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Is libertarianism a combination of liberal and conservative ideas?

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

Is libertarianism a combination of liberal and conservative ideas?

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

Question:

I have been on a political “soul search” lately. Someone suggested I take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. I ended up scoring as a libertarian. I have been told that libertarianism is a combination of liberal and conservative ideas. Is that correct?

Answer:

Not really. Here’s a clearer explanation. Conservatives tend to prefer individual choice over government control in many economic issues, much (but not all) of the time. Liberals tend to prefer individual choice over government control in many (but not all) personal issues. Conservatives generally prefer a strong role for government in controlling and restricting individual lifestyle choices; liberals favor a strong role for government in controlling and restricting individual economic choices.

Libertarians, in sharp contrast, believe in freedom in both areas. Libertarians believe that individuals should always be free to make their own choices, as long as they don’t assault others, steal from them, defraud them, or harm their property. Libertarians want you to be free to choose; conservatives and liberals want to control you in some areas and give you limited freedom in others.

Libertarians honor their neighbor’s choice; conservatives and liberals want to use the government to take some of those choices away.

How could society function without government-issued IDs?

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

How could society function without government-issued IDs?

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

Question:

Without a national ID (for example, Social Security numbers or driver’s licenses) how would banks and other institutions verify your identity for their services? How could they prove, for example, your claim to ownership of a piece of property or a car? How could they know you didn’t just steal or forge a deed or title?

ID

Answer:

A government-issued ID can always be forged. Already today, a thriving underground black market exists in forged Social Security cards, passports, and driver’s licenses.

Indeed, banks are losing so much money on forged ID and identity theft that many have started fingerprinting customers. With identification information, as in so many other areas, government does a very poor job.

As you have observed, identification — proving that someone actually is who he says he is, or has the qualifications he claims — is a vital need in a market economy. Private institutions have an enormous stake in being able to quickly and accurately insure the identities of customers who, in today’s global economy, may engage in transactions around the world.

In a libertarian society, banks and other financial institutions would establish the level of identity verification they needed to protect their interests, as has been the case in the past. Such institutions would have a strong interest in creating ways of identification that would appeal to — not offend or burden or harm — their customers.

Competition would quickly create new and innovative ways to meet this demand. We would expect to see the kind of constant innovation, low cost, ease-of-use, and concern for pleasing customers that we today see in other significantly unregulated areas of our economy, such as telecommunications, computers and the Internet.

People would be free to decide for themselves if they wanted to provide information in order to work with these institutions. Governments couldn’t force individuals to carry IDs. The most innovative and customer-pleasing solutions would be the most successful.

Finally, in a libertarian society there would be no danger of governments collecting vast databases of such information, a threat to our liberty.

There is a great need for identification services that aid consumers while protecting their privacy. Only the market — not government — can provide this.

How can I make a difference in the world without money?

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

How can I make a difference in the world without money?

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

Question:

I’m a college student. I want to support libertarian and/or charitable organizations to make the world a better place. But I don’t have the money. I can barely afford to get by now. Yet I can’t just sit back and continue reading about atrocities any more. I want to make a difference. What can I do?

money

Answer:

Money is useful in trying to change the world, but by far activism is the key ingredient. Activists can show others the importance of setting things right. Those who have money instead of time will take care of the finances.

First, educate yourself on the principles of liberty. The Advocates site Libertarianism.com is a great place to start.

Second, learn how to effectively communicate those ideas. (This is a specialty of the Advocates. Each issue of the Liberator Online has communication information, and there is a wealth of similar material on powerful libertarian communication at the Advocates Web site .)

Third, find other people who share your interests. You can do this online. For instance, there are (at least) three U.S. national libertarian-oriented campus organizations:

* Students for Liberty
* Young Americans for Liberty
* Libertarian Party list of campus libertarian organizations

And there are plenty of other libertarian organizations that do local activism:

* The Libertarian Party has many local chapters across the U.S.
* The Republican Liberty Caucus is for liberty activists working in the GOP.
* Campaign for Liberty was formed after the Ron Paul presidential campaign to encourage grassroots activism.
* The International Society for Individual Liberty has links to many organizations in America and around the world that offer opportunities local activism. Click on their “Freedom Network” button at their home page.

That’s just a sampling. There are many other fine activist organizations out there, too. And there are also numerous organizations that focus on specific issues, such as the War on Drugs, gun rights, tax reduction, and so on.

(Please note, this list is for informational purposes. The Advocates is a non-profit educational organization, and does not endorse political campaigns or lobby to pass legislation.)

