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Woody Harrelson: People Would Do Fine Without Government

in Communicating Liberty by Advocates HQ Comments are off

Woody HarrelsonWoody Harrelson is one of the world’s most famous and respected film stars. He’s also well known as an outspoken activist for causes including civil liberties, peace, environmental issues and relegalizing marijuana.

In an interview in the June / July 2013 Issue of Details magazine Harrelson expands on his political views — revealing a strong skepticism about politics and politicians and declaring, among other things, that he’s an anarchist who thinks people would get along just fine without the State.

Excerpts: 

WOODY HARRELSON: I tend to not like politicians, because it’s a subtle form of prostitution. Or maybe not so subtle.

DETAILS: So you dislike Democrats as much as you dislike the GOP?

WOODY HARRELSON: It’s all synchronized swimming to me. They all kneel and kiss the ring. Who’s going to take on the oil industry or the medical industry? People compare Obama to Lyndon Johnson, but I think a better comparison is between Obama and Nixon. Because Nixon came into office saying he was going to pull out of Vietnam, and then he escalated the war. A lot of us were led to believe that Obama was the peace president, but there are still, I think, 70,000 troops in Afghanistan.

DETAILS: You’re an advocate for legalizing marijuana. Do you think recent events make it more likely?

WOODY HARRELSON: I can’t imagine that it’s going to happen, no. The deeper issue is, what does it mean to live in a free country? In the U.S., something like 80 percent of people in prison are there for “consensual crimes.”

DETAILS: Do you want to get more involved in politics?

WOODY HARRELSON: No. I don’t believe in politics. I’m an anarchist, I guess you could say. I think people could be just fine looking after themselves.

The Surveillance Scandal: The Right — and the Wrong –Terms

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

“In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the 

Privacy or Liberty?human kingdom, define or be defined.”

So wrote the great libertarian Thomas Szasz.

Define or be defined. That’s a key principle of effective communication.

You can see this at work right now, in the unfolding scandal concerning government surveillance and the resulting public debate.

Those who defend such programs are using specific words to attempt to redefine and change what is at stake in this debate.

“I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security, and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” President Obama said this month. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

Similarly, I’ve watched TV pundits and talk show hosts discuss this issue over and over again — always using the word “privacy” and talking about “the debate over balancing security with privacy.”

What’s going on here? The president and his supporters are attempting to define — or perhaps more accurately, redefine — the debate.

They want us to see this, and discuss this, as a question of “privacy” and “convenience” versus “security.”

Or even better for them, as Obama puts it in the quote above: “100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience” versus security.

They want these words and phrases to define the debate because, if we debate using these terms, they win.

The argument that we must compromise on “privacy” and “convenience” sounds so reasonable. After all, don’t we all routinely relinquish some privacy for other values? For example, we voluntarily give websites like Facebook our personal information, in exchange for the value of being able to use their services. We give credit card companies detailed information about our financial and personal lives for the benefits of using their cards.

As for “convenience,” it sounds unreasonable — in fact, downright selfish — not to be willing to give up something so trivial as a little convenience in order to protect Americans from terrorism.

That’s the argument the administration and its defenders want to make. It’s how they want to frame the debate.

But “privacy” and “convenience” are not what this debate is about. Not at all.

It’s about liberty. The Fourth Amendment. Fundamental Bill of Rights freedoms. The Constitution. Basic rights. Core freedoms.

“Privacy” and “convenience” are squishy, malleable, non-political terms. It’s easy to imagine “striking a balance” between them and something so vital as security.

But it’s far harder to imagine “balancing” your fundamental liberty. Anyone familiar with politics and history can see that such balancing acts quickly tip over to the government side.

They want to change the debate. Don’t let them.

Don’t use terms like “privacy” and “convenience” when discussing this issue. You lose every time these words are the ones used to describe what’s at stake in this debate. Politely but firmly object to them if politicians and others use them.

Point out that this debate is about liberty. The Fourth Amendment. Fundamental Bill of Rights freedoms. The Constitution. Constitutional guarantees. Basic rights. Core freedoms.

This is also a great time to memorize, and quote, the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

And the words of President Obama, in 2009: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

Define — or be defined.

Three More Reasons to Fear — and ABOLISH — the IRS (VIDEO)

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

In the wake of the recent IRS scandals, our friends at Reason TV have produced a fast, funny — and creepy – video that gives you “three good reasons to be scared as hell of the IRS.”

Reason’s Nick Gillespie points out that:

1. The IRS always been a political weapon.

John F Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon all sicked the IRS on enemies and dissenters. And they were just following in the footsteps of Franklin Roosevelt, whose own son said his father was “the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution.”

2. IRS rulings are super-complicated and capricious.

The federal tax code is longer than Atlas Shrugged, Ulysses, and the Old Testament put together — and far less entertaining. And it’s so complex even former IRS commissioners need help preparing their returns.

3. Get ready, America: the IRS is… Obamacare’s enforcement mechanism.

Starting next year, the IRS will be the cop patrolling the Affordable Care Act’s mandates. Yes, you’ll be explaining to the IRS when, where, and how you bought health care.

Learn from this entertaining short video — just a minute and a half long — and share it with friends.

As for the solution, we agree with Libertarian Party Executive Director Carla Howell: abolish the IRS and the income tax — right now!

Resource: A Verifiable and Disturbing Look Into “Top Secret America”

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

“Top Secret America” is a investigative report first published in The Top Secret AmericaWashington Post on July 19, 2010. It is based on a two-year investigation by a team of journalists headed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dana Priest and William Arkin.

Top Secret America attempted to discover the size and scope of the post-9/11 growth of the U.S. intelligence community.

Though the report is now nearly three years old, it remains a startling and shocking profile of the post 9/11 security state. It’s available online, along with supplementary material.

The Post found that the top-secret world the federal government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 “has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”

This constitutes nothing less than “an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight.”

Among the investigation’s findings:

  • Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
  • An estimated 854,000 people — nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C. — hold top-secret security clearances.
  • In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings — about 17 million square feet of space.
  • Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
  • Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year — a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

Indeed, the secret government is growing so fast and so secretly that no one really knows its size or scope — including those who are supposedly in charge of it.

Reports the Post: “In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials — called Super Users — have the ability to even know about all the department’s activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation’s most sensitive work.”

In the years since, we can only imagine the further expansion of Top Secret America. Revelations since then include, for example, charges from reliable sources that the government is tracking most if not all electronic communication in America.

This report is an excellent mainstream account of startling information and thus is a useful and reliable resource. Just remember, things are even worse than the Post reports.

Britain’s Young Are Libertarian; British rEVOLution Brewing?

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

British libertarians?

“Young Britons are classical liberals: as well as prizing social freedom, they believe in low taxes, limited welfare and personal responsibility. In America they would be called libertarians.”

Libertarianism is growing fast among Britain’s youth. Indeed, surveys indicate this is the most libertarian-leaning generation in British history. And libertarian ideas are rapidly gaining ground.

So reports The Economist magazine, June 1st 2013.

The Economist reports that the latest findings of the long-running British Social Attitudes survey (BSA) show young Britons have a “suspicion of state interventions of most varieties” and tend to feel that “people have a right to express themselves by what they consume and how they choose to live.”

“Predictably, that translates into a tolerance for social and cultural difference,” the Economist reports. “Polls show that the young are more relaxed than others about drugs, sex, alcohol, euthanasia and non-traditional family structures. They dislike immigration, but not as strongly as do their elders. And they are becoming ever more liberal. The BSA has tracked attitudes for three decades. It shows that the young are now far more tolerant of homosexuality, for example, than were previous generations at the same age.”

What about economic liberty? Young Britons are also far more skeptical of the welfare state: “More than two-thirds of people born before 1939 consider the welfare state ‘one of Britain’s proudest achievements.’ Less than one-third of those born after 1979 say the same.

The Economist quotes pollster Ben Page on the trend: “Every successive generation is less collectivist than the last.”

The Economist further notes: “All age groups are becoming more socially and economically liberal. But the young are ahead of the general trend. …

“Polling by YouGov shows that those aged 18 to 24 are also more likely than older people to consider social problems the responsibility of individuals rather than government. They are deficit hawks… They care about the environment, but are also keen on commerce: more supportive of the privatization of utilities, more likely to reject government attempts to ban branding on cigarette packets and more likely to agree that Tesco, Britain’s supermarket giant, ‘has only become so large by offering customers what they want.’”

