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Who Has the Right to Marry Whom?

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

Who Has the Right to Marry Whom?

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

polygamyQuestion: Libertarians are quick to defend the rights of people of different races and/or religions to marry, and quick to defend the right of people of the same sex to do so. How do they feel about the right of people being married to more than one person?

Short Answer: Marrying more than one person is fine as long as everyone in the marriage is aware of it and in agreement.  However, from what I can see of the case you’ve cited, the second “wife” was deceived into believing she was marrying a single man.  That’s fraudulent and actionable by most libertarians’ standards.

Editor’s Note: Relationships that are polygamous in nature should include knowledge and consent of all involved. As Dr. Ruwart notes, anything else would be committing fraud with one or more parties, as the link in the original question alluded to. It should be noted that the Overton window with regard to the discussion of marriage may not be open enough to include polygamy yet. After all, a majority of Americans came to support same-sex marriage within the last decade.

During the prolonged public debate regarding marriage equality, many who opposed same-sex unions argued about the “slippery slope” that such unions would lead to other legal forms of “marriage disaster.”

In 2013, Slate published a very positive article in support for the legalization of polygamy. From that piece:

For decades, the prevailing logic has been that polygamy hurts women and children. That makes sense, since in contemporary American practice that is often the case. In many Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints  polygamous communities, for example,women and underage girls are forced into polygamous unions against their will. Some boys, who represent the surplus of males, are brutally thrown out of their homes and driven into homelessness and poverty at very young ages. All of these stories are tragic, and the criminals involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
[...] It’s also hard to argue with the constitutional freedom of religious expression that legalized polygamy would preserve. Most polygamous families are motivated by religious faith, such as fundamentalist Mormonism or Islam, and as long as all parties involved are adults, legally able to sign marriage contracts, there is no constitutional reason why they shouldn’t be able to express that faith in their marriages.

What is a Libertarian Win? Part 1

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

What is a Libertarian Win? Part 1

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

On Tuesday, many libertarians appeared on the ballot as candidates for office. Like them, when I ran for office both times, winning was pretty easy to define. It came down to whether we earned enough votes to serve in office. Unfortunately, there are not many wins for libertarians when you only use this metric.

Aside from winning the election, some smaller “wins” are possible:

  • winSeeing libertarian policy positions adopted by another candidate. Often, the biggest impact a candidate can have on an election they do not win at the polls is to have another candidate recognize the principled or popular position held by the libertarian candidate and adopt it as part of their platform or vision for the office they intend to hold. While not as big of a win for Liberty, it is a step toward a more libertarian society.
  • Awakening a desire for transparency. Many voters are unaware of the dealings of government, especially at the local level. There are times when a motivated candidate opens the electorate’s eyes about the cronyism and “shady” deals of their elected officials. Engaging voters and other community stakeholders in the political process to prevent the “business as usual” backroom deals that barely get an iota of public input or discussion in the board room.
  • Awareness of the existence of a differing opinion. We often recognize the similarities between candidates and parties that are supposedly so diametrically opposed to one another, yet find so much consensus when it comes to growing government and restricting liberty. Because of the posturing and theatrics, that is not the case for many Americans who applaud “crossing the aisle” to reach a bipartisan deal. With so many elected officials out of touch with the people they represent, their constituents are looking for something else. We often offer the common sense solution that promotes freedom and limits government power that they are looking for.

We discussed a division of labor for our efforts recently, and we’ll discuss how can we define a win for libertarianism outside of elections next week. What do you think of as a libertarian win?

Conservative Judge Defends Retroactivity of Drug Sentencing Guidelines

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

Conservative Judge Defends Retroactivity of Drug Sentencing Guidelines

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In April 2014, the U.S. Sentencing Commission issued new sentencing guidelines for drug offenders by two offense levels and, a few months later, voted to make the change retroactive. According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums, some 10,000 federal prisoners were eligible for re-sentencing under the new guidelines. Applicants were reviewed on a case-by-case basis and approximately 6,000 were released between the end of October and early November.

Drugs

For decades, bad laws passed by well-intentioned lawmakers have ravaged mostly poor and minority communities and have cost taxpayers billions while doing little to stem drug use or stop the drug trade. Several states, both red and blue, are turning to drug treatment and rehabilitation to address drug crime. The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s revision of its guidelines, known as “All Drugs Minus Two,” is just one of many that either have been adopted by the federal government or are currently under consideration in Congress to reform the criminal justice system.

Although the U.S. Sentencing Commission should be applauded for the change, some are directing fire at the Obama administration. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., for example, is making the release of the prisoners an issue against his Democratic opponent in his campaign for governor of Louisiana. Similarly, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatter, R-Va., blasted the commission in a recent piece at the conservative publication, National Review.

“The problem with the Sentencing Commission’s changes to federal drug-sentencing requirements is that they are applied without regard to the inmate’s criminal history and public safety,” Goodlatte wrote. “Consequently, criminals set to be released into our communities as a result of the Sentencing Commission’s amendment include inmates with violent criminal histories, who have committed crimes involving assault, firearms, sodomy, and even murder.”

