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Sessions Promises Crackdowns As More States Move To Legalize Cannabis

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

Sessions Promises Crackdowns As More States Move To Legalize Cannabis

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

As the former senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to make the crackdown on marijuana a priority, states like California bet on the cannabis industry instead. In the hopes that Sessions’ threats are all empty, entrepreneurs are telling themselves that the AG is just trying to act tough.

Sessions

In other states like New Hampshire, lawmakers are taking steps so that the federal government cannot use local resources to go after local marijuana businesses.

The New Hampshire State Senate has just passed a marijuana legalization bill that allows people over the age of 21 to legally possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana. The bill also allows individuals to grow up to three mature cannabis plants at home.

But despite the change to rules that impact individual users, the bill does not allow entrepreneurs to open retail locations.

This bill is different than the ones that paved the way for full legalization in Colorado, Washington, and now California, but similar to the bill that is being advanced in Vermont. In the neighboring state, the state’s House passed a legalization bill that is now waiting for a Senate vote.

In a practical way, if more bills relaxing, decriminalizing, or legalizing marijuana pass across the country, Sessions will be getting the message that the federal government’s decision to keep marijuana scheduled as an illicit drug does not matter to the individual states.

Without the states offering their own resources to go after cannabis users and retailers, the federal government’s actions are restricted. With more states saying “no” to the war on drugs, the people will be able to bring the federal government’s monopoly over personal choice finally to an end.

Moreover, federal agencies will always strive to continue to regulate our lives. Instead of worrying about who will occupy the White House next, what should matter to all of us is to see that changes are enacted locally so we can live freer lives here and now.

Why are there more guns in America than people?

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

Why are there more guns in America than people?

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

Question:

A friend asked me this question: “Why are there more guns than people?”

I have a hunch that this isn’t true. I wonder if such statistics are skewed to give support to an anti-gun position? What is your answer?

guns

Answer:

I’m not sure whether this is true or not, either. If it is, it may be because so many gun owners have more than one firearm.

Your questioner is really saying: “Something is wrong with our society because we have so many weapons.” However, the best research suggests “More Guns, Less Crime” (see John Lott Jr.’s book with that title). Even deranged shooters that fire into crowds are deterred by laws permitting law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. Rapists and burglars stay away from areas where women are publicly trained in firearms.

Once acquainted with such data, your friend may not feel that more guns are problematic.

Washington To Tax Sugary Drinks, Ignore Govt’s To Blame For Obesity Epidemic

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

Washington To Tax Sugary Drinks, Ignore Govt’s To Blame For Obesity Epidemic

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

The new year has brought new government-backed rules to several states across the country. In Washington, residents are now being forced to pay extra for their sugary drinks thanks to the state’s initiative that hopes to use the new taxes to discourage consumers from drinking “unhealthy” beverages.

The new rule is already worrying Seattle store owners who believe they will be seeing a dramatic loss in income as well as an increase in expense as consumers will avoid purchasing the overly-taxed drinks.

sugaryThe new law—taking full effect this week—was approved in June but heavily criticized by everyone from consumers, store owners, and even beverage-industry workers. Still, lawmakers argued, the rule is meant to discourage people from drinking sugary drinks. Sugar, they say, is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and other maladies. But the new law says nothing about “Zero-calorie” and diet drinks, which are often tied to cardiovascular risks, are not being impacted by the new rule.

And if Washington’s lawmakers are proven right and the new tax does discourage consumers from drinking sugary beverages, they will likely end up going for diet sodas instead. On top of being detrimental to business owners and workers, the new tax will also push consumers away from a potentially dangerous drink to another potentially dangerous drink, so what’s the point?

The idea that lawmakers and bureaucrats are able to help the populace be happier, healthier, and safer with a strike of their pen is an old one, and it’s precisely why the country is currently facing an epidemic of obesity and other health issues tied to bad eating habits.

With the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies forcing an idea of a food pyramid down Americans’ throats, we were all taught to see grains and carbohydrates as the foundation of healthy eating. Unfortunately for countless Americans, this horrific assertion and irresponsible recommendation is very, very wrong.

