Liberator Online

Home » Liberator Online

After Brexit, Is Amexit Next? This ​Libertarian Congressman Says Yes

in Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, Monetary Policy, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

After Brexit, Is Amexit Next? This Libertarian Congressman Says Yes

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

After Britons voted to leave the European Union on June 23, libertarian-leaning Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) decided to lead the charge to get the United States out of the United Nations, attaching the term “Amexit” to the endeavor.

ThomasMassieIn a post on his official Facebook page, Massie shared the full text of HR 1205, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act, which was introduced in 2013 but died in the previous Congress.

The bill was cosponsored by Massie, and according to the congressman, it would effectively keep the United States from spending taxpayer money on the organization, prevent US Armed Forces from serving under UN command, put an end to diplomatic immunity for foreign UN members in the country, close the UN headquarters in New York, and terminate the country’s membership with other organizations such as UNESCO and WHO. The bill would also repeal the United Nations Environment Program Participation Act.

​Mentioning the fact many of the countries involved with the UN are run by dictators, Massie said that binding US citizens to decisions made by tyrants goes against the US Constitution, which is the “supreme law” of the land.

Massie went on to say that the UN gives “cover to corrupt governments” while preventing “citizens from owning guns.” In the “best case,” Massie responded in a comment, “the UN is a bureaucratic waste of American taxpayers’ money.”

Dr. Ron Paul has recently written a column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity calling for a US exit from NATO.

According to the former congressman, NATO is a “Cold War relic” that “survives only by stirring up conflict and then selling itself as the only option to confront the conflict it churned up.”

Shortly after the Brexit vote, the head of the Texas Nationalist Movement used Twitter to call on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asking him to schedule a statewide referendum on the independence of the Lone Star state.

Last year, the Texas Republican Party rejected an initiative that would give voters the opportunity to vote to leave the union. If the measure had become a non-binding ballot initiative, it would have stated that the state of Texas would “reassert the prior status as an independent nation” if “the federal government continues to disregard the Constitution.”

When talking secession in his book Omnipotent Government, economist and philosopher Ludwig von Mises said that a nation doesn’t have the right to tell a province that it belongs to a large body of power. “A province consists of its inhabitants. If anybody has a right to be heard in this case it is these inhabitants,” he added. “Boundary disputes should be settled by plebiscite.”

In the book Liberalism, Mises goes further, stating that if there’s a way to grant the individual with the right of self-determination, “it would have to be done.”

What Do Libertarians Stand For?

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

What Do Libertarians Stand For?

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

As a fellow libertarian, that question is rhetorical. We stand for individuality – we believe that individuals can make the best decisions for themselves, governing their own lives.

It is, however, something I hear from many who are not yet libertarian in their thinking. They assume that politics and philosophy only revolve around what they hear and see taking place in Washington DC and state capitals across the country. When viewed through that lens, the perception is that libertarians are opposed to everything.

againstYou and I know that the opposition “to everything” is due to the actions of the body in question, likely increasing the size and scope of government and infringing on the life, liberty, or property of the individual. Unfortunately, the aforementioned lens prevents much more than the support/oppose lever on the issue discussed.

How can we best refocus the lens toward our views and away from being “against everything”?

Three ways:

  1. Rather than fall into the trap of the issue du jour and the lever imposed on us by others, we can divert the conversation away from the support/oppose lever and focus on why a freedom-focused solution is the actual answer. Your success will lie in listening to find the desired outcome of your conversation partner and offering how the libertarian solution is the best way to arrive there. 
  2. Use your voice to promote libertarian ideas without being influenced by the issue of the day. Rather than being driven by the news cycle, your focus should be all the great things that are and can be possible in a libertarian society. If you choose 3-5 issues, you can rotate your focus, so as not to burn yourself (and those you communicate with) out.
  3. Re-frame questions that lead others to see that when you make decisions for yourself, the outcomes are better than the “one size fits all,” centrally-planned government solutions. Rather than jump straight into a dialogue that pits one side against each other, you can attract people to the ideas you support by offering questions that cause them to think beyond the either/or lens. Recently, a friend asked me about whether or not I thought it was OK for a parent to misrepresent their address to allow their child access to a better education in a district other than the one in which they were drawn. I responded with, “is it OK allow your child to go to a sub-par school when your tax dollars are funding one that meets your child’s needs better than the one ‘the powers that be’ deem appropriate for him/her based on their address?”

 

As is often shared by libertarians, there is more to color than black and white, and there is more to politics than left or right.

Let’s focus on opening eyes to color and thoughts beyond the left and right.

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.

As Use of Pot Drops, Prohibitionists Must Look Elsewhere for Pro-Drug War Arguments

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

As Use of Pot Drops, Prohibitionists Must Look Elsewhere for Pro-Drug War Arguments

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

The Washington Post has recently reported that rates of marijuana use among teens who reside in Colorado are unchanged when compared to data gathered before state voters legalized marijuana in 2012.

WeedIn 2009, a survey showed that 25 percent of Colorado youths had used marijuana in the past 30 days but in 2015, only 21 percent of youths did the same. The survey was carried out among random middle and high school students across the state.

According to the Colorado health department, the agency behind this survey, the use of marijuana among teens has not increased since legalization. A fact many drug warriors did not predict before voters decided to make the recreational use of the plant legal across the state.

In the past, opponents of legalization made the case that lifting restrictions on access to weed would push the number of teen smokers up, but as the number of marijuana use nationwide is falling considerably, prohibitionists begin to panic.

According to Mason Tvert, the Marijuana Policy Project’s director of communications, the theory that “making marijuana legal for adults will result in more teen use” has been clearly debunked with the help of these surveys. “Levels of teen use in Colorado have not increased since it ended marijuana prohibition,” Tvert added, “and they are lower than the national average. Elected officials and voters in states that are considering similar proposals should be wary of claims that it will hurt teens.”