Most of the young are disaffected politically. They are turned off by politics and there is very little libertarianism in the major parties.

Yet there may be a British rEVOLution brewing: “But among the politically engaged minority, libertarianism is growing. In April [the writer of this article] squeezed into a fuggy crowd of enthusiasts trading quotes by Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard in a room above a central London pub. Between discourses on the merits of Bitcoin (‘a currency without government-perfect!’) old-timers marvelled at the surge of interest. Freedom Forum, an annual convention for young libertarians, has tripled in size since its launch in 2011; a similar venture planned for July — a ‘Freedom Week’ of debate and lectures — has ten applicants for every place. Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think-tank, declares himself ‘gobsmacked’ at the new popularity of anti-statist ideas and confidently predicts the emergence of a mass libertarian movement.”

They Said It… With Ron Paul, Antonin Scalia And More

in Liberator Online by Advocates HQ Comments are off

TAXATION IS CONFISCATION: “The latest scandal in Jay LenoWashington, of course, is raising questions about the IRS. You know, I have a question. Why is it called the Internal Revenue Service? How is having your money confiscated a service?” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

SOME GOOD FROM TAX SCANDAL: “A Democratic congressman said that he worries that the IRS scandal might have a chilling effect on the IRS and that they might be afraid to audit people. So finally some good is coming out of all of this.” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

IRS’S VERY JOB IS TO VIOLATE LIBERTY:
Dr. Ron Paul“While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.” – Ron Paul, “The IRS’s Job Is To Violate Our Liberties,” Texas Straight Talk, May 20, 2013.

DON’T FUND AL-QAEDA: “We should not aid the allies of al-Qaeda in Syria, nor should we be giving weapons to radical extremists who might use them against Syria’s two million Christians.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arguing against arming Syrian rebel groups allied with Al-Qaeda. See ten-minute Senate video of Paul arguing this before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations here.

CUT GOV’T, END POVERTY: “The Feds spend almost 4 trillion dollars and most people have no clue about what to cut? Well, I have a few ideas. Who needs a Commerce Department? Commerce… just happens. The Education department? Department of Energy? Labor? Cut those too! If we cut government to the limited government the founders had in mind, poverty would become something so rare our kids would have to learn about it in history books.” — libertarian journalist John Stossel, “The Fight Over ‘Austerity,’” May 30, 2013.

Justice Antonin Scalia

SUPREME COURT SAYS NEVER MIND THAT PESKY FOURTH AMENDMENT: “The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment. … Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. …I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection. ” – Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissenting opinion in Maryland v. King, June 3, 2013. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police can collect DNA from people merely arrested, not convicted of a crime.

THE REAL PURPOSE OF GOV’T SCHOOLS: “The real purpose of public (i.e., government) schooling is to produce good little citizens who defer to the authority of the federal government. Through 12 years of regimentation within an army-lite structure, the minds of people are gradually molded from childhood to trustingly defer to the judgment of federal officials, especially when it comes to things like ‘national security.’” – Jacob G. Hornberger, President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, “An Example of Deference to Authority,” May 31, 2013.

JOBS, WHO NEEDS ‘EM: “President Obama gave the commencement address at Morehouse College over the weekend. Great speech, very inspiring. He told the young graduates their future is bright — unless, of course, they want jobs.” — Jay Leno May 21, 2013.

How NOT to Talk to People About Liberty (VIDEO)

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

One of the best ways to learn how to better communicate the ideas of liberty is to see someone doing it… the wrong way.

How NOT to Talk to People About Liberty by The Libertarienne Show is a fun, funny, short video that shows you exactly that.

In just a quick minute and a half, you’ll see a catalog of ways guaranteed to turn most listeners off to libertarian ideas — maybe forever.

In addition to laughing — this is some funny stuff — you might go, “Oops!” and blush with self-recognition once or twice. I know I did!

If you like this video be sure to also check out their Facebook page, which has lots more great stuff.

How NOT to Talk to People About Liberty stars Cathy Reisenwitz with special guest, Libertarian Girl.

Hardy Macia (1969-2013) – A Life for Liberty

in Liberator Online, News From the Advocates for Self-Government by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Hardy Macia

The world has lost a true champion of liberty with the untimely death of Hardy Macia, who died from Hodgkin’s lymphoma on May 13 at the age of 43.

Hardy Macia was my hero — a modern-day Paul Revere, a true light of liberty, a good man, a kind and gentle spirit.

Hardy made invaluable contributions to the entire libertarian movement. He was active in the Libertarian Party, where he served as an officer in the national party and ran for office several times. He was a member of the Free State Project who made the move to New Hampshire to advance the libertarian cause.

Hardy was a big fan of the Advocates for Self-Government, and he served this organization in many ways: as a donor, a member of our Board of Directors, and the creator of the famous mobile app for the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

Hardy was a father and a successful businessman, the founder and president of his own software company, Catamount Software. He had a passion for liberty and he spent much of his life working for this cause, right up to the very end.

Hardy was running for Congress as a Libertarian when he got his cancer diagnosis — and he continued that run, hoping to wake a few more people up to the cause of freedom. He even fought zombies in this funny ad from his campaign: Read more

Piers Morgan: Gun “Nuts” May Be Right About Gov’t Tyranny

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

CNN’s Piers Morgan is one of America’s loudest and most public Piers Morganenemies of gun rights.

What especially sets him off is when someone on his show argues that the Second Amendment was designed to enable citizens to defend their liberty should the U.S. government turn tyrannical.

For example, when conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro made that argument on January 10 this year, Morgan sneered: “Do you understand how absurd you sound?”

Which makes the following exchange from Morgan’s May 20 show all the more remarkable.

Speaking about the Obama IRS and Associated Press scandals with his guest, libertarian magician Penn Jillette, Morgan said this:

“I’ve had some of the pro-gun lobbyists on here saying to me, ‘Well, the reason we need to be armed is because of tyranny from our own government.’ And I’ve always laughed at them. And I’ve always said, ‘Don’t be so ridiculous. Your own government won’t turn itself on you.’

“But, actually, when you look at this [the Obama scandals] — it’s nothing to do with guns — but actually, this is vaguely tyrannical behavior by the American government.

“I think what the IRS did is bordering on tyrannical behavior. I think what the Department of Justice has done, actually, to the AP [Associated Press] is bordering on tyrannical behavior.”

“There’s no doubt about that, once you use the word ‘bordering,’ that’s true,” agreed Penn Jillette. “I also think that it shows you how much we can trust the government and just sit back, which is not very much at all. We have to be ever vigilant.”

“I, Pencil: The Movie” (VIDEO)

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

In the last issue of The Liberator Online, Advocates President Sharon Harris shared her love for Leonard Reed’s classic essay “I, Pencil.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has created a great six-minute “I, Pencil” video that explores that same message.

The video opens with a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

It then proceeds to open our eyes to some astounding, but generally unappreciated and ignored, wonders that surround us — beginning with the humble yellow pencil.

When you understand the story of “I, Pencil” you will never view a “simple pencil” — or any other manufactured object — the same way again. Your mind will be opened and you will see that there are indeed miracles and marvels all around you, every moment of every day.

The website hosting “I Pencil” has several other short films and written material that build further on the message of “I, Pencil.” CEI hopes this will enable teachers, professors and lecturers to make easy use of “I, Pencil” as a teaching tool. Share it with friends.

Reason Poll: Only Six Percent of Americans Think Marijuana Possession Should Be Punished With Jail Time

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

Marijuana Possession Punishable with Jail Time?That’s right: only six percent of Americans think minor marijuana possession should be punishable by jail time.

Further, a strong plurality of Americans think the use or possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be punishable… at all.

These astonishing results, unimaginable just a few years ago, are from a new Reason-Rupe poll conducted May 9-13. They show how rapidly support for ending the despotic War on Marijuana is growing. (The Reason-Rupe polls are a project of the Reason Foundation and funded by the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.)

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,003 people asked: “Which approach do you think government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana?”

Only six percent of respondents said possession should be punishable with jail.

Twenty percent said it should result in mandatory substance abuse counseling.

Thirty-two percent said users should incur a fine, not jail.

Fully 35 percent of respondents said people caught with small amounts of marijuana should not be punished at all.

As Reason magazine notes, “The Reason-Rupe poll is one of the few instances — possibly the first — in which the usual polling dichotomies of incarceration versus treatment and criminal penalty versus civil penalty have been expanded to include no penalty whatsoever.

