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Jeff Sessions Doesn’t Have The Money To Go After Medical Marijuana States — But This Reality Could Change

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

Jeff Sessions Doesn’t Have The Money To Go After Medical Marijuana States — But This Reality Could Change

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

The problem with political movements championed by libertarians is that, all too often, these victories are vulnerable.

Lawmakers come and go and so do their positions, prompting the new batch of freshly elected legislators to change the law as soon as a lobbyist is able to convince them that the current situation is “unsustainable.” With this, many rules protecting liberties are lost while others are added to the books. But due to this fluctuating system, it’s hard to keep legislators accountable, especially those who have grown used to Washington, D.C., spending more time with the powerful than with their constituents.

Sessions Under President Barack Obama, nullification advocates pushing for anti-drug war initiatives locally were able to pass a series of bills that helped to ease the federal government’s control over their property and personal choices. With that, a series of states passed medical marijuana laws while a few others legalized recreational weed.

But even as states made their own voices heard, telling the feds they were not their boss, Obama doubled down, breaking records that not even George W. Bush dreamed of breaking. Instead of respecting the states and their residents, the past administration dedicated many resources to go after pot farmers and weed sellers in states where the substance was legal.

With President Donald Trump in the White House, many speculated that things would only get worse, especially after he picked Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as his U.S. Attorney General.

But at least for now, it doesn’t seem that way.

Congress has, at least for the time being, blocked the U.S. Department of Justice from spending any taxpayer money on ventures that would interfere with states and their medical marijuana laws.

With the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, lawmakers made provisions that allow states to carry on with the pursuit of their own medical marijuana rules without the fear that the feds would try to restrict them.

So for now, and ever since 2014, the first year this provision was added to the budget, states are protected from rogue government agencies wanting to go after states for having passed their own medical marijuana laws. Even after Sessions issued a stringent warning saying that “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

So as you can see, working hard for bills to pass so that our liberties are protected is, indeed, very much worth it. The problem is that with each new administration and every new Congress, we run the risk of losing those protections. That’s why it’s important to stay wary — and actively involved. After all, eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.

Why Do People Obsessed With Science Ignore Economic Science?

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

Why Do People Obsessed With Science Ignore Economic Science?

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

It’s an interesting paradox often left unexplored by the media, but we seldom find someone who’s both passionate about climate change science and economic science.

Science Economist and professor Robert P. Murphy explored this at length in a recent column, using the April 22nd “March for Science” to demonstrate how little people know — or care to know — about economics.

Despite being supportive of the scientific method, Murphy aptly explained, the environmental activists taking to the streets to demand governments “do something” about the issue also used the event that gathered thousands of people across the country to show President Donald Trump they do not agree with his proposed budget cuts.

Claiming Republicans are “climate change deniers” who often ignore the “consensus” on global warming among the scientific community, these same science-loving advocates ignore the “consensus” on economic science. Instead of being consistent, they call for government intervention to bring an end to man-made climate change, Murphy correctly points out.

But as a Senior Economist with the Institute for Energy Research specializing in climate change, Murphy knows better.

A belief held by many economic science deniers includes the idea that a “bare minimum to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius” is imperative. However, if you consult the last United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, you won’t find anything that justifies that limit, Murphy wrote.

Furthermore, Murphy contends, “the IPCC’s own estimate of the economic cost of compliance with the policy goal [of limiting warming to 2°C] was greater than the estimate of the climate change damages from ‘doing nothing.’” Meaning that forcing governments to go along with this arbitrary cap would cost nations more, causing more damage than if government officials were simply sitting on their hands.

Still, Murphy continued, critics charged at him after he pointed their inconsistencies out, suggesting that the IPCC had used economic models that weren’t sufficient and adding they may have understated the risk posed by climate change. But by ignoring Murphy’s observations, climate change advocates who criticized his comments have also completely ignored the scientific process, putting their own beliefs before sound evidence.

Instead of relying on research and evidence-based results, Murphy concludes that the “refusal to follow the science” might be “more widespread” among environmental activist than one might suspect.

So what are these marchers doing when they take it to the streets to fight for the planet? Are they parading their “awareness” across the country out of a strange urge to appear “woke?” Or are they simply so oblivious of what science truly is that their lack of enthusiasm for the hard work that goes along with it shows, making them seem like the unsophisticated privileged kids they truly are?

We might never know.

 

 

“Hate Speech” Does Not Exist – Speech Is Either Free Or Censored

in Liberator Online by Erik Andresen Comments are off

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

Former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean recently surfaced with the following tweet: “Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.” The comment was aimed specifically at Ann Coulter, Firebrand of the Right. Coulter had agreed to give a talk at UC Berkeley on April 27, but the university administration recently canceled it.

Speech Berkeley has seen street violence between “Antifa” (anti-fascist) groups and Trump supporters twice this year, and in February people attending a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos were attacked by protesters. According to the administration, Coulter’s safety could not be guaranteed. The administration has since offered to host her on May 2, but Coulter has already announced that she plans to show up anyway on April 27.

