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Missouri May Soon Close Loophole Allowing Government-Sponsored Theft

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Leave a comment

Missouri May Soon Close Loophole Allowing Government-Sponsored Theft

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

Missouri state legislators are looking into putting an end to state-sponsored theft of private property by closing a loophole that allows state officials to go to the feds for the shares of profits taken in asset forfeiture cases.

Missouri

The loophole known as “Equitable Sharing” works by giving state prosecutors the ability to bypass asset forfeiture laws that keep state police from confiscating property from suspects without a conviction. This happens when prosecutors throw the cases to the feds, who then walk in, take said property, and share the “profits” with the state’s law enforcement agency.

But with House Bill 1501, this procedure might be partially outlawed.

According to The Tenth Amendment Center, the piece of legislation would ensure Missouri law enforcement agencies and prosecutors may not participate in any agreement involving the federal government in which assets are seized and then shared.

Still, the bill isn’t perfect as it still allows state officials to profit from asset forfeiture if the case involves $100,000 in cash. However, HB 1501 could help to bring an end to the abuses related to civil asset forfeiture at least in the state of Missouri simply by making requirements regarding the practice harder to go around.

While Missouri has some of the best, most restrictive forfeiture laws in the country, this addition could inspire other states to stand up to the federal government by not letting the feds use state resources to seize private property from its residents without a proper conviction.

The first state to close the Equitable Sharing loophole was California in 2016. Missouri is now attempting to join the Golden State, while others are still ages behind, allowing government-sponsored theft to prevail.

But while this is definitely a step in the right direction, it’s important to note that this law originated with prohibition, being later reintroduced as part of the broad and ineffective drug war.

By justifying the seizure (read confiscation) of property based solely on the possibility that an individual is involved in the drug trade, officials have been stealing property for decades without ever first convicting the property owners, in a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. So if we are to be honest about the practice, its roots, and its immorality, we must first look at prohibition as a whole as the very reason why the government has believed for so long that it has any claim over the citizens’ private property.

What Lives Matter?

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Manuel Martin Leave a comment

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

During Thanksgiving dinner the NFL protests came into the conversation, unsurprisingly many around the table thought the players were “unpatriotic” and they should be fired. Naturally, I defended the NFL player’s freedom to not stand and mentioned that we should all support their freedom to do so. Ten minutes later the conversation went from the NFL, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, to a subject which had true significance American life vs “other” life.

Happiness

A family member of mine mentioned we should all be grateful for the troops protecting us overseas (as though a rural Afghani 8,000 miles away poses a significant threat to the U.S. population). Being used to internet meme’s mock this idea over the last five years I was caught off guard when confronted with this passionate stance in real life (apparently I need to spend less time with Libertarians). Rather than dismiss my family members passion I tried to understand her point of view.

I asked her to explain to me what she thinks is the driving motive behind the terrorist actions? She didn’t have an answer, so I asked a few more questions.

I asked her how she would feel towards Mexican citizens and the Mexican government if in an effort to stop the drug lords, Mexico had for the last 16 years been flying drones over the USA and randomly dropping bombs which could kill her, her family, friends, and other innocents? Would she feel warmth towards Mexico and respect the Mexican citizens who vote for and fund that murderous government?

In an odd act to double down on her America first philosophy, she mentioned that the civilians in the Middle East aren’t Americans so they don’t have our rights. I pointed out that those innocent civilians are no different than her, neither she nor anyone else gets to choose where they’re born. Why should a birthplace determine the value of a life?

The conversation ended with her asking “so you think they want to kill us because we’ve been killing them?” Now I can’t speak for why someone else feels the needs to kill Americans. What I can say is if foreign people were dropping bombs over my head and killing my family and friends that might be all the motivation I need to respond with “terrorism.”

In 2016 the USA dropped 26,000 bombs on the primarily Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. How much murder has the United States government dished out in the Middle East over the last 16 years? It’s hard to quantify all innocent deaths in all countries affected by the United States bombings over the last 16 years, so we’ll just look at the state of Iraq. 1.2 million (3.2% of the Iraq population) citizens have been killed as a result of the war on terror.

Using the aforementioned analogy with the Mexican government, what do you think would be the typical American response to the Mexican government killing ten million (3.2% of America’s population) innocent Americans? Do you think your average farmer, soccer mom, banker, teacher, lawyer, doctor, etc. will have a favorable opinion of Mexico and the Mexican people? Do you think out of the ten million innocent deaths there might arise 100,000 passionate Americans who will undergo a mission to terrorize the Mexican government and the Mexican people? Would you consider those Americans fighting back terrorists?

I bet the average American wouldn’t see the retributive actions towards Mexico as terrorism, rather it would be viewed as patriotism, heroism, and self-defense.
It’s time to wake up and realize that all lives matter.