But the fight against prohibition continues to win new supporters, even as prohibitionist politicians continue to put failed policies before real progress.

Most recently, a group known as Arkansans for Compassionate Care submitted 117,649 signatures to the secretary of state urging the state to place a proposal on the ballot that would legalize medical marijuana.

The proposal would help people with certain medical conditions have access to marijuana products with the help of a doctor’s recommendation. While the signatures haven’t been confirmed, the group needed 69,000 signatures from registered voters to have the initiative added to the ballot. Two other groups in the state of Arkansas are also gathering signatures for other proposals, one that would legalize medical marijuana and a second that would legalize recreational weed.

At least 25 states and Washington D.C. currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, with Ohio being the latest state to allow residents suffering from chronic pain, epilepsy, or side effects of cancer treatments to be treated with the help of cannabis.

As more states where the use of cannabis is legal investigate the use of its residents, it becomes clearer that freedom—not the government’s micromanagement skills—works.

Remember: the FBI Is Still Trying to Have Full Access to NSA’s ‘Unfiltered’ Data

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

Remember: the FBI Is Still Trying to Have Full Access to NSA’s ‘Unfiltered’ Data

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

As the country follows the cries of politicians in Washington doing their best to undermine our security and freedom in the name of the war on terror, don’t forget that, just a few months before the deadly Orlando shooting, the Obama administration was reportedly looking into allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to share data on private communications with other intelligence agencies without the benefit of privacy protections.

NSAOn paper, access to the contents of phone calls, emails, satellite transmissions, and communications between individuals abroad gathered by NSA employees is restricted, meaning that agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are not allowed to use data collected by the NSA without due process. But due to executive order 12333, an order signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 that binds US intelligence agencies to cooperate with CIA requests for information, the NSA may soon be sharing information on innocent Americans with the FBI.

According to the New York Times, the current administration is interested in expanding the NSA’s reach by giving the intelligence community access to unprocessed information pertaining to countless Americans who were never accused of any crime to begin with. But by augmenting the intelligence community’s access to more information, the haystack becomes much larger, making it harder for officials to find the needle.

According to Alexander Abdo, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, the country should not be allowing the NSA to “spread that information further in the government” if protections on people’s personal information are not being erected. But according to the spokesman for the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the final rules under consideration by the current administration would help to “ensure that they protect privacy civil liberties and constitutional rights while enabling the sharing of information that is important to protect national security.”

Despite the US government’s claims that officials are doing all in their power to protect innocent Americans from the government’s overreach, abuse exists. Giving agencies such as the NSA and the FBI blanket access to the private information of others has and will continue to backfire, allowing employees and officials to abuse their power whenever possible.

The framework under review by the current administration has been under development since when President George W. Bush triggered the change but now, the Obama administration is carrying on with the task of developing a framework to put the changes in motion. And as officials work on a way of continuing the NSA’s involvement with the country’s war on drugs while boosting the agency’s role, progressive and conservative politicians, and even presidential candidates, continue to justify their support for mass surveillance by evoking the war on terror.

Expect to hear more on this and other efforts to boost the surveillance state, especially after the tragic killing of Pulse club goers in Orlando, Florida.

Supreme Court Upholds Illegal Searches Prompted by the War on Drugs

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

Supreme Court Upholds Illegal Searches Prompted by the War on Drugs

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

When discussing the ongoing surveillance programs run by the US government’s National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013, Dr. Ron Paul said that “the Fourth Amendment is clear; it says we should be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, and that all warrants must have probable cause.” But while Dr. No from Texas has always been a consistent defender of liberty, few other members of any of the branches of government can say they take the task of upholding the US Constitution seriously. Recently, yet another powerful group in Washington joined Congress and the Executive branch by using its political power to ravage the 4th Amendment: the Supreme Court.

Supreme CourtIn a 5 to 3 ruling of the Utah v. Strieff case, the Supreme Court decided that police officers are allowed to stop anyone without probable cause, going against restrictions imposed by the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. What TechDirt calls “bogus traffic stops predicated on nonexistent laws” is now protected thanks to the Supreme Court, causing the reach of these same stops to be expanded to individuals on foot as well.

But while this decision is damaging because it expands the police’s unchecked powers, the factors that prompted the stop that led to this case in the first place are being widely ignored.

In 2006, the Salt Lake City policy received an anonymous tip concerning a drug activity hotspot. An officer was sent to monitor said hotspot, noticing that, for several days, the house in question received a high volume of foot traffic. One of the individuals seen entering and leaving the property was Edward Strieff, who was stopped by an officer while on his way to a convenience store.

During the so-called routine check after he encounter, police found Strieff had an outstanding “small traffic warrant,” prompting the officer to arrest him and search him. That’s when the officer found a bag of methamphetamine, as well as drug paraphernalia, in his pockets.

What prompted the unconstitutional stop, and then search, wasn’t just due to police abuse. Instead, the drug war was what prompted the anonymous caller to reach out to law enforcement, and before that, what prompted the black market to provide Salt Lake City customers with the products they wanted.

According to TechDirt, the evidence found on Strieff should have been suppressed in court since the officer stopped the individual without probable cause. The state of Utah had already conceded to that much, but once it decided the case should be appealed, Utah v. Strieff made it to the highest court in America, where the justices decided that the “fruits of the illegal search” should remain unsuppressed. To TechDirt writers, this decision gives the government precedent, giving law enforcement agencies across the land even more expanded powers than they had before.

Instead of keeping Americans safe, the war on drugs has produced yet another unintended consequence, destroying our 4th Amendment protections and putting the lives of innocent individuals in danger in the face of police abuse. Isn’t that the opposite of keeping us safe?