The people who attend these meetings can tell you what’s happening in your area. Get involved. Donate your time if you don’t have the money.

(And tell ‘em the Advocates sent you!)

Learn. Get active. Spend two or three hours a week making the world a better place instead of watching TV. You’ll feel much better afterwards!

Why Are People So Oblivious To Government’s Fiscal Follies?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why Are People So Oblivious To Government’s Fiscal Follies?


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

Two years ago, I worked on an article that looked into a California coalition attempting to raise taxes on the wealthy without offering a justification for their efforts.

oblivious

At the time, I wasn’t just trying to understand why common Californians weren’t as concerned about the budget and the gloomy state of the local government’s finances, I was also trying to understand why anybody would simply ignore budgetary concerns anywhere in the country. After all, if the state notices it has run out of your money to pay its bills, the only way it has to make ends meet is to take more from taxpayers. Shouldn’t people be worried about that?

In order to find an answer to my question, I talked to Truth in Accounting (TIA)’s Founder and President Sheila Weinberg. And while I wasn’t surprised she was as smart as I would have imagined, I was in awe of the simple answer she gave me when discussing the importance of talking about balancing the budget before trying to raise taxes.

“The way it is now,” she calmly explained, “taxpayers can’t hold their elected officials accountable because they are getting more government than they are paying taxes for.”

As simple as it may sound, I thought, the fact that people are getting “more government than they are paying for” is exactly why they are not paying attention.

If the taxpayer isn’t bothered by the amount of taxes he pays, that might be because, perhaps, he isn’t paying for as many of the agencies, programs, and regulations as he is being told. Instead, governments (both local and federal) often run on creditsborrowingfederal grants, and yes, on taxes, but mostly they are always in the red, borrowing from future generations in order to pay for yesterday’s debt.

Taxpayers don’t notice their future is in jeopardy because they believe their taxes are covering it all — except they aren’t. So when higher taxes are announced or when local officials begin to talk about bankruptcy, individuals are often oblivious to how they got there.

As the tax burden grows, under those circumstances, taxpayers who are targeted and forced through legislation to give more end up fleeing to find greener pastures elsewhere, where they get to keep more of their money. As a result, the number of taxes being collected drops and entire cities (and sometimes states) break.

And it’s precisely because the overwhelming majority of locals simply get more government than they are paying for that they often ignore the warning signs that doomsday is just around the corner.

What’s the difference between leaders and law-followers?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Advocates HQ Comments are off

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You hear it time and time again, “Don’t like the law? Well, change it then.” Or, “America was built on the rule of law; we must obey it in order to keep civility in society and maintain the structure and security which the law provides.”  This mentality of obeying the law has cost tens of millions of humans their lives; and ruined the lives of millions more. Before the question of how mindlessly obeying the law resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths is answered. Let’s consider the obvious historical cases. How many millions of people did Hitler kill? How about Mao Zedong or Joseph Stalin?

law

A quick Internet search will tell you that Hitler killed 30 million, Joseph Stalin killed 40 million and Mao Zedong killed 60 million. That’s a lot of people to die at the hands of three madmen, is it not? How is it that 130 million people perished at the hands of three men? The truth is Hitler, Stalin and Mao did not kill 130 million people. It was young men who were carrying out direct, legal orders and murdering millions of innocent young men, women and children. It was the countless bureaucrats and their enforcing agents with guns following orders, instead of following principles of morality and justice, which they were most likely raised to follow and which teaches to not kill.

This “follow the law” mentality is responsible for hundreds of millions of lost lives, yet which individual is responsible? When the soldier is given an order to kill, does he feel morally responsible for the life he took? After all, if he didn’t pull the trigger another soldier following the same order would’ve pulled the trigger. How about the commanding officer who issues the order? Does he feel the moral responsibility of murder? Why would he, since he didn’t pull the trigger. Hundreds of millions of mothers, fathers, brothers, and other loved ones, have died because soldiers are trained to follow laws and orders. But the bigger symptom that has allowed for these atrocities, is society’s acceptance of the idea that police officers and military personnel are simply doing their job. It’s not the police officers job to do what’s ethical, his job is to enforce the law, and that’s it.

The law is not justice and morality, it’s a collection of arbitrary rules put in place by politicians and bureaucrats. In order to live in a society which promotes harmony and justice, morality and peaceful transactions must shape society not politicians and their laws. America’s culture needs to change from one of obedience to politicians and their rules (laws), to one which fosters peace and justice. The truth is FDR didn’t put 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans in enslavement camps, I doubt he locked the gate on one person. It was American soldiers who put their moral judgment aside and stripped innocent humans of their livelihood, property and freedom. Is this the type of world we want to live in? A world where bureaucrats with guns follow the orders of officials regardless of the outcome of those orders.