I suspect many libertarians are not surprised to hear that some cowardly administrators can’t control the locals. Many universities have poor track records of handling speakers presenting minority views.  But Dean should know better. If the First Amendment does not protect unpopular opinions, why even have it? And it feels different coming from a former governor. It is more than empty virtue-signaling coming from someone who has held elected office.

And while we can commend Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for their support of free speech, Howard Dean is not alone. His ideological contemporaries are quite open about working toward the restriction of speech on any topic they consider to be off-limits. There is a reason the term “hate speech” has worked its way into our vernacular, yet it does not exist as a legal concept in the United States (with the arguable exception of a number of United Nations resolutions). So far, the First Amendment has acted as a bulwark.

But the term gains traction; we must resist it.  Labeling something “hate speech” is more frequent than ever: applied to religious and cultural considerations, personal pronouns, bathrooms, and anything else loosely grouped under the umbrella of “social justice.” Nor is this limited to college campuses.

In this new world, CEOs are fired for political donations (Brenden Eich, co-founder of Mozilla), mom and pop businesses are targeted for their religious beliefs, and controversial speakers are an excuse to smash private property and attack individuals. Even if we don’t like that world, that’s the world we live in.

We libertarians would prefer to disengage from such conversations. We want to be above this sort of thing, and we want to live and let live. But to shy away on this front is to submit. Whether our personal values align more with conservatives or liberals, libertarians should loudly advocate for free speech, even on behalf of someone like Coulter. And we should never accept, on any pretense, legal restrictions on what may and may not be said in public.

 

New ‘Artificial Womb’ Could Save Frail Babies — If Regulators Allow It

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

New ‘Artificial Womb’ Could Save Frail Babies — If Regulators Allow It

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

Creativity is boundless, and so is the power free and unrestricted markets have to turn needs into accessible goods and services.

Scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have, for the first time ever, created an “artificial womb” that could someday be used to help babies that are born very prematurely.

Womb

While initial tests have only involved fetal lambs, fetal surgeon Alan Flake says they have been “extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model.” If this experiment is successful and they are able to develop a version that would be fit for human use, countless parents across America — and the world — would then have the choice of saving their children from succumbing to certain conditions if they are, for some reason, unable to remain in their mothers’ wombs until the end of their term.

In the study published in the Nature Communications journal, scientists were able to see very premature fetuses develop normally for a month.

“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” the surgeon added.

With the goal of testing the technology on very premature human babies within 3 to 5 years, one can only hope bureaucracy doesn’t stand in the way.

According to Medscape, the average length of time a new drug takes to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is 12 years. Developers are also estimated to spend $800 million in the process. With this in mind, Medscape adds, “the regulatory process for medical devices is much shorter and, generally, less stringent and costly.” Still, estimations are that the time it takes to have a medical device approved for market distribution is usually 3 to 7 years.

If this technology is ready to be used in humans within the next 5 years, then this technology might only be available to the overall public in over a decade. With the added costs related to the regulatory process, we may also expect that access to the life-saving device might also be restricted.

All in all, if the red tape surrounding life-saving treatments and devices were finally cut for good, the medical field would be much more competitive and, as a result, devices and treatments would be readily available to those in need.

Those who oppose free markets, as you can see, are thus missing out on how they could help save lives.

Bett Mum: The Woman Who Ended Slavery Long Before Lincoln

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

Bett Mum: The Woman Who Ended Slavery Long Before Lincoln

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

When libertarians talk about competition in the free market, many think only of competition between providers of goods and services. What they often forget is that, as the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises once explained, economics “is about human choice and action.”

SlaveryIn a hampered environment where institutions put in existence long before our conception set the rules, a free individual will often feel overwhelmed by the many restrictions imposed on his or her natural rights. And sometimes in history, many individuals like us were so restricted that they had even lost their claim to self-ownership long before their very birth.

Also in history, we see examples of individuals who, faced with this reality, chose to not abide by it, regardless of the consequences. Their courageous stand for integrity would often spark a fire in others. And, inspired by their peaceful resistance, others would soon follow, offering a competing philosophy that would soon shatter the immoral structure of authoritarianism.

This is what happened to Elizabeth Freeman, or Mum Bett, as many have known her.

The first black slave to file and win a freedom suit in the state of Massachusetts lifted no weapons against her oppressors. After all, she was outnumbered and would have been killed if she had. Instead, she did what she could at the time and headed to court. With that, she effectively ended slavery in the Bay State without spilling one drop of blood.

As she heard that “[a]ll men are born free and equal,” and that they “have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties,” she was suddenly taken by the idea of fighting for these rights.

Reaching out to Theodore Sedgwick, an abolition-minded lawyer, she told him she wasn’t a “dumb critter.” Then proceeded to ask, “won’t the law give me my freedom?”

Sedgwick finally accepted her case, adding Brom, another slave, to the suit.

As the Brom and Bett v. Ashley case was heard in August 1781, the jury ruled in Bett’s favor, making her the first African-American woman to be set free under Massachusetts’ constitution.

The Ashleys even paid her damages.

With her newly gained freedom, Bett changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman. She went on to take paid jobs and save enough money to buy her own home, where she later died.