Blue lives matter and so do black lives, however, a person’s life isn’t more or less valuable because of a chosen profession or skin color. Likewise, all life matters regardless of one’s birthplace. America there is a fundamental truth you need to embrace if this world is to see peace and that is “American” lives aren’t more precious than other lives. It doesn’t matter if that life has the random accident of being politically labeled an American life or not. A person cannot choose where to be born, but a people can choose where to drop bombs.

Choices matter, make the right one and let’s stop voting for politicians who see non-intervention as weakness and the murder of millions as diplomacy.

The Peaceful Transition To Stateless Societies Is Already Happening

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Leave a comment

The Peaceful Transition To Stateless Societies Is Already Happening

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

Libertarianism provides us with the understanding that decentralization of power works best, but only if the goal is to maximize prosperity, growth, ingenuity, and yes, peace. That’s why it’s often important to discuss forms of governance that do not involve large bureaucracies working on behalf of the “public,” an idea of homogenous unity that legitimizes power-hungry paper pushers and authoritarians alike.

stateless

In his new book, “Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations,” Tom W. Bell goes through the trouble of breaking down what an essentially market-driven type of governance would look like by putting consent (and only consent) as the bedrock of its existence. And when I say market-driven, I mean it. After all, the only environment where we see consent being the condition on which people coexist is the market.

In a free market environment, service and product providers are not forced to set up shop by a government or authority and consumers aren’t driven to consumption at the point of a gun. Instead, they come in contact, exchange, or choose not to solely by consenting to serving, consuming, or not. Unfortunately, governments do not work as such and those who happen to be born or to move within the borders of a particular nation end up being subject to the rules imposed by a few, for the benefit of a few. Consent, then, is never part of the equation.

So if examples of real-world consent-based governance are to be taken seriously, as Bell attempts to do with his book by naming foreign trade zones (FTZs), Chinese special economic zones, and SEZs as examples of market-based governance, it’s clear that there are more than a couple of arguments to be made for this type of structure. Thankfully, libertarians can now discuss the practical evidence that backs their political philosophy with gusto as we now know that yes, it’s possible for us to become stateless and to do so peacefully.

Maybe now, we will finally be able to answer the age-old question regarding roads with the obvious: It doesn’t matter because the market will be the one to decide.

What’s the truth behind “gun” violence?

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Manuel Martin Leave a comment

What’s the truth behind “gun” violence?

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

The United States is an enormous territory with different cultures, geographies, histories, climates, cuisines and many other aspects which differentiates a region from its neighbors. Claiming America has a gun violence issue is an incredibly vague statement that in most parts of the country lacks zero evidence, yet in other regions might just be an understatement.

gun

When looking at numbers on a state-by-state basis homicide rates vary from 1.3 per 100,000 residents in New Hampshire, to 11.8 per 100,000 residents in Louisiana. New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, and Oregon, all of which have among the lowest homicide rates in North America, get Brady Campaign score of D-, F, F, and D+. The US has a murder per capita rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 residents, Mexico is about 16 per 100,000, despite the fact that on average Mexico has 15 guns per 100 residents and the US has 101 guns per 100 residents. Last year in St. Louis, the murder rate was 50 per 100,000 residents — more than three times Chicago’s during the same period.

What all these metrics say is laws don’t matter and the number of guns owned isn’t relevant, what matters is culture and how we choose to respect each other. Culture is why Mexico has a murder rate that is three times that of the USA, despite only have 14 percent as many guns per 100 residents. Culture is why New Hampshire has a homicide rate that is just 2.6 percent of St. Louis.

Cultures which promote human respect and the acceptance of differing values will find themselves more harmonious, prosperous and with less violence than cultures which don’t value those same principles. It’s hard to advocate respect and find peace when we are constantly trying to force our personal values on others by voting for a politician to control the actions of society. Just because one may not find value in a gun, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Peaceful and respectful individuals don’t hire mobsters, hitmen or politicians to force their personal values upon others.

In 2016 1600 people were killed with knives, yet where is the outcry for knife control? There isn’t one because most people find an everyday use for knives, knives have a universal purpose to help make our lives easier. Just as knives can be used for evil, so can guns. Our culture needs to change, some states like New Hampshire have a culture which respects life, and others like Louisiana are lacking. Laws can’t change that, only moral people leading by example can.

While I don’t love guns, others do. Now think about what you love, how would you like it if a group of individuals were trying to use politicians and police to take from you what you love? Is this a recipe for peace, a nation in a constant battle over who gets to control arbitrary laws? I think we can all agree voting every two years to control one another through the proxy of a politician is not how society will achieve peace and prosperity. Changing our culture to one which maximizes human respect and values persuasion and trade over the coercive arbitrary power of government will lead to a more prosperous, civil, and less violent society.