This mentality which has killed hundreds of millions is evident in everyday society and no one realizes it. The officer arresting someone for smoking weed and ruining that person’s life, is exemplifying the same follow the law mentality as the American soldier who followed orders to put 120,000 innocent people in enslavement camps. The officer who gives someone a tinted window ticket, exemplifies the same lack of property respect as the Russian soldiers who stripped Ukrainians of their land under Stalin’s rule (resulting in wide spread famine). The IRS agent who takes your money with the threat of imprisonment exemplifies the same mentality as the old school gangster that demands protection money or else. The uncomfortable truth is that leaders don’t kill millions, followers of the law do. Which one are you?

 

Are We Really the Land of the Free?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Advocates HQ Comments are off

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If America was a corporation, its company slogan would most likely be “land of the free and home of the brave.” It seems every time a politician gets on stage he or she can’t help but mention how America is prosperous because it embodies this slogan. There’s constant talk about freedom, yet everywhere I look, I see a society that has to pay government permit fees in order to do…almost anything. Here are some common examples:

free

- In most states, it’s illegal to own a house unless you pay the government property tax every year

- It’s illegal to own a car unless you pay the government vehicle licensing fee every year

- It’s illegal to drive a car unless you take a government test and pay for a government license permit

- It’s illegal to have a passenger drinking alcohol in your car while you drive unless you pay yearly permit fees in order to have a government permitted transportation company (like a limo or executive transportation company)

- It’s illegal to educate yourself and become a lawyer unless you pay a fee and pass a government certified test

- It’s illegal to start a company and try to better your life unless you inform the city, county, and state in which you live of your business intentions and pay their yearly permit fees

- It’s illegal in California to cut hair for a living unless you pay for government permission and certification

- It’s illegal to get married unless you pay for a government marriage permit

- It’s illegal to hire someone to work for you unless you pay them at or above a government-set wage

- It’s illegal to build a house from the ground up unless you pay your local government permit fee’s which can (in California) easily add $50,000-$80,000 cost to your new home

- It’s illegal to replace the roof on your home unless you pay for a government permit

Is America truly the “land of the free,” or is everyone so used to permits that they don’t realize that the government is stealing our rights and selling them back to us?

The Embodiment of the American Dream

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Mike Sertic Comments are off

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A fellow libertarian recently forwarded me a link to a quiz that he suggested I take. Since I’m always up for a good political survey (and easily distracted), I decided to give it a try.  With claims that it could predict “what factors were working in [my] favor and what [I] had to overcome to get where [I am] today,” I was curious to find out how I scored on on someone’s American Dream quiz.

dreamBefore I go any further, I’ll state outright that I scored 60, meaning that I have been fairly fortunate and had more factors working in my favor than against me.  I have to say that I enjoyed taking the quiz, even though I find both the assumptions and purported research backing it to be biased.

The rhetoric is that of the “it takes a village” and “you didn’t build that…” mentality, which is subtly inferable and reveals itself in the results content.  The results section is quick to provide links to material propagating various socio-economic myths, such as the systemic gender pay gap (which is far more nuanced an issue when all factors are considered).

I have become accustomed to seeing this narrative pushed by various nonprofit organizations, marketing firms, and media outlets.  It is my perception that I am responsible for my successes and my failures, and I think this idea (related to locus of control) is a significant factor in determining an individual’s character and the amount of ultimate success (whatever success means for that person).

I couldn’t help but wonder how libertarians as a group would score on the American Dream survey.  If I were forced to hazard a guess, I would bet that more libertarians would score on my side of the scale, meaning that they’ve been luckier and had fewer obstacles.  I base this both on my social interactions with other libertarians and on the unfortunate stereotype that we are callous toward the plight of the less fortunate (a stereotype with which I happen to mostly disagree).  I also don’t know many libertarians who have received government benefits (or at least many who like to talk about it).

The embodiment of the American Dream is the age-old “rags-to-riches” stories in which a struggling but capable go-getter is able to shape his own destiny through hard work, resilience, and moxie.  Only until relatively recently did the phrase “equal opportunity” worm its way into the American lexicon and become associated with the American Dream. Libertarians (should) recognize that equal opportunity is a mythical construct as unnatural as equal outcomes.  And rather than continue to coercively intervene into the lives of American citizens in a foolhardy attempt to impose equality, we should seek to roll back the countless state interventions that negatively impact the very people they are trying to help.