As we now are more aware of the fact that a diet rich in carbohydrates and poor in fats will actually make you sick, we are tempted to laugh at the government, except for the reality that federal agencies and medical groups tasked with helping individuals be healthier continue to push this harmful diet down their patients’ throats.

If the state wants to help locals to be healthier, taxing a product because of its sugar content should be the last thing on their mind. Instead, they should bring an end to “official” health guides and government-backed medical advice altogether. After all, we have already learned that when it comes to healthy diet recommendations, the government has accomplished nothing but help make Americans fatter and less healthy. Are you really willing to let them dictate anything else related to what you put into your body?

Is it irresponsible for libertarians to favor marijuana legalization?

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

Is it irresponsible for libertarians to favor legalizing marijuana?

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

Question:

How can you promote the legalization of pot, and consider yourselves responsible adults?

Answer:

Don’t confuse promoting the legalization of something with the promotion of its use. That’s the trap that Prohibitionists got themselves into with alcohol earlier this century.

marijuana

After alcohol became illegal in 1920, the horrific consequences of Prohibition quickly became apparent. People died from the poisons in black market “bathtub gin.” Organized crime thrived; shootouts and turf battles endangered innocent bystanders. Police were corrupted by bribes that dwarfed their pay. The homicide rate doubled.

Consequently, many of the very people who clamored for Prohibition began lobbying for its repeal. For example, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a lifelong teetotaler and a staunch supporter of Prohibition at the start, wrote in 1932:

“When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”

After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the murder rate promptly dropped; people stopped dying from bathtub gin. Police went back to protecting the public, rather than the mob.

The lesson from Prohibition was clear: alcohol may be bad, but prohibition is worse. The same is true today with drug prohibition: the War on Drugs actually kills more people than the drugs themselves. The responsible approach is to end prohibition of marijuana and other drugs — so that we may focus our resources on helping those who are willing to trade their health for a high. Alcoholism is now treated as a medical problem, not a criminal offense; consequently, Americans are drinking less today than they did during Prohibition. If we want to end the drug problem, we must first end the even more dangerous War on Drugs.

What’s the truth behind “gun” violence?

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Manuel Martin Comments are off

What’s the truth behind “gun” violence?

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

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

gun

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

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

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

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

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

 

The End Of Prohibition Started With The States

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles 1 Comment

The End Of Prohibition Started With The States

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

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

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

prohibition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

TSA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Time To Put Property First

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

It’s Time To Put Property First

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

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

property

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to go back to the basics.

Lawmakers Want To Collect Personal Information From Students Nationwide

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

Lawmakers Want To Collect Personal Information From Students Nationwide

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

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

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

information

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

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

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

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

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

Alabama Moves To Get Government Out Of Marriage

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

Alabama Moves To Get Government Out Of Marriage

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

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

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

marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cody Wilson Develops New Metal Ghost Gun, Defying Regulators

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

 Cody Wilson Develops New Metal Ghost Gun, Defying Regulators

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

Cody Wilson, the heroic designer of the world’s first 3-D printed gun, has now created something that will surely defy any and all existing gun legislations: An entirely untraceable metal handgun.

gun

While the federal government has yet to pass a legislation against homemade firearms without serial numbers, otherwise known as ghost guns, the state of California has already passed legislation outlawing these firearms.

According to Wilson’s gun rights advocacy group, Defense Distributed, the new software designed to be used with the group’s ghost gun machine gives anybody the ability to carve out the untraceable bodies of AR-15s from unfinished pieces of aluminum. The software also allows for the production of M1911 handguns, giving anybody the chance of owning an untraceable gun.

In the near future, Wilson said, his group will be following up with software that produces Glocks — all regulation-free.

By giving individuals the ability to produce their own guns, Wilson gives them the freedom to defend themselves without having to ask government for permission.

But in times of major lethal attack, the fearmongering rhetoric spewed by politicians on both sides of the isle ignites major political and popular campaigns that call for more restrictions on gun ownership.

With access to technology like the one being made available by Wilson, Americans everywhere won’t have to fear what legislators will come up with next — and that’s what a market response looks like.