 

Fear Of IRS Audit Leads To Suicide

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Taxes by Alice Salles Leave a comment

Fear Of IRS Audit Leads To Suicide

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

Taxation, libertarians often say, is theft. But taxation also has other implications, causing those who are the target of the state over the suspicion of tax evasion to suffer greatly.

IRS

Lowell Hawthorne, the founder of the Golden Krust Jamaican beef patty empire, appeared to fear that the huge tax debt he allegedly had with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would destroy him. Afraid of the probe into his alleged tax evasion, Hawthorne decided to end it all, committing suicide in his own office.

The whole incident was caught on tape, with Hawthorne pulling the trigger and ending his life inside of the office of his Bronx bakery and warehouse.

According to family members, the man was “acting funny” hours before taking his own life. He had reportedly talked about the debt to the IRS with family members and was afraid of what this would mean to him and his company.

The entrepreneur launched his business in 1989, employing several relatives. In his note, the business founder and Jamaican immigrant apologized to his family. But perhaps, who should really be apologizing to his children and grandchildren is the IRS.

For many years, the United States survived without any income tax, a reality that former presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul often highlights in his speeches. But as the federal government expanded, launching the American Civil War, the need for an income tax to maintain pay for the efforts became a reality. Over time, the tax burden only grew in America, especially after the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. And while we still struggle to pay the bill for our involvement in World War I, the debt continues to grow, making the future of every single man, woman, and child in this country a little more bleak.

While Hawthorne was also being targeted in a civil lawsuit regarding labor law violations, it was the fear of what he would experience under an IRS probe that led the grandfather to shoot himself.

The stress many business owners go through during IRS audits and other probes revolving around taxes is enough to make people sick, and, as we can see, crushing enough to make someone consider suicide. So when will we admit that, perhaps, it’s time to rethink taxation in the United States?

The End Of Prohibition Started With The States

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Leave a comment

The End Of Prohibition Started With The States

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

This week marks the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition of alcohol all across the United States.

The move was made official when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was repealed by the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. But long before this policy shift was finally embraced by the federal government, local and state governments had already not only stood to federal prohibition in theory but also embraced policies that rendered the federal government’s decision to prevent Americans from drinking alcohol useless locally.

prohibition

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the decision to defy the federal government “created the atmosphere where this repeal was inevitable.”

Long before wealthy industrialist John D. Rockefeller Jr., a former supporter of prohibition, came to realize that laws against alcohol drinking actually led to an increase in alcohol consumption, the state of Maryland had been the only state to forego passing laws that enforced prohibition locally. Due to the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, states felt compelled to pass their own laws enforcing prohibition except Maryland was never onboard.

Eventually, other states joined. New York was the first, passing legislation in 1923, but others quickly followed suit, feeling that the enforcement of prohibition required too many resources.

Talking about the federal prohibition, Maryland Senator William Cabell Bruce told Congress in the mid-1920s that while the amendment had been into effect for six years, “it can be truly said that, except to a highly qualified extent, it has never gone into practical effect at all.”

By 1925, six other states had passed their own laws, keeping local police from investigating prohibition-related infractions. And with cities growing tired of the feds meddling with their affairs, local officials were also refusing to provide aid. By 1928, 28 states had said no to aiding the feds in going after locals breaking prohibition rules.

With both individuals regularly breaking the federal law, producing alcohol in their own homes or visiting speakeasies where alcohol consumption was the norm, and state and local officials defying the feds, Congress had nothing else to do except to move toward bringing an end to the prohibition on paper, even though it had technically been dead for years in practice.

Much like what states are doing now with the drug war, nullifying marijuana prohibition locally first, the pressure built up until it was impossible for the feds to ignore that their  influence wasn’t making a dent.

Like Americans then, Americans now understand that the fight for freedom begins locally. As libertarians, we know that this creates real competition between small, local governments, giving residents more options. With more and more states joining the nullification bandwagon, everything from federal health to monetary policies are being defied locally. And hopefully, this is just the beginning of a broader movement that might eventually completely tie the hands of the federal government, allowing individual Americans to take their lives back from regulators.

 

Bothered By Trump’s Drone Use In Yemen? You’re Not Alone

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, News You Can Use, War by Alice Salles Comments are off

Bothered By Trumps Drone Use In Yemen? You’re Not Alone

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

The United States is actively involved in the immoral and incredibly damaging Saudi military campaign in Yemen. And as millions of women and children die, the Donald Trump administration finds a way to aid Saudi Arabia by sending drones to the already devastated country.

But as Trump’s use (read abuse) of the executive branch’s drone program begins to troublesome well-meaning liberals who opposed him during the presidential campaign, one must wonder where were these same liberals with President Barack Obama also abused the drone program put in motion by President George W. Bush to kill innocent women and children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East.

