizing their decisions. That alone will garner their respect and make them more receptive to suggestions about how freedom to choose can lead to better outcomes for everyone.

When we approach these situations with understanding and compassion, our ability to empathize, and a willingness to learn, we broaden the conversation to more than us vs. them. We open ourselves up to a thoughtful dialogue that may actually lead them to the principles and beliefs that we hold dear.

Isn’t that better than fighting about our disagreements?

Are You A Disciplined Libertarian?

in From Me To You, Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Are You A Disciplined Libertarian?

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

When I say the word discipline, what is the first thing to comes to mind? For many of us, it has to do with punishment.

Unfortunately, those in favor of Big Government are certainly in favor of discipline to regulate the way that you and I live our lives, whether economically or personally.

Today, we’re focusing on discipline and when you have it and not when it’s given to you.

When you have discipline, what does that look like? To me, it’s acting with a purpose and focusing on just that action. You don’t things distracting you, like construction noise ongoing outside, taking your mind off what you’re actually focused. You are fully committed and engaged to the purpose that you have right then and there.

As libertarians, I see us frequently just “going through the motions” when we’re talking about libertarianism, or when we’re performing outreach activities.

If you take a look at some of the things we discussed in our Facebook Live series on effective outreach, you’ll see that we focused more on planning, setting goals, and follow-up, rather than the actual outreach conversations and activities themselves. You and I can have conversations with many people and have successful outcomes, if we know what our goals are, what we’ve planned to reach, and how to follow up afterward. All of those things make our outreach better.

My question for you is, are you a disciplined libertarian?

Manning Revealed U.S. War Crimes, Celebrate Whistleblowers Like Her

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

Manning Revealed U.S. War Crimes, Celebrate Whistleblowers Like Her

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

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley, is a former United States Army soldier who, in 2013, was convicted of violating the Espionage Act. Her clandestine activities as a soldier allowed Americans to learn about the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike, an incident involving a Reuters journalist as well as other innocent men and children who were targeted by the U.S. military. Her leaks to WikiLeaks were made famous, but her cover was blown while she discussed her actions with former hacker Adrian Lamo.

ManningLamo turned Manning in to the authorities once Manning told him that the information she had leaked “might change something.”

“I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are,” she told him. “Because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

Her sentence was meant to end in 2045, but due to the current administration’s latest actions, she is set to be released on May 17.

Like Edward Snowden some time after her, Manning was able to help expose the U.S. government in a way seldom imagined by liberty advocates. After all, we all know government is inherently incompetent, but it’s often difficult to identify instances of misjudgment and irresponsibility when it comes to government entities involved in military action abroad. Without whistleblowers, how would we know about these actions?

As we all know, bureaucracy removes the personal responsibility element from individuals working for government or government-run enterprises. When the buck never stops anywhere, who is to blame for a serious mistake or misjudgment? The public?

No. The individual.

Unfortunately, few bureaucrats, soldiers, policemen, or administrators are charged for their crimes, giving the public little to no hope that they will ever be held accountable for their actions.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why governments have a hard time tolerating whistleblowers.

As libertarians or liberty lovers, we must recognize the importance of whistleblowers. They let us know veterans are being mistreated, alert us when government wants to violate our privacy, and let us know when officials are not upholding the constitutional rights of our citizens. It’s a victory for liberty that Manning is having her sentence commuted, but as a group of conscious and involved people, we must celebrate her and her importance by encouraging others to step forward. After all, libertarians and their message of individual sovereignty can only be embraced widely if the evils associated with the centralization of power are finally exposed.

Alaska Moves Closer to End Raw Milk Ban Statewide

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

Alaska Moves Closer to End Raw Milk Ban Statewide

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

Like drugs, raw milk has become the stuff of mad regulators. “It’s bad for you,” therefore, it needs to go — whether you like it or not.

CowBut raw milk is what it is: raw. It isn’t for for everyone — just like fried food, vegetables, or drugs. Why try to set a standard that isn’t universal and can’t be met by all?

Over the years, brave lawmakers like former congressman Dr. Ron Paul as well as current Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie attempted to put an end to the raw milk ban madness. But despite their best efforts, little was accomplished on the federal level.

That’s where state lawmakers enter the picture.

In Alaska, for instance, state lawmaker Geran Tarr is fighting the federal raw milk ban by pushing a bill through the House that would legalize the sale of raw milk across the Last Frontier state. The bill, known as House Bill 46 was introduced in the House on January 13. It stipulates that individuals across the state are free to sell raw milk to consumers.

This bill would render the federal ban on the sale of the “dangerous” product useless, while allowing Alaskans to make their own decision for themselves.