Goodlatte may come across like a hardened drug warrior determined to punish anyone whose life got off track, but, to his credit, he recently introduced the Sentencing Reform Act. His bill would expand the safety valve for certain drug offenders so they can avoid lengthy mandatory minimum sentences.

At least one member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission says Goodlatte and others who are criticizing the retroactivity of the new guidelines. Judge William Pryor was appointed to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals in 2004 as a recess appointment. Pryor was one of the judicial appointments stalled by Senate Democrats because they were deemed “too conservative.” When Senate Republicans threatened to go nuclear on the filibuster in 2005, an agreement was reached to ensure the filibuster would remain intact and the controversial judges would receive a confirmation vote.

Pryor set the record straight about what the process and the decision to make the new guidelines retroactive.

“When the commission votes to amend the sentencing guidelines, its decision becomes effective no sooner than six months later — that is, only after Congress has had an opportunity to exercise its statutory authority to reject the proposed change. Congress, of course, did not exercise that authority last year after the commission proposed modest changes in sentencing for drug cases. Instead, several members of Congress publicly supported those changes, and few said anything in opposition,” Pryor explained. “In fact, Chairman Goodlatte did not even schedule a hearing to review our decision.”

“Chairman Goodlatte objects to making the changes in drug sentencing retroactive, but he fails to mention that Congress gave the commission that authority,” he noted. “Indeed, Congress required the commission, whenever it lowers any guideline.”

The Bureau of Prisons has been preparing for these prisoners to re-enter society for a year. In October, the Washington Post reported that “[a]bout two-thirds of [of the prisoners] will go to halfway houses and home confinement before being put on supervised release.”

While there is no guarantee that these prisoners won’t re-offend, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has taken a step in the right direction and the Bureau of Prisons has provided them with support necessary to put their lives on the right track. The rest is up to them.

But it brings up a point worth considering, perhaps at another time, what steps should Congress and the Bureau of Prisons take to ensure that prisoners, once released, won’t re-offend. Re-entry programs that help with job placement and other policies, including “ban the box,” would go a long way to reducing recidivist behavior and turning these one-time offenders into taxpaying citizens.

American Taxpayers on the Hook for $6 Million to Promote the Beautiful Albanian Countryside

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

American Taxpayers on the Hook for $6 Million to Promote the Beautiful Albanian Countryside

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

You’ve got to hand it to the federal government; they really know how to throw away taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Just last week, Congress passed a budget that increases spending by some $80 billion and raises the debt ceiling for the rest of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Albania

Of course, it’s too much to ask, apparently, that lawmakers and the Obama administration take an axe to some of the wasteful spending that could take some of the burden off of taxpayers. Take the $6 million the U.S. Agency for International Development plans to give to Albania to promote tourism in the tiny Southeastern European nation, which was recently the subject of by Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., “Waste Report.”

Albania’s economy is experiencing turmoil because of the economic crisis that has ravaged Greece, its neighbor to the south. In May, for example, the World Bank backed a five-year, $1.2 billion loan program to try to boost the country as it tries to enter the European Union. The United States is, apparently, pitching in to boost Albania’s burgeoning tourism industry.

“To restart their economy, the Albanian government is hoping to capitalize on the country’s tourism potential, but it is the U.S. taxpayer who is footing at least part of the bill,” Paul’s office explains. “Amazingly, tourism is already a major contributor to the Albanian economy. According to the grant description, tourism (in total) currently accounts for 17 percent of the nation’s economy.”

“By comparison, The World Travel and Tourism Council reports that tourism contributes 9.5 percent to the worldwide economy and 8.4 percent to the U.S. economy. This means Albania’s tourism economy, as a percent of GDP, is already larger than the U.S,” it adds.

The problem for the United States is that much of what we’re spending in terms of foreign aid, such as the $6 million to promote tourism in Albania, is part of the increasing river of red ink that flows from Washington.

Albania may be a beautiful country worthy of a visit, but that doesn’t mean American taxpayers should be footing part of the bill to promote it. The national debt – currently north of $18.5 trillion – keeps growing while the federal government doles out goodies for other countries.

Not to come across overly nationalistic here, because there are many wasteful and unauthorized domestic programs that taxpayers are compelled to fund. The guide should be the United States Constitution. After looking it over, one will be shocked – absolutely shocked to discover – that there isn’t a “Promote Tourism in Other Countries” Clause.

Observations from Halloween

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by Comments are off

Observations from Halloween

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

(Editor’s note: This is not a direct conversation with either the Young Statesman or the Baby Anarchist, but the timeliness and insight within are the reason for publishing)

Questions Nobody Asks

halloweenWho will plan and build Halloween?

What about the free-rider problem of the neighbor who takes his kids trick-or-treating instead of staying home to give out candy?

Who will make sure that the maximum trick-or-treating age is enforced?

Do they have a license to distribute food?

What makes you think anyone will do it if it’s entirely voluntary?

Who is going to pay for all of this?

Safety in 2015

October 31st is the only day we think rightly about this being the safest time in the history of the world to raise children.

They’re out there in the dark, wearing masks and brandishing weapons, walking the streets alone, taking candy from strangers.

