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How do you define a victimless crime?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty, Victimless Crime by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

How do you define a victimless crime?

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Question

I’m a Libertarian candidate for prosecuting attorney, and I’m seeking to craft short answers for my campaign. One of my campaign promises is that I will not seek to imprison persons accused of a victimless crime.

crime

How would you define ‘victimless crime’ when asked? Specifically, does that include negligent conduct that involves a risk of harming others? For example: driving through a red light, driving while intoxicated, and firing shots into the air.

Many types of negligent criminal conduct involve some risk of harming others. But often the risk is trivial. What is the dividing line between trivial risk and significant risk? There are no statistics on the risk of harm I know of.

Answer

A victim (by libertarian standards) is someone who is threatened with physical force, fraud, or theft. If there is no threat, there is no crime. A victimless crime, therefore, is one in which no one has been threatened with physical force, fraud, or theft.

Shouldn’t we intervene in other countries if we could save lives?

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Shouldn’t we intervene in other countries if we could save lives?

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Question

If we have the power to save lives by intervening internationally, which is the greater evil: imposing our will on others or the destruction of lives? Yes, it is correct that we tend to ignore civil strife in areas where we would either get bloodied or areas we don’t care about (like Rwanda), but should we intervene where we can do so at little physical cost if a net balance of lives can be gained?

lives

Answer

Ah, the age old question, ‘Can the ends justify the means?’ I’ve come to the conclusion that when we use bad means to obtain good ends, our efforts backfire every time. Rather than supporting a war funded with taxes, I chose to help the refugees.

Naturally, when you, as an individual, feel that you can do good by supporting a fight, you should follow your conscience by supplying your own time, money, and effort. If you force your neighbor who feels differently to participate, however, you’ll jeopardize your cause. After all, by using taxes to support the fight, you are first attacking your peaceful neighbors to save others from tyranny. You become the tyrant in order to save others from oppression. The contradiction should be obvious.

Many people applaud our entry into World War II as an example of how good (e.g., defeating Hitler) can come out of bad (e.g., taxes and the draft). With the advantage of historical hindsight, let’s see if this is an accurate description of what happened.

Hitler offered to let the Jews leave Germany if other countries would accept them. Few nations would alter their immigration quotas, however. If you visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., you can see a picture of a shipload of Jews being turned away from U.S. shores. They eventually had to return to Europe, where most of them were killed. Without the aggression of immigration laws, we could have saved the Jews without spilling the blood of our young men.

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor probably wouldn’t have occurred without the aggression of a U.S. oil embargo, saving the lives of our servicemen there.

Hitler’s finest were already trying to assassinate him by the time the U.S. entered the war and probably would have succeeded eventually. Instead, the U.S. entered the war, took Stalin as an ally, and gave Stalin most of Eastern Europe. Stalin proceeded to kill millions, without offering to let them migrate elsewhere, making Hitler look benevolent in comparison. Those who survived these purges were forced to live in constant fear, poverty, and strife. Did our aggression against our own neighbors make war on tyrants save lives or take them? The body count suggests that our aggression cost more lives than it saved.

Are private schools unfair?

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Are private schools unfair?

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Question

I live in England, where the private schools are derided by some, not because they are bad, but because they are thought of as unfairly benefiting the wealthy. I disagree. I believe that, because the offspring is an extension of the parent, he or she gains no unfair advantage — the school simply allows people to gain advantage from their own work. Do you agree?

schools

Answer

I would agree. However, all schools, whether public or private cost many times more in taxes or tuition than is necessary because of government regulations. Without these restrictions, ad-sponsored television programs like Sesame Street, special educational cable stations, Internet courses, and other advances we cannot yet envision could make high-quality education virtually free — for everyone! For details, see Chapter 10 of my book, “Healing Our World,” available from the Advocates for Self-Government.

What will happen to people with low incomes if minimum wage is done away with?

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

What will happen to people with low incomes if minimum wage is done away with?

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Question:

If you take away minimum wages, businesses can pay whatever small amount they want and keep the rest for profit. What about those who will only make $3.00 per hour?

wage

Answer:

If businesses can pay what they want, why do 90-95 percent of today’s workers in the U.S. make more than the minimum wage? The answer: supply and demand applies to employees as well as products. If a business doesn’t pay a person what he or she is worth, they go to a new employer or start their own business. In a libertarian society, with its expanding economy, such moves will be much easier than they are today.