According to the bill, raw milk sellers would only be required to add a warning to the product’s label stating that the contents are not pasteurized and that they may cause health concerns.

Currently, the sale of raw milk is prohibited in Alaska. But individuals are allowed to purchase cow shares if they want to consume unpasteurized milk. This legal option makes it difficult for the common consumer to have access to the product.

With this bill, this requirement would be lifted, allowing raw milk producers to sell directly to the final consumer.

HB46 should soon be referred to a committee and once it receives a committee assignment, it needs to pass by a majority vote before it moves to the House and Senate for a vote.

If signed into law, the ban upheld by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be nullified in practice.

To this day, the FDA maintains the ban by claiming that raw milk poses a health risk due to the susceptibility to contamination tied to cow manure. They claim that the possibility milk may be contaminated with E. coli is enough reason to keep consumers from making their own choices.

In 1987, with the implementation of 21 CFR 1240.61(a), the sale and consumption of unpasteurized milk was effectively banned federally by putting an end to the transportation of raw milk across borders or even within borders. If Alaska wins this battle, it would be a victory for liberty.

Focus on Real

in From Me To You, Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Focus on Real

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

So much of what we’ve seen lately in the news has been classified as “fake news,” when, in actuality, that’s not what it is. It’s a distraction from what’s actually happening.

Distractions are just that. They are the things that keep us from looking at what’s really happening and focusing on real things with real people. At the end of the day, neither your life nor mine will be affected by these distractions.

When we talk about libertarianism, we don’t need to focus on distractions. We need to focus on what’s real, what’s affecting your life, and what’s affecting the lives of the people around you. Those are the things that will make non-libertarians more amenable to the ideas we present, because they actually see the ideas we hold in action, and they see how we would handle a situation that is based in reality and that affects them.

Take, for example, the Michigan man who received a $128 citation for leaving his car running in his own driveway. He was simply warming it up on a cold day. Trust me, there are many mornings here in Indianapolis where I want to warm my car before I get in to make sure that it’s nice and warm before driving to work in the morning. Those are things that the state finds to be wrong and requiring revenue from you to recompense.

This man’s ticket is a real story affecting a real person that nearly everyone can relate to. This is something that we need to make sure we talk about, and we need to talk about it with authenticity.

One of the key reasons that Donald Trump won the election was the perceived authenticity that he presented in his politically incorrect style. It set him apart from Hillary Clinton, and because no one believed what she was saying, due to her lack of authenticity, they thought his loose style, like going on 3 AM Twitter rants, was something that was authentic. In actuality, it’s just more of the same packaged for the American voter for that election.

So. let’s stop focusing on distractions, and focus on things that are real.

Why To Kill a Mockingbird Teaches Us to Challenge Our Beliefs

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Morgan Dean Comments are off

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

With everything that has been going on in the media recently, the phrase “fake news” has been used rather frequently.

MockingbirdThat is why, this year, it is more important than ever to conduct your own research, and to be open to new and challenging ideas. This is something we, as humans, are not always good at. We can even see examples of this in popular culture.

A few nights ago, President Obama gave his farewell speech. He quoted a very well known character from an equally well known book. The book was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and the character, the most beloved of all, was Atticus Finch. This character has been so highly regarded for decades as being a literary hero.

In fact, many libertarians regard To Kill a Mockingbird as a center-piece of libertarian ideals. The beliefs that Atticus exhibits in equality, justice, and doing what is right is a common theme in libertarianism. This book is taught in high schools everywhere, where students are seeing perhaps the first example of someone who embodies the “stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone” principle.

The release of the second book in the franchise changed everything. Go Set a Watchman presented a new version of Atticus Finch. One that belonged to the Ku Klux Klan and held many racist sentiments. Readers discovered, along with Atticus’ daughter, Scout, that he was not the champion of civil rights that he was once thought to be.

Many fans of the first book refused to read the second because they didn’t want their idea of Atticus Finch to be ruined by discovering the truth. This is a common problem that society should resolve to tackle in 2017.

We are afraid of the facts, and often times we are too lazy to do our own research. We would rather just be presented with stories that back up our preconceived notions, and disregard anything that may challenge that.

We need to remember that sometimes it is okay to read books that change our minds about something. It is good to research news stories to see if they are legitimate, even if we find out the truth is something we can’t use to back up our own beliefs. It’s essential to recognize that just because you don’t agree with something, does not make it useless.

Let’s make this year the year we start doing our own research, rejecting fake news, and being open to new ideas and experiences that challenge us, even if we don’t necessarily like what we discover.