Halloween = Economists’ Christmas

Halloween is like Christmas for economists. It is a wild festival of human action, subjective value, and free trade. And while I am not an economist nor do I play one on TV, my children sell me their Halloween candy.

We are capitalists, Baby. We won’t tax you. We won’t confiscate your hard-earned candy causing you to give up after ninety minutes. No! None of that. We will pay you cash money for your haul.

That’s right! Stay out later, walk farther, and trick or treat longer than other children because your effort will be rewarded with cash. Mommy doesn’t want that stuff in the house so she will pay to get her hands on it and get it outta here.

What’s it worth to you? How much do you value that? What do you really want to keep? What could you do with that money? You selling by the piece, pound, type, or lot?

FIRED! SC School Resource Officer Assaults Student

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FIRED! SC School Resource Officer Assaults Student

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

On Monday, Oct. 26, a video surfaced on the Internet of a South Carolina school resource officer throwing a female student across a classroom.

The incident occurred at the Spring Valley High School in Columbia, witnesses said, when the unnamed African-American student refused to put away her cell phone and then refused to leave the classroom after being asked by the teacher and school principal.

The officer was then summoned and asked her to leave again. She refused, and he told her she was under arrest.

The video then shows the officer violently knocking the student down, flipping her desk over her, and pulling her across the floor.

The incident was filmed by a fellow student and was uploaded to YouTube. The video made its way around social media, prompting the hashtag #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott suspended Deputy Ben Fields after the incident, and fired him Wednesday.

Lott said that Senior Deputy Ben Fields “did not follow proper procedure”.

He “should not have thrown a student – he could have done a lot of things he was trained to do, he was not trained to throw a student,” Sheriff Lott said.

Lott said he had received expressions of support for the officer from some parents and school officials. Officer Fields had received a “Culture of Excellence” award last year by an elementary school where he was also assigned.

But Sheriff Lott said the officer had “lost control” and had not handled this incident correctly.

“That is not proper technique and should not be used in law enforcement. And based on that, that is a violation of our policy and approximately 20 minutes ago Officer Ben Fields was terminated from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.”

He said complaints had been made about Officer Fields during his time at the school – some had been upheld and some had not.

Legal action has been taken three times against the officer, according to Associated Press:

  • 2013: An expelled student claims Fields targeted black students and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013. Fields will go to trial in January.
  • 2009: A woman filed a lawsuit, which was later dismissed, accusing Fields of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest.
  • 2005: A federal jury found in Officer Fields’ favor after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest.

The deputy has not been criminally charged but the Federal Bureau of Investigation and justice department have opened a civil rights investigation into the arrest.

Fellow students at the school have tweeted claims that they have seen him behaving in a similar manner in the past, but this was the first time such an incident was caught on camera.

Sheriff Lott has said the girl was unhurt in the incident aside from a carpet burn.

However, the girl’s attorney, Todd Rutherford, told ABC’s Good Morning America that she “has a cast on her arm, she has neck and back injuries” as well as a plaster on her forehead because of the carpet burn.

Sheriff Lott said he would “not describe the officer as remorseful, but he was sorry that the whole thing occurred”.

What I Learned From Back to the Future

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

What I Learned from Back to the Future

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

If you watched television news, engaged in social media, or weren’t living under a rock last Wednesday, you probably know that October 21, 2015 is “Back to the Future Day,” the date to which Marty McFly and Emmett “Doc” Brown travel in the 1989 sequel to the smash 1985 film. Special events across the country were held, including a coordinated showing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra playing Alan Silvestri’s score, which I attended. I am a HUGE fan of the trilogy – I even held a Back to the Future 2-themed 10th birthday party shortly after the second film’s release.

back to the futureTo me, the most fascinating element, and subsequently, the biggest takeaway, from the film series is the significance that a single decision can make on the totality of your life and the lives of those around you. We saw these small changes affect the McFly family and parts of Hill Valley in the first film. In some cases, those decisions can have a profound reach beyond your circle, as we saw in the Alternate 1985 tangent, where Biff Tannen is incredibly rich and powerful and the Hill Valley that Marty and Doc knew was never realized.

Regardless of the size of the decision, we CAN affect change. What might have been, had the Sons of Liberty not met in those taverns in the 1760s and 1770s to fight the tyranny in the colonies?

With that in mind, how will you harness that power to affect change?

You may not have a DeLorean with a flux capacitor that facilitates time travel, but you can alter the course of events with your actions.

How could you affect change by brainstorming about market disruptions, instead of watching Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and/or How to Get Away with Murder tonight? Could you create the next Uber?

What if you chose to make phone calls for a libertarian candidate for office tonight, rather than watching the Bengals and the Browns on Thursday Night Football? Could you elect a candidate who puts liberty first to office?

Suppose you begin a recurring donation to a liberty organization (like the Advocates) this evening, forgoing your morning coffee a couple times a month? Could your support fund the efforts to move society in a more libertarian direction?

Whatever you decide, keep in mind that your decision can alter the course of history.