She once defended her search for freedom with the following words:

“Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s airth [sic] a free woman— I would.”

Thankfully, she was able to finally enjoy this freedom she had been so in love with without waging war over it. And by helping to provide a competing narrative to establishment practices, she helped others see that there were other ways to fight the state without spilling anybody’s blood in the process.

“The Puppies Should Die!” – Happiness Instead of Rights

in Liberator Online by Erik Andresen Comments are off

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

Saturday Night Live featured a sketch in 2011 portraying a caricature of Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul and his libertarian philosophy. In typical SNL style, Paul was depicted as a “purist,” insisting he could not intervene to save helpless puppies—even puppies with bows on them—from a burning house.

HappinessLibertarians are familiar with these sorts of deliberately dishonest traps. But we sometimes bring negative public perception on ourselves when we fail to articulate the importance of the personal connections we have to the people in our communities.

As a group, we know that communicating the benefits of liberty can be challenging. For most of us, there is little oppression that we experience in our day-to-day lives. It can be difficult to dedicate time to consider highly abstract topics. No wonder so many are indifferent to the routine violations of their rights. But maybe we make it harder than we need to.

The truth is that rights – in a tangible sense – do not exist. They are legal abstractions, and as we have seen, they are far too often violated or deemed to be conditional. If our mission is to advance liberty, we cannot rely on this concept alone, legally or rhetorically. This is especially true when younger generations cannot distinguish between negative and positive rights.

We enjoy our freedoms thanks to the respect and restraint shown by those around us. It is more important for the people around us to understand that everyone will be worse off if coercion and theft become the go-to ways to get things done. People are less happy when they are coerced. They are less happy when people take their stuff. People understand that better than abstract legal concepts.

ATTENTION: Major News from The Advocates

in Liberator Online by Advocates HQ Comments are off

In 1985, Marshall Fritz founded Advocates for Self-Government with the help of a small, visionary cadre of libertarians in Fresno, California. Since then, the Advocates has remained loyal to the mission laid out by Marshall and our founders. We have continued to identify, train, and develop a movement of grassroots libertarian persuaders and activists across the country who are capable of effectively communicating the principles and values of self-government.

Our sights remain set on ushering in a society composed of advocates like you who respect other people enough to not use or endorse the use of coercion against them or their property—resulting in far greater social harmony and economic prosperity.

Advocates

It is in keeping with this mission and vision—and Marshall’s legacy—that we turn to the next chapter of Advocates for Self Government’s story.

The Advocates for Self-Government is pleased to announce that we have just completed the relocation from Indianapolis and are returning to California at new headquarters in downtown Sacramento.

Effective immediately, the Advocates is working to further expand our reach by refining our existing content and materials to make them even more relevant to and in line with the concerns of citizens today. We are also exploring new educational initiatives and outreach campaigns that will leverage our existing assets.

Specifically, we are pursuing a potentially groundbreaking opportunity to augment the World’s Smallest Political Quiz online platform to engage, convert, and solidify quiz takers’ commitment to libertarian principles. The Quiz Engagement Program (QEP) will give passionate libertarian activists the chance to persuade and move non-libertarians and solidify proto-libertarians upward along the libertarian-authoritarian axis. Through the development of the QEP and performance-driven metrics, we will be able to directly measure the efficacy libertarian messaging over time.

We are planning to relaunch our Quiz in the Classroom outreach initiative to give civics teachers and political science professors around the country the educational tools to teach students about both the “left-right” and “libertarian-authoritarian” political paradigms, letting students know that they just might agree with libertarians the most.

Along these lines, we remain committed to ensuring that the most effective all-in-one libertarian event kit—Operation Politically Homeless—is supplied to libertarian activists across the country.

Finally, we plan to keep you up to date with the libertarian news you can use and other important information by continuing to publish The Liberator Online (TLO). Through your free subscription to TLO, you will have access to unique and practical insights on current issues that matter, without the “fake news” that doesn’t. We will also be sure to keep you up to date on the happenings of The Advocates and the liberty movement more broadly.

To lead these and other programs, the Advocates for Self-Government is pleased to introduce our new president, Michael Sertic. Since his introduction to classical liberalism in 2008, Sertic has devoted his efforts toward promoting human flourishing through the understanding and application of libertarian principles. With the support of the Advocates and others, he founded a Students For Liberty group at his college campus and later served on their national executive board.

Sertic received his bachelor of arts in economics from California State University, Sacramento while a colleague at The Morning Star Company and Foundation for Harmony and Prosperity. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Sacramento County and more recently as president of America’s Future Foundation’s Sacramento chapter.

The Advocates recognizes that our past successes could not have been possible without the excellent stewardship from the members of our Board of Directors. We are sincerely grateful to all of our outgoing directors, Dr. Jim Lark, Diane Bast, Emily Salvette, Doug Klippel, and Mark Rutherford. We wish to especially acknowledge the leadership and service of Dr. Jim Lark, who joined the Advocates’ Board of Directors in 2003 and served as Chairman from 2009 to 2016.