So go ahead and check out their survey—I’m curious to learn how libertarians score.  And speaking of politics quizzes, there really aren’t any better than the WSPQ!

Cutting off the Nation to Spite the State

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Erik Andresen Comments are off

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Is libertarianism compatible with a more nationalist politics? Is it possible to have a free society that is largely closed to outsiders? The short answer is yes, but the way in which we (Americans specifically) conceive of the nation-state makes that question a little more complicated. Our rhetoric often revolves around the theme of shrinking (or eliminating) the State. But what of the Nation? What is the difference between a nation and a state?

StateThese two words are often combined into “nation-state.” A quick search of Google Ngram suggests that this compound is relatively new. This construction is not helpful in understanding these distinct concepts. A nation is a people, irrespective of location: Cherokee, Swede, Palestinian. A state is a government. A nation may form a state, but a state cannot create a nation, at least not a true nation. There is numerous example in which states have attempted to draw boundaries that did not accurately reflect real national territories, and war usually follows. In some cases, you may have multiple nations creating the state; Canada is a good example. The English, Inuit, and Québécois show that nations precede the state. A government too is just people. The point is that common governance has never been sufficient to create a nation.

If we do not understand this aspect of the current dialogue, libertarians risk losing the opportunity to message. Libertarianism (correctly) reduces many policy questions to interactions between individuals; we tend to shy away from discussing groups and tribes. Unfortunately for libertarians, most people tend to think in terms of group and tribal identities.

Our perspective doesn’t typically square with the current dialogue. Trump, Brexit (UK), Geert Wilders (the Netherlands), Marine Le Pen (France), Viktor Orban (Hungary), and Lega Nord (Northern Italy) are examples of nationalist candidates in the West whose campaigns and parties have performed historically well in recent elections. Their rhetoric is not very libertarian. They have opened wider the Overton Window, with national sovereignty, protectionism, cultural diversity, and mass immigration suddenly back on the table for discussion. Many writers have commented on the nationalist sentiment that seems to be sweeping much of the world. Depending on the writer, it is nearly always framed as either: open society vs. isolationist, or as globalism vs. nationalism.

How are we to persuade when most of our rhetoric only looks at individuals, with little room for larger, national conflicts? Let’s begin by listening to our friends. Are their positions based in fear? If so, do not dismiss their fears as insignificant. Why should they care about what we have had to say if we wholly reject their concerns or worldview? How can we hope to change hearts and minds if we don’t speak the same language? How can we reframe the conversation if we are not meaningfully involved in the discussion, to begin with? If we wish to influence, we must meet our friends and neighbors where they are at now.

 

The Libertarian USP

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Mike Sertic Comments are off

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

As I mentioned in a recent issue of The Liberator Online, the Advocates finished its move from Indianapolis to Sacramento last month.  A colleague of mine was sorting through the treasure-trove of materials and resources that the Advocates has collected over the decades and stumbled upon something he then passed along for me to read.

USPWhat he shared was a powerful essay in the form of a pamphlet entitled “Persuasion versus Force” written by Mark Skousen in 1991.  In it, Skousen quotes an excerpt from the rather obscure book Adventures of Ideas written by Harvard professor and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead:

The creation of the world—said Plato—is the victory of persuasion over force…Civilization is the maintenance of social order, by its own inherent persuasiveness as embodying the nobler alternative.  The recourse to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization, either in the general society or in a remnant of individuals…

Now the intercourse between individuals and between social groups takes one of these two forms: force or persuasion.  Commerce is the great example of intercourse by way of persuasion.  War, slavery and governmental compulsion exemplify the reign of force.

Skousen proceeds to acknowledge a truth all libertarians will recognize: “The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society.”  But, he adds, it is also a principle with which most citizens will agree, regardless of their liberal or conservative tendencies.

My friends on the left and the right will not dispute that persuasion is preferable to violence and force.  If they did, I would likely reevaluate our friendship.  However, it seems that only libertarians consistently view socio-political events from the persuasion-force perspective, and it is only libertarians who reject wholesale the use of force to promote one social agenda over another (through politics or otherwise).

In other words, it is within this framework that libertarianism’s unique selling proposition (USP) lies.  While it isn’t wrong to tout the fact that libertarians advocate for free markets, limited government, and peace, from a marketing perspective it leaves something to be desired.  After all, liberals and conservatives will, from time to time, pitch policy positions that align with the libertarian position—but not because they fundamentally reject force.  Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans regularly embrace force over persuasion whenever it is deemed politically expedient to do so.