The Internet Privacy Conversation

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by Comments are off

The Internet Privacy Conversation

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Baby Anarchist (BA) (10): I need to use my device upstairs because it has directions to my Lego project.
Me: Can you print the directions?
BA: It’s hundreds of pages long.
Me: Do you and your dad have an agreement about using your device upstairs?
BA: Yes.
Me: Just for the instructions?
BA: Yes.
Large Man Looking At Co-Worker With A Magnifying GlassMe: YS, do you know why no one in the house uses devices in their own private spaces?
Young Statesman (YS): It gives you the impression that there’s privacy on the Internet.
Me: Right. Is there privacy on the Internet?
YS: None.
Me: Do you know about Ashley Madison?
YS: No.
Me: People married and agreed to forsake all others and they made this agreement in front of their families and friends and the understanding was that this was their agreement. They used the Ashley Madison service to violate the terms of their agreement. They believed that to be in secret. That they had privacy on the Internet. They were publicly exposed as users of Ashley Madison.
YS: Wow.
Me: Some of them lost their families, their friends, their jobs, and some were so distraught that they killed themselves. All because they rejected reality. Reality is that there is no privacy on the Internet.
YS: They thought because they didn’t like reality it wouldn’t hurt them.
Me: Right. They weren’t oriented towards reality. They thought their ignoring reality would somehow defend them.
YS: There’s no privacy on the Internet.
Me: None. And if we allowed you to think there was privacy associated with Internet use by allowing the use of devices in private spaces we’d be allowing you think something that wasn’t true.
Me: Do you remember the story about the teenagers who were sexting and arrested for it?
YS(14): No.
Me: One of them sexted the other and was charged as an adult for distributing child pornography. That’s a crime that can include being registered as a sex offender as well as jail time.
YS: How can they be tried as adults? They’re minors.
Me: For some crimes minors are tried as adults.
YS: That doesn’t make sense. They were pictures of themselves.
Me: It’s wrong but that doesn’t matter. If a person goes to court on child pornography charges even if it’s ridiculous and dismissed…
YS: That never goes away.
Me: Right. Even if they were wronged and it’s insane…
YS: It’s going to stick.
Me: Yes. So if you receive something like that you can be charged with possession of child pornography. As an adult. Even if you didn’t want it. You can be set up.
YS: That’s unbelievable.
Me: I know. And this is awkward, but it’s too important for us not to have this conversation.
YS: Just because you don’t want to know doesn’t mean it won’t hurt you.
Me: Right. And if you find yourself in a situation where you’re holding something that can get you jail time, you have to tell us immediately. We trust you understand how dire it would be to face jail and that you would not willingly do anything that would result in jail time.
YS: Right.
Me: So if you find yourself in a dangerous situation you must tell us immediately. We know you wouldn’t put yourself there on purpose so there’s no blame. Just help. But you have to be quick.

Big Government is Our Best Persuader

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

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

Do you recall your last encounter with Big Government?

Was it the DMV? The post office? The IRS? A police officer? Code Enforcement?

Was that experience pleasant? Did it cause you to run out and tell others about your love for government, like Butters from South Park?

Chances are, your experience was similar to mine.

I went to the post office to apply for a new passport. As you’re likely aware, not every location handles the applications. In my experience, they set certain hours for accepting the paperwork as a subset of the regular operating hours. In previous visits to the post office, I learned that passport hours are 10 AM until 4 PM on weekdays. If you work a traditional schedule, that is not particularly convenient, so I took a day off work to run some errands, and this task was among them.

Arriving at the post office at 2:10 PM, I felt confident that my business would conclude before the 4 PM window. Upon reaching the counter, after waiting in line to be served with all of the requisite paperwork, the clerk informs me that I will have to come back “in about 45 minutes,” because the person who handles passport applications left for lunch about 15 minutes prior. Let’s say that I was less than enthused.

I don’t begrudge a person taking a break. I totally understand that. My issue was with a system that would allow a floating, unannounced hour to be removed from what is already a small window for those of us gainfully employed. Can no one else at that location process these applications?

Rather than fight the “just following orders” mindset of most government workers, I left and came back about an hour later. Upon my return, I found I was not the only person who arrived during the lunch break and returned to encounter others with the same need. We commiserated about the inconvenience, and some of the others shared their “It’s the government. What do you expect?” attitude.

Being me, I engaged them in conversation about how this isn’t how things ought to be, and our mutual disdain for Big Government led us to a productive conversation about liberty and how libertarians think. As I often do, I shared the World’s Smallest Political Quiz with them, and gave them each my card. Today, one of them called to find out more about libertarianism, and we’re having lunch next week.

Thanks, Big Government!

ACA Repeal Bill Doesn’t Really Repeal the Law

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ACA Repeal Bill Doesn’t Really Repeal the Law

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

After months of promises to the party’s base supporters, congressional Republican leaders are readying a bill that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), using the same procedural tool used to pass it into law.

ACAIt’s called “reconciliation,” and it allows a majority party to bypass the threat of a filibuster in the Senate, which requires 60 votes to break. Well, there’s actually more to it. A January 2010 explainer from NPR notes that reconciliation comes from “a provision of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act” and “is designed to force committees to make changes in mandatory – or entitlement – spending and revenues, such as Medicare.

websitesi işler için http://kodmarktasarim.com

It was conceived by lawmakers as a way to bring down the deficit by easing the path for budget and tax deals.”