Bluegrass State May Say No to the Feds’ Gun Control Measures

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

Bluegrass State May Say No to the Feds’ Gun Control Measures

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

A new bill would help to put an end to intrusive and immoral federal gun control measures. At least in the territory of Kentucky.

House Bill 120, which was introduced on January 3rd, would require the Kentucky General Assembly to stand to the federal government if officials required the state’s resources to implement federal gun controls that would impact the Bluegrass state.

Gun controlThe state government body would be required to act against federal pushes by adopting “and [enacting] any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement of any federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation which attempts to commandeer local or state law enforcement officers to enforce federal restrictions on firearms in violation of the Constitution of the United States,” the bill reads.

If signed into law, the bill would serve as an emergency safeguard, requiring state officials to stand up to federal pressure in case feds try to commandeer state resources. As more states are passing similar bills, effectively nullifying the federal government’s power over state residents, the idea that feds may try to commandeer resources from place like Kentucky isn’t far-fetched.

While HB120 has just been introduced, it still too early for us to know if it will pass or if it will be signed into law. It’s currently pending review by the House Judiciary Committee where the piece of legislation must pass with a majority vote before it heads to the full House for further consideration.

To anti-federal overreach advocates like members of the Tenth Amendment Center, this type of action rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Initially, it was based on four Supreme Court cases from 1842 that held that the federal government may not compel states to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program against their will.

As states act against parts of the drug war unilaterally, many also act to keep the feds from ever infringing on locals’ gun rights. But the “nullification” approach can also be used for other purposes.

If Kentucky’s legislature passes HB120 and it’s eventually signed into law, it could set a precedent for future action, allowing other bills to surface requiring state officials to say no to the federal government when it comes to enforcing other intrusive, immoral laws.

Police Mistake Cat Litter for Meth, Won’t Apologize to Driver

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

Police Mistake Cat Litter for Meth, Won’t Apologize to Driver

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

Not all that glitters is gold. But how about sand? Is it always meth? To sheriff’s deputies in Harris County, Texas, it certainly is.

Cat litterAccording to a local ABC affiliate, Ross LeBeau made a right turn without coming to a complete stop in December of 2016, prompting local deputies to pull him over. LeBeau reportedly admitted to having a small amount of marijuana in his vehicle, but the “confession” was only produced after deputies said they were able to smell it. As the driver was arrested, deputies proceeded to search his car, finding 252 grams of sand.

“Meth!,” they must have thought. “We busted this guy!” It’s almost as if we can see them celebrating once they found that bag of sandy material. And we can! After all, the police reminded the public of the importance of “routine traffic stops” following the arrest.

While LeBeau denied having any meth in his car, deputies didn’t listen. Later, when the sandy substance was taken in for tests, lab workers found that the “meth” was really just cat litter. Seriously.

Thankfully, his arrest over meth charges was dismissed. Still, police continue to claim deputies acted appropriately, mentioning that field tests showed the sandy product was indeed, meth. Never mind the fact field drug tests used by law enforcement are completely bogus.

While LeBeau’s attorney claimed local law enforcement agencies are low on cash to purchase good testing devices, the problem with mistakes like this is that, more often than not, these arrests ruin the lives of people who would have otherwise been contributors to society.

Ultimately, drug laws have nothing to do with legitimate criminal activities such as murder or theft. Instead, all the drug laws do is to create crime out of a commercial and voluntary transaction.

In addition, drug laws help to create drug epidemics, artificially impacting the supply and demand of certain substances, and ultimately putting addicts in grave, deadly danger.

In the case of LeBeau’s story, this botched arrest may have been resolved, but law enforcement still hasn’t apologized for the mistake. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to the libertarians reading this piece. After all, it’s more common to see pigs flying — or at least trying to — than government and their employees taking responsibility for their mistakes.

Marijuana Sales Break Records in 2016, Here’s Why This is Important

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

Marijuana Sales Break Records in 2016, Here’s Why This is Important

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

In 2016, marijuana sales grew 30 percent in the United States and Canada, reaching $5.86 billion in U.S. sales alone. As new rules regarding marijuana use and commerce begin to take effect in states like Florida, the year of 2017 promises to be the best in record for cannabis. And yet, the federal government continues to uphold its ban on the plant. Going as far as reassuring the public that CBD, one of the main ingredients in the cannabis plant used to manage pain, is also a Schedule I drug.

MarijuanaRegardless of the federal government’s lack of grasp, the market has chosen to ignore restrictions. Which is what the last big numbers tied to marijuana sales helps to prove.

By 2021, legal sales in the North American continent could reach the $20.2 billion mark, making the marijuana industry’s growth incomparable to the growth of other remarkable industries such as the the Internet. At this rate, the industry could be posting a 25 percent compound annual growth, experts say. But before marijuana, few industries showed this type of success.