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

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

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

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

When it comes to elections, many voters focus on electing a “good king,” someone who would implement their worldview on others, even if that worldview is TERRIBLE for liberty. If you find yourself talking with one of those voters about libertarianism, your efforts to persuade may be more effective by asking them this question before you get into the politics or philosophy of libertarian thought, “Who can you absolutely NOT trust?”

The answer you receive does not matter, but you should definitely take note, as it will guide the rest of your interaction with them.

trustMost often, you will hear a prominent national name mentioned like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi. These are easy targets, and most people keep their minds on the national political news.

Regardless of who they name and the issues they champion, your response should remain the same.

Once you know their top issues, you can begin to ask questions about those issues being manipulated by the person they trust least. Questions like “How would you feel about giving authority over you to [insert their untrustworthy person's name here] on the Second Amendment?” or “If [insert their untrustworthy person's name here] were in charge of who receives welfare and who doesn’t, how would you feel about that program?”

They will be taken aback by this, because they’ve not considered this before.

Then, you can begin a discussion about how when you empower the “good guy” to enact a policy that you also empower the “bad guy” to use that authority. We’re seeing this unfold right now as Congress decides on gender equality when it comes to the draft. As it stands today, the federal government requires young men aged 18-25 to register with the Selective Service. Last week, the Senate voted for equal treatment to force young women to also register for the draft precursor. There were two outcomes that would lead to equal treatment under the law here:

  1. What happened in the US Senate.
  2. That we realize that you don’t actually own yourself if the law compels you to potentially serve in the military against your wishes. This realization would have ended the Selective Service registration for men, providing the same equality, yet with a better self-ownership outcome.


Keep in mind that you don’t need to focus on their issue so much as the idea that once you give power to one, you give that same power to all that come after, and the best solution is to govern one’s self, rather than give away that power.

Augment Your Outreach With A Follow Up Event

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

Augment Your Outreach With A Follow Up Event

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

How long is your typical interaction while tabling or at an outreach event? I’m hopeful that I will have 30 seconds… Just long enough to get in an elevator pitch.

outreachOne of the biggest challenges we have as libertarians is condensing our message into easy to digest bits, while still explaining what we believe. Here’s how you get over that hurdle AND show your prospective new libertarians that your group is their best way to get involved: Schedule a follow up event after your outreach event.

Here are key elements to making sure the outreach and follow-up events work well together:

  • The follow-up event should be social in nature. No one wants to attend a boring meeting the first time they show up, so don’t make them. Newly interested people want to engage with the leaders and members of the group in one-on-one and group conversations. Think “Meet & Greet” or “Open House.” Attendees aren’t expecting champagne and caviar, yet you should have available some food and drink options. Asking the bakers and cooks among you to provide something they do well will make it cheaper than catering.
  • Schedule the event two or three weeks after your outreach event. By scheduling something this far in advance, you give potential attendees an opportunity to put it on their calendar. We are all busy, and by giving your prospective attendees an opportunity to “fit you in,” you’ll likely increase attendance. Added bonus: You will have more experience with planning and executing events that aren’t hastily thrown together at the last minute.
  • It is important that you give your prospective attendees a “take away” to remind them. There is a reason that door-to-door salespeople leave something for you when they’ve visited. They don’t want you to forget them and what they are selling. At an outreach booth, you are in a similar situation. While not going door-to-door, you will be interacting with many people (hopefully) in a short time, and you will want them to remember that you invited them to a Pizza Night/Candidate Meet & Greet/Open House with your libertarian group. In this case, something simple works, and you can print the who, what, when, and where on a small handout that fits six to a page rather inexpensively.
  • Actively promote your follow-up event in conversation. Believe it or not, you or some of your volunteers will not include the follow-up event in their “elevator pitch” with interested, soon to be libertarians. A simple “and we’d love to talk with you more about [insert the issue by which you built rapport here] at our upcoming [insert event name here] on [date] at [location] at [time]” added to the end of each interaction, accompanied by handing them your “take away” will drastically improve the attendance at your follow-up event.

 

We have an amazing opportunity before us, as we share the ideals and principles of libertarianism. Let’s not blow it by missing out on an opportunity to have a REAL discussion about libertarian ideas at a follow up event after we’ve identified some potential new libertarians.

 

ACA Health Coverage Approval Drops, Experts Blame Mandates

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Advocates HQ Comments are off

ACA Health Coverage Approval Drops, Experts Blame Mandates

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

After Goldman Sachs confirmed that the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate is leading to a rise in involuntary part-time employment, Obamacare continues to make the news nationwide, but not because the current administration has achieved its goals. Instead, Mercatus Center’s Bin Blase argues, Obamacare is in all over the news again for getting people very angry.

healthcareAccording to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest survey, Affordable Care Act enrollees are increasingly unhappy with their coverage. The study used data collected from 671 enrollees who purchased individual market plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act’s mandates.

In an article for Forbes, Blase explains that as insurers either announce they are leaving the market or are planning on increasing premiums next year, consumer confidence tanks.

Instead of helping the group of people it intended to help, Blase argues, the overall unhappiness with ACA shows federal policy must change dramatically if the administration is serious about helping members of the middle- and low-income classes.

Unfortunately, things might not change until Congress—or the next administration—comes up with a new policy. After all, unhappiness with ACA is nothing new.

Between 2014 and 2015, consumers noticed a sharp increase in premiums and deductibles for 2016 policies, Blase explained. But as the cost of remaining insured increased, consumer choice also suffered as available plans started covering fewer doctors and hospitals.