Yemen

After an American teenager was killed without due process under the orders of Obama, few, if any, progressives attacked the president for it. But now that we’re effectively using our drone fleet to aid the Saudis in the further destruction of an already-war torn land, people seem to be finally getting angry at the president.

As noted by Matt Taibbi in a recent Rolling Stone article, the “ability to kill by remote control without judicial review was one of the many gifts we bequeathed to Trump prior to his inauguration.” And that’s because the powers granted to Obama were never challenged when Bush was in power, and they were certainly seldom challenged with Obama lived in the White House.

While Sen. Rand Paul stood for 13 hours in a filibuster that went down in history for targeting Obama’s drone program and its unconstitutionality, few on the left helped to elevate the debate among their own circles, allowing the president to go virtually unchallenged for most of his presidency.

Now that Trump has inherited these powers, we are once again forced to ask ourselves if the federal government isn’t simply too powerful, and if there is anything we can do to put an end to this.

As we can see, there is no way we can shrink the power of the federal government by putting another president in Trump’s or Obama’s or Bush’s place. It’s also impossible to shrink the government and its power by pushing Congress to act. The only way to actually force the government to abandon its unlawful — and immoral — activities is to actually spread liberty.

The more people understand that liberty, and not a powerful federal government, is the only framework capable of giving us the proper environment to develop both economically and morally, the faster we will stop looking at the government for all answers, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Economic Liberty, Healthcare, Liberator Online, Military, Taxes, Welfare by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

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

Question:

What is the libertarian view on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs? Do libertarians support tax dollars going to help our nation’s veterans with health care and other services, including disability benefits? Or is that also considered pork-barrel spending by libertarians?

economic

Answer:

In a libertarian society, military personnel would have compensation that was guaranteed by written contract. Funding these benefits wouldn’t depend upon taxation of future generations, as it is today. Instead, the benefits would be supplied by annuity-like funds that would grow over time. Thus veterans’ benefits wouldn’t become a political football.

Some libertarians do indeed support the use of tax dollars to fulfill promises to veterans, retirees, and others. Unfortunately, government has promised so much to so many that the only way these promises could actually be completely fulfilled would be to inflate the currency, which essentially imposes additional “taxes” upon us all.

Some libertarians have suggested selling off government assets, such as its 40% of the U.S. landmass, in order to attempt to fulfill these promises. I personally prefer this solution.

However, I suspect that none of us will ever see more than a fraction of what the government has promised us. The government operates a Ponzi scheme by spending today what has been promised for tomorrow. Because we, as a nation, have gone along with this Ponzi scheme, we will all eventually suffer the consequences. I fear there will be no easy way out.

Very few politicians will ever share this unpleasant truth with you, because they fear you’ll lose your faith and trust in them. However, the truth does set you free — to take another path and work to create a libertarian society!

Compassion Can Only Exist In The Market

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

Compassion Can Only Exist In The Market

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

As we approach Christmas, a holiday season ripe for the usual anti-capitalism sentiment as countless of people who celebrate the date prepare to buy presents to put under the tree, we are reminded that in times of crisis, only individuals working in a private business, where they have incentives to act responsibly so that they may also benefit themselves, will be able to meet the market’s demands.

market

In the end, no government bureaucrat can do what a simple pizza delivery man can. The story of Eric Olsen of Omaha, Nebraska, is a perfect example of this.

After Hurricane Matthew hit Florida, forcing countless of locals to be shunned from the world as communication lines were cut due to the natural disaster, Olsen knew he had to do something to make sure his 87-year-old grandmother was OK.

As he attempted to communicate with her, Olsen contacted the local police and the sheriff’s department, and yet nobody could tell him if Claire Olsen, his grandmother, was alive. After two days of agony, Olsen finally had a brilliant idea.

Instead of calling another government agency in search for help, Olsen found a local pizza place and made the call that changed everything.

“I just [finally] said, ‘I’m going to order her a pizza, and if they can deliver it, then I know she’s alive,’” Olsen told reporters.

Letting the delivery person know about his grandmother’s situation, Olsen asked the delivery person to call him when he finally delivered the pizza. So once the delivery man arrived, he put Claire in contact with her grandson.

“Police and fire couldn’t do it, but Papa John’s got there in 30 minutes and put the cellphone to her ear,” he jokingly said.

But as it turns out, the joke is really on anyone who truly believes that in a time of crisis, only governments should be trusted to act on our behalf.

When we trust the government to take on the responsibilities that truly should be our own, we also give bureaucrats and politicians powers over our own lives that should never be delegated to anyone else but ourselves.

If anything, this story goes to show that the market takes care of its consumers not because it has power over them, but because it has a responsibility to deliver, otherwise, it loses customers to competitors.