Minimum wage laws actually destroy entry-level positions for the unskilled. Black economist Walter Williams believes that the minimum wage laws are the single most important factor in keeping young blacks out of the job market. The next time Congress considers raising the minimum wage, look in your newspaper for an estimate of the number of jobs that will be lost – potential training jobs for the disadvantaged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do libertarians favor gun control?

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

Do libertarians favor gun control?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Should slander be protected as free speech?

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Should slander be protected as free speech?

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QUESTION: I have questions about a past column of yours on the topic of blackmail. You wrote: “Manyslander libertarians consider slander of a person’s reputation to be a violation of the non-aggression principle; others don’t.”

I’m confused. It seems to me that slander should be protected as free speech in a libertarian society. There’s no aggression involved. So what’s the problem?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Not all libertarians agree on whether or not a lie constitutes aggression. A lie does not necessarily affect only one’s reputation. For example, a service provider could be put out of business by a well-publicized lie and lose all their assets before they were able to set the record straight. I have actually seen this happen to a publicly-traded company, where stockholders lost their investments and the employees lost their jobs.

Does a person have the right to free speech? Of course! Must they take responsibility for the consequences of their speech? That is the real question.

For example, if a person purposely yells “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, and people are killed in the stampede, is he or she guilty of manslaughter if there was no fire? The person yelling “Fire!” has the right to free speech, certainly. Must that person pay restitution to those who are injured or the survivors of those killed?

What if the person thought they smelled smoke and truly believed that there was a fire? They were trying to help people and didn’t lie, but the result was the same. Are they responsible for the dead and injured?

This is where libertarians disagree over this issue. Some libertarians would agree with you that the only consequences that a liar should have to face is damage to his or her reputation, regardless of the consequences of that lie. Others believe that a liar is responsible for the resulting damage.

 

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

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

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

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QUESTION: National landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are symbols of national unity, strength, and sources of inspiration. They are monuments of a national republic. How would these monuments be constructed for the entire nation in a libertarian society?

Monuments

MY SHORT ANSWER: They would be constructed and maintained through private donations rather than taxes. Donations are given freely; taxes are forced.

We honor Jefferson, Washington, and other American icons because they believed in the importance of individual freedom, even though they may not have practiced it perfectly (e.g., Jefferson had slaves). We dishonor their memory and the values they cherished by forcing our fellow Americans to pay for their memorials.

Without tax funding, the edifices of these great men might be less grandiose than they are today. (Of course, they might just as well be even grander, better preserved and staffed, and better funded.) However, they would be a truer symbol of the freedom that made our nation great.

Even today, many renowned historical sites and monuments are privately funded. George Washington’s home Mount Vernon — the most popular historic estate in America, open 365 days a year — has been maintained and made available to the public since 1853 by the Mount Vernon’s Ladies’ Association, which proudly declares it “does not accept grants from federal, state or local governments, and no tax dollars are expended to support its purposes.”

Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello is maintained by a private, non-profit corporation, in cooperation with the University of Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg was restored with private funds and is run as a private national museum not dependent on government funding.

A libertarian society, based on free enterprise and free from today’s crippling tax burden, would be far wealthier than our society today and thus better able to fund such monuments and landmarks. And the drive to collect the funding for them could unite and inspire the country every bit as much as the actual monuments themselves.

 

What is the Non-Aggression Principle?

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What is the Non-Aggression Principle?

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QUESTION: What is the libertarian “non-aggression principle” (or “non-aggression axiom”)?

FistsMY SHORT ANSWER: Libertarianism is based on a single ideal, the non-aggression principle, so libertarian rhetoric tends to be remarkably consistent. Libertarians oppose the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. They reject “first-strike” force, fraud or theft against others; they only use force in self-defense. Those who violate this “non-aggression principle” are expected to make their victims whole as much as possible. This “Good Neighbor Policy” is what most of us were taught as children. We were told not to lie, cheat, steal, not to strike our playmates unless they hit us first. If we broke a friend’s toy, we were expected to replace it.