According to the surveys carried out by the Kaiser Family foundation over the years, the percentage of enrollees rating their coverage as “not so good” or “poor” went from 20 percent in 2015 to 31 percent in 2016. Among those who are less satisfied with their plans, a greater number of insured with high deductible policies appear less satisfied with ACA plans than those with low deductible policies. In this latest poll, at least 45 percent responded that they feel vulnerable to high medical bills while in 2015, only 38 percent felt the same way.

The survey also discovered that, in 2015, 55 percent of respondents rated their insurance as a “good” or “excellent” value while in 2016, only 45 percent claimed the same. As Mercatus Center’s Blase pointed out, a large majority of individuals with ACA coverage receive subsidies to help them pay lower premium shares and yet, even more people say their coverage provides poor value. Perhaps, Blase wrote for Forbes, that proves that the “numerous requirements placed on individual market covered by ACA” are pushing the cost of insurance up. Instead of helping, what ACA has accomplished was to make insurance less affordable.

With fewer ACA enrollees actually approving of their insurance plans and the overall quality of their coverage, it’s hard to understand comments made recently by progressive magazine Mother Jones, that claims that Obamacare “is doing great.” Maybe consumer satisfaction means nothing to them.​

​THANKYOU: Citibank Sues AT&T Over Infringement of Trademark Law

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Advocates HQ Comments are off

​ THANKYOU: Citibank Sues AT&T Over Infringement of Trademark Law

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

Chapman University law professor Tom W. Bell once told Reason magazine that copyright law goes against free speech rights protected under the US Constitution. But to Citigroup, the banking giant, copyright law is worth the breach of the law left by our visionary ancestors.

TrademarkAccording to Ars Technica, Citgroup has filed a lawsuit against technology company AT&T claiming a trademark infringement. The federal lawsuit, which was lodged this past Friday in New York federal court, contends that Citigroup has trademarked “ THANKYOU,” effectively barring AT&T and other companies from using the same sentence to, well, thank customers.

The lawsuit argues that:

“For many years, Citigroup has used trademarks consisting of and/or containing the term THANKYOU, including THANKYOU, CITI THANKYOU, CITIBUSINESS THANKYOU. THANKYOU FROM CITI, and THANKYOU YOUR WAY, in connection with a variety of customer loyalty, reward, incentive, and redemption programs (collectively, the ‘THANKYOU Marks’).”

But AT&T’s new marketing campaign, which advertises the AT&T Universal Card, a credit card backed by both AT&T and Citigoup, uses “ AT&T THANKS,”  and “ thanks”  as part of their advertising phrases, causing “consumer confusion”  and constituting “trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition in violation of Citigroup’s rights.” The company contends that, since everybody knows that the “THANKYOU marks” are synonymous with Citigroup, the lawsuit asks the judge to block the so-called illegal marketing campaign, adding that Citigroup is entitled to unspecified damages.

To patent attorney and director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom Stephan Kinsella, intellectual property is incompatible with capitalism.

In the past, as well as now, Kinsella argued during a Mises Institute event speech, intellectual property is how “sovereigns or monarchs”  issue “monopolies that [protect]  various goods and services for a limited period of time.”

When liberals, conservatives, and even some libertarians argue in favor of copyright laws and other intellectual property rules, Kinsella told the audience, they are arguing for the creation and protection of monopoly, an act that stands against the libertarian principles of free and voluntary trade.

The very roots of copyright, Kinsella also argued, is all about censorship.

When printing transformed communication, the government found a way to “control official and political thought” passing “copyright statutes to basically help limit what could be produced and said and what information people could copy and share with each other.”

In today’s world, large companies like Citigroup use copyright and trademark laws to strike deals and protect heir turf, crossing licenses to each other, just like Microsoft and Apple did, protecting their industry from giving smaller players the right to compete with them.

Again, instead of protecting the little guy, copyright laws are used to protect monopolies, making sure the industry’s giants are protected from outside competitors.

Instead of celebrating America’s free speech protections, companies like Citibank prefer to keep their influence unquestioned. Not surprising, considering the American multinational investment banking and financial services corporation is a powerful lobbying force in Washington.

More Love

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

More Love

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

When we woke up yesterday, the breaking news was about a senseless tragedy that took place overnight in Orlando at Pulse nightclub.

That tragedy took 49 of our families and loved ones.

moreloveAs is often the case, without full information, those seeking to politicize the great suffering caused by the event jumped in with both feet. Whether the issue is terrorism, guns, Muslims, the LGBT community, or immigration, those seeking to promote their agenda took to social media, news interviews, and any avenue they could find to spread the word.

As we noted on Facebook, our first priority is to grieve for the loss of life. Full stop.

There are 49 families who just lost their son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin. There are 49 families who are laying someone they love to rest. There are 49 families who will never be the same.

For the rest of us, the stunned feeling still shakes us, as we learn more about the victims, the perpetrator, and the actions that took place there. We need time to process what happened. We need time to have a full picture of what occurred.

Rather than make assumptions, based on the little bit of information that’s publicly available, let us save our voices for love. Let US share it to our families. Let US share it to our neighbors. Let US share it with our friends. Let US reach out to those affected by the tragic events in Orlando. Let US give blood. Let US be the example of how we should respond.

One of my favorite things about libertarians is how much we have to offer in times of struggle, and how much we help those in need.

Let US do that.

When the grieving wanes, we can have a conversation about what should happen.

But first, let US love.

Sometimes, It Takes Time

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

Sometimes, It Takes Time

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

“I NEED IT NOW!” – a line from one of JG Wentworth’s television commercials.

This is a terrific example of the instant gratification, limited attention, now, NOW, NOW! society we often find ourselves in. There is no time to plant a seed, nurture it,  and see it blossom if we completely succumb to that outlook.