“The results suggest that Americans are comfortable with the idea of decriminalization — which reduces the penalty for minor marijuana possession to a civil fine — and more sympathetic than ever to the idea of fully legalizing possession.”

In addition, the poll found a majority of Americans support the right of states to legalize marijuana. Specifically, 52 percent would support legislation to “prevent the federal government from prosecuting people who grow, possess, or sell marijuana in the states that have legalized it.”

Libertarian Party: End IRS scandals — By Abolishing the IRS and Income Tax

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

In the wake of the latest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandalsLibertarian Party Executive Director Carla Howell says there’s only one certain way to end all such scandals, now and in the future:

“We must abolish the IRS and end any need for a regulatory agency that snoops into people’s private lives,” Howell said on May 17.

Further, Howell offers a compelling argument that this is not only possible, it would have tremendous benefits for thAbolish the IRSe country.

If we just cut the federal budget back to 1992 levels, Howell says, we could end the IRS and the income tax — and leave the government with more than sufficient funding to perform its constitutional obligations.

1992 was the year Bill Clinton was elected president. Few people at the time would have argued that the federal government of 1992 was too small. Indeed, a few years later, President Clinton himself would famously declare it was time to reduce the size and scope of the federal government because “the era of big government is over” and Americans needed “a smaller, less bureaucratic government… that lives within its means.”

Says the Libertarian Party’s Howell: “We must draw back total federal spending to the level of 1992, which is more than enough to fulfill the government’s constitutional duties to protect our life, liberty, and property. This will allow us to balance the budget immediately, end the federal income tax completely, and give back an average of more than $12,000 to every family in America.”

“We don’t need an income tax, and we certainly don’t need the IRS,” Howell says.

The idea of getting rid of the income tax and the IRS by reducing the federal government to its 1992 size sounds downright reasonable. Indeed, a government funded at 1992 levels would still be far too big for many Americans.

Howell notes that IRS political scandals are nothing new. “The presidential administrations of Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and, now, Barack Obama have all been caught using the IRS to target political enemies.

“As long as we have the IRS — and the income tax — we should expect more presidents to use their power to silence and intimidate free voices. No IRS investigation or firing of a few scapegoats will change that.”

Howell points out there are many other benefits to ending the income tax.

“Ending the income tax, abolishing the IRS, and cutting federal spending to the level of 1992 means no more deficit spending,” Howell says. “This will stop inflation and stabilize prices. Even more importantly, it will transfer wealth out of the wasteful, dysfunctional and destructive government sector and into the productive private sector, resulting in a bounty of new jobs and prosperity for Americans.

“We will make living in America and doing business in America much better,” Howell says. “Individuals, businesses, and political organizations will all be safe from government interrogation and free to express their political views. It will dramatically increase the wealth of the private sector and inspire hundreds of billions of dollars in investment in small businesses and American jobs.”

And why stop there?

“We can cut federal spending by 50 percent, or even 90 percent, and Americans will be better for it,” Howell argues. “We can end the personal income tax, the corporate income tax, the death tax, and all federal payroll taxes. There will be no need for the IRS, nor any substitute agency.”

Yet another benefit of abolishing the IRS is that it would become far more difficult to fund a massive global interventionist military presence and warfare around the world, Howell notes.

“It will also require our massive military budgets to go down, which currently encourage overseas meddling and war,” Howell says. “We get rid of the IRS, we get rid of the income tax, we dramatically downsize federal spending and taxation, and America and the world will be better for it.”

The Libertarian Party’s call to abolish the income tax and IRS echoes Ron Paul, who for years introduced the Liberty Amendment in Congress to do exactly that.

Want to convince others that this is a great idea? Here’s a four-part series of short articles by Advocates President Sharon Harris that offers suggestions for doing this:

Making the Case for Ending the Income Tax: Part 1.
Making the Case for Ending the Income Tax: Part 2.
Making the Case for Ending the Income Tax: Part 3.
Making the Case for Ending the Income Tax: Part 4.

They Said It… With Barack Obama, Penn Jillette and More

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off


TAXATION IS THEFT:
Penn Jillette“So many people say, ‘You know, your taxes aren’t taken by force,’ and that’s foolish. If you don’t pay your taxes and you don’t answer the warrant and you don’t go to court, eventually someone will pull a gun. Eventually someone with a gun will show up.” — renowned magician, author and libertarian Penn Jillette, interview, The Daily Caller, May 6, 3013.

WAR ON TERROR IS JUST GETTING STARTED: “At least 10 to 20 years.” – Michael Sheehan, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, estimating at a May 16 U.S. Senate hearing how much longer the 12-year-old “War on Terrorism” will go on.

Jonathan TurleyOBAMA WORST PRESIDENT EVER FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES: “From unilateral military actions to warrantless surveillance… the painful fact is that Barack Obama is the president that Nixon always wanted to be. Four decades ago, Nixon was halted in his determined effort to create an “imperial presidency” with unilateral powers and privileges. In 2013, Obama wields those very same powers openly and without serious opposition. The success of Obama in acquiring the long-denied powers of Nixon is one of his most remarkable, if ignoble, accomplishments. … Obama has not only openly asserted powers that were the grounds for Nixon’s impeachment, but he has made many love him for it. More than any figure in history, Obama has been a disaster for the U.S. civil liberties movement.” — liberal constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley, “Nixon has won Watergate,” column in USA Today, March 25, 2013.

OBAMA TO STUDENTS — IGNORE REALITY, GOV’T IS YOUR FRIEND:
“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly Barack Obamawarn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all of our problems…. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.” — President Obama’s commencement address at Ohio State University on May 5. That’s right, kids, don’t worry your pretty little heads about drone assassinations of U.S. citizens, unconstitutional wars, sky-high taxes, IRS snooping, government recording your emails, the War on Drugs, the U.S. spy empire…

JAY LENO ON HOW TO REPEAL OBAMACARE: “This week will mark the 37th time House Republicans have tried to repeal Obamacare. If Republicans really wanted to do away with Obamacare they should just endorse it as a conservative non-profit and let the IRS take it down.” — Jay Leno, May 16, 2013.

THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS: “This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate hearings. For those of you too young to remember, back then the administration had an enemies list. They were spying on reporters, and they used the IRS to harass groups they didn’t like. Thank God those days are gone forever.” — Jay Leno. May 15, 2013.
Jimmy Fallon
SPYING ON THE MEDIA: “It was just revealed that the Department of Justice secretly recorded the phone calls of AP journalists for two months. Obama promised reporters that the incident will be immediately investigated — by the Department of Justice.” — Jimmy Fallon, “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” May 14, 2013.

ON THE MOVE FOR LIBERTY:
John Stossel“Forty-three million Americans moved from one state to another between 1995 and 2010 — about one-seventh of Americans. … Americans have moved away from high-taxed, heavily regulated states to lower-taxed, less-regulated states. Most don’t think of it as a political decision. They just go where opportunities are, and that usually means where there’s less government.” — libertarian journalist John Stossel, “Live Free or Move,” syndicated column May 8, 2013.

Steve Cohen (D-TN)

DEMOCRAT RIPS INTO DOJ ON MARIJUANA: “One of the greatest threats to liberty has been the government taking people’s liberty for things that people are in favor of. The Pew Research Group shows that 52 percent of people do not think marijuana should be illegal. And yet there are people in jail, and your Justice Department is continuing to put people in jail, for sale, and use, on occasion, of marijuana. That’s something the American public has finally caught up with. It was a cultural lag. And it’s been an injustice for 40 years in this country to take people’s liberty for something that was similar to alcohol. You have continued what is allowing the Mexican cartels power, and the power to make money, ruin Mexico, hurt our country by having a Prohibition in the late 20th and 21st century. We saw it didn’t work in this country in the 20s. We remedied it. This is the time to remedy this Prohibition, and I would hope you would do so.” — Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), criticizing Attorney General Eric Holder in the U.S. House of Representatives, May 15, 2013.

Does Australia Disprove Arguments Against the Minimum Wage?

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

Dr. Mary Ruwart is a leading expert in libertarian communication. In this column she offers short answers to real questions about libertarianism. To submit questions to Dr. Ruwart, see end of column.

Does Australia disprove arguments against the minimum wage?