When government officials tell us that only bureaucrats have the answer to our questions and we go along with it, we are at their mercy, incapable of answering for ourselves. Whether you agree with what Wilson does or not, you must admit that he has given individuals a way out, just like competitors do the same in an open market by offering better, more efficient, and more convenient products by taking into consideration the consumer’s needs.

When looking into what we prefer, a world overly regulated by bureaucrats who function by restricting and raising roadblocks or a free market where individuals and companies work to serve one another in a better way every day, it’s clear that the latter option will always produce better results.

Are smokers infringing on your rights?

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

Are smokers infringing on your rights?

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

Question:

I disagree with your recent column on smoking. Why is it up to the non-smoker to choose a smoke-free work environment or restaurant? Isn’t this a case where a person’s right to swing their arms (i.e., smoking) ends with the next person’s nose (potential health risks and fouling the clothing of non-smokers)? Isn’t it the smokers who are infringing on my right to be free of their smoke?

smokers

Answer:

I, too, am a non-smoker who appreciates a smoke-free environment, so I know exactly where you are coming from.

Libertarians don’t support government-mandated smoking bans in restaurants and bars, because these restaurants and bars are the property of the owners, not the patrons or the government. Only the owners of these establishments have the right to determine whether smoking will be permitted.

Similarly, libertarians wouldn’t outlaw smoking in residences so that non-smoking visitors wouldn’t have to breathe the smoke of their hosts. In both cases, the owners decide what type of environment that they will invest in; patrons and visitors are free to decide if they wish to expose themselves to that environment.

Of course, “public” (government-owned) property, like courthouses and municipal buildings, poses special problems, because the “owners” (supposedly the entire citizenry, which include smokers and non-smokers), are unlikely to agree on whether or not to ban smoking there. So settling such disagreements is almost impossible. Such dilemmas support the libertarian notion that all property (or at the very least, as much as possible) should be private, and such decisions left to the owners. Clearly-defined property rights solve many, many problems!

LAPD’s Drone Program Is A Threat To Liberty

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

LAPD’s Drone Program Is A Threat To Liberty

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

Going against privacy advocates all across the district, the Los Angeles Police Department just approved a drone program that should initially last for one year, but that could end up benefiting officials elsewhere who are looking into expanding their own surveillance programs.

drone

This move makes L.A. the largest city in the country to have embraced this type of policy and the first to openly ditch the need for a warrant while doing so.

While the LAPD swears the new program will only be used in “tactical situations, searches or natural disasters,” the use of the technology can be allowed to proceed with the OK of a “high-ranking officer,” meaning that cops may end up employing the use of drones even if they don’t fall under one of the categories mentioned previously. Without a legal framework with safeguards that allow for the persecution of officers who abuse their power, the program’s rules are sure to be broken. As a result, the privacy of Los Angeles residents is in jeopardy.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California has criticized the program, reminding the LAPD that LA residents aren’t adequately protected by the agency’s new rules. The ACLU also reminded officials that the plan to allow officers to make use of drones does not take into account public opposition to the program.

Unfortunately, the LAPD has a history of introducing enforcement programs that end up being implemented all across the country, such as the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, which were first widely used by the LAPD in the 1960s during the racially charged Watts Riots.

By implementing military-style raids using military grade equipment and tactics, the LAPD helped to kickstart the long-lasting process that has transformed our local police departments and that is often referred to as police militarization. With the implementation of the drone program, which is run entirely by the police department and without any oversight, we can make a prediction that other local police departments will follow suit. As such, we will end up with a local police force that is both fully militarized and fully equipped for total surveillance powers that will serve as an example to others.

When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the federal government’s use of questionable surveillance programs to spy on common Americans, many libertarians felt that for the first time, the country was truly concerned about privacy. But despite the advocacy of so many groups standing against giving the government massive surveillance powers, what we’re seeing with this new LAPD program is that a lot must still be done if we want to change policy effectively.

New Jersey Patients Wait Months For Permission To Use Cannabis

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

New Jersey Patients Wait Months For Permission To Use Cannabis

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

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. At least that’s what they say.