Our continuing Board member and new Chairman, Chris Rufer, has supported Marshall and the Advocates for more than 30 years and desires to significantly increase the influence of the Advocates through new outreach programs and efforts. Chris is dedicated to finding more advocates of self-government to advance human well-being for all people and believes the Advocates is best positioned to bring in new folks to the liberty movement.

We would also like to express our appreciation for the hard work, dedication, and commitment to the principles of Self-Governance of outgoing executive director Brett Bittner. Brett succeeded the marvelous Ms. Sharon Harris over the last three years by modernizing the messaging and outreach efforts of the Advocates.

Without you, our committed supporter, we could not continue to identify, educate and train new libertarians to become future advocates. We are dedicated to providing the tools that best support you in spreading the libertarian word, testing methods and channels for delivering it, and innovating ways to identify and persuade new libertarians. With these advancing efforts comes a larger budget and larger funding requirements. If you can make an additional contribution now, that would be appreciated.

It is our sincere hope and commitment to carry on the torch of liberty that Marshall famously ignited in countless people across the country. We are excited for the future of liberty and the challenges and victories that lie ahead!

Sincerely,

The Advocates for Self-Government

I Went To An Anti-Trump Tax March And This Is What I Found

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

I Went To An Anti-Trump Tax March And This Is What I Found

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

Saturday, April 15, the day on which individual income tax returns have been traditionally due, anti-President Donald Trump activists flooded the streets of several major cities across the country to demand Trump release his tax returns.

TaxWhile I was sent to Downtown Los Angeles to cover the “event” as part of a work assignment and I was not allowed to discuss different approaches to the idea of taxation, I was able to ask many of the attendees whether they were happy about the way the U.S. government handles their tax dollars.

In all cases, participants said “no.” And yet, none of those who talked to me thought of using that particular protest to voice those concerns. Instead, what they were really angry about was that Trump’s returns should be released so that his “ties to the Russians” were finally revealed.

How incredibly naive, even for progressives.

What was more unnerving was that they weren’t even angry that their taxes were now in the hands of a man they disliked, and that for the past eight years, anti-President Barack Obama activists were seeing their tax dollars being used by a man they despised. Instead, they found themselves in the right to demand documents from a man who has no legal or moral obligation to disclose documents related to the government confiscation of his wealth.

As participants answered my questions, saying they were unhappy that their hard-earned money was going to build walls and pay for bombs, not one attendee thought that that would be a much greater reason to go to the streets over. Instead, what mattered to them was Russia and how Trump, the “illegitimate” president, stole the election from the hands of a woman.

Many libertarians felt that none of the 2016 presidential candidates truly spoke to them, but to see so many people allowing their own concerns to be overridden by what the masses — or in this case, the great bulk of mainstream media — tells them that matters, is like watching countless of sleepwalkers march toward an abyss.

Giving up on a fight momentarily in order to stay out of trouble is one thing, but to give up on your individuality in order to let powerful groups with an agenda manipulate your political actions is madness. And yet, as I asked each and every person who agreed to talk to me whether they were unhappy, the answer was yes. But the euphoria tied to the Russia narrative was, unfortunately, just too good to let go.

In a time where addictions have replaced the rational decision-making process, it’s easy to see why many call this the age of outrage. And as I hopelessly looked for someone comfortable enough with their own thoughts to openly talk about their concerns and fight for them, I also found we just can’t depend on masses — no matter how compelling they may seem.

Drug Lab Scandal Leads To Thousands Of Drug Case Dismissals, But What Does This Prove?

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

Drug Lab Scandal Leads To Thousands Of Drug Case Dismissals, But What Does This Prove?

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

On Tuesday, the biggest mass dismissal of wrongful convictions took place in a Boston courthouse. As a result, more than 23,000 low-level drug cases were dropped after it was proven that a rogue lab chemist had tainted evidence used to put these people in jail.

LabThis case doesn’t only showcase the tragic and perhaps inherently evil root of immoral laws such as the ones that comprise the U.S. anti-drug effort, it also helps us understand that even the illusion of unaccountability gives people enough incentives to produce poorly, no matter how damaging and nefarious their actions might be.

In this particular case, chemist Annie Dookhan — who worked for a private crime laboratory for ten years and whose co-workers always complained about — finally admitted to falsifying evidence tied to as many as 34,000 cases in 2013. But before then, she spent 10 years in that lab, helping prosecutors put innocent people in jail.

While the former chemist was arrested, she only spent three years in prison — a much shorter sentence than the ones handed to many of those she helped to convict.

But despite pressure to go over the cases impacted by Dookhan years earlier, prosecutors fought for a way to preserve the convictions. Thankfully, in this case, defense lawyers pressed on, helping to bring about 23,000 dismissals.

While Dookhan’s reasoning to have been involved in so many wrong convictions was never made clear, one can surely agree that prosecutors found no harm in accepting results from a chemist with a dubious track record. Why? Because their goal wasn’t to fight for justice but to uphold immoral laws.

When the state has the power to tell a consumer he or she isn’t allowed to do with their bodies what they will, the state also has the power to bend other rules. When not enough people are being convicted of drug-related charges, throwing caution to the wind and fabricating convictions out of thin air isn’t out of the question. With enablers such as Dookhan ready to please, it’s no wonder the number of drug convictions continues to rise, even as the number of overdoses also rise — because the state-sponsored war against drugs has nothing to do with safety but a lot to do with control.