QUESTION: A recent graphic going around Facebook asserts that Australia’s employment situation disproves the notion that a high minimum wage leads to higher unemployment. The graphic says the Australian minimum wage is the equivalent of $16.43 and their unemployment rate is Does Australia disprove arguments against the minimum wage?5.3%. Does this refute arguments about the minimum wage?

MY SHORT ANSWER: The real question is “Without the minimum wage, would employment be higher than it is now?” Almost all of the research suggests that the answer would be a resounding “yes.”

However, another aspect of raising the minimum wage is the destruction of jobs of our most disadvantaged workers (minorities, undereducated, etc.). As minimum wage rises, flipping hamburgers (for example) becomes more attractive to college students, teens saving for college, etc. Minorities without a high school diploma become less necessary to employers; as a result, the disadvantaged often end up with no job at all because they have few other options. Their primary bargaining chip is their willingness to take a little less pay than their advantaged counterparts.

To the extent that minimum wage laws take this option away, they destroy jobs for those who can least afford to be without one.

In his book The State Against Blacks, economist Walter Williams points out that expansion of the minimum wage laws was the primary cause for black teenage unemployment, which skyrocketed after 1950.

The disadvantaged in Australia have probably been displaced from the job market in favor of the advantaged because of their high minimum wage.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further readings on this issue:

* “The Australian Minimum Wage Myth” by John Stossel, July 13, 2012. The award-winning libertarian journalist shows the devastating effect of the minimum wage on young, unskilled workers.

Excerpt: “In June, Australia’s unemployment rate for workers age 15 to 19 was 16.5%. Last December, 63% of all jobs lost were jobs for young, unskilled Australians.

“It’s simple: when the price of something goes up, people buy less. So when the price of labor goes up, employers hire less. …. The unseen consequences of minimum wage laws are the millions of poor, disadvantaged people who don’t have job opportunities. In the United States, it hurts poor people and inner-city minorities. In Australia, it hurts young workers.”

* “April unemployment down, as Australians stop looking for work, and full-time jobs give way to part-time work” is a short report by Roy Morgan Research, which describes itself as “Australia’s best known and longest established market research company.”

Excerpt: “In April 2013 an estimated 1.15 million Australians (9.3% of the workforce) were unemployed. This is down 1.5% from last month and is the lowest level of unemployment in Australia for nearly a year, since May 2012 (8.2%, 997,000).”

Minimum Wage, Maximum Damage by Jim Cox. This short (40 pages) idea-packed booklet annihilates the arguments for the minimum wage. It explains in clear, concise and compelling language how and why the minimum wage destroys jobs and causes great harm and suffering. It’s a great resource to quickly learn the best arguments against this misguided and misunderstood law. Published by the Advocates for Self-Government.

* * * * * * * * * *
Got questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR “tough questions” on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart at:ruwart@theAdvocates.org

Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can’t personally acknowledge all emails. But we’ll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.

Dr. Ruwart’s previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.

Dr. Ruwart’s brand new book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.

You’re on Candid Camera!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Here’s a surefire tool that will get you off to a great start in any conversation about the ideas of liberty.

Start off with a

Simple
Movement
Into
Libertarian
Engagement

…better known as a SMILE! (Check out the first letters of that phrase.)

Yes, SMILE!

Scientists have been studying the power and benefits of smiling since the 1800s. Today there’s a great deal of science arguing for the social and personal benefits of smiling.

A smile is one of the best shields against hostility and one of the best ways to assure that the other person is open to hearing what you have to say.

A smile is contagious! People respond to smiles. The other person will often smile back, making the conversation much more pleasant.

The act of smiling affects your body chemistry in ways science is still trying to understand. But scientists agree that, for whatever reasons, smiling makes you feel good. And when your audience responds with a smile, they, too, feel good. Indeed, MRI studies indicate that seeing a smile activates the part of the brain that processes rewards. Thus a smiling person may be perceived as more attractive.

“Simply using the same muscles as smiling will put you in a happier mood,” says Dr Michael Lewis, psychologist at Cardiff University. “That’s because use of those muscles is part of how the brain evaluates mood.” Your listeners, too, will pick up on this.

Smiling can actually reduce stress and help you feel better in stressful conditions — like, for example, public speaking.

It’s important that your smile be genuine, not fake. Happily, when you talk about liberty, you’ve got something to smile about. You’re sharing the good news of liberty — ideas that can change lives and change the world in the most wonderful ways. It may help you to take a moment before speaking to reflect on the positive and beneficial nature of what you’re about to speak on. This can help you to make your smile genuine.

Like many seemingly simple communication techniques, smiling doesn’t always come naturally. You need to practice at it, and remember to use it, especially in political discussions.

That’s why I created this acronym. Use it to remind yourself to start your political discussions with this potent weapon: the Simple Movement Into Libertarian Engagement. Aka the SMILE!

What’s Stopping the Private Sector from Offering Better and Cheaper Education than the Government?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Communicating Liberty, Education, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Dr. Mary Ruwart is a leading expert in libertarian communication. In this column she offers short answers to real questions about libertarianism. To submit questions to Dr. Ruwart, see end of column.

The Old SchoolhouseQUESTION: If the private sector can provide education better and cheaper than the government, why aren’t they doing it? Nothing is stopping private industry from providing better service than government schools to poor children. They can do this right now and it is 100% legal. So why don’t they?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Actually, providing education to poor or even middle-class children is NOT 100% legal. Parents who send their children to school are required by law to utilize schools that meet specific requirements, such as certified teachers, accreditation, and specific types of curricula.

Even home-schoolers must abide by regulations, which differ from state to state. If parents don’t follow these regulations, their children can be taken from them by Social Services, even if the children can ace every standardized test.

In spite of these hurdles, the private sector already does provides better education for many poor and disadvantaged. The typical Catholic inner-city school takes 88% of all applicants, many of whom are not even Catholic. About 20% of Catholic schools accept students expelled from public schools. Even after adjusting for race, family background, and social class, the average Catholic high school student gained three years of learning above that of the average public school student. The educational gap between minorities and whites narrows for minorities in Catholic schools.

Ombudsman Educational Services, specializing in drop-outs, boasts an 85% graduation rate. Students advance one grade level for each 20 hours in this program, while spending half as much as the public schools. A quarter of the students at the renowned Marva Collins Preparatory School in Chicago (recently closed) had learning disabilities, yet almost all students read one level above their grade. Tuition was less than a third of what public schools in the area received per pupil.

Of course, pre-schoolers are unaffected by educational regulations. Consequently, the private sector can provide advertiser-sponsored Sesame Street and other educational programs that are essentially free for the user. Likewise, the Internet provides educational resources for just about anyone, for low or no cost, including virtually everything taught in K-12. However, even if a child had the equivalent of a college degree from such a learning experience, they still would be required by law to attend a government-regulated school or regulated home school.

There is hope. The innovative private sector may eventually overcome all of these government-created obstacles. Today many experts say we are on the verge of a revolution in cheap or free online education. One explosive new example of this is Khan Academy, which describes itself as “a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.”

References:
Catholic Schools and the Common Good by A.S. Bryk, V.E. Lee, and P.B. Holland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), pp. 246-247; 262-263; 286.

Educational Choice for Michigan by L. Reed and H. Hutchinson, (Midland, MI: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 1991), p. 49.

J.G. Cibulka, T.J. O’Brien, and D. Zewe, Inner-City Private Elementary Schools: A Study (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1982), p. 137.

Do Private Schools Serve Difficult-to-Educate Students?” by J.R. Beales and T.F. Bertonneau, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, October 1997.

C. Lochhead, “A Lesson from Private Practitioners,” Insight, December 24, 1990, pp. 34-36;

Choice, Charters, and Privatizations” by D.W. Kirkpatrick, schoolreport.com, September 1996.

“A Canadian’s Perspective on Milwaukee’s Choice Program,” School Reform News, June 1999, p. 7.

T. Hetland, “Learning Thrives at Westside Prep,” Heartland Perspective, January 15, 1993, p. 2.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further reading and viewing on this topic:

* “The Education Visionary: Khan Academy founder Salman Khan on the future of learning,” interview by Nick Gillespie, Reason magazine, February 2013 issue

Excerpt: “[T]he nonprofit Khan Academy [offers] free online lectures and tutorials that are now used by more than 6 million students each month. More than 3,000 individual videos, covering mathematics, physics, history, economics, and other subjects, have drawn more than 200 million views, generating significant funding from both the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google. Khan Academy is one of the best-known names in online education and has grown to include not just tutorials but complete course syllabi and a platform to track student progress.”