Once we all truly understand this, there will be no more need to convince anybody that a party is superior to another, and that a candidate in particular will do anything for us, as the public will finally realize politicians are not to be trusted.

TSA Proves, Once Again, That It’s Not In The Business Of Boosting Safety

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

TSA Proves, Once Again, That It’s Not In The Business Of Boosting Safety

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

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in order to reportedly maintain Americans safe after the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City. But despite the allegedly good intentions that drove the George W. Bush administration to create this arm of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency has yet to prove itself useful.

TSA

Recently, a series of undercover tests have shown that the the TSA fails to intercept passengers carrying weapons and other dangerous materials 80 percent of the time. In other tests, the agency failed even more often, reaching the staggering 95 percent failure rate.

While Congress has called the high rates of failure “disturbing,” there’s little to nothing being done to either put an end to the TSA or to address the real culprit of such lack of success. Unfortunately, government agents aren’t there because their employers expect results. Instead, the agency exists as a means to create an appearance of safety. If the methods and procedures put in place by agents work or not isn’t what matters.

If the TSA truly was meant to function as a security firm would, any failure rate greater than 1 percent would be enough for consumers making use of the service to bring their contract with the agency to an end. And that means that the TSA would have been dismantled promptly after its inception as the agency has always had a high rate of failure.

But since the TSA is but a bureaucracy, not one single official employed to secure domestic and international flights is worried about showing results. After all, they have nothing to fear. Working for the government means that little is expected of you and that the agency is going nowhere, whether it’s effective or not. Without fierce competition, monopolies always win.

And if you think the TSA isn’t a monopoly, ask yourself, how many U.S. airports have you flown to or from where security was carried out entirely by private firms?

If the answer is zero, or just one, or two, that means that the TSA has a virtual monopoly on transportation security, putting us in danger of flying with a murderer, a terrorist, or an ill-intentioned individual 80 percent of the time.

After the latest report showed the TSA failed to identify weapons and other materials 80 percent of the time, changes were ordered and investigations were initiated. But as all other efforts to “fix” the TSA before this, nothing will come out of it. The more the TSA presses to be more efficient, the more taxpayer money. And what’s worse, consumers who were once happy to go to the airport to hop on a plane now live in dread of having to face what often takes one, two, or even three hours just to get through security.

The TSA is not only there to make us think we’re safe, it’s also there to hurt businesses. While the goal may have not been such, the result is clear. It’s high time we let airports and airlines deal with their own security by looking for the free market where security firms will compete by showing results. Ignoring that the TSA is actually increasing the risk of flying in America will only make matters worse.

Who Writes The Laws That You Follow?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles 1 Comment

Who Writes The Laws That You Follow?

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

The notion that crony capitalism is inefficient because it gives the powerful access to policymakers isn’t just a reality on the federal level. Local and state governments are also filled with lawmakers and office holders who will use their power to lend a friend — or donor — a hand.

law

One consequence of this scheme is that, all too often, policies by which we’re forced to abide are often written by industry leaders who are also political donors. As a result, they will often benefit a certain group of people while hurting another. One great example of this pernicious consequence of crony capitalism is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which was written by health industry leaders with their own gains in mind, not the health of the population.

But yet another concerning byproduct of crony capitalism is that, sometimes, the collusion with special interests is such that the very policies implemented by the governmental body in question are written by anonymous authors, allowing for those who are benefiting from such policies to be completely immune from scrutiny.

According to an investigation by the Kansas City Star, at least 90 percent of the bills signed into law in the state in the past 10 years were written by anonymous authors. That’s the majority of laws Kansas residents must follow or face the legal consequences and yet, nobody knows who wrote them.

The investigation also uncovered that the Kansas police are allowed to withhold body cam videos. And if that wasn’t enough, reporters also learned that in cases of child deaths tied to the Department for Children, officials were known to pay off parents so they would keep quiet.

While the report highlights that the fact laws are written by anonymous sources is part of the state’s transparency problem, as Kansas continues to receive failing grades when it comes to transparency, that isn’t too far from the realities of other municipalities, states, and federal agencies. Meaning that no matter how transparent a government body may be, there will always be the possibility for corruption thanks to crony capitalism.

The only real solution to this problem is to simply strip the government, whether local or federal, of their ability to implement policies that impact every single aspect of our lives.If this is the case, officials won’t be able to sell anybody access to any privileges.

If you don’t champion liberty, who will?

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

If you don’t champion liberty, who will?

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

Question:

The libertarian movement has my best wishes and hopes for success. I am eager to see you succeed, and I will put my money and time where my mouth is. But first I want to see proof of progress. The proof I want is seeing a steady decline in the medias ability to launch lies and propaganda.

liberty

Answer:

I once saw a reproduction of the famous painting, ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware.’ General Washington’s commanding figure, however, had been cut out, leaving his soldiers leaderless.