In my experience, the disconnect between people saying they reject force and then employing it through the political system is largely due to the fact that most people 1) do not recognize most forms of political coercion as being such (e.g. voting for and enforcement of bad laws), and 2) rationalize political coercion either as a defense mechanism against previous aggression (e.g. the “But he started it!” retaliation  argument), or as the only option (building roads).  It is our job as Advocates to continue to shine a light on these problems.

To me, anyone who consistently rejects force and employs persuasion in their personal, social and political relationships is acting as a libertarian.  I am unaware of any contemporary competing ideologies or political movements in America that embrace and advocate for the “nobler alternative” of peaceful, voluntary persuasion.  This is the libertarian USP.

Have your own take on libertarianism’s USP?  Write me at mike@theadvocates.org.  I’d like to hear about it.

What Nicolas Cage Taught Me About Liberty

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

What Nicolas Cage Taught Me About Liberty

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

I’ll admit it: a Nicolas Cage film had a hand in inspiring me to take part in the Liberty movement.

LibertyIn the 2004 Disney film National Treasure, Cage plays Benjamin Gates, a man who is determined to clear his family name in the academic community for believing that treasure was hidden by Free Masons during the American Revolution.

Generations of the Gates family spent their lives chasing clues around the world only to be left defeated. Ben is the first in generations to make a major discovery towards the treasure of the Free Masons, which leads him to his next major clue: a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

 While discussing next steps with his team, Gates reminds them that one line is truly the heart of the Declaration:

 “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for their future security.”

It means that if there is something wrong with the way our government is being run, it is up to those who can to take action or otherwise make a change as they see fit—much like the action our Founding Fathers took by declaring independence from Britain.

 More than 240 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed, the heart of it should be a constant reminder of the ideals of Liberty.

If one’s community, state, or country isn’t being run as it should, then who is stepping up to the plate to enact change, run for office, or organize concerned citizens to make said changes?

Liberty is not just a vocabulary word in a history textbook. Having active participants in the Liberty movement is crucial. Without them, the next generation won’t be inspired to do what is right in the name of freedom.

What have you done for Liberty today?

 

What attracted you to the liberty movement?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Mike Sertic Comments are off

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This is a question I enjoy asking people, for several reasons. One, it’s an ice breaker when meeting new folks at libertarian events, and people usually like to tell their story to other libertarians. Another is that I learn something about the person with whom I’m speaking. For me, their story is another data point that informs me how I might more effectively persuade others to become libertarian.

liberty Like many Gen Y libertarians, my view of how the world operates was fundamentally and irrevocably altered by Congressman Ron Paul following his 2008 presidential campaign and the Campaign For Liberty. It is likely that I would never have been exposed to the libertarian ideas he was presenting were it not for the internet—specifically Youtube and social media.

After watching every “Ron Paul destroys…” Youtube video I could find, I decided to take action and seek out some real-life libertarians in Sacramento. My online search connected me with Dr. Jim Lark, who was listed as the national LP’s student outreach contact. It so happens that Dr. Lark was also serving as Chairman of the Advocates for Self-Government. He graciously helped connect me with other libertarians in my community and also introduced me to Sharon Harris, the Advocates’ former and longest serving president.

Upon deciding to start a Students For Liberty club on my college campus at CSU Sacramento, it was not long before my Operation Politically Homeless kit from the Advocates arrived in the mail. With the help of a few student volunteers I had already recruited, we proceeded to conduct several on campus OPH events over the next two years and further identified and recruited many more libertarians.

I have heard it said that libertarians are not community-oriented and lack empathy and concern for their fellow citizens and neighbors. My experience coming into the movement and since has run completely counter to this narrative, and I attribute my sustained activism and commitment to libertarian principles over the last eight years to people like Dr. Lark, Sharon Harris, and the countless other passionate and caring people I have since met in the liberty movement.

Social movements are as much about advancing political ideals and policies as they are about attraction to the people who promote them. In hindsight, it was the personal integrity to his political philosophy that initially attracted me to Dr. Paul—something that I had not seen from a politician before. It is an honor for me to able to work to attract and persuade people to embrace libertarian principles and to empower libertarians to be highly successful at presenting the ideas of liberty to the world.

So, what attracted you to the liberty movement? Please write as and let us know at liberator@theadvocates.org. We’d love to hear from you.

You Disagree. Now What?