VIDEO: “Khan Academy Founder Talks Radical Education Reform and The One World Schoolhouse,” interview by Nick Gillespie & Joshua Swain, Reason TV, November 9, 2012. Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie talks with Khan about how to radically transform American education, why technology is never the solution reformers expect, and how massive amounts of money go missing every day in conventional public schools. About 14 minutes.

The Alliance for the Separation of School & State: This website offers a wealth of information and arguments concerning private alternatives to government education, and how this will especially benefit the poor and disadvantaged. The organization was formed by Marshall Fritz, a pioneer in the field of freedom in education (and also founder of the Advocates for Self-Government).

* * * * * * * * * *
Got questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR “tough questions” on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart

Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can’t personally acknowledge all emails. But we’ll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.

Dr. Ruwart’s previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.

Dr. Ruwart’s brand new book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.

Turn Objections Into Objectives

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

* “But if we legalize marijuana, wouldn’t millions and millions more Turn Objections Into ObjectivesAmericans try it, become regular users, and waste their days stoned and unproductive?”

* “Gun control laws aren’t perfect, but if just anyone were able to buy and own a gun, and carry it in public, wouldn’t we have radically more gun violence?”

* “Legalize prostitution? You can’t be serious! Sexually transmitted diseases would skyrocket. Married men would stray more often. And crimes surrounding prostitution would go up.”

Many libertarians treat objections like these as total deal-breakers to our libertarian proposals. As insurmountable obstacles to getting someone to favor expanding freedom in controversial areas. As unshakeable opinions held by those who want to limit liberty.

But what if these objections are NOT total, absolute, unalterable deal-killers?

What if they are instead genuine concerns to be answered, problems to be solved, or fears to be neutralized?

What if we turn these objections into objectives? Into goals and targets?

* Try this: “So, John, if I understand you correctly, you’re saying that before you will support legalizing marijuana, you want to make sure that marijuana use and abuse wouldn’t skyrocket. Is that a fair summary of the points you raised?”

(Wait for “Yes” response.)

“Would you like to look this up with me?”

Then simply Google or Bing for the facts. Or go to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Or Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Or another reliable source of facts on the issue.

* Try this: “So, Mary, if I’m hearing you right, you have serious concerns about more Americans owning and carrying guns. You’re concerned that, even in the hands of law-abiding Americans, more guns might lead to more gun violence? Mary, is that pretty much what you’re asking?”

(Wait for “Yes” response.)

“Would you like to see what we can learn from reputable, knowledgeable sources?”

Then search for the facts on Google. Try the Fact Sheets at Gun Owners of America (GOA). Or try GOA’s “Just for Skeptics” FAQ. Or the book More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott.

* Try this: “So, Jane, you have 3 serious concerns about legalizing prostitution. Would it cause sexually transmitted diseases to skyrocket? Would it cause more married men to have sex outside their marriages? And would crimes surrounding prostitution go up?” Are these your concerns?”

(Wait for “Yes” response.)

“Would you be willing to look up the facts on these things online or from knowledgeable sources?”

*  *  *

When we turn objections into objectives, we remove a strong emotional charge from the issues, and open up the possibility that our conversation can instead be guided, influenced, and decided by the unbiased facts.

And this is great for libertarians, because the facts are friendly to freedom.

* * * * * * * *
Michael Cloud’s brand-new book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

Gandhi’s Simple Lesson

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

Mahatma GandhiWould you like people to carefully listen to every word you say about liberty?

Do you want them to be receptive and responsive to your libertarian ideas and evidence?

Would you like people to thoughtfully consider your libertarian point of view?

It may be possible — if you learn and live Mahatma Gandhi’s lesson.

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Gandhi.

Be a careful listener — and soon others will carefully listen to you. Be a receptive and responsive person — and people will receive and respond to you and your ideas. Be a reflective and thoughtful conversationalist — and you’ll find your world filled with like-minded people.

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Gandhi.

What kind of listeners do you want?

Reasonable? Empathetic? Courteous? Enthusiastic? Passionate? Curious? Tolerant?

Be what you want to see.

You can fill your life with any kind of people you want. Provided you become what you want to behold.

You can do the same with the cause of freedom. Because who you are determines what kind of people you will affect and attract into the libertarian movement. And who the new libertarians are will determine the kind of people they reach and draw in.

Gandhi’s lesson is simple. But it can make a huge difference.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

* * * * * * * *
Michael Cloud’s brand-new book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

A Libertarian Dozen of the Best Ways to Discover and Create More Libertarians

in Communicating Liberty by Sharon Harris Comments are off

You’ve heard of a “baker’s dozen,” which is 13 instead of 12. Since libertarians always deliver more for the buck, here are 19 tips and techniques you can put to use immediately to discover and create more libertarians!

Enjoy these tips – and put them to use for liberty. Please let me know about your successes! Thank you!

1. Be aware of the “curse of knowledge.”

When you know a lot about something, it can be frustrating trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge you have. It can also be frustrating to your listener. Remember, it took you time to learn about all these ideas, so be patient. And don’t try to talk about too much at a time.

Always treat your listener like YOU would like to be treated.

2. The First Rule of Libertarian Communication?

This may be The First Rule of Libertarian Communication: Don’t turn people off to libertarianism. Don’t ruin a potential recruit. Don’t leave him or her with a distaste for libertarians and libertarianism.

It usually takes people several exposures to a new idea before they are willing to seriously consider it and embrace it. (In fact, if they adopt it too quickly, without reflection, they may abandon it just as quickly when the next new idea comes along.)

So when you meet people new to libertarianism, it’s not your job to convert them in one session. Though it could happen, it probably won’t. Resist the temptation to browbeat them, to argue, to grab them by the lapels and convince them of every detail of your views. (I know, it’s hard to resist sometimes! But try.)

Your goal as a libertarian communicator in most of these situations is simply to make a good impression and provide some useful and intriguing information. Smile. Listen to their concerns. Offer some good ideas. Find what issues are important to your listeners, and agree with them whenever you honestly can. Show them you’re a good person who shares their concerns (remember the Ransberger Pivot). Leave them with a few of those pocket-sized copies of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz that you always carry with you. (Quiz cards are designed so each is a self-contained outreach kit, and they’re available online from the Advocates Liberty Store.

Then, the next time this person encounters libertarian ideas — in a letter to the editor, on TV or radio, or in person — he will remember his first encounter pleasantly, and will be better prepared to explore these ideas further.

You want him to think along these lines: “That libertarian guy I met last month was pleasant and interesting, and his ideas were intriguing. I agreed with a lot of what he had to say. And now here’s another good idea from a libertarian. I need to look more deeply into libertarianism.”

This may sound like a simple tip. But believe me: it is crucial. When you identify yourself to someone as a libertarian, you instantly become, for that person, the public face of the whole libertarian movement.

Many, many people have been permanently turned off to libertarian ideas simply because the first libertarian they encountered acted in a way they found offensive, or presented the ideas in ways they found objectionable or obnoxious. And that’s a tragedy.

First, Do No Harm. That’s great advice for doctors – and libertarian communicators, too.

Instead of an argument

Alas, some libertarians consider arguing their favorite sport. It certainly can be fun, but often it is self-defeating.

Next time you find yourself tempted to argue, put yourself in the other person’s shoes: how many times have YOU changed your mind about something because someone attacked your position or told you your ideas were stupid?

Libertarian humorist Dave Barry says about himself (hopefully he’s joking!): “I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often – as a sign of their great respect – they don’t even invite me.” Ouch!

Productive alternatives to arguing include: actually listening to the other person, developing rapport, asking questions to discover his or her concerns, finding common ground, and sharing stories of how free-market alternatives have solved problems in the past.

These techniques and many more are described in detail in past “Liberty Minute” columns, in the Liberator Online‘s “Persuasion Power Points” columns, in Michael Cloud’s book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion, in Cloud’s audio program Essence of Libertarian Persuasion, and at the Advocates’ Communication Center.

Arguing is the Little League of communication. Persuasion is the World Series. It takes longer to master, but it’s a far better game and the pay-off is well worth it.

Don’t Begin with an Apology

Suppose you had a really nice house you wanted to sell. When a prospective buyer came by, would your opening line be, “You may have heard about houses like this falling down, but that’s not true about this house.”