The caption read, “What if he had said, ‘Let some other George do it?’”

Each of us has a role to play in the quest for liberty. Our natural tendency to “let some other George do it,” and wait for the “proof” of victory, can cost us that victory.

Only you can decide how long to wait before jumping into the fray. Consider the possibility of creating the proof that you seek rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Your talents will do much to further the cause of freedom!

It’s Time To Put Property First

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

It’s Time To Put Property First

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

The very foundation of liberty seems ever so shaky as political groups try to destroy it by attacking it on every possible front. To libertarians, this reality keeps pushing us to try and spread the message of liberty at any given chance. Still, few appear to discuss the importance of property rights. Instead, libertarians tend to get too attached to policy, whether imposed by federal or state officials.

property

In his incredible 2000 essay “Property and Liberty,” James Bovard explains that liberty cannot be seen as a viable end if we do not see property as “the guardian of all other rights.”

At some point in the history of this country, Bovard writes, members of the Supreme Court were even wise enough to declare that all rights “would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen.” And still, he argues, politicians as well as judges and political philosophers have repeatedly ignored or underplayed the value of property rights and how it is the very foundation of freedom.

When looking at the relationship between the state and the individual, it’s clear that without property rights, the individual is incapable of escaping from under the state’s thumb. By boosting, celebrating, and teaching future generations about the importance of upholding property rights is that we will be able to place a limit on government power.

In countries where governments take the focus away from the individual’s right to property, it also moves toward policies that actually limit all other rights. In places like the Soviet Union, where the “anti-social individual” who enjoyed his privacy should be promptly located and reprimanded, it’s no wonder that extensive state intervention in all affairs pertaining to life led to the end of personal freedoms, Bovard explained.

In order to maximize the state’s power, elected officials often impose policies that expand their power over the economy. The more they become involved in the country’s economy, whether by regulating commerce or dictating monetary policies, the more difficulties common residents will experience, pushing the masses to demand more government interference in their affairs as a result.

As Bovard explained in his essay, “the worse the economic system [functions], the more power government [acquires].”

Whenever libertarians find an opportunity to teach others about the importance of free, voluntary transactions among individuals and how the state has turned into one giant hurdle to freedom, we must also remind ourselves that focusing on property again is how we can go about teaching others about the foundations of liberty.

As government grows and its minions become more greedy, our freedoms are taken, one by one. And it’s precisely because we have lost respect for property protections that in places like America, we’re struggling with a government that oversees too much, restricting our lives and our limiting our prospects for the future.

It’s time to go back to the basics.

Trump’s ‘Tax Cut’ Plan Will Actually Increase Inflation

in Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles 2 Comments

Trump’s ‘Tax Cut’ Plan Will Actually Increase Inflation

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

Former congressman Ron Paul used his latest column to talk about how Republicans in Congress are planning on passing a tax cut plan that, unfortunately, increases one of the most insidious “taxes” Americans are forced to pay on a daily basis.

tax

While the new tax cut proposal has positive elements such as the elimination of the death tax, Paul explains that the plan also adopts what’s known as the chained consumer price index, ignoring how inflation impacts our standard of living.

To the veteran congressman and liberty educator, there isn’t a worse policy than the adoption of the chained CPI. That’s because ignoring inflation allows for the population to completely forget about the single most devastating financial policy the government has ever adopted.

With the end of the gold standard during the Richard Nixon administration, the Federal Reserve was allowed to inflate the supply of currency without having anything to back it with. With greater currency circulation (higher supply), money loses its value. That means that the earnings of Americans from all walks of life actually lose purchasing power since the value of their real wages drops as the Fed pumps the economy with cheap cash.

According to Paul, the embrace of the chained CPI means that the Donald Trump administration is telling the masses that inflation does not reduce our standard of living.

Calling inflation a tax that “may be the worst of all taxes because it is hidden and regressive,” Paul explains that, over time, the use of chained CPI to adjust tax brackets may actually increase tax rates for everyone.

If the Trump administration and Congress’ Republicans were actually serious about helping Americans by cutting their taxes, Paul argues, then making it easier for the Fed to keep pushing up inflation would be the last idea they would try to implement. And yet, here we are, contemplating a new “tax cut” plan that does just that.

During Paul’s two last runs for the presidency, his message of sound money was the one that inspired an entire generation of young Americans to become politically involved. The same people who filled up stadiums to listen to a doctor from Texas were chanting “end the fed” and telling friends and family members just how immoral the Federal Reserve’s policies had been since its inception. In 2017, the Fed and its policy of increasing the supply of cash are simply not being pursued by anybody who seems even remotely concerned about U.S. politics.

Unfortunately, financial policies pursued by Washington are some of the most destructive, as they impact our lives in a very direct way.