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

You Disagree. Now What?

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

When you come across a libertarian who you disagree with, what do you do?

As libertarians, you and I understand that individuals differ. We differ in how we choose to live our lives. We differ in the decisions we make about where our money goes. We also differ in what the proper role of government is.

Libertarians are no different. We came to libertarianism in many different ways. There are many libertarians who were authoritarians before realizing that freedom is the answer. We also have many who embraced libertarianism from the more conservative parts of the political spectrum or the more liberal parts. They may have been politically homeless or apathetic before their realization that libertarianism was the right political philosophy for their belief system.

Personally, I don’t like to see libertarians fight with one another. I don’t believe that it achieves anything in terms of persuasion. All it does is scare off those who might feel that they aren’t “pure” enough.

There’s nothing wrong with purity of beliefs, but there’s certainly no reason to fight with one another. In my opinion, we all have one common enemy, and that is the growth of the state.

We can always work out our differences in private, while we focus on persuading those who have yet to adopt a libertarian mindset. It’s okay for them to adopt a libertarian mindset that doesn’t align with yours 100 percent of the time on every issue. People will always think that their “brand” of libertarianism is THE brand of libertarianism.

It’s okay to think that because we all arrived here differently.

So, the next time you disagree with a fellow libertarian, what are you going to do?

Don’t Be Ugly To Others

in Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Don’t Be Ugly To Others

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

The 1999 award-winning film, the Green Mile, tells the story of the lives of guards on death row who are affected by one of their charges: a large black man accused of heinous crimes against children.

uglyIn perhaps one of the most iconic scenes of the movie, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) tells Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), that he’s tired:

I’m tired, boss. Tired of bein’ on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we’re coming from or going to, or why.

Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?

Coffey’s famous line sums up how I’ve been feeling since the 2016 election: tired.
Tired of people being ugly to one another because they didn’t agree on their presidential vote, they did or didn’t march for something, because they just disagree.

In addition to countless social media arguments I’ve witnessed between friends and family, I’ve read stories about couples separating because of their disagreement about presidential picks. During inauguration weekend, I witnessed firsthand the destruction of private property. (Not to mention the names my friends and I were called just for attending the 58th inauguration.)

College campuses are also experiencing violent protests and seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage because their students don’t want someone on their campus who has different opinions than they do.

People obviously have the right to express themselves and end relationships as they see fit. But isn’t arguing about the election with your high school friends on Facebook kind of lame and petty? There’s a vast difference between having an open dialogue and downright, mean-spirited fighting.

People should be able to do what they want, so long as they can face the response to what they do.

Never is it acceptable to throw rocks, bricks or start fires in order to get one’s point across. These actions have a victim.

I, too, am tired of the fighting and of the ugliness. If we all took the time to breathe, a moment to truly listen to one another, then we might be able to eradicate some of the ugliness in this world.

Snowden’s Non-Profit Releases Tools To Protect Journalists, Whistleblowers

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Snowden’s Non-Profit Releases Tools To Protect Journalists, Whistleblowers

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

Edward Snowden is the gift that keeps on giving. At least for us, libertarians.

Not only did he blow the whistle on the federal government’s lack of care for Americans’ privacy rights, but he did so responsibly. Now, after having been the victim of persecution for almost four years, he’s helping to continue the revolution he helped to ignite. By giving others the tools they need to remain safe when doing the same he had to do.

Non-profitAccording to Wired, Snowden’s non-profit Freedom of the Press Foundation is releasing a series of tools to help journalists and newsrooms to ensure their sources and communications are secure. This would shield whistleblowers like Snowden himself, giving them the incentives to report on wrongdoing committed by government employees and elected officials. An important task, considering the real threats journalists suffered in the past years while attempting to maintain their sources protected.

In 2015, for instance, it was revealed that British spies had had access to emails from most major newspapers and wire services in the country. In late 2016, Montreal police had tracked phone calls made by a reporter in order to identify his sources. Unsurprisingly, the target of the investigation had been critical of the law enforcement agency.

More recently, the current US president Donald Trump called on Congress to investigate leaks made to NBC news.

As the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s phone continues to ring off the hook for information on how to stay protected, the organization has launched a list of features and tools such as SecureDrop. The tool that functions through Tor, and that allows whistleblowers to make secure uploads of documents or leaked materials.

Sunder is another tool Snowden is helping to popularize. It was built as a coder for Signal, and because it requires passwords from multiple individuals so that the encrypted data is available, it will also keep sources secure.