While we may deliver the “Aha! moment” in an instant, there are often those who take a bit more time to realize that they are libertarians.

TimeToday, a friend from high school posted on my Facebook wall something that lifted me up before my day really got going. He shared that after being friends for more than twenty years, he finally realized that he is a libertarian.

While I hope that not everyone will take twenty years to realize it, there are many who are not quite ready to give up their authoritarian beliefs yet. And that’s OK!

While it feels good to get to yes almost immediately, there are times where your time and effort are better spent in tiny pieces, guiding someone to libertarian ideas. After all, isn’t reaching the destination more important than how long it took to get there? Think about leaving a trail of crumbs for those who aren’t quite ready for their first full bite.

Over the years Sharad and I have known one another, we’ve discussed how libertarian principles overlap with his already held beliefs with a bit of a challenge to look at things through a self-governing lens, rather than a “there ought to be a law” one.

While friends, it took years for us to build the rapport necessary, politically, for him to consider a libertarian perspective. My focus pointed to areas of agreement on the desired outcome. Once we established that common ground, I challenged some of his beliefs by asking questions about who will make the best decisions to reach those outcomes. We dove into discussing the best path to reach our shared desired outcomes, as well as a bit of how the political and electoral processes work.

The key, to me, is knowing when you can persuade to the point of “Aha!” quickly and when it will take time.

US Lawmakers Want America to Be More Like Russia, Seriously

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, National Defense, News You Can Use by Advocates HQ Comments are off

US Lawmakers Want America to Be More Like Russia, Seriously

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

Instead of attempting to lower the income tax so we might, indeed, become more like Mother Russia where it counts, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Ted Lieu (D-CA), as well as several House supporters, want us to fight propaganda like the Kremlin does instead. Why? Well, because if other governments lie, we must be just as good at it as them.

PutinH.R. 5181, a bill introduced by the bipartisan super duo, wants to create a structure that would allow for the creation of government-funded news propaganda. Too bad none of the H.R. 5181 supporters seem to know this approach is nothing short of tyrannical.

According to the bill’s text, the idea behind this piece of legislation is to create a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions” in order to fight “foreign disinformation and manipulation,” more specifically coming from countries like Russia.

In a statement, Kinzinger said that “As Russia continues to spew its disinformation and false narratives,” they proved to be a problem to the United States “and its interests in places like Ukraine, while also breeding further instability in these countries.”

In order to remedy what Kinzinger and Lieu believe to be a propaganda problem, their approach is to boost the country’s role in “countering these destabilizing acts of propaganda” with a bill that would “[develop] a comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter disinformation campaigns through interagency cooperation and on-the-ground partnerships with outside organizations that have experience in countering foreign propaganda.”

According to Lieu, foreign propaganda makes the world less safe. But not one word on how US intervention in other countries’ businesses is actually making us less safe was ever uttered by none of H.R. 5181’s sponsors, nor did they ever mention any examples of destabilizing consequences provoked by foreign propaganda. So what is the real purpose of this bill?

If signed into law, H.R. 5181, or the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016, would task the Secretary of State with coordinating the leadership of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense, and finally the Broadcasting Board of Governors with the creation of a Center for Information Analysis and Response, giving bureaucrats the power to identify “disinformation” so that the same bureaucrats are able to develop “fact-based narratives” to help undermine different narratives.

The bill’s very text admits that the task force would search for “current trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation, including the use of print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations, and the use of covert or clandestine special operators and agents to influence targeted populations and governments in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation and proactively promote fact-based narratives and policies to audiences outside the United States. (emphasis added)”

In other words, the US government would have a group of bureaucrats focus solely on what those who dissent from the official narrative are saying in order to target them and fight the influence of their petulant commentary.

I wonder if anybody supporting this bill has ever heard of the 1st Amendment (or even McCarthyism).

As Gun Buying Rates Shoot Up, Gun Haters Forget We’re Not All Bitter, Old, White Men

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

As Gun Buying Rates Shoot Up, Gun Haters Forget We’re Not All Bitter, Old, White Men

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

The employment rate may be dropping, but the gun sales rate is pretty darn high.

According to reports produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), its officials completed a record 1,870,000 background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in May alone. That’s a major hike, especially when compared to last year’s May checks, which added up to 300,000.

GunsIn 2015, more than 23 million checks were performed by FBI officials all through the year, making last year the record year for gun sales so far. But while the 2015 numbers are, indeed, high, the May 2016 statistics may show that the gun buying tend may be far from over.

While the numbers presented by the report only reflect gun sales carried out by licensed dealers, it still shows that Americans are buying more guns than they have in the past, offering a glimpse into the behavior of the American public that appears to often conflict with the policies supported by their politicians of choice.

To pundits at The Week, however, nothing makes a difference. What is pushing these sales is fear, that’s all.

But while that might be true in some cases, considering that the threat to private property and personal freedoms often makes us fear what’s ahead, prompting us to act accordingly, the fear many anti-gun rights proponents often talk about when analyzing gun owners and their behavior has nothing to do with personal choices.

To many, there’s a boogey man scaring all of the white folks in the neck of the woods into buying more guns and his name is President Barack Obama. Funny enough, not one single gun buyer was ever interviewed on this subject before The Week’s quick-to-judge writer, Marc Ambinder, wrote his assessment. What he seems to ignore is that, while over one million guns were sold in May, not one of the consumers behind these purchases has claimed to be afraid of the current or future presidents.

Individuals have different reasons to protect themselves, but to those who subscribe to collectivist theories, this fact is not to be considered. Instead, The Week’s Ambinder suggests, what we must keep in mind is that what helps pro-gun right groups thrive is a “climate of fear.” Property or personal defense, a love for hunting or collecting are all good enough reasons to buy a gun, but no, fear is what motivates all of them.