Most of us still practice what we learned as children with other individuals, but we have grown accustomed to letting government aggress against others when we think we benefit. Consequently, our world is full of poverty and strife, instead of the harmony and abundance that freedom (i.e., freedom from aggression) brings.

Simply put, libertarians take the non-aggression principle that most people implicitly follow in their interactions with other individuals, and apply it to group actions, including government actions, as well.

You might have heard the Libertarian Party (LP) referred to as the “Party of Principle.” This is because the LP bases its programs and policy positions on the non-aggression principle.

Should we privatize the police for public safety?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues, Libertarianism, Personal Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Should we privatize the police for public safety?

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QUESTIONS: How would poor individuals/communities afford police protection in a libertarian society? If rich/white communities’ private police kill poor/minority individuals who pass through the rich/white communities’ streets, what recourse do the dead individuals have?

PoliceANSWERS: Today, much of the police budget comes from traffic fines or property taxes.  The poor pay these property taxes through their rent.   If the police force was a private one, the poor would have lower rents and thus more money in their pocket with which to pay their police fees.  If they didn’t like the service they were getting, they could simply end their subscription.

For the poor, the option of not paying is much more important than it is to those who are better off.  When crimes are committed today, the wealthier victims will often get preferential care.  If the minority victims are ignored, which is often the case, they have little recourse.   Being a paying customer gives them clout in a privatized system; they simply take their money and go elsewhere or provide their own protection in the form of a firearm or a guard dog. Today, they pay whether they get service or not, so they can’t readily afford other options.

The myth in our society is that the poor don’t pay for police protection and other government services.  In fact, they often pay more and get much less.

Private police do not have the immunity from prosecution that our public police illegitimately enjoy.  If they killed minority individuals without just cause, they could be tried for murder, just as an individual citizen would.  The families of the victims would likely demand such prosecution.

A private police service wouldn’t be very attractive to customers, even the rich/white ones, if minorities were unjustly killed.  All but a few would likely withdraw their subscriptions.  Who wants a police force in their neighborhood that shoots people for the most trivial of reasons?  No one wants their children to grow up in such a neighborhood. To most people, regardless of their color or socio-economic class, all lives matter.

Since most businesses operate on a small profit margin (10% or so), losing even a few customers means a big dent in the bottom line.  Private police want their paycheck too and are motivated to truly serve and protect when we each have the choice whether or not to employ them.

Should we ban tobacco instead of drugs?

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

Should we ban tobacco instead of drugs?

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QUESTION: I am a long time supporter of ending the war on drugs. I advocate treating drug abuse the way we treat alcohol abuse, as a health and not a legal problem. I find that many of the people that I deal with who oppose the war on drugs and support legalization of marijuana want to outlaw tobacco. I try to tell them that the war on tobacco will be just as successful as the war on drugs, but they insist that it go ahead. They point out that tobacco is deadlier than pot. I point out that heroin and LSD are as dangerous as tobacco, if not more. What suggestions do you have to answer the pro war on tobacco people?

CigaretteANSWER: The power to ban something “bad” is also the power to ban something “good.” Cannabis was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia for many years before it was “outlawed” via the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. As a result, this incredibly useful and inexpensive natural drug has been largely unavailable in the U.S. for the last 80 years.

By outlawing tobacco, alcohol, or any other substance, we pave the way for other “wars” based on political or economic gain. Special interests will lobby Congress to outlaw their competitors, just as William Randolph Hearst lobbied for hemp/cannabis prohibition so that his wood pulp forests would be used for paper manufacture instead of hemp.

The nicotine in tobacco is thought by some to be the most addictive substance known. If someone can’t stop smoking, isn’t it a health problem too? Why not treat it as such?

If not you, who? If not now, when?

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If not you, who? If not now, when?

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QUESTION: Sometimes when I criticize government, I am told that if I don’t like it here, I should go somewhere else. Essentially, the old “love it or leave it” line. What’s a good response?

QuestionMY SHORT ANSWER: One response I use goes like this:

“I love my country and its heritage of liberty. When I see it going astray, I want to help it get back on track.

“Our government once endorsed slavery. Where would we be today if the abolitionists had left, instead of helping our nation extend its heritage of liberty to slaves?