Without getting into the details and controversy surrounding reconciliation, which has been used to pass several bills, including the ACA and the bipartisan Welfare Reform Act of 1996, Republicans hope to use it to repeal the 2010 healthcare law. But they’re finding opposition from conservatives. Why? Because it targets provisions that have a budgetary impact, as is the case with reconciliation.

It’s true that the reconciliation bill – the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act – will eliminate many harmful provisions of the ACA, including the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the medical device tax. But regulations requiring that health plans carry certain benefits that are driving up the cost of coverage, for example, will remain in place.

Still, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-GA, insists the bill is the right move. “Under this year’s balanced budget agreement, Congress has the opportunity to use a powerful but limited legislative process to advance a bill to the president’s desk that will target ACA – a law that is doing real harm to individuals, families, physicians, workers and job creators – and help pave the way for patient-centered health care reform,” Price said in a statement.

“The bill repeals punitive taxes and mandates, an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats empowered to effectively deny care to seniors, undue demands on employers and employees, and an ACA slush fund. The bill also imposes a one-year moratorium on taxpayer dollars being used to pay abortion providers that are prohibited under the legislation while increasing resources to community health centers,” he added.

Heritage Action, one of the conservative groups opposed to ACA, has come out against the bill to repeal the law because of its limited impact. “[T]here’s frustration with the path that leadership’s taking,” a spokesman for the group told The Hill on Tuesday.

Absent the reconciliation process, Senate Republicans, who hold 54 seats in the chamber, wouldn’t be able to move it to the president’s desk. Of course, regardless of whether a bill to repeal the ACA passes Congress, the White House has threatened a veto, which almost certainly won’t be overridden because neither chamber has a veto-proof majority.

Passage of ACA repeal using reconciliation would be a statement. It would mark the first time Republicans have successfully moved legislation on the matter through Congress. But without control of the White House, it simply won’t be feasible until at least January 2017.

Two More ACA Cooperatives Go Down in Flames

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Two More ACA Cooperatives Go Down in Flames

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Just last week, the Advocates noted the Kentucky Health Cooperative announced that it would close at the end of the year. At the time, the cooperative, which was set up under the Affordable Care Act, was the six to shutter because of financial problems.

cooperativeSince last week, however, two more cooperatives – Connect for Health Colorado and Oregon’s Health CO-OP – have been forced to close, bringing the grand total to eight. Roughly 400,000 people are now without coverage because of the failures. As the Washington Post explained on Friday, “Nearly a third of the innovative health insurance plans created under the Affordable Care Act will be out of business at the end of 2015.

Like other cooperatives, Connect for Health Colorado and Oregon’s Health CO-OP faced significant financial troubles. According to a July 2015 report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, Connect for Health Colorado lost $23 million in 2014 and Oregon’s Health CO-OP lost more than $6.7 million.

Cooperatives were supposed to be the big compromise for Democrats who wanted a single-payer program – the so-called “public option” – to compete with private health insurance companies.

“Markets have…been disrupted by a cascade of failures among the ACA co-ops that were intended as a liberal insurance utopia,” the Wall Street Journal noted. “These plans were seeded with billions of dollars in federal start-up loans and were supposed to work like the credit unions or the electric collectives of the Depression era.”

“No profits were allowed, advertising to introduce new products was restricted and industry executives were barred from management. As it turns out, attempting to outlaw expertise and incentives tends not to produce good results,” the paper added.

Indeed, just before the announcement, Oregon’s Health CO-OP CEO Phil Jackson tried to explain an average premium increase of nearly 20 percent. “Nobody knew what it was going to cost to provide insurance benefits on the exchange,”Jackson said. Yeah, it’s such a big surprise that costly health plans with mandated benefits that people may not want or need would attract too few healthy consumers and wind up requiring big premium hikes. Which is exactly what has happened in state after state.

With the next ACA open enrollment period set to begin on November 1, one of the key components of the law is faltering. It’s just a matter of time when the rest of it collapses. The only question is whether it’ll take the health insurance industry with it.

Success!

in Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Success!

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

You’ve heard the sayings: “Success attracts success.” “Nothing succeeds like success.”

They’re true. People are attracted to success! They are impressed and intrigued by it, they respect it, and they want to be identified with it. Success is exciting and fun — and catching.

SuccessThis is as true for political movements as it is for sports teams, soft drinks, viral videos, and rock and roll bands.

To attract people to libertarianism, and to stimulate them to look closer at the ideas of liberty, be sure to share libertarian success stories and positive news about the libertarian movement.

Here are three examples of how to do this.