If you owned a restaurant, would you advertise, “Our burgers aren’t the kind that make people sick – honest!”

Of course you wouldn’t. But that’s exactly what I’ve heard many libertarians do when they’re introducing others to libertarian ideas.

They begin with, “There are lots of misconceptions about libertarianism.” Or, “I know you’ve heard that libertarians don’t care about the poor, but I’m not like that.” Or, “Despite what you may have heard, it’s not true that Lyndon LaRouche is a libertarian.”

While it’s important to correct misunderstandings and falsehoods about libertarianism (when they come up), it’s even more important to start your discussion of libertarianism in a positive way.

Opening with a negative or apologetic statement immediately plants seeds of doubt in the mind of your listeners. Most people believe that, where there’s smoke, there’s quite possibly a fire.

It also invites attack and argument, since you start by putting yourself on the defensive.

But most importantly, many people – if not most – have a very positive overall impression of libertarianism. It’s self-defeating to begin by apologizing for some misconception or falsehood they may not even be concerned about.

Once you’ve given them an honest, positive description of libertarianism they’ll be able to clearly see the benefits of liberty. And if they hear negative things about libertarianism, or have concerns, they can ask you – or, even better, they’ll correct the misconceptions themselves!

3. A “Good Neighbor Policy” for Libertarians

One of the best ways to win others to libertarian ideas is simply to be a nice person – a nice person who also happens to be a libertarian.

This is one of the things that the late, great Karl Hess – one of the most influential libertarians of the past century – often talked about: the importance of being a “good neighbor.” In his West Virginia rural community, Hess pitched in and helped his neighbors build barns and do other chores. As a result, they liked this friendly, helpful neighbor – and they respected his out-of-mainstream libertarian ideas.

Libertarian philosopher Tibor Machan puts another spin on the same notion: “People tend to be more interested in what you have to say if they already know what kind of wine you like.”

It’s common knowledge that people will be more likely to try a new product, or a new idea, if someone they know and respect suggests it. That’s as true of political ideas as it is of restaurants or jogging shoes.

So one of the best ways to help people become open to our ideas is to first let them get to know you as friendly, nice, interesting, interested, and helpful. Then, when they find out you are also a libertarian, they’ll be interested in learning more. The ideas will be “vetted” because they already respect you.

Yes, it’s simple, it seems obvious – but how many of us practice this as often as we might? Be a good friend, relative, neighbor, co-worker – and your ideas will carry far more weight.

4. Listen. Listen. Listen.

One of the most important – and frequently overlooked, and surprisingly difficult – secrets of truly successful communication is LISTENING.

In our eagerness to tell people about the ideas of liberty, we may miss out on the big benefits of simply stopping and listening.

Here are some of those benefits:

1. You learn what the other person’s primary concerns and interests are. This gives you a chance to address those concerns, instead of talking about something the other person doesn’t care about.

2. You find out about any misconceptions they may have about libertarianism. This gives you a chance to clear those up.

3. You can discover areas of agreement, thus creating invaluable rapport.

4. You show the other person that you are interested in them. People tend to be reciprocal, and therefore will be more interested in you.

To be a good listener, you must REALLY listen – not just pretend. Breathe and focus on what the other person is saying.

While this is SIMPLE, it’s certainly not EASY. (If you think it is… try it.) But trust me, this is powerful.

So be sure to listen up! The benefits make it well worth the effort.

* * *

In a recent Dilbert cartoon, the obnoxious Dogbert character told a communication seminar: “There’s really no point in listening to other people. They’re either going to be agreeing with you or saying stupid stuff.”

Thank goodness Dogbert isn’t a libertarian! The fact is, every successful persuasion conversation starts with listening. Attentive listening assures the other person that you care about what they think, and allows you to effectively address their concerns.

But how do you know you’re really hearing what they’re saying? It’s simple: Repeat what the other person said. Then ask: “Is that right?” This technique is called “echoing.” It lets someone know you heard and understood.

Example: They say, “In a libertarian society, wouldn’t poor people starve without government welfare?” You say, “You’re concerned that poor people wouldn’t get the help they need in a libertarian society, and would starve. Is that correct?”

Wait for the response (and listen to it!). Then you can talk about how liberty helps the poor. Echoing lets the other person know you’re listening. It’s a technique that builds the respect and rapport that’s necessary to change somebody’s mind.

Is there an exception to this rule? Only one: Don’t listen to Dogbert!

5. Learn about sales and learn about psychology.

[Info to follow. Please check back soon.]

6. K.I.S.S. (Keep it short, silly).

Few people like to hear a lecture from another person, so keep your answers short. Here are some good tips on doing this.

Success with Soundbites

As a libertarian, you are automatically a spokesperson for libertarianism. How well you answer questions about liberty may well determine whether or not your listeners decide to become libertarians.

So you should always be prepared to answer, in a quick, clear and memorable way, common questions about libertarianism.

Take a lesson from some of the world’s best communicators: don’t leave it to chance!

Don’t hope that inspiration will strike you at the moment you’re unexpectedly asked a question. Don’t risk the frustration of stumbling around, answering badly, and then kicking yourself a day or two later when the right answer suddenly pops into your head.

Instead, work on your answers in advance. Create soundbites – short, pithy, memorable answers – to those questions.

You can probably make a list of questions you are most likely to be asked about libertarianism. (The most common: “What is libertarianism, anyway?”)

For each of those questions, create one or more soundbites. They should be about thirty seconds long. Less is better. Write them down. Refine them. Commit them to memory. And practice saying them until they come quickly and easily, and sound natural and fresh.

Former Libertarian Party presidential candidates Ed Clark, David Bergland, and Harry Browne each did this. The seemingly off-the-cuff eloquence they showed during their campaigns was actually the result of their advance work preparing and practicing soundbites.

Happily, you don’t have to reinvent the soundbite wheel. The Advocates collected the best of Harry Browne’s campaign soundbites into his wonderful book Liberty A to Z: 872 Libertarian Soundbites You Can Use Right Now. Dr. Mary Ruwart is a pioneer in the creation of soundbites. Many answers from her “Ask Dr. Ruwart” column are archived in searchable form at the Advocates Web site. Mary also has an outstanding book, Short Answers to the Tough Questions, a treasure of soundbites, available from the Advocates.

There are also some great short soundbite-sized answers to common questions at Libertarianism.com.

Take these sources as your starting point. Pick the soundbites you like. Personalize them. Rewrite them and make them your own. Learn them.

You’ll be a far more comfortable and polished spokesperson for liberty. And you’ll enjoy your casual conversations about libertarianism a lot more.

“Hey, What’s a Libertarian?”

One day, you’re going to be asked: “Just what is a libertarian, anyway?”

It may happen while you’re calling into a talk radio show. “So tell us,”, the host may ask you. “What do libertarians believe, anyway?”

Or you may be running for office and a reporter gives you the opportunity to “define yourself” for his story.

Your answer could be very important. It might reach thousands. Or it might reach just one person who is very important to you.

Don’t hope for inspiration. Instead, be prepared.

Have a clear, short, persuasive and easy-to-understand definition on the tip of your tongue.

I strongly suggest you *memorize* your favorite definition – and practice delivering it – so you don’t have to even think about it when asked.

That’s what two of America’s most successful libertarian communicators — presidential candidates Harry Browne and David Bergland – both told me they did.

You can write your own definition. You can also use someone else’s, or modify someone else’s to fit your own style.

Here are some definitions to try on for size:

The American Heritage Dictionary: “One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state

Here’s what I usually say: “Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians believe that you own your own life and property, and you have the right to make your own choices as to how you live your life — as long as you simply respect the same right of others to do the same. We believe in individual liberty and limited government.”

And here’s a great one from David Bergland: “Libertarianism is what you probably already believe. Libertarian values are American values. Libertarianism is America’s heritage of liberty, patriotism and honest work to build a future for your family. It’s the idea that being free and independent is a great way to live. That each of us is a unique individual, with great potential. That you own yourself, and that you have the right to decide what’s best for you. Americans of all races and creeds built a great and prosperous country with these libertarian ideals. Let’s use them to build America’s future.”

Find more great short definitions.

Speaking of our libertarianism.com site, keep that URL in mind! It’s very useful to be able to add, after your definition: “If you want to learn more about libertarianism, there’s a Web site that can answer your questions: www.Libertarianism.com .”