Contrary to what many believe, owning guns and smoking pot are examples of activities that require no government regulation.

If I purchase bubble gum because I like to chew it, nobody will ask me why. So why do people question me when I purchase a gun? Do I look menacing?

While the growing number of gun owners continues to baffle bashers of gun rights, many seem happy to jump on the anti-drug war train, especially when talking pot, completely oblivious of how truly inconsistent their views are.

Minimum Wage Laws Push Young Blacks Out of the Workforce

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

Minimum Wage Laws Push Young Blacks Out of the Workforce

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

Unemployment is in the news again. But the media’s focus on the presidential elections seems to keep Americans from discussing the ongoing economic disaster we haven’t had the time to deal with since 2008. But as the Federal Reserve chairwoman shows signs of mild nervousness, more news outlets begin to pay attention. Still, few choose to dig deeper, and the great majority of the American electorate remains oblivious to the root causes of the problems they are dealing with now.

Walter E WilliamsIn order to help his fellow Americans understand the realities of government-management of economic policies, economist and professor Walter E. Williams wrote an article discussing the shift in unemployment rates and demographics over the past decades, helping us understand how bad the consequences of government interference are.

According to Williams, the unemployment rate of African American teenagers in 1948 was 9.4 percent while in 2016, the black teenage unemployment rate is about 30 percent. Still in 1948, the unemployment rate of white teens was higher, at 10.2 percent, while in 2016, it’s at 14 percent.

To the libertarian economist, what has caused this problem we have at hand is the elitist mentality.

In his article, Williams points out to comments made by another economist, David Howell, to illustrate the shifting mentality.

When talking about minimum wage laws and the reasons why we should embrace a higher minimum wage policy, Howell, who Williams calls a New School economist, says that we should not be worried about one of the most devastating consequences of raising the minimum wage: job losses. “Why shouldn’t we in fact accept job loss?” Asked Howell. But it was another scholar, Economic Policy Institute economist David Cooper, whose comments appeared to have truly triggered Williams.

“What’s so bad about getting rid of crappy jobs,” Cooper says, “forcing employers to upgrade, and having a serious program to compensate anyone who is in the slightest way harmed by that?” To Cooper, working fewer hours but making more money is all that matters, even if millions end up struggling to have access to entry level jobs due to the tough wage requirements.

To Williams, a “crappy job,” economically speaking, is a job. And being unemployed means being out of a job.

Whether Americans do not look fondly back to the 1940s and 1950s, Williams explains that, back when wage policies weren’t as interventionist, teens took jobs that would seem undesirable to the New School economists of today.

When Williams was a teen, he explained, he and his buddies would rise early during summers to board farm trucks headed to New Jersey. His jobs then varied a great deal. At times, Williams would pick blueberries, but sometimes he washed dishes and mopped floors, but he also worked unloading trucks at Campbell Soup.

Unfortunately for many teens living in poverty nowadays, the same jobs are either unavailable or not “good enough” for big city kids. Instead of allowing people to choose what job they are willing to take in order to make some kind of money, those who support interventionism in the economy prefer to see the poor unemployed and unskilled to see them fend for themselves.

If Williams is correct and current black leadership is all in favor of this view, things are only going to get worse.

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

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

Last week, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming the University of California at San Diego and the Associated Students Council defunded student organizations in retaliation for a controversial article published by a satirical paper, The Koala.

KoalaThe student paper, which has been published at UCSD since 1982, made fun of politically correct or “PC” culture last November in an article entitled, “UCSD Unveils News Dangerous Space on Campus.”

It mocked the use of “safe spaces,” repeatedly used the “N-word,” and mentioned the opening of a “dangerous space” to accommodate “individuals who do not like feeling safe…continuing the university’s theme of inclusion and equality.”

In a 22-3 vote on Nov. 18, the student government association eliminated funding for all 13 active student-funded media outlets on campus. Gabe Cohen, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper The Koala, known for its vulgar shock-value humor, said his publication is being targeted specifically.

The council’s vote came the same day UC San Diego administrators posted an online denouncement of The Koala as “profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel.”

Cohen criticized the budget cut, calling it as “thinly veiled censorship” aimed at The Koala in particular. He pointed out that The Koala’s $3,000 annual budget makes up a small portion of the total student government budget — less than one percent.

“The decision sends a dangerous message to the campus, which is essentially, ‘If we don’t like what you’re saying, we’ll do everything we can to shut you up, even if that means harming innocents in the process,’” he said. “A.S. hoped this would make us go bow down and go away, but in reality they challenged a belligerent drunk to a fist fight.”

So far, The Koala has raised $1,000 in addition to securing advertising contracts, Cohen said, adding that San Diego State University’s chapter of the publication draws its funding solely from ad revenues, “proving it is not impossible to run without school funding,” he said.

Now, with help from the ACLU, Koala staffers hope to overturn the cut by taking legal action.

The ACLU’s legal filing quotes extensively from the Bias Incident Report Forms, submitted to the college by students offended by The Koala’s article.

“[The publication] propagates insensitive mindsets with its sexist and racist comments masked under cruel humor,” one complaint said. “Screen works to make sure that there is no propagation of these attitudes.”

Another complaint demanded the university “immediately take the initiative to end any hate speech, actions or crimes that offend any groups represented on this campus.”

The Bias Response Incident Reports apparently prompted action, with one administrator noting, “we do not typically receive so many reports regarding single issue.” The student government responded by ending funding for all printed student media, even though it continues to pay for other forms of speech like forums and events with speakers.

The ACLU argues that “however offensive or outrageous it may have been, the article remains protected speech on topical issues of public concern, including but not necessarily limited to the nature, purpose, and appropriateness of trigger warnings and safe spaces on college and university campuses.”