  • An April 2015 YouGov survey found that a whopping one-in-five Americans under thirty now describe themselves as libertarians. That is an astounding increase in just the past few years.
    Drop something like this into your conversation: “And libertarian ideas are rapidly gaining acceptance. In fact, fully 20% of Americans under thirty now describe themselves as libertarians.”
    Your listeners probably had no idea libertarianism was so popular!
  • Point out that the last three Republican presidential primaries have featured libertarian or libertarian-leaning candidates, each making strong libertarian points. They included a U.S. Congressman (Ron Paul, in 2008 and 2012), a popular two-term governor (Gary Johnson in 2012, former governor of New Mexico, who went on to become the Libertarian Party presidential candidate and win the largest-ever total for an LP candidate), and in the current primaries a high-profile U.S. Senator (Rand Paul, dubbed “The most interesting man in politics” by TIME magazine for his libertarian-ish proposals). That’s mainstream, real-world political success.
  • Point out, when appropriate, that lots of famous people are libertarians. Share the star-power of such world-famous names as Vince Vaughn, Clint Eastwood, Penn and Teller, Drew Carey, Dave Barry, John Stossel, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and many others.
    This instantly validates libertarianism as something that’s cool, respectable, and safely non-fringey.

Again, these are just examples. Keep your eyes open for others. And when you find them, share them whenever you can. Trumpet libertarian successes.

Of course, this is not an intellectual argument for liberty. And it’s not a way to convince someone to become a libertarian.

But it might well make someone take libertarianism more seriously, more respectfully – and help them think of it as something worth looking into further.

And that is… success!

 

Are You Ready for the Next Industry Uber Innovates?

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

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I am proud to admit that I am a HUGE fan of Uber.

uberWhen I travel, I use it almost exclusively for transportation. A few mornings a week, I even Uber to work to get ahead of the workday by knocking out a few e-mails or phone calls before my first trip to the refrigerator for a refreshing beverage (I don’t drink coffee). I Ubered to work this morning, because I knew that those few minutes I save result in greater productivity on the busiest day of the workweek around here.

When the story of the end to their experimentation with a courier-like service to become a full-featured delivery business model became widely shared yesterday, we saw the next innovation in the “sharing economy.” This change joins Amazon and Google in the instant gratification game. As a member of Amazon Prime (and more importantly, Prime Now) and Google Express, I enjoy near immediate delivery of many items to my office or my home that would otherwise require a trip to a grocery or big-box retail store.

After offering a free market alternative to taxis and buses and introducing the areas they serve to the “sharing economy,” Uber sought to grow into the logistics market. While not what they envisioned at the start, Uber’s experiment may result in providing small businesses, like restaurants and boutiques to offer same-day delivery without the overhead and development of a local logistics program.

What I found to be bigger news than their introduction of these services in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, is that the demand for the service changed their implementation of the new business. The market demanded that the simple courier service they envisioned morph and adapt to accommodate the business side of a transaction, rather than compete directly with delivery services. The original offer is still available, though expanding to be a partner with the small business looking to meet their needs will likely be the driving force of their entrance into the delivery market.

Isn’t it great to have competition and cooperation to meet the customers’ needs, even if those needs didn’t match the beginning hypothesis?

A Spoonful of Sugar

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

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In Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” the title character, portrayed by Dame Julie Andrews, treats the children in her care to a musical, magical show of how to make a game of chores by adding an element of fun. I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Andrews’ performances, and the lyrics of the chorus in this song provide libertarians with an important message.

For a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down, the medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way

Often, libertarians find themselves as the bearers of “bad news” when it comes to policy discussions and decisions. We also encounter many misconceptions and popular talking points in casual conversations with friends and strangers alike. We often administer “policy medicine,” as we point out the flaws, unintended or unrevealed consequences, or damage to our rights in a proposal.

If you doctor were to give you a diagnosis that’s less than desirable, would you want him or her to do it with a bad attitude? What about with a great deal of condescension? Would you appreciate it if he or she were generally abrasive in that conversation? What if he or she insulted you or called you names, as they offer their diagnosis? I, like most, would not want bad news delivered with a sub-par attitude. As libertarians, we are a lot like that hypothetical doctor.

To many, we have bad news. Unfortunately, many libertarians deliver it with attitude, condescension, insults, or abrasiveness. In your experience, how is it received?

What I witness is a negative reaction to BOTH the news and the messenger. Once you make that negative impression, you are not as welcome to take part in the discussion. Whether held by a policymaker or your neighbor, how can your exclusion be a positive step for libertarianism.

After all, we want our libertarian solution to be heard, right?

When you offer such a “pill,” bringing your best manners, pleasantries, and attitude help you build a rapport with the others involved in the conversation. That is the “spoonful of sugar” to change an exclusionary reaction to the “medicine” you are offering. Some of the best discussions about policy and the libertarian solutions to issues faced today occur with those that know more than the divisive rhetoric within the limited discussion of a particular topic.

It is not our shared libertarian thoughts that make those discussions among the best. It is the way we approached the conversation. When we do so with a positive attitude, respect for their knowledge, or lack thereof, in a particular area, and kindness, we win. We may not persuade them on the issue at hand, but persuasion is usually not attainable in a single interaction.

We win by planting the seed that we offer a thoughtful, understanding perspective to issues of the day. Once we plant that seed, people will seek our opinion and thoughts on future issues where they may be persuaded, rather than an issue where they firmly hold a committed belief.