7. Importance of branding libertarianism.

McDonald’s doesn’t sell hamburgers. It sells Big Macs. Coca-Cola doesn’t sell cola drinks. It sells Cokes.

These companies want you to think of *their* stores and *their* products when you are ready to buy. And they want you to come back. Again and again.

For the same reason, when you are talking or writing about libertarian ideas, use the words “libertarian” or “libertarianism.”

This accomplishes two vital things.

1) It helps people become aware of those words. It helps them understand that libertarianism is a distinctive political philosophy – a political “brand.”

2) Unless you brand your idea as libertarian, your letter to the editor or your conversation may become an “ad” for conservatism or liberalism instead of libertarianism.

For example, a letter to the editor against gun control that fails to mention the word “libertarian” will, by default, be seen by virtually all readers as a conservative letter. Similarly, a speech opposing the War on Drugs will be understood by many listeners to be a liberal speech – unless the word “libertarian” is used in it.

When you get hungry for a burger, McDonald’s wants you to think of them. When people get hungry for solutions to political problems, we want them to think of libertarians. A letter or conversation that brands solutions as “libertarian” will send customers to the libertarian “store” – where they can sample our other “products,” that is, other libertarian positions and the libertarian ideology.

Unless you brand your ideas as libertarian, people will miss the opportunity to learn about our movement that is devoted to liberty on every issue – and to become a part of it!

8. Using questions.

The Power of Questions

Libertarians have lots of great answers to political questions.

Sometimes, however, it’s better to ask questions instead of giving answers. Asking the right question, or asking a question in the right way, can stimulate mind-opening insights.

Here’s one example of a great question, from Wall Street Journal editor John Fund.

Suppose someone is talking about the need for a major government role in providing for the poor. Instead of lecturing the person (which could start an argument and put the person on the defensive), try asking this question:

“Imagine you won the lottery or otherwise came into a large sum of money, and you wanted to help the poor. You could give $100,000 to a private charity of your choice. Or you could write your check to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Which would you choose – and why?”

Virtually no one chooses government! And in answering the question, people convince themselves of the advantages of charity over government.

Questions make people think. It’s amazing how often people will come up with the libertarian answer to a problem, if you give them a chance. And if they do so, they are more likely to accept that answer.

Flipping the Question

In this issue, we have excerpts from a new TIME magazine interview with Ron Paul.

One of the questions TIME asked Paul was this:

“Why do you support the decriminalization of marijuana?”

Now that sounds like a perfectly normal, fair and innocent question. And, in fact, it is.

But think about the wording. The question creates a “frame” in a listener’s mind. Asked in this way, the question implies, and assumes, and implicitly announces, that the position being questioned is unusual, out-of-mainstream, radical, weird, or even dangerous.

The result: No matter how you answer it, that initial impression remains. And you sound out-of-mainstream, on the fringe, or worse.

Please note: I’m not saying that someone who asks a question worded like that is trying to paint you in a negative manner. They may, in fact, agree 100% with you. But the wording of the question puts you at a major communication disadvantage, and undercuts your answer no matter how brilliant and logical it might be.

But you can reverse that, and turn it to your advantage – by using a technique I call “Flipping the Question,” or, for short, the Flip.

The Flip restates and reverses the question. When that happens, YOUR point becomes the reasonable, moderate, normal, safe view. Just like that! And the Flip is so subtle and effective that your questioner is likely to agree with you.

Ron Paul’s response to that TIME question is the perfect Flip.

He answered: “Why support the criminalization of marijuana is the better question.”

He then went on to give a strong, short argument for legalization of marijuana.

See what he did? He simply restated the question. Supporting marijuana prohibition was presented as the odd position. His position was presented as the normal, moderate, responsible, commonsense one.

It happened instantly.

You can use the Flip to great advantage in many libertarian conversations. Examples:

QUESTION: Why do you want to end government schools?

FLIP: A better question would be, “After so many decades of failure, why does anyone still think the government is competent to educate our children?”

QUESTION: Why do you defend gun ownership so strongly?

FLIP: A better question might be, “Why would anyone want to deprive people of the ability to defend themselves and their loved ones from vicious criminals?”

When you Flip the Question, you, in essence, become the questioner. The original questioner (or the implicit assumption in the question) is suddenly put on the defensive.

Note, too, that the Flip isn’t necessarily a rebuttal or an argument. Many questions worded this way aren’t coming from people hostile to your views. You will find that the Flip persuades many of these people to agree with you.

Flipping the Question is not something that comes naturally. You have to memorize the response, practice it, get comfortable and fluid with it. And of course you must have good answers about the subject being discussed.

But it is worth the effort. Because the Flip can turn your answer into a victory for your ideas.

9. Take YES for an answer.

As libertarians, we’re always anxious to persuade others to come around to our point of view about every issue.

So in our first conversation with someone, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not taking YES for an answer.

All too often we anxiously wait for – or even rush the conversation toward – a hot-button topic on which we *disagree* with the person, so we can begin the persuasion process!

But when we do this, we skip one very important step in a discussion: building rapport. Without rapport, persuasion is very difficult, if not impossible.

One wonderful thing about libertarianism is that EVERYONE agrees with us on some – even many – issues. So try starting the conversation with areas of agreement. Linger on those issues, enjoy the conversation, and let the other person know how smart you think they are! Be sure to tell them that you – and other libertarians – strongly agree with them on those issues.

Hold off on steering the conversation toward disagreement until later in the conversation – or even until a future conversation.

Learn to take YES for an answer, first, and you’ll find it much easier to get to agreement on those controversial topics.

10. Use the Ransberger Pivot.

Ouch! Libertarians sometimes get hit with hostile questions from people who don’t understand the ideas of liberty and free markets.

Mention free markets, ending the War on Drugs, or replacing government schools with private alternatives, for example, and some people will go ballistic. They will think you’re crazy, or have evil intentions, or both – and they’ll let you know it.

“End government welfare? Do you hate the poor?”

“Make drugs legal? Do you want our streets filled with crazed addicts and criminals?”

“No government schools? Do you want a nation of illiterates? Don’t you care about our children?”

Sound familiar? It’s easy for a conversation to quickly degenerate from here into a shouting match, or a meaningless exchange of slogans and rhetoric.

But there’s a far better way to respond. Use the Ransberger Pivot!

The Ransberger Pivot is one of the most effective communication tools I know. Invented in 1982 by Ray Ransberger and Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz, the Pivot is a great way to defuse hostility and get your questioner on *your* side.

The Ransberger Pivot is quite simple – but it doesn’t come naturally. It takes some practice. But the payoff makes it well worth the effort.

There are three steps to the Pivot:

Step 1: Stay calm and *listen* to what the questioner is asking.

Step 2: Ask yourself what the person is really concerned about. What does he really want? Make an intelligent guess.

Step 3: If you want the same thing (and 99% of the time you will), strongly express your desire for that same outcome. Show your questioner you share the same core values on this issue.

Let’s look at the Ransberger Pivot in action.

Your questioner asks: “You libertarians want to get rid of public schools, don’t you? What about our children?”

You ask yourself: What is this person *really* concerned about? What does he want?

Obviously, he wants children to be educated. A great goal! You want this, too, right?

So you respond something like this: “Like you, I too want to live in a world where all children are educated. In fact, where children have access to a far better education than they have now.”

Bingo! That’s the Pivot. You’ve bypassed a potential argument, and instead established a strong common ground with your questioner. Instead of immediately launching into a disagreement, you’ve found agreement and shared values.

Now you can go on to a constructive discussion of the best ways to achieve the end you both agree is worthwhile.

Of course, you then must have a good answer to that question. You need to know the facts – in this case, a persuasive case for why the private sector offers the best opportunity to dramatically improve education.

But The Ransberger Pivot is a vital transition, or prelude, to that answer. It plays a crucial role by defusing hostility, and thus making your questioner, and other listeners, more ready to hear your answer with an open mind.

Remember: when people ask hostile questions, they often are questioning your motives. They assume you disagree with their concerns, they think you have different values, and they may even believe you have bad intentions.

The Ransberger Pivot is a kind of verbal judo or aikido. It takes the steam out of the hostility by demonstrating that you share the questioner’s concerns. This in turn offers the opportunity for rapport. Your listeners are then more likely to pay attention to your answer, and you increase your chance of persuading them to your point of view.

Now that you know what the Ransberger Pivot is, let’s try it out.