In the 1990’s, one of the few consumer industry categories that reached the $5 billion mark in annual spending — only to produce the same rate of growth following the boom — was cable television. In the 2000’s, the Internet did the same, with a 29 percent compound annual growth. As the marijuana market continues to grow, however, the most important aspect of this story is often ignored.

As options become more widely available, and substances such as cannabis achieve legitimate statuses, consumers who rely on the product or who are simply curious now have options. When consumers have options and they are able to “shop around,” they are also less likely to be exposed to the evils of defective or corrupted products. Bad quality is often associated with items available in the black market precisely because the dealer selling products in obscurity has no incentive to compete.

When drugs and other products considered dangerous are decriminalized or legalized, consumers are the first to benefit.

Instead of standing in the way of personal choice, we must boost choice by simply letting the market decide where it goes first. Not because companies and entrepreneurs have a right to tell consumers what to do, but because consumers will lead the way, demanding better services and acting accordingly, by boycotting a certain product or service provider.

Indiana to Reform Asset Forfeiture Laws, Rendering the Feds Useless

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

Indiana to Reform Asset Forfeiture Laws, Rendering the Feds Useless

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

The Institute for Justice, famous for fighting against civil asset forfeiture, once ranked Indiana as a “C+” state. According to the institute, the Hoosier State “earned an average grade for its laws and practices compared to other states” but “recent reporting suggests that these laws are often flouted.” In order to address this problem, IJ added that reform was badly needed.

Now, it looks as if their wish is about to come true.

car-1590508_1280According to the Tenth Amendment Center, a bill has recently been filed in the Indiana Senate that would prohibit the state from seizing property without due process. The bill, which is known as Senate Bill 8 (SB8), would effectively reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, requiring state prosecutors to bring a criminal conviction to the judge before proceeding with the activity.

Currently, Indiana officials are allowed to seize property and cash from an individual without having him arrested first. Even if he was never found guilty of a crime.

If SB8 is signed into law, the new requirement would keep prosecutors in check, while also making it nearly impossible for state officials to send these cases to the federal government.

Currently, state laws allow prosecutors to bypass restrictions by sending cases to the federal government. This move is allowed due to the Equitable Sharing program, which gives states the option to keep a portion of liquidated seized assets. But if the new bill passes, Equitable Sharing will no longer be an option.

By repealing Section 9 IC34-24-1-9, the bill closes the federal loophole, helping to protect Indiana residents and their property.

In other states like California, referring to Equitable Sharing to get away with government-sponsored theft is no longer an option. If the Indiana legislature chooses to follow into the Golden state’s steps and this loophole is finally closed, the spark of property protection and constitutional rights will continue to ignite other local movements, helping to nullify this immoral law.

Now that SB8 was introduced, it will first be reviewed by the House Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. If passed by a majority vote, it will move to the full Senate for further consideration. According to Tenth Amendment’s Mike Maharrey, “‘equitable sharing’ provides a pipeline the feds use to incentivize state and local police to serve as de facto arms of the federal government by funneling billions of dollars into their budgets.” Without this pipeline, the incentive to steal people’s property is gone. Striking the problem at its root.

New Year, New Opportunity

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

New Year, New Opportunity

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

Since the Christmas holiday, the phrase I have heard over and over again is “New Year, New You.”

Today, I’m going to talk about the new new year, and the new opportunity that 2017 presents. It is a new year. In a few days, we’re going to have a new president. That means a new administration with new priorities, a lot of new projects, a new Congress, and we’re going to see our opportunity as libertarians.

2016 opened a lot of hearts and minds to the possibilities of libertarianism. 2017 means that it’s time to meet them with our solutions.

At the end of last year, I talked about learning more, so that we are better prepared to speak on libertarian issues and the ideals of liberty. When it comes to the conversations that we lead, we’ll be better informed, better equipped, and better prepared to talk about what it means to be a libertarian, and how we focus on the issues as we see them.

We’re also going to be listening more. That will allow us to be better prepared to answer the questions that are brought to us. The questions will arise in the conversations we lead, but also in everyday, casual conversation. We are going to be asked, “What is the libertarian view on this?” when we make it known that we are a libertarian authority.

We’re also going to need to take advantage of this new opportunity by welcoming inquiry to nurture those who are new to libertarianism, or who just found out about us in the last year or eighteen months. They’ll still have plenty of questions. At the beginning of last year, I wrote More Fit Than Fat, talking about how we tend to push away new libertarians, by showing them that they are not “libertarian enough.”

Will you take advantage of 2017? This new year? This new opportunity?

I know that I am.

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