Aside from these two tools, Snowden also helped to design an iPhone case that alerts the user if phone’s data is being transmitted without his knowledge, as well as a new version of Jitsi, an encrypted chat software that would be designed for newsrooms use.

While privacy advocates cannot fix the surveillance problem overnight, Snowden said about his organization’s goals, building a shield that will help to protect whistleblowers may do the trick.

Instead of sitting on his hands, watching the surveillance state grow massively with each new administration, Snowden took matters into his own hands. Developing his own solutions while supporting those who do the same. Living freely, in spite of government overreach.

The Importance of Being Self-Taught

in Education, Liberator Online, Philosophy by Morgan Dean Comments are off

Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary this week. This was one of the most contentious and controversial confirmations in history. Those opposing her nomination cited a lack of experience in public education as a reason why she was unfit to serve.

taughtWith all the controversy, it’s important to consider another argument. It really shouldn’t matter who the Education Secretary is. The position shouldn’t exist. There should be no federal Department of Education, simply because it is impossible for one person to know how to meet the needs of every student in America.

Individually, standards set by the government regarding education don’t impact us as much as we think. This is because we should be setting our own individual standards. We should be striving to teach ourselves what we haven’t been taught in school.

Once students leave school, are they properly equipped to thrive in the post-secondary world? Probably not. This is why it is crucial that we strive to be self-taught.

Practical experience is the first facet of this. We learn by doing. I am a result of a public education in both high school and now college. However, I have learned more from the work I’ve done in my career than from my public schooling.

The second facet of being self-taught is reading. I am of the belief that reading for fun is just as important as educational reading, so long as you are doing both. Educational reading doesn’t always have to involve textbooks, though. Reading a book that you wouldn’t normally pick up is educational, as is reading a book on a subject you want to know more about.

The beauty of being self-taught is that you can learn absolutely anything with practice. You can become fluent in a foreign language, learn the customs of another country, or even pick up a new hobby or job skills, all from reading and doing.

I’m not saying that a public education is useless, not by a long shot. I recognize the benefits of it, but I do know that my love for reading comes from me teaching myself to read Shakespeare as a sixth grader.

So take a minute and realize that YOU have the power. You have the power to educate your children at home, and you have the power to learn anything you want by reading and then doing. Embrace that you are never too young or too old to become self-taught.

Oh, and If you love to read awesome books about libertarian principles maybe check out our book deal too.

Are You A Disciplined Libertarian?

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

Are You A Disciplined Libertarian?

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

When I say the word discipline, what is the first thing to comes to mind? For many of us, it has to do with punishment.

Unfortunately, those in favor of Big Government are certainly in favor of discipline to regulate the way that you and I live our lives, whether economically or personally.

Today, we’re focusing on discipline and when you have it and not when it’s given to you.

When you have discipline, what does that look like? To me, it’s acting with a purpose and focusing on just that action. You don’t things distracting you, like construction noise ongoing outside, taking your mind off what you’re actually focused. You are fully committed and engaged to the purpose that you have right then and there.

As libertarians, I see us frequently just “going through the motions” when we’re talking about libertarianism, or when we’re performing outreach activities.

If you take a look at some of the things we discussed in our Facebook Live series on effective outreach, you’ll see that we focused more on planning, setting goals, and follow-up, rather than the actual outreach conversations and activities themselves. You and I can have conversations with many people and have successful outcomes, if we know what our goals are, what we’ve planned to reach, and how to follow up afterward. All of those things make our outreach better.

My question for you is, are you a disciplined libertarian?

Focus on Real

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

Focus on Real

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

So much of what we’ve seen lately in the news has been classified as “fake news,” when, in actuality, that’s not what it is. It’s a distraction from what’s actually happening.

Distractions are just that. They are the things that keep us from looking at what’s really happening and focusing on real things with real people. At the end of the day, neither your life nor mine will be affected by these distractions.

When we talk about libertarianism, we don’t need to focus on distractions. We need to focus on what’s real, what’s affecting your life, and what’s affecting the lives of the people around you. Those are the things that will make non-libertarians more amenable to the ideas we present, because they actually see the ideas we hold in action, and they see how we would handle a situation that is based in reality and that affects them.

Take, for example, the Michigan man who received a $128 citation for leaving his car running in his own driveway. He was simply warming it up on a cold day. Trust me, there are many mornings here in Indianapolis where I want to warm my car before I get in to make sure that it’s nice and warm before driving to work in the morning. Those are things that the state finds to be wrong and requiring revenue from you to recompense.