Cohen agrees.

“Part of attending a university is learning through considering opinions and voices that differ from your own, which you might not agree with,” he said. “Cutting funding to print media is a slippery step in the direction of anti-intellectualism and paternalism that should have no place on this campus.”

A motion for a preliminary injunction will be heard in federal court on July 18, 2016.

2016 Libertarian National Convention

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

2016 Libertarian National Convention

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

Last week, the Libertarian Party held their biannual convention, nominating their 2016 Presidential ticket, electing leadership for the next two years, and conducting appropriate business.

This year’s event was my fourth consecutive national convention, and it was my favorite to date.

Often, the nature of politics and the business at hand makes for a solemn and serious occasion, but this year, things were different.

Libertarian DebateThis year, the excitement was on par with a major sporting event, graduation, or a concert. That excitement was due to the contested Presidential nomination with some of the best candidates the party has ever fielded, accompanying the “feeling” that this is a pivotal election for the party. The stars are aligned for historic electoral outcomes as the animosity toward the establishment parties.

On top of the enthusiasm for unprecedented electoral success, several candidates for President brought supporters brought energy that caught on quickly.

At the pre-convention unofficial Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates on Thursday, I served on the panel for the standing room only events, asking the candidates to make their case to the delegates. With a welcome reception sandwiched between sessions of the debate, the energy carried over to infect the rest of the attendees.

By Friday morning’s opening gavel, the “buzz” made its way throughout the convention center, infecting everyone I came across. This was my fourth consecutive convention, and I’ve not seen anything like what I experienced. Often, my experience with Party-specific events is somewhat “flat,” while libertarian movement events are dynamic, engaging, and energetic. This definitely fell in line with the latter.

Even the vendors filled the hall with booths, where just two years ago, a couple booths stood outside the convention hall in a vast, lonely space. This year, we could have used two volunteers at the Advocates booth to help with the volume of excited libertarians who wanted to learn about how we support the libertarian movement, from the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to communication training and political persuasion, changing hearts and minds to libertarian ideas.

The energy and excitement never died, as the delegates and other attendees continued engaging with one another up to and beyond the Presidential nomination. The passion displayed by supporters showed their love of libertarianism, as they courted undecided delegates and conversed with others. The source could be the injection of youthful, engaged, and committed delegates and attendees. No matter, it didn’t stay there. It was EVERYWHERE.

Saturday’s Presidential debate and the nomination the following day felt like the Indy 500, the Super Bowl, and the World Series wrapped into one event. In fact, I think I’m still recovering from the energy spent today (Wednesday). Things certainly peaked as the Johnson/Weld ticket was nominated.

There’s so much more to share, and I wish I could have bottled my experience to share with others.

FDA Ignores Science, Pushes for Nutrition Label Changes

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

FDA Ignores Science, Pushes for Nutrition Label Changes

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

The US Food and Drug Administration is at it again, trying to find even more reasons to get involved in the eating habits of Americans and US residents. To Mercatus Center’s Richard Williams, this is a serious problem.

GroceryAccording to Williams, an expert in benefit-cost analysis regarding food safety and nutrition, the FDA’s tendency to meddle with our food is a tradition to the agency, mainly due to the government’s resistance to looking into new ideas.

The FDA’s latest efforts revolve around nutrition labels.

According to the agency’s latest announcements, products will be required to carry labels with “more obvious” calorie counts, reports ABC. The FDA will also add a new line for added sugar, such as sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. With this change, the FDA hopes to “help Americans make healthier choices.”

But according to Williams, the label improvements do little to help consumers. Why? Because a very small percentage of the population uses “nutrition labels to eat healthier.”

According to the expert, what we currently know about what consumers eat and how their health is impacted is based solely on “data that come from people trying to remember what and how much they ate.” Studies on this subject have shown that, due to the fact people often forget what they eat, data associated with people’s eating habits are often “flat wrong.” The consequences are as follows: Instead of looking into the issues and dissecting the researching procedures prior to taking the data into consideration, the FDA is simply forcing an entire nation to adjust by basing its knowledge of how healthy people are on inaccurate information.

Back in 1993, Williams wrote in his article for Politico, he worked as the chief economist at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in the FDA. At the time, he predicted that the FDA’s implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 would generate good outcomes, helping people make healthier choices. At the time, Williams confessed, he believed that the country would see 40,000 fewer cases of cancer and heart disease over the next 20 years. He also believed that 13,000 deaths would also be prevented as a result of the implementation new nutrition label requirements. Unfortunately, his predictions were off.

Nowadays, fewer people read food labels, claiming it’s easier for them to figure out their taxes than to work toward having healthier eating habits. And how do we know this? Well, research carried out by the Department of Agriculture shows that nutrition labeling laws have no effect on food consumption of ingredients such as saturated fat and cholesterol while another study carried out by independent researchers shows that food labels may be harming consumers who actually read them. According to the piece of research, evidence suggests that labeling requirements have “had limited success and in fact may be misleading to consumers.”

In order to help Americans make better decisions, Williams writes in his column, the FDA needs to walk away from micromanaging people’s lives. First, “the FDA would need to honestly concede how little it knows about how different foods and food combinations actually affect individuals with distinct genetic and environmental factors,” then, the agency would have to review its methods, putting an end to what Williams calls experiments “on the entire American population.”

Will the FDA listen?

Gov’t Watchdog Worried About Consumer Privacy Offers no Solution to the Federal Surveillance State

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Advocates HQ Comments are off

Gov’t Watchdog Worried About Consumer Privacy Offers no Solution to the Federal Surveillance State

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

Recently, the Government Accountability Office released a report on issues regarding “surreptitious tracking apps,” hoping to identify the problems with cellphone features used for stalking so that regulators and lawmakers are able to find policy solutions that protect the American consumer and his privacy.