“When our government makes a mistake, it’s up to us to correct it. If not us, who?”

What do libertarians think about government banning medical marijuana and gun violence research?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

What do libertarians think about government banning medical marijuana and gun violence research?

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Dr. Ruwart’s website

The only way that research on gun violence can be “banned” is to have government use guns—and gun violence, if necessary—to stop it. Libertarians Researchrecognize the inherent contradiction in letting government use gun violence to ban research on it!

Research on medical marijuana is banned for fear that the results wouldn’t support the Schedule I rating (high potential for abuse, no medical utility) on cannabis. This ban is reminiscent of the Catholic Church’s persecution of Galileo for pointing out that the earth revolves around the sun!

Libertarians don’t support bans, which stop people—at gunpoint, if necessary—from doing enlightening research. Banning the growth of knowledge is a form of thought control.

Should Women Be Drafted?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Military, National Defense, War by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Should Women Be Drafted?

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Dr. Ruwart’s website

My short answer is that no one should be drafted. After all, our Constitution prohibits involuntary servitude, which is exactly what the draft is. Our young men—and possibly women—will be forced—at gunpoint, if necessary—to take up arms and kill other people.

DraftExcept for a few psychopaths, taking up arms with the intention to kill others day after day is difficult, even when our nation is truly threatened. It’s a rare individual who remains unscathed by killing others and being a target, which is why so many return home with post-traumatic stress disorder or serious mental illnesses. Going to war should always be the last resort, since the cost in lives, money, and disabilities is so high. In recent times, however, sending troops overseas seems to be a knee-jerk response to any provocation.

When our young people perceive that a war is not just or not warranted, they become unwilling to risk their lives or kill for it. In Vietnam, a war I remember well, this is exactly what happened. Although young men enlisted early in the war, they soon concluded that Vietnam was not a threat to the United States, and resisted the draft overtly or covertly.

Today, not enough of our young men are enlisting to sustain the conflicts in the Middle East. Our troops look forward to going home after their tours are up, only to be forcibly reenlisted under the stop-loss fine print in their contracts. We claim to have a volunteer army, but in fact those who enlist can be drafted for another deployment. This discourages further enlistment, as new recruits start to understand that they are actually signing an open-ended contract.
Clearly, the government believes it will need a draft in the not-so-distant future to maintain its chosen military action. We are told that without a draft, our young people will not step forward when our country is threatened. This is patently false. After 9/11, volunteers flooded to sign up for the anticipated military action. Now they no longer do, as they perceive their government is embarked on never-ending wars.

If our nation is truly threatened, our young people step forward willingly; if it isn’t truly threatened, why should they risk life and limb? We can’t keep killing people overseas because maybe, someday, they might try to harm us. There are simply too many people who “might” try to hurt us. A better strategy is to make sure our domestic security is strong enough that those who would do us harm will be thwarted in their attempt.

If we engage in overseas wars that are not truly defensive ones, and may even be primarily in the service of special interests, our young people should refuse to go. These young adults become the canaries in the coal mine, warning us that the war we wish to fight might not be so right.
Killing is difficult enough when it is perceived as a necessary evil, but it’s even more difficult without the motivation to protect our homes and loved ones. The draft isn’t only involuntary servitude; its slavery of the worst kind as it asks the draftees to do things they find morally repugnant. How are we to spread freedom abroad by taking it away from our young people at home?

Women have a major role to play in discussions about the draft. They should indeed talk about equal rights—for both men and women. Self-determination, the decision whether or not we are willing to go out and kill others, is a right that belongs to both sexes. Instead of insisting that their own rights should be violated, as the rights of men are today, women should be lobbying for an end of the draft. Our great, great-grandmothers fought to end the slavery of black people; today, we honor their memories by fighting to end the slavery of the draft.

How would the NC restroom law be handled in a libertarian society?

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How would the NC restroom law be handled in a libertarian society?

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Question:

Considering the recent flap regarding the restroom law passed in North Carolina (and being considered elsewhere), how would this be handled in a libertarian society?

restroom Answer:

In a libertarian society, most—if not all—bathrooms would be privately owned, since government would be very limited. Owners could decide who could use them and who could not.