Is it time to start talking about the Fed again?

Can people today handle freedom?

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

Can people today handle freedom?

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

Question:

While I agree with the fundamentals of libertarianism, I am afraid that, at this stage of the human evolutionary process, most people couldn’t handle complete freedom. How many people do you know who, when about to take a specific action, would stop and think whether or not their action would have an undesirable result for someone else?

freedom

Answer:

People think about how their actions affect others when they themselves experience the fallout. Libertarianism creates this link when those who harm others must make full restitution.

Today, criminals are seldom caught because so much policing is focused on victimless crimes. Today, criminals go free after stealing, raping, and killing so that peaceful pot smokers can get mandatory minimums. Today, the military is our number one polluter, literally getting away with murder because of sovereign immunity.

Without more freedom and responsibility (libertarianism), we will move more slowly along our evolutionary path!

Lawmakers Want To Collect Personal Information From Students Nationwide

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

Lawmakers Want To Collect Personal Information From Students Nationwide

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

Congress may be inching closer to turning the United States into a full surveillance state with a new national student database bill. Now, federalist and 10th Amendment advocates are urging liberty-loving advocates to step up and fight the government’s attempted power grab.

In 2005, the George W. Bush administration proposed a federal student record system that would allow the Department of Education to request large amounts of information from post-secondary students, having the data stored in educational databases. But in 2008, the Higher Education Act of 2008 made this move illegal.

information

Recently, the ACLU, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, and Parents Across America came together to urge the Federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking to bring an idea of pushing for a nationwide database of students down. In a letter, advocates urged officials to keep in mind that allowing the federal government to have a database with so much personal information would expose students’ privacy to a great deal of risk as abuse would be hard to prevent.

Currently, information on K-12 students is already gathered by state departments. Eventually, this data could be gathered by the federal government as states do not protect their students’ data from federal government abuse.

Unfortunately, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C., are looking into bringing the 2008 ban to an end, and if they succeed, they will be able to give the feds full control over personal information on millions of students.

Advocates for less federal government control are urging residents of varied states to act now to pass laws that would protect their students’ data ahead of any federal push for a nationwide database. Hopefully, states will begin to push back as to ensure that their resources cannot be used to enforce any unconstitutional push for less privacy.

Simply put, working locally to push for protections that would ensure state students and their data are protected from abuse is an easier task than going straight to the federal government for help. Still, the work isn’t an easy one. And unless advocates are dedicated to the cause, the results won’t be fruitful.

Real Estate Developer’s Crony Relationship With NY Mayor Revealed

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

Real Estate Developer’s Crony Relationship With NY Mayor Revealed

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

Crony capitalism has long been the driving force behind political shifts in the United States. And while that is usually accepted as an undeniable truth by most, many fail to see crony capitalism on city and state levels as a serious problem.

Recently, real estate developer and political donor-gone-rogue Jona Rechnitz offered testimony before the Manhattan federal court that shed some light on the quid pro quo relationship between businesses and local governments.

After having a New York City Mayor de Blasio operative contact him and ask him for a $102,000 donation so that Senate Democrats would get a boost in their efforts to remain in office, Rechnitz first refused, precisely because he wasn’t getting the favors from the city he had been after.

crony

“All you do is you come here when you need money,” he told the operative.

Rechnitz had been slapped with a series of violations due to the city’s change of policy regarding subletting rooms and whole apartments at the popular lodging app Airbnb.

While Rechnitz had paid the fines, he was still looking for a way to talk to the Housing Department directly to explain why the violations were unfair. And while he had contacted de Blasio’s office to make the meeting happen in the past, he had been ignored.

He also wanted to fast track the process to sell a home that belonged to his friend, and the city was allegedly not helping.

But as soon as he refused to give the mayor any money, things began to change. As a result, Rechnitz made the contribution requested of him. De Blasio even called him in person to thank him and to let him know that the contribution meant a great deal.

In no time, Rechnitz had reportedly gotten a meeting with the city to discuss the Airbnb issue. He also got the answers he needed on the property deal he was trying to make, all thanks to the money he “invested” and the subsequent bribes he allegedly carried out so that friends would invest millions in union pension funds.

Still, the mayor’s spokesperson has denied Rechnitz’s accusations. But regardless of what officials say, we know for a fact that when someone like Rechnitz says he “owns” a politician, it might as well be true.

Men of means who are willing to do anything to bring down competition will do all in their power to have a good relationship with elected officials. Not because that’s in their nature, but because government’s very involvement in businesses through regulation allows for companies and individual businessmen with the cash to pay to keep competitors at bay by influencing policy.

And it’s thanks to this reality that governments will often pass laws implementing policies that often benefit big, powerful companies while hurting small competitors who are still trying to enter the market. That’s how large companies become bigger and stronger, while competitors have a harder time even getting started.