So long as there’s a perverse incentive available, there’s always going to be a willing actor to take part in the show. After all, why would prosecutors go after the origin of the drug trade when they have so much low-hanging fruit at hand?

 

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

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

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

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

The United Airlines fiasco has been all over the news — for a good reason.

A passenger who had already been allowed to take his seat had his face bloodied as police officers were asked to physically remove the man from the plane. The incident had followed what many reported as being an issue with an overbooked flight but later, it was discovered that the man had been picked in a lottery to leave the full flight after United noticed it needed four seats for crew members.

United AirlinesThe passenger in question, David Dao, refused to leave the plane, even after the company offered $800 and a hotel stay to whoever accepted to relinquish their seat, and that’s when the police were called in to “help.”

Many have noted that legally speaking, Dao was in the right and United was in the wrong. But what many are ignoring in this story has to do with how we got to a point where a private organization needs the services of the state police to remove a customer who had not broken his contract.

If United had to compete for its customers in a free, open market, would they have treated any customer this way?

Ryan McMaken of the Mises Institute answers that question with an in-depth review of the U.S. airline industry. He explains that, in North America, the four top carriers enjoy 80 percent of the business, putting these four companies in a nearly total control of the domestic flying industry. But that occurs not because these firms form an official, government-backed cartel. Instead, government intervention is so heavy-handed that it provokes an artificial barrier to other airlines, making competition less likely to happen.

Take the U.S. ban on foreign carriers for instance. Because international airlines are not allowed to fly certain point-to-point destinations domestically, only domestic airlines have the privilege of doing so. Economically ignorant politicians defend this policy by saying that this protects American workers and consumers. Unfortunately, this particular protectionist policy has the exact opposite effect, as fewer companies mean fewer options for both job seekers and flyers.

Down the line, as competition is stifled and domestic companies enjoy an artificial monopoly over the industry, the consumer suffers greatly, as the top four carriers are allowed to act erratically and still have a virtual control of the market. With no options but to fly using one of these protected firms, these consumers are then forced to undergo severe mistreatment. In a free market, this type of incident could have destroyed United, but in an environment where protectionism rules, United will suffer for some time before it bounces back up as few companies are able to compete.

Iowa Has Just Become More Gun-Friendly — Here’s Why It Matters

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

Iowa Has Just Become More Gun-Friendly — Here’s Why It Matters

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

As libertarians, it’s often difficult to find reasons to be hopeful when looking at the political process and how state and federal governments often ignore the classical liberal cry for more freedom. But every now and then, small government advocates are able to get certain policies passed locally that help boost, not stifle, freedom. That’s the case with Iowa.

IowaGovernor Terry Branstad has just signed a bill into law making the Hawkeye State one of the friendliest for gun owners.

The new law allows citizens to use weapons if they believe their lives are threatened and to sue local government officials if they refuse to lift restrictions associated with what many call “gun-free zones.”

House File 517 is being called the most “monumental and sweeping piece of gun legislation” in the state’s history by making the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution fully recognized and protected by state officials.

But local Democrats who are also anti-gun advocates have already voiced their contrarian opinions, afraid that the “stand your ground” portion of the new law will result in more cases of gun-related homicides.

They are also concerned that the law essentially criminalizes the creation of gun-free zones, allowing locals to carry guns anywhere they please.

But as many of us know, many of the now infamous shooting sprees have taken place in areas where policies are in place to prevent law-abiding individuals from carrying weapons. As many have pointed out, those who follow the law aren’t the ones more likely to commit crimes. Instead, those who ignore or effectively defy these rules are the ones causing gun-related crimes.

Like many activists have explained after the deadly Orlando slaughter, vulnerable individuals are “sitting ducks” in zones where the Second Amendment doesn’t apply. With its new law in place, Iowa could mitigate the risks associated with gun-related incidents and help its own citizens by allowing law-abiding individuals carrying guns to serve as deterrents to crime.

Instead of the fearful rhetoric that usually follows any pro-gun right measure such as the new Iowa law, what this new development must be accompanied by is the support for the basic principles of self-defense and property rights. After all, even if Democrats had a point when they say that protecting the Second Amendment will lead to more gun deaths, nobody has a right to deter an individual from owning property and from pursuing the defense of their person and property as they see fit. Or are anti-gun advocates unaware that minorities are also entitled to their defense when cornered or threatened by bigots?

Extremism First? No Thanks!

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

Extremism First? No Thanks!

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

Barry Goldwater told us that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. I agree.

I’d like to suggest to you today, however, that perhaps we shouldn’t lead with the most extreme example. As we discussed recently in Hyperbole is NOT Your Friend, we have common everyday examples at our fingertips of government force, ineptitude, and roadblocks to freedom that are relatable and real. These examples don’t require that we take an extreme position or talk about some of the extreme ideas we may hold right away.

Freedom is dangerous. That’s one of my favorite points made by Thomas Jefferson. He preferred the danger of freedom to the peace of slavery.