If some business owners decided to discriminate on the basis of color, gender, or religion, their competitors would likely advertise their willingness to serve everyone, gaining the loyalty of the groups discriminated against. Profits would go up for those who were willing to serve all, while they’d go down for those who discriminated. Business owners would have to choose between their pocketbooks and their prejudices. Historically, most choose their pocketbook.

Indeed, segregation became law in the post-Civil War south precisely because businesses were serving the ex-slaves to an extent that caused resentment. Business owners who wanted to discriminate didn’t like losing their profits to their more open-minded competition. They, along with whites who wanted separate facilities, lobbied government to force businesses to segregate their facilities.

A government strong enough to ban discrimination is powerful enough to implement it as well. Those who wish to discriminate and those who don’t will lobby against each other for control. When private service providers decide who can and can’t use their facilities, people vote with their dollars to support the businesses that express their own viewpoint. No lobbying is necessary!

How will ending the income tax help the poor?

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

How will ending the income tax help the poor?

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

Question:

I was unable to persuade a liberal friend that the income tax is evil because it is essentially forced labor through coercion, or that we could largely pay for the elimination of the income tax simply by halting our overseas empire (it seemed best to use a liberal priority in this instance). He maintained that eliminating the income tax would benefit only the wealthy. Could you help me show that eliminating the income tax is in everyone’s best interest?

TaxesAnswer:

Ultimately, the poor are hurt most by income taxes and government spending of any kind.

When government spends, it must tax or run a deficit. Both harm the poor. Deficit spending results in inflation. People on a fixed income, low income, or no income at all are hurt most by inflation. The little money that they have buys even less than before.

When government taxes middle or upper income individuals, money is diverted from consumer spending, spending which otherwise would create jobs that might lift some of the poor out of poverty.

Instead, the tax dollars go to government spending, which delivers half the service at twice the price of the private sector. Gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of wealth creation, goes down as government spending goes up (for details, see Chapter 12 of my book, “Healing Our World,” available as a free download [1992 edition] at www.ruwart.com or [greatly expanded and footnoted 2003 edition] for purchase from The Advocates).

Less wealth creation means that goods and services are more expensive than they otherwise would be. The poor are hurt the most when prices rise or do not fall as they otherwise would.

Thus, when government spends, GDP falls and inflation grows, middle and high income individuals cut back on discretionary spending, like vacations; the poor, however, must cut back on necessities, such as food, safe housing, and preventative medicine.

On the other hand, when government spending slows, inflation slows too and jobs increase. Some of the poor move into the workforce and become more affluent.

Income taxes are bad for everyone, but the poor are hurt the most. The hidden negatives are often overlooked, and those who are trying to help the poor often hurt them out of ignorance.

Why aren’t free markets dominating in countries with weak or failed governments?

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Why aren’t free markets dominating in countries with weak or failed governments?

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

Question: If a free market with no government oversight and protections for the People is a successful model, then how come countries with failed/weak governments are not mopping up all the worlds’ business?

Free Market

Short Answer: If by “failed/weak” governments you are referring to the Third World, some “mopping up” is indeed occurring. Since governments that exploit their people the most usually have the lowest wages, U.S. and European manufacturers are utilizing the “cheap labor” there. If by “failed/weak” governments you mean something else, please give me more detail and I’ll try to answer you.

By the way, a free market is not one without “protections for the People.” Truly free markets usually require those who defraud or harm others to compensate their victims; this usually keeps them more honest than government oversight does. Indeed, the penalties for violating government regulations usually do little or nothing to restore victims and may even cost them more. For example, those polluting river water were usually successfully sued by those downstream for damages in both Great Britain and the western territories of the U.S. before they became states). Once the U.S. government took over the waterways, however, downstream landowners rarely got compensation, even from the fines imposed by government. They not only had to put up with the pollution, they had to pay taxes for the government oversight.

Makes you wonder who is being protected from whom, doesn’t it?

Who Has the Right to Marry Whom?

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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.

Is it Corporate Greed That Led to Turing Pharmaceuticals’ “Price Gouging” on Daraprim?

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

Is it Corporate Greed That Led to Turing Pharmaceuticals’ “Price Gouging” on Daraprim?