In the event that you are the only one exhibiting a pleasant demeanor, you can also win over those who witness the interaction. There is no downside to “killing them with kindness.”

So, why not offer a spoonful of sugar along with the medicine?

Kentucky ObamaCare Cooperative Will Close

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

Kentucky ObamaCare Cooperative Will Close

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

Kentucky’s health insurance cooperative will close by the end of the year, leaving approximately 51,000 looking for coverage from other insurers that offer plans on the state’s insurance exchange. The Kentucky Health Cooperative is the latest of its kind to close down due to financial difficulties.

Health Care

Nonprofit insurance cooperatives are an integral part of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” But this type of health insurance provider has hit significant snags. According to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, 21 of the 23 cooperatives created under the 2010 health insurance reform law are losing money and 13 aren’t meeting enrollment projections.

The report revealed that 21 cooperatives have lost $382 million combined. The Kentucky Health Cooperative ran the largest deficit, losing more than $50 million. Cooperatives were meant to compete on the exchanges with private health insurance. They were a compromise when leftists in Congress were unable to get the so-called “public option,” or single-payer, included in the Affordable Care Act.

The Kentucky Health Cooperative decided to shutter after finding out that it would receive a smaller than expected payout from the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridors” program, according to The Hill. This program provides health insurers with payouts to cover some of the losses they incur for plans available on the exchange.

“It is with sadness that we announce this decision,” Kentucky Health Cooperative Interim CEO Glenn Jennings said in a release. “This very difficult choice was made after much deliberation. If there were a way to avoid it and simultaneously do right by the members, providers and all others that we serve, we would do so.”

“In plainest language, things have come up short of where they need to be,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reacted to the news by noting that the closure of his home state’s cooperative is a sign of deeper problems with the Affordable Care Act.

“Barely a week goes by that we don’t see another harmful consequence of this poorly conceived, badly executed law,” McConnell said on Friday. “Despite repeated Obama administration bailout attempts, this is the latest in a string of broken promises with real consequences for the people of Kentucky who may now be losing the health insurance they had and liked twice within the past three years because of Obamacare’s failures.”

Five cooperatives have closed, including Kentucky’s. Others include New York’s Health Republican Insurance and the joint venture for Iowa and Nebraska, CoOpportunity.

Gun Control Fear Mongering Rings Hollow

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

Gun Control Fear Mongering Rings Hollow

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It didn’t take long for President Barack Obama to politicize the tragic shooting Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Thursday, October 1. Just hours after the news of the shooting broke, he appeared before reporters and demanded more gun control laws.

gun control

“[W]hat’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws,” Obama said. “Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country — they know that’s not true.”

“There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence,” he added.

No one denies that what happened at Umpqua Community College is a terrible tragedy. But it doesn’t appear that the gun control laws that President Obama and like-minded members of Congress have tried to advance could’ve prevented this incident. The shooter didn’t have a record of mental health problems or past legal problems, unlike the Charleston, South Carolina church shooter, who slipped between bureaucratic cracks.

Bad things can and do happen. Some of them are preventable and some of them aren’t. But no legislative proposal that has been discussed or actually introduced will stop tragedies like these from happening. In addition to the anti-gun bias of our President, part of the problem, of course, is a media that isn’t honest about the ineffectiveness of gun control proposals or how they wouldn’t stop shootings like the one at Umpqua Community College from happening.

Let’s be clear, we know that gun violence has declined significantly over the last 20 years. What we know is that the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013, recognized the private ownership of firearms as a deterrent to crime. And we know that states with concealed carry laws, known as “shall issue” states, have fewer murders than those that severely restrict these permits.

There is no cure-all to stop shootings, and President Obama and the media should be honest about that, rather than trying to push outrage and raise emotion to pass policies that promote their long-standing views against guns.

US Military Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan

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US Military Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan

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On Saturday, Oct. 3, a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan was bombed accidentally after Afghan forces called for air support from the American military, Gen. John Campbell, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said Monday.

doctors without borders hospital bombedThe airstrike killed 12 medical staff members and at least 10 patients, three of them children, Doctors Without Borders said.

“We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces,” he said. “An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat, and several innocent civilians were accidentally struck.”

Doctors Without Borders, which also goes by the name Médecins Sans Frontières, has said that another 37 people were wounded and has called the bombing a war crime. This group works in conflict zones to help victims of war, natural disasters and other tragedies.

In a statement after the general spoke, the organization demanded a full and transparent independent investigation of the bombing.

“Today the U.S. government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff,” the statement read. “Their description of the attack keeps changing — from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government.

“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs. The U.S. hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The U.S. military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition,” it continued. “There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”

Executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the U.S., Jason Cone, says the group has sent letters “to all 76 signatory countries” of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, asking them to approve an investigation.

That list includes the U.S., Cone said at a news conference in New York on Oct. 7. He urged President Obama to agree to the request.

If the request is granted, it would “activate the investigative arm of Geneva Conventions protocols,” reports NPR’s Quil Lawrence, saying that the commission, despite officially existing since 1991, has never been activated.