When we begin a conversation about liberty in an extreme manner right away, we don’t have the opportunity to bring people in. We don’t get them to listen to what we have to say, because we’ve turned them off by leading with an extreme position.

My suggestion to you is to keep things relatable and real. Make it something that others can engage with you about, rather than something that is too far outside their comfort zone to really have a strong rapport and be able to embrace the ideas of liberty.

Where Will You Finish?

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

Where Will You Finish?

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

We’ve all seen the inspirational quote, “It isn’t where you start, it’s how you finish.”

While I think that it is important to finish well, I find that your starting point is important. For example, how will you know the route to your destination, if you don’t know where you’re starting. More important than either part of the quote though is THAT you finish and WHERE you finish.

Our destination is simply our goal. As many can attest, our journey can offer twists and turns along the way. If I’d not joined the Advocates 3 years ago, I would be ramping up my campaign for City Council in Marietta, GA, instead of writing this from my office in Indianapolis. I had a fully-formed plan of next steps in serving in elected office, and that can change.

As I look forward to my next endeavor, I’m reminded that we can often change course and re-define our path. For me, I’m looking to continue to share my love of liberty with others.

While I may no longer serve in elected office, I’ve been able to impact the lives of countless individuals through volunteering, activism, writing, and the outreach that my position allows.

I’ve seen many formerly active libertarians fade away, burn out, or turn their back on libertarianism completely, so I feel fortunate to still be involved in the movement, and I look forward to what the future holds.

finishI do know this: I intend to finish where I started, as an active, engaging lover of liberty, eager to share my views with others. I hope that I’ve inspired enough people to join me as such to make the world in which I live more libertarian than I found it. I also hope that they find themselves in the same place.

I’ve laid out my intent and my hope for you. Where will YOU finish?

 

 

Woman Wrongfully Arrested By Sloppy Officer May Soon Get Justice

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Woman Wrongfully Arrested By Sloppy Officer May Soon Get Justice

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

In 2009, a woman was forced to spend 80 days in jail after being arrested on bogus drug dealing charges. While the charges were eventually dropped, allowing her to enjoy her freedom once again, the damage had already been done. When she left the prison, she walked out of her jail cell a free woman without a job.

ArrestedThe officer involved in this incident might now have to pay the price for his mistakes — a dream come true for criminal justice reform advocates who believe that officers operate with all the wrong incentives in mind since they are allowed to continue to make mistakes by being granted immunity.

The chain of events leading to the wrongful arrest started in March of 2009 when officer Jason Munday conducted an undercover investigation using a confidential informant.

The informant was wired with video and audio recorders. Giving the man $60, the officer told him to go to 728 East Pine Street to purchase crack cocaine from two individuals. After the exchange, the informant walked back to the officer and told him that he had purchased the illicit drug from April Smith, a black woman.

Since the audio recorder used in this transaction wasn’t fitted with batteries prior to the whole incident, it didn’t work and produced no audio recordings. On top of that, the camera used by the informant was pointing in the wrong direction, making it impossible for the officer to recognize the drug dealer. Instead of filming the transaction, the footage simply showed an unidentified black woman sitting on a front porch, while two others stand.

All the officer had was hearsay and a name. A name that could have easily been fabricated by the drug dealer in an attempt to shield her identity.

Regardless, the lack of evidence didn’t bother the officer. Instead of discarding what he had obtained, he started scanning police databases for anyone fitting the bill. When he found a black woman with a criminal record named April Yvette Smith, he didn’t flinch. That was his dealer, he thought to himself.

She had been convicted of selling crack cocaine in 1993, 1997, and 2005, but she wasn’t the only one. He also found other two April Smiths with criminal records in the same county. Even though he had no reason to believe that the dealer he was going after had, indeed, a criminal record. He also had no reason to believe that the dealer was a resident of that county. Again, nothing stopped the officer. Instead of further investigating, Munday decided to apply for an arrest warrant, picking one of the April Smiths he had found.

Nine months later, the officer found Smith about eleven miles away from the site where the drug deal had taken place.

The woman spent the next 80 days in jail, afraid she would be prosecuted for a crime she hadn’t committed.

When Smith sought justice, the court granted the officer immunity by claiming that he had enough reason to believe she could have been the dealer involved in the transaction. Thankfully, the Appeals Court disagreed.

According to the court, the officer ignored the fact that having a name in common with a potential criminal is not enough to establish probable cause, meaning that what the officer did was wrong. Concluding that the officer did not have enough information to apply for a warrant, the Appeals Court called out on the officer for failing to perform any investigative work prior to the arrest. And as a result, Munday has now been stripped of his immunity, opening the way for a lawsuit.

Removing responsibility away from the individual’s hands allows him to operate without having the burden of responding to his actions. When officers are granted immunity in similar cases, they tend to forget that their actions have reactions. Unless we begin holding everyone accountable — regardless of employment status — we’ll never be able to see a change in the culture of abuse. Will this case help to change this environment for good?