OfficeUnfortunately for Americans across the board, GAO failed to include government-backed and run surveillance programs as features putting our privacy at risk.

The report, which can be read in full here, claims that the issue with most apps designed as tracking features is that they may intercept a smartphone’s communications, such as text messages, phone calls, and emails. Without the consent of those being tracked, GAO reported, their safety and privacy are at risk.

During a recent interview, GAO’s Physical Infrastructure Director Mark Goldstein said that while many tracking apps that offer services to parents who are concerned about their children’s whereabouts for instance have “legitimate purposes,” but many others are “marketed for what’s called surreptitious use, or where you’re not telling someone that you’re using their phone to track them, and this happens in a number of kinds of cases, for stalking and for other kinds of nefarious purposes.”

Without explaining what he meant by nefarious purposes, Goldstein went on to claim that the biggest safety issue with tracking apps available nowadays is that, if a tracker knows where you are, they “can stalk you, they can harm you.” And while “there are a variety of laws on the books, both at the federal level and at the state level that focus on different components of whether you can sell [these apps],” “millions of people report being stalked every year,” suggesting that whether the laws are in effect or not, it doesn’t matter—criminals will continue to do what they do, whether the law exists or not.

The solution, Goldstein explained, is a combination of government-backed efforts that would allegedly protect the citizen from abuse, regardless of how ineffective current laws are. These efforts include boosting the Department of Justice’s educational programs.

In the past, the DOJ launched the Stalking Resource Center, an agency that trains law enforcement officers, policymakers, victim service professionals, and others on the dangers associated with tracking technology. In 2012, reports claiming that the center did not offer any direct support to victims was mostly dismissed by mainstream media. But the program is still funded by taxpayer money.

According to Goldstein, law enforcement must also get a boost in order to effectively “prevent these things from happening and to penalize, obviously, and prosecute people who break the law in these areas.” Goldstein also added that producing more “legislative remedies” could also help to improve law enforcement effectiveness.

“The bottom line is,” Goldstein closed the interview by saying, “the technology brings us costs as well as benefits.” The fact an individual has access to a cell phone, the government employee claims, is enough to put him in danger. “As individuals,” he continued, ”we have to be alert to that, and as a government, we have to ensure that our citizens are able to use these kinds of devices without fear of something bad happening.”

Instead of micromanaging what app an individual uses on his or her phone, what GAO could have done instead to help protect American consumers was to also carry a research into whether the federal government’s spying programs are effective.

According to a White House-appointed review group as well as the nonprofit organization New America Foundation, NSA’s phone record collection has played an insignificant role in preventing terrorist attacks. But the effects of federal surveillance policies being used as we speak are not always neutral: abuse within the agency continues to put countless of innocent people—and their privacy—in danger.

But will GAO ever look into that? I doubt it.

Drug-Testing Industry Heavily Invested in Keeping Pot Illegal

in Consumer Protection, Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Advocates HQ Comments are off

Drug-Testing Industry Heavily Invested in Keeping Pot Illegal

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

The US government’s war on drugs has always counted with a great deal of support coming from a variety of special interest groups. Crony capitalism, it seems, is always to blame. But while libertarians have always known that, the media is just now realizing that there are more special interest groups involved with the drug war than they had previously thought.

TestToo bad mainstream news sources often misdiagnose the root of the problem.

According to an extensive ATTN article, the drug-testing industry is one of the most powerful opponents to weed legalization in America, along with the private prison industry, law enforcement, and big drug companies.

In the ATTN piece, the writer gives inside information on the history of cronyism involving the drug-testing industry and the US government. It also explains that several former DEA administrators are now part of nonprofits that advocate and actively lobby for drug-testing in Washington to remain relevant. The piece also explains that while federal agencies were bound by law to implement drug-testing programs in the 1980s due to the passage of the Drug Free Workplace Act, government agencies were the first to be hit with the government’s recommendations regarding drug-testing policies, thanks to an executive order issued by the President Ronald Reagan administration.

“Urine tests,” the article explains “didn’t become a common workplace practice in the U.S. until the 1980s,” which is when the Reagan administration began requiring federal government employees to be tested. This statement implies that the entire drug-testing industry may have not had as much influence as it does now if not for a string of orders and regulations that require organizations to use their services.

To Jason Williamson, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project, “passing or failing a drug test has no bearing on whether or not they’re going to be impaired at the job two weeks later.” This “piece of the puzzle,” Williamson told Attn.com, is huge, and a major reason why “drug-testing companies don’t need or want to talk about” the real implications of their services.

According to a 1985 study shared by the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association, airline pilots using flight simulators after smoking marijuana showed signs of impairment 24 hours “after usage.” But in a more recent government-sponsored study from 1989, researchers found that the psychoactive effects of cannabis use “wore off after one to four hours.” Proving that the largest drug-testing industry trade group in the country might have been helping these firms do business with countless organizations and government agencies without addressing the problems brought up by pro-marijuana legalization activists.

A quick search on the Center for Responsive Politics website shows that, to this day, organizations associated with DATIA such as Quest Diagnostics are actively—and heavily—involved with Washington politics.

According to a 2012 Reason piece, another organization known as the Drugs of Abuse Testing Coalition spent thousands lobbying for “Medicare reimbursement … and payment rates for qualitative drug screen testing.”

Targeting crony capitalism and its negative consequences, even when the subject is the drug war, could help us clear away the fog, giving advocates access to the real roots of the government’s ineffective drug war and how to solve the problem.

Page 4 of 36« First...23456...102030...Last »