This man’s ticket is a real story affecting a real person that nearly everyone can relate to. This is something that we need to make sure we talk about, and we need to talk about it with authenticity.

One of the key reasons that Donald Trump won the election was the perceived authenticity that he presented in his politically incorrect style. It set him apart from Hillary Clinton, and because no one believed what she was saying, due to her lack of authenticity, they thought his loose style, like going on 3 AM Twitter rants, was something that was authentic. In actuality, it’s just more of the same packaged for the American voter for that election.

So. let’s stop focusing on distractions, and focus on things that are real.

Why To Kill a Mockingbird Teaches Us to Challenge Our Beliefs

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Morgan Dean Comments are off

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

With everything that has been going on in the media recently, the phrase “fake news” has been used rather frequently.

MockingbirdThat is why, this year, it is more important than ever to conduct your own research, and to be open to new and challenging ideas. This is something we, as humans, are not always good at. We can even see examples of this in popular culture.

A few nights ago, President Obama gave his farewell speech. He quoted a very well known character from an equally well known book. The book was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and the character, the most beloved of all, was Atticus Finch. This character has been so highly regarded for decades as being a literary hero.

In fact, many libertarians regard To Kill a Mockingbird as a center-piece of libertarian ideals. The beliefs that Atticus exhibits in equality, justice, and doing what is right is a common theme in libertarianism. This book is taught in high schools everywhere, where students are seeing perhaps the first example of someone who embodies the “stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone” principle.

The release of the second book in the franchise changed everything. Go Set a Watchman presented a new version of Atticus Finch. One that belonged to the Ku Klux Klan and held many racist sentiments. Readers discovered, along with Atticus’ daughter, Scout, that he was not the champion of civil rights that he was once thought to be.

Many fans of the first book refused to read the second because they didn’t want their idea of Atticus Finch to be ruined by discovering the truth. This is a common problem that society should resolve to tackle in 2017.

We are afraid of the facts, and often times we are too lazy to do our own research. We would rather just be presented with stories that back up our preconceived notions, and disregard anything that may challenge that.

We need to remember that sometimes it is okay to read books that change our minds about something. It is good to research news stories to see if they are legitimate, even if we find out the truth is something we can’t use to back up our own beliefs. It’s essential to recognize that just because you don’t agree with something, does not make it useless.

Let’s make this year the year we start doing our own research, rejecting fake news, and being open to new ideas and experiences that challenge us, even if we don’t necessarily like what we discover.

Americans Starting to Lose Faith in Centralized Power

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Americans Starting to Lose Faith in Centralized Power

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

If you are mostly accustomed to getting your news from established TV and news sources, you might not know that a new poll suggests that most Americans have lost faith in how the media covers politics in the country. But if you have been paying attention, you probably agree with them.

PeopleA poll carried out by Suffolk University and the USA Today asked individuals “who do you think the media, including major newspapers and TV stations, would like to see elected president: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?” While the question itself could have been presented differently, taking into consideration the fact that, traditionally, the job of the news reporter is to be unbiased and faithful to facts, the fact 75.9 percent of respondents said they believe the established media wants to see the Democratic candidate win proves they know that cronyism has taken over.

According to the poll, most of those who responded believe that the media is overwhelmingly in favor of one presidential candidate, discarding not only the choice of the second most established party, but also both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party candidates.

That brings us to the realization that, as individuals begin to notice the subjects playing a role in the U.S. presidential elections are also partly responsible for influencing our decisions, they also realize that our central government is filled with individuals who have made their way to the top under far from ideal circumstances.

Instead of living by principles and the idea that they represent those who have elected them, these politicians only hold promises to those who have bankrolled their campaigns.

The “pay to play” scheme, after all, is not only a reality among clusters of politicians who are being eviscerated by those paying attention. It’s also a reality wherever a centralized form of government is in place.

Centralization of power is, at the end of the day, the right environment for corruption to thrive.

In Human Action, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises writes that “there is no such thing as a just and fair method of exercising the tremendous power that interventionism puts into the hands of the legislature and the executive,” explaining that, in “many fields of the administration of interventionist measures, favoritism simply cannot be avoided.”

As interventionism remains an innate part of governing, what we, libertarians, can take away from this recent poll is that the access to information provided by an open wide web of ideas, such as the Internet, has helped us understand these powerful alliances, seeing their result right before our eyes on a regular basis.

People are no longer going along quietly. And that’s why we should be celebrating.

What is the Non-Aggression Principle?

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

What is the Non-Aggression Principle?

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

QUESTION: What is the libertarian “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.

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