Saying that there have been “inconsistencies” in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, Cone also acknowledged that there may have been Taliban fighters inside the hospital, saying, “We treat anyone who is a victim of conflict… combatants [are] not combatants any more once they are wounded.”

When Will the EPA Adequately Clean Up Its Mess?

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When Will the EPA Adequately Clean Up Its Mess?

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

On Sept. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency officials released new data that indicates that surface water concentrations from the Animas River are returning back to normal.

Samples collected on Aug. 16 and 17 “have been validated,” the agency said.

animasThe EPA review of the data included a comparison to screening levels for exposure during recreational river use to see if the metal concentrations in the water are consistent with levels prior to the disastrous 3 million-gallon spill that contaminated the river in early August.

“Based on the results of the surface water samples in the Animas River, surface water concentrations are trending toward pre-event conditions,” the EPA said.

However, experts say that metals lining the riverbed could continue to cause long-term effects for agriculture, aquatic life and the health of those along the Animas River.

“The long-term effects are the concern that every time we have some sort of a high-water event, whether a good rain in the mountains or spring runoff next year, that’s going to stir up sediments and remobilize those contaminants that are sitting at the bottom of the river right now,” said Ty Churchwell, Colorado backcountry coordinator for Trout Unlimited.

Experts stress that the current disaster will severely damage the Animas’ fish population – one that has been diminished by heavy metals and sedimentation for years. The river has seen an almost 80 percent decline since 2000 in the fish biomass – the weight of all the trout collected in a certain area, said Jim White an aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Navajo Nation leadership also voiced fears of long-term impact as the contaminants from the Animas flowed into for 215 miles through Navajo land.

On Aug. 5, a team of workers contracted by the EPA spilled 3 million gallons of orange-colored waste from the Gold King Mine into the Animas River in Colorado. The pollutants flowed into New Mexico where it merged into the San Juan River, a critical source of water for Navajo communities.

Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President released a statement to the public in regards to FEMA and the EPA’s refusal for assistance in cleaning up the toxic water in the San Juan River:

“We are extremely frustrated with the news that both FEMA and the U.S. EPA have declined our urgent requests to continue assistance to the Navajo Nation. U.S. EPA caused this entire disaster, they have harmed the people, the water and the land. I appreciated the fact U.S. EPA took responsibility and I was hoping for the U.S. EPA to prove to the Navajo Nation they are willing to hold themselves accountable. This action clearly shows otherwise. For years, we have consistently been at the receiving end of toxic spills and contamination with no adequate relief as the United States Government and Private Companies became wealthy off of the natural resources of the Navajo Nation.

The EPA doesn’t seem to want to help the people that will be affected by their government intervention for the long-term. If these communities aren’t given adequate help in the wake of this environmental disaster, there could be thousands of people that suffer for years to come.

Respectability Politics and Discrimination

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by Comments are off

Respectability Politics and Discrimination

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

Me: Tell me about Respectability Politics.
Young Statesman (14): It’s basically making excuses for cultural prejudices. “If they were more respectable then this bad thing wouldn’t be happening.”
discriminationMe: Who can Respectability Politics be used against?
YS: Minorities.
Me: Just race?
YS: No. The poor. Muslims. Anyone different from you.
Me: The assumption in Respectability Politics is that the group that is being discriminated against….
YS: …is doing it to themselves. It’s never the discriminating group’s problem. They bring the discrimination upon themselves. If they were more respectable then this wouldn’t be happening. If they changed what they did then they wouldn’t be discriminated against.
Me: Have you ever heard the expression “victim blaming”?
YS: No, I haven’t.
Me: What does it sound like to you?
YS: Something has been done to someone by someone else and you’re blaming the person it was done to. “You wouldn’t have been shot if you were more respectable.” “You wouldn’t be bullied if you were a nicer kid.” You’re saying, “it’s your fault.”
Me: Was it a lack of respectability on the part of blacks in America that caused racism?
YS: No. Whites thought they were better.
Me: Do you think they sincerely thought themselves better?
YS: Yes.
Me: I don’t agree with you.
YS: Why?
Me: I think it was a lie they told themselves.
YS: So they could feel innocent of wrongdoing?
Me: Yes. You know Irish people came over as chattel slaves, too. A lot of white people came to America as slaves.
YS: I didn’t know that. I thought that was just indentured servitude.
Me: White slavery was not as common as black slavery but it certainly wasn’t uncommon. So, was it a lack of respectability that caused the racism?
YS: No. I think it was slavery.
Me: You understand that slavery included the molestation of children, rape, torture, murder, the destruction of families. The children of slave women were born into slavery. Even the children of the slave owners born to slave women were born into slavery.
YS: That’s sick stuff.
Me: It is. It’s hard to do sick stuff and still feel good about yourself.
YS: They had to come up with a story. They had to put the victim in a bad light. They had to make it their fault because otherwise they would feel bad. They made up a story. They gave themselves reasons to justify their behavior.
Me: But we don’t do that any more, right? We don’t justify bad behavior with stories, do we?
YS: [Laughs.] We justify all kinds of things. Killing people. Wars. Theft.
Me: We do like to tell ourselves stories don’t we?
YS: We call them reasons.

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