Who loses in the end? The consumer.

Alabama Moves To Get Government Out Of Marriage

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

Alabama Moves To Get Government Out Of Marriage

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

We have all heard about the importance of fighting for equality before the law when it comes to the same-sex marriage debate. What many of us haven’t seen much is political activists wanting to diminish, not enlarge, the presence of the state in the private lives of couples everywhere, whether they are gay or straight.

Fortunately, many local advocates saw the push for the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country as a good opportunity to remind folks of all walks of life that the more government is involved in our personal affairs, the more unjust their policies become.

marriage

In Alabama, a bill that abolishes locals’ need for marriage licenses has been prefiled.

Senate Bill 13’s wording would ensure that all requirements to obtain marriage licenses in the state would be stricken down, allowing for civil judges to record civil contracts of marriage with the help of signed affidavits instead.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, these judges would not have the authority to reject a marriage recording, making it completely up to the two people who are tying the knot to go on with their plan without fear that the state would stand in the way.

While the proposed legislation would still maintain some other state requirements such as prohibiting marriage between people who are related by blood or adoption, keeping minors between the ages of 16 and 18 from marrying without their parents’ consent, and not allowing judges to record the marriage if one or both parties are already married, this bill would effectively put an end to the state’s power over marriage as a couple would not have to go to the local government to ask permission to marry the person of their choosing first.

Because government became involved in marriages, prejudice became the law. As a matter of fact, state marriage licenses were only implemented because government officials wanted to find a way to prevent interracial marriages.

Over time, these same tools were used to keep same-sex couples from officializing their union as well.

Currently, this bill would help to reduce the state’s involvement in marriage altogether, helping to defy the federal government’s rules and providing locals with more freedom, which may be a reason for many to move to the state if the bill passes.

Hopefully, the bill, which will only be officially introduced on Jan. 8, 2018, will find strong supporters in both chambers of state legislature so that it may be signed into law in the near future.

How could theater and the arts survive without government funding?

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

How could theater and the arts survive without government funding?

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

Question:

I consider myself ideally a philosophical (and political) libertarian already, even though I’m only 15 years old. However, I have a passion for theater and the arts. What would happen if we eliminated funding for the arts? How would theater and the arts survive if it weren’t funded and supported by the government?

arts

Answer:

In a libertarian society, the theater and the arts would be supported through private patronage. However, such a society would be much wealthier than we are today (see my book, Healing Our World, available from the Advocates (2003 edition) or as a free download (1992 edition) at Ruwart.com for details). The wealthier the society, the more it spends on the arts. Consequently, the arts should flourish in a libertarian society.

Heavily Regulated Cities Are Unaffordable Cities

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

Heavily Regulated Cities Are Unaffordable Cities

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

Living in one of America’s largest cities isn’t for the faint of heart, and not only because of all the noise, crime, and yes, smell.

When it comes to finding suitable housing in big cities, the reality quickly kicks in as most of us would be incapable of affording to buy a home in some of the country’s population hubs such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City. While this has been a reality for quite some time, the deadly combination of higher demand and low supply caused by government intervention has made it particularly difficult for anyone to be able to afford to buy a home at these particular locations.

cities

Things have gotten so bad that nowadays, the average person in New York City must work 113.5 hours to pay a month’s worth of mortgage. With an average listing of $798,0000, NYC is the top most expensive city in the country to own a home, but not the only expensive place to live.

In Los Angeles, which comes in second, the average house listing is not too far from NYC at $748,000. The average Angeleno, however, must work 112.4 hours per month to afford a mortgage.

In Miami, the average local must work about 109.4 hours to pay a month’s worth of mortgage while in San Francisco, where the average income is higher than most of the previously mentioned cities, the common local must work 106.7 hours to pay for a month’s worth of mortgage, which isn’t cheap — the median listing in the Golden City is $1,150,000.
Unfortunately, this problem has become a reality not only for the top most expensive cities but for residents of all major urban centers across the country as well. And not because these cities are incapable of providing housing to those who are willing to do anything to stay and work, but because suffocating zoning laws have made it impossible for builders to build, pushing poor people into segregated areas and, as a result, creating privileged neighborhoods that only exist because of government intervention.

With rules that keep landlords from raising rent or that penalize them for kicking out renters who do not keep up with their bills, as well as the implementation of rules that force housing developers to produce low-cost apartments in luxury buildings, rent and cost of purchasing homes actually goes up for everyone in the process, these regulations and others have only one consequence: to jack up the price of housing across the board.

As local governments then step in to remedy the problem by passing more regulations, the results remain the same and the cost of housing goes up once again. Forcing while working and middle-class folks to live farther, and farther away, thus increasing the cost of working in these big cities, which then translate into fewer good-paying jobs.

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