Residents Leave Kansas In Search For Legal Medical Cannabis

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

Residents Leave Kansas In Search For Legal Medical Cannabis

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

A new bill under review by the Kansas legislature could help residents suffering from conditions that could benefit from medical marijuana. This piece of news is being met with enthusiasm by locals since many have been moving out of the state in order to obtain the help that they need elsewhere.

KansasAccording to the Kansas City senator who wrote the bill, the benefits of legalizing the plant “outweigh the detriments.” And he’s right. After all, what right does a bureaucrat have to tell a patient what drugs he or she are allowed to take?

According to local news sources, the bill being pushed through the senate could help residents like Tracy Marling, who left the state three years ago. Her move was ignited by her daughter’s rare form of epilepsy. Because the young girl wasn’t responding to traditional medicines, the mother decided to take her child elsewhere. Now that she can use cannabis, the child has been responding better, and the mom is now telling reporters how the lack of legal access to the plant forced her to leave the state.

In an interview, Marling told reporters that if there’s “something that helps somebody this much, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have access to it.”

In other 28 states, medical marijuana is already a possibility. And if Marling’s story is an indicator, many other families may be moving to one of these states in order to escape prohibitionist policies in their own homes.

Locals who believe that the choice should be up to the individual and not to a bureaucrat are being urged by former Kansas residents like Marling to contact their representative. Hopefully, lawmakers will finally understand the importance of giving the individual back the power to choose, giving locals more control over their own lives.

To marijuana and anti-drug war advocates, the decentralization of policy making has been the best of gifts. As more states join the likes of California, Colorado, and Washington in nullifying the federal prohibition of marijuana, more families will have access to the plant, allowing patients who are suffering from maladies that could be treated with the help of the plant feel more comfortable with trying the treatment without fearing to be the target of law enforcement.

This move toward more freedom will also help medical research in the future, giving researchers the opportunity of exploring cannabis’ full potential. After all, when substances are illegal, even medical researchers have a hard time having access to the material.

In other words, when government prohibition is en vogue, medical innovation also pays a price. But who ultimately pays the cost is always the consumer.

You Disagree. Now What?

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

You Disagree. Now What?

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

When you come across a libertarian who you disagree with, what do you do?

As libertarians, you and I understand that individuals differ. We differ in how we choose to live our lives. We differ in the decisions we make about where our money goes. We also differ in what the proper role of government is.

Libertarians are no different. We came to libertarianism in many different ways. There are many libertarians who were authoritarians before realizing that freedom is the answer. We also have many who embraced libertarianism from the more conservative parts of the political spectrum or the more liberal parts. They may have been politically homeless or apathetic before their realization that libertarianism was the right political philosophy for their belief system.

Personally, I don’t like to see libertarians fight with one another. I don’t believe that it achieves anything in terms of persuasion. All it does is scare off those who might feel that they aren’t “pure” enough.

There’s nothing wrong with purity of beliefs, but there’s certainly no reason to fight with one another. In my opinion, we all have one common enemy, and that is the growth of the state.

We can always work out our differences in private, while we focus on persuading those who have yet to adopt a libertarian mindset. It’s okay for them to adopt a libertarian mindset that doesn’t align with yours 100 percent of the time on every issue. People will always think that their “brand” of libertarianism is THE brand of libertarianism.

It’s okay to think that because we all arrived here differently.

So, the next time you disagree with a fellow libertarian, what are you going to do?

Don’t Be Ugly To Others

in Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Don’t Be Ugly To Others

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

The 1999 award-winning film, the Green Mile, tells the story of the lives of guards on death row who are affected by one of their charges: a large black man accused of heinous crimes against children.

uglyIn perhaps one of the most iconic scenes of the movie, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) tells Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), that he’s tired:

I’m tired, boss. Tired of bein’ on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we’re coming from or going to, or why.

Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?

Coffey’s famous line sums up how I’ve been feeling since the 2016 election: tired.
Tired of people being ugly to one another because they didn’t agree on their presidential vote, they did or didn’t march for something, because they just disagree.

In addition to countless social media arguments I’ve witnessed between friends and family, I’ve read stories about couples separating because of their disagreement about presidential picks. During inauguration weekend, I witnessed firsthand the destruction of private property. (Not to mention the names my friends and I were called just for attending the 58th inauguration.)

College campuses are also experiencing violent protests and seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage because their students don’t want someone on their campus who has different opinions than they do.

People obviously have the right to express themselves and end relationships as they see fit. But isn’t arguing about the election with your high school friends on Facebook kind of lame and petty? There’s a vast difference between having an open dialogue and downright, mean-spirited fighting.

People should be able to do what they want, so long as they can face the response to what they do.

Never is it acceptable to throw rocks, bricks or start fires in order to get one’s point across. These actions have a victim.

I, too, am tired of the fighting and of the ugliness. If we all took the time to breathe, a moment to truly listen to one another, then we might be able to eradicate some of the ugliness in this world.

Snowden’s Non-Profit Releases Tools To Protect Journalists, Whistleblowers

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

Snowden’s Non-Profit Releases Tools To Protect Journalists, Whistleblowers

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

Edward Snowden is the gift that keeps on giving. At least for us, libertarians.