Your questioner asks you: “You want to end welfare? What about the poor? Are you really that cold and heartless?”

Remember the Ransberger Pivot steps. Stay calm and don’t fall into a knee-jerk retort. Think: What’s the underlying concern here? Obviously, your questioner is against poverty, and wants to help those in need. That’s admirable, isn’t it? It’s actually a great ideal, and one you share.

So use the Ransberger Pivot to establish that common ground. Try a response along these lines:

“Like you, I am saddened and outraged by poverty. I want the poor and needy to have more aid, more effective aid, and far more opportunities than they do now. I want a world of abundance and opportunity for all people.”

Now, you can go on to have a fruitful discussion of the best way to achieve that goal. Again, you’ll need the facts for your argument. The Ransberger Pivot doesn’t give you that. But it does give you a more friendly, harmonious chance to convey those facts.

Some other Ransberger Pivot responses to typical questions:

“Like you, I want to live in a society where the streets are safe for our children…”

“Like you, I want clean air and water…”

“Like you, I want to know that the food and products I buy are safe…”

Here are a few more tips for using the Pivot.

1) It helps to memorize a specific phrase to kick it off. Notice above I used: “Like you, I want…” That’s a proven favorite. One advantage of memorizing an effective phrase like this is that it will always be there for you to use. Don’t rely on improvisation.

2) The Ransberger Pivot should be short. Just a sentence or two. It’s just a way to turn the discussion around. You need time for the follow-up answer, the meat of your discussion.

3) Use the first person (whenever it is appropriate). Instead of “libertarians want…” say “I want.” This more personal response helps establish rapport.

4) The Ransberger Pivot should only be used when you really agree with the listener’s concerns (and most of the time, you will). It’s the *opposite* of a trick or deception. It’s a way of clarification.

5) It takes practice! It is NOT as easy as it sounds. Using the Ransberger Pivot does not come naturally – especially when you’re in the midst of a discussion. So prepare now. Make a list of difficult questions. Ask them to yourself, or even better, get someone to ask them to you. Practice Ransberger Pivot responses until it becomes a reflex.

6) Start your soundbites with the Ransberger Pivot! In the past, I’ve discussed the importance of preparing and memorizing soundbite responses to the common questions every libertarian is inevitably asked. Use the Ransberger Pivot at the start of your soundbites, when appropriate. It’s a powerful combination!

Many libertarian communicators swear by the Ransberger Pivot. Give it a try!

11. Take NO for an answer.

Do you have someone with whom you’ve argued endlessly about politics and have never gotten an agreement?

Or is there someone in your life who gets mad (or gets quiet, or changes the subject) every time you bring up a political issue?

Suggestion: Unless you just enjoy arguing for the sake of arguing, don’t talk about politics with those individuals.

Unfortunately, not everyone is in the market for our ideas. Some people really believe in Big Government and limited individual liberty.

On the other hand, there are plenty of folks who are not only open to our ideas, but are eager to hear about them and take action! They’re HUNGRY for the solutions that liberty provides.

There’s a limited amount of time available to find and meet these people, share the ideas of liberty with them, and get them active in bringing libertarian ideas to still more people.

Ask any good salesman and he or she will tell you that the secret to making a sale is to talk to enough good prospects. To do that, we must learn to take “NO” for an answer, move on – and get a “YES!”

12. Do your homework.

13. Don’t hesitate to say “I don’t know.”

Are you an expert on politics, economics, world history, philosophy, geography, the environment, science, biology, current events, and half a dozen other major subjects?

Probably not. So, at some point in your conversations about liberty with friends, or in speeches about freedom to the public, you’re probably going to be asked a question you don’t know the answer to.

Be ready for it, because it happens to everyone. And relax – the answer is easy!

First, know what NOT to do. Don’t fall prey to the temptation to bluff your way through it or pretend to have knowledge you don’t have. This can really make you look bad.

Instead, first compliment the questioner: “That’s a very good question.” Then, just be honest: “And it’s one that I don’t know the answer to.”

How refreshing this will be to your audience! It’s not often that people encounter this kind of honesty – and they appreciate and respect it.

You now have the opportunity to let your audience know there is a large libertarian movement, where such questions have been discussed and answered. Tell them there are dozens of libertarian think tanks and organizations, and thousands of publications from libertarians on every conceivable topic – including this one. Let them know you will find the answer and get back to them right away.

If you don’t already have it, be sure to get contact information for the questioner and follow up promptly.

You’ve turned a difficult situation into an opportunity for further contact, and you’ve shown yourself to be human, honest, and reliable. Congratulations!

14. Have intellectual integrity.

15. Use “you” instead of “I.”

When talking about the benefits of liberty, we frequently use the word “I”. For example:

“Why should I have to give half of my income to the government?”

“Why should I have to pay for the education of other people’s children?”

“I would be far better off if I could invest the money that’s taken from me in Social Security taxes.”

By replacing “I” with “you,” we bring our listeners into the discussion. They are able to more clearly see that they — not just you — are victims of bad government policies. They can picture themselves benefiting from libertarian policies. And it sounds less selfish, less self-centered, as well.

“Why should you have to give half of your income to the government?”

“Why should you have to pay for the education of other people’s children?

“You would be far better off if you could invest the money that’s taken from you in Social Security taxes.”

A simple but effective shift in perspective. Try it!

16. Word choice: use the right words.

Mark Twain once siad the difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between “lightning” and “lightning bug.” I can’t stress too much how important it is to choose your words carefully.

[List to follow. Please check back soon.]

17. Be optimistic, passionate, enthusiastic.

18. Use the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and OPH.

19. Use the Libertarian Denominator.

Here is a great way to define libertarianism – particularly if someone asks you how libertarianism compares to liberalism and/or conservativism.

Libertarians often answer such questions with: “Libertarians are conservative on economic issues and liberal on social issues.”

Try using “The Libertarian Denominator” instead. Answer: “Conservatives who favor the free market tend to be libertarian on economic issues. Liberals who favor civil liberties tend to be libertarian on social issues.”

This answer makes libertarianism the common denominator – the measuring stick, if you will.

The Libertarian Denominator shows libertarianism to be the consistent philosophy, the one that favors liberty across the board.

An added bonus is instant rapport: just about everyone sees that they agree with libertarians – at least half the time!

Would legalization of hard drugs lead to more deaths than the Drug War itself?

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

Would legalization of hard drugs lead to more deaths than the Drug War itself?

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

Question:

I agree with libertarians that there is no reason for marijuana to be illegal. But I think hard drugs, such as cocaine or meth, are different. Many people don’t recover from addiction to such substances, and legalization could be a disaster. You have said that about 7,000 people a year die from illegal drugs. Do you think that the fact that alcohol and cigarettes are legal contributes to the estimated 450,000 deaths per year these substances cause? Wouldn’t legalization of hard drugs lead to far more use and thus far more deaths?

drugs

Answer:

According to my calculations, every person in the U.S. would have to take hard drugs once they were legal for the death toll to even come close to what the War on Drugs has created; that’s highly unlikely. About half of the U.S. population doesn’t even drink, so it’s doubtful that they’d ingest damaging drugs even if they were re-legalized. Many hard drugs were readily available (even to children) in drug stores in the early 1900s. Addiction, however, was less of a problem than it is now.

In the Netherlands, where hard drug users are not prosecuted and marijuana is legally available in coffee shops, addiction is declining. Even teen marijuana use is lower than in the U.S.

Alcohol prohibition didn’t keep people from drinking. In addition to alcohol-induced deaths, people also died from gang shoot-outs, bathtub gin poisonings, etc. — all consequences of prohibition. In the last 50 years, however, alcohol consumption has gone down — even though it’s legal — as people become educated about its dangers.

Cocaine and other hard drugs can be quite addicting and life-destroying, just as alcohol can be. However, prohibition of cocaine and other hard drugs is creating an even greater death toll. Shared needles are the #1 cause of the spread of AIDS in the U.S. About a third of the AIDS victims here can be directly attributed to drug prohibition. These casualties would plummet with drug re-legalization.

About 80% of the 7,000 annual deaths due to hard drugs can be attributed to contaminants; without black market manufacture, about 1400 people per year would die instead. Since about 50% of U.S. homicides are attributable to the War on Drugs, these would plummet too.

Overall, the War on Drugs kills more people than the drugs themselves. It’s a “cure” worse than the disease!

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