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

Question: Is it corporate greed that led to Turing Pharmaceuticals’ “price gouging” on Daraprim?

Turing PharmaceuticalsOver the last couple of days, the media has been aghast as Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, Martin Shkreli announced his plan to increase the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill. Daraprim was patented in the 1950s, and is used for treating parasitic infections in fewer than 13,000 people a year in the U.S.  Turing bought exclusive rights to distribute the drug in the U.S. from Impax for $55 million; drug sales are less than $10 million/year.  Impax itself bought daraprim several years earlier. It upped the price from $1 to $13.50/pill, causing the number of prescriptions to drop about 30%.

Shkreli’s assertion that the profits would be used to develop a better drug for treating toxoplasmosis was met with skepticism.  Shkreli is a former hedge fund manager, not a pharma veteran, and might not be aware that the new drug will have to be tested against daraprim itself. Testing against placebo would be unethical, given that daraprim is part of the treatment standard.  Showing superiority, in terms of effectiveness or side effects, is much more difficult against another drug than placebo. Indeed, given the small number of patients who need the drug, it might be impossible to show the “statistical significance” required by the FDA, since large numbers of patients can’t be tested.

Why, you might ask, can Shkreli price his drug so high and not fear that a generic competitor will undercut him? After all, the daraprim no longer has patent protection.

The answer: Turing Pharmaceuticals has a de facto monopoly, courtesy of the ever-increasing costs of gaining FDA approval, both for new drugs (over $1 billion and 11 years) and generics. Any generic company could make daraprim; its patent expired decades ago.

However, the FDA would require that the company demonstrate that its pill released the drug into the blood stream at the same rate as the original daraprim.  Coupled with the cost of setting up FDA-approved manufacturing facilities for the new drug, a turn-around time of a couple years or so due to regulatory red-tape, and the expensive clinical trials, a generic company would need to commit to spending many millions, perhaps tens of millions, even with the special exemptions that the FDA gives drugs that have small or “orphan” patient populations.  After jumping through all of these costly hoops, the competitor might be unable to take a substantial part of the market from Turing should it choose to lower its prices for the sole reason of preventing the competitor from getting a foothold.

The $750 pill might be considered an example of “corporate greed.”  However, Turing probably wouldn’t have even attempted such a price hike without high cost of FDA-mandated drug development, both new and generic, which virtually eliminated his competition.

 

Do Libertarian Ideas Go Too Far?

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

Do Libertarian Ideas Go Too Far?

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

Question:

Ron SwansonI am coming around to libertarian ideas, but so many libertarian policies, while moving in the right direction, seem to go way too far. For instance, the idea of no taxation, only user fees, seems great. But it seems that some taxation would be necessary to pay government workers, maintain ambassadors and embassies to other nations, host state visits from other nations, and (a necessary evil) pay lawyers to defend the government against lawsuits, as well as a host of other little things that there couldn’t be a user fee for. Can zero taxation really stand up to reason?

Answer:

Yes!

Government workers would be paid by those individuals or groups that made their employment necessary. Lawyers defending the government in lawsuits, for example, would be paid for by the guilty party. Since government officials would not enjoy sovereign immunity in a libertarian society, they could be liable for attorney fees and damages for any wrongdoing. In other answers posted on the Web site, I’ve detailed the mechanism by which restitution could be made.

Since a libertarian government would not be restricting trade between nations, establishing embargoes, setting tariffs, handing out taxpayer guaranteed loans, etc., our top officials would not be wining and dining dignitaries from other countries as they do today. Naturally, heads of state from other countries could visit the U.S. at their own expense. Without the ability to pick the U.S. taxpayer’s pocket, however, few would bother.

If embassies were maintained in foreign nations, they would be supported by fees from travelers or others who might utilize their services.

Today, those who are too poor to travel pay taxes to support services for people who can afford to see the world. Taxes are one way in which government makes the poor poorer and the rich richer.


Editor’s Note: As former Advocates President Sharon Harris notes in this article from a past edition of the Liberator Online, making the case for ending the income tax is not a difficult task. One thing to consider when discussing libertarian ideas is the concept of the Overton window, which can be raised with a little help from this post from that same issue.

 

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