Not only did he blow the whistle on the federal government’s lack of care for Americans’ privacy rights, but he did so responsibly. Now, after having been the victim of persecution for almost four years, he’s helping to continue the revolution he helped to ignite. By giving others the tools they need to remain safe when doing the same he had to do.

Non-profitAccording to Wired, Snowden’s non-profit Freedom of the Press Foundation is releasing a series of tools to help journalists and newsrooms to ensure their sources and communications are secure. This would shield whistleblowers like Snowden himself, giving them the incentives to report on wrongdoing committed by government employees and elected officials. An important task, considering the real threats journalists suffered in the past years while attempting to maintain their sources protected.

In 2015, for instance, it was revealed that British spies had had access to emails from most major newspapers and wire services in the country. In late 2016, Montreal police had tracked phone calls made by a reporter in order to identify his sources. Unsurprisingly, the target of the investigation had been critical of the law enforcement agency.

More recently, the current US president Donald Trump called on Congress to investigate leaks made to NBC news.

As the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s phone continues to ring off the hook for information on how to stay protected, the organization has launched a list of features and tools such as SecureDrop. The tool that functions through Tor, and that allows whistleblowers to make secure uploads of documents or leaked materials.

Sunder is another tool Snowden is helping to popularize. It was built as a coder for Signal, and because it requires passwords from multiple individuals so that the encrypted data is available, it will also keep sources secure.

Aside from these two tools, Snowden also helped to design an iPhone case that alerts the user if phone’s data is being transmitted without his knowledge, as well as a new version of Jitsi, an encrypted chat software that would be designed for newsrooms use.

While privacy advocates cannot fix the surveillance problem overnight, Snowden said about his organization’s goals, building a shield that will help to protect whistleblowers may do the trick.

Instead of sitting on his hands, watching the surveillance state grow massively with each new administration, Snowden took matters into his own hands. Developing his own solutions while supporting those who do the same. Living freely, in spite of government overreach.

Arizona Bill Could Be A Win For Sound Money

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

Arizona Bill Could Be A Win For Sound Money

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

A bill being considered by the Arizona legislature could be the park of a sound money revolution. Much like the marijuana legalization movement ignited by anti-drug war advocates across the states, this new movement could help strike the root of all of our economic woes.

MoneyAccording to the Tenth Amendment Center, House Bill 2014 would initiate the sound money revolution by eliminating state capital gains taxes on gold and silver specie. Thus encouraging individuals to use the metals as currency. The bill, which passed the House on the 13th, will need a final approval from the Senate. And if approved, the legislation would then initiate a movement that could help put an end to the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.

By removing the burden of applying state capital gains taxes on income “derived from the exchange of one kind of legal tender for another kind of legal tender” and redefining legal tender as ““a medium of exchange, including specie, that is authorized by the United States Constitution or Congress for the payment of debts, public charges, taxes and dues,” coins having precious metal content could become, once again, a legal form of currency.

By passing this bill, the Arizona legislature would be allowing silver and gold specie to be treated as money, essentially “legalizing the constitution.”

Currently, Arizona law requires individuals to pay capital gains taxes whenever they use gold and silver in transactions or any time they want to exchange the metal for Federal Reserve notes. Due to inflation, the purchasing power of fiat money decreases, which then causes the metal’s nominal value to rise. Thus the “gain” taxes. Even if they are fictional. The result is obviously unfair because it penalizes those using gold and silver as money.

By passing HB 2014, Arizonans would not have to add the amount of any net capital gain tied to the exchange of different kinds of legal tender, freeing the consumer from being subject to state taxes.

This could open up currency competition in Arizona, causing other states to perhaps do the same once they realize competition will help to bring the government monopoly over the currency down.

To advocates of states’ rights like Tenth Amendment founder Michael Boldin, this piece of legislation in Arizona is a great first step to “end the fed’s monetary monopoly,” even if it won’t put an end to it overnight. By giving the individual Arizona resident his freedom to trade freely, he will be securing the purchasing power of his money as a result.

Hyperbole Is NOT Your Friend

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

Hyperbole Is NOT Your Friend

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

How many times have you been listening to a policy discussion or debate and you hear a stat, fact, figure, or talking point that just seems completely unbelievable? You go home afterward and find out after some research that it’s actually false or misrepresented.

As libertarians, you and I don’t need to be doing things like that. We don’t need to embellish or exaggerate the facts. Today, government gives us so many real, yet unbelievable, examples to prove our point, that exaggeration and embellishment are completely unnecessary. We see things that happen daily that we never thought were possible, but they actually happen. Government is the cause.

If we do things to exaggerate, embellish, or use hyperbole to make our point, we erode trust with those we talk to. This can ruin our chances at future persuasion, not only in conversations you’ll be having with them, but also when other libertarians do as well. That lessens your credibility, as well as anyone else they encounter that identifies as a libertarian.

The bottom line is, if the REAL every day horrors brought about by government don’t persuade, hyperbole, histrionics, and exaggeration aren’t going to change someone’s mind, you may as well move on to a different approach to try to bring them to embrace a libertarian perspective.

At the end of the day, let’s remember that hyperbole is NOT your friend.

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