When it comes to bureaucrats, all they know is to further complicate matters, turning simple tasks that could be easily accomplished in a short period into huge, complex processes filled with hurdles. So when we allow governments to run our lives, we are giving bureaucrats the power to complicate it.

marijuana

When the policy in question involves drugs that could save our lives, complicating the process in which we must take part to obtain said drugs could mean pain, suffering, and health complications.

In New Jersey, where a 9-year-old medical marijuana law has yet to be updated, patients hoping to have access to cannabis for treatment have been patiently waiting for regulators to follow the recommendations a state health panel made 5 months ago.

At the time, the panel urged regulators to expand the list of conditions that may be treated with cannabis, adding autism, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, chronic pain, migraines, and others.

But long before the health panel got together to make this recommendation, dozens of patients submitted petitions. Then, the panel met to review the case during three different hearings. During these hearings, the same patients who filed the petitions pleaded with officials for the freedom to choose what they will put in their own bodies in order to treat or soothe their ailments.

But even after all of this hard work and long months of wait, the New Jersey Department of Health does not seem to ready to embrace the changes.

Instead, officials are now saying that yet another must be held. After that and if the panel agrees that the changes must be adopted, the health commissioner will be able to sit on his hands for another six months if he so wishes before he decides whether he should adopt the panel’s recommendation.

Imagine that, waiting over a whole year just for the state’s permission so you may treat your illness the best way you see fit.

Being willing to try different treatments and drugs to help you manage or heal a certain health condition should be the patient’s decision alone. Precisely because government officials can’t possibly know what’s best for you or for me, giving him the power to tell us what we can and cannot put in our own bodies is ineffective — to say the least.

So while New Jersey patients suffer and wait for the state to listen to their plea, we hope that more states join the nullification revolution, going the opposite way of New Jersey by simply decriminalizing the use substances like cannabis so neither the federal nor the state governments are able to dictate who gets to use the substance for their health benefits and who doesn’t.

 

Maryland Nullifies FDA’s Control Over Experimental Treatments

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

Maryland Nullifies FDA’s Control Over Experimental Treatments

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

Maryland residents have just been allowed to choose whether they will become involved in experimental treatments that would have otherwise been blocked by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A new “right to try” legislation just went into full effect in the Old Line State, effectively nullifying the FDA’s monopoly on drug treatments.

FDA's

House Bill 584 was sponsored by Maryland’s Karen Young, a Democrat, and counted with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as co-sponsors. The law allows for terminally ill patients to have access to experimental drugs and treatments that may not have been approved for use by the FDA.

With HB 584 now fully enacted, Maryland lawmakers were able to effectively nullify the federal control on life-saving drugs.

Much like the drug war, the FDA’s control over which drugs terminal patients are allowed to use or not goes against a fundamental right: The right to self-ownership.

If an individual has the ability to make his or her own decisions regarding their own life, they should also have the right to choose which drugs they will put in their bodies.

What regulations and drug laws do is to simply make it more difficult for researchers to look into said drugs and treatment. By keeping researchers from progressing, regulators and lawmakers are keeping people from having access to information regarding these drugs that could be saving their lives.

We have seen an incredible shift in how researchers use cannabis and how many individuals have been able to use legal cannabis to treat their illnesses after states started nullifying the federal drug war against weed. With states like Maryland enacting other pieces of legislation that give the terminally ill access to more choices, states are fighting on the drug war by targeting the federal government’s prohibitionist laws and the federal regulators’ control over who gets what treatment.

By controlling which drugs are allowed and which aren’t, the FDA dictates who lives and who dies. It’s because the FDA will rather see someone in their deathbed perish instead of giving them the option to try different and experimental treatments that passing these right to try pieces of legislation are so important and yes, urgent.

Now Is The Wrong Time For More Gun Control

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

Now Is The Wrong Time For More Gun Control

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

The horrific and heartbreaking mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, has already sparked calls for more gun control legislation. Still, on the aftermath of such incidents, the number of Americans running to gun stores to purchase firearms always increases, showing that regardless of whether public figures, news reporters, or progressive politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to think, most Americans put their own well-being and self-defense rights before politics.

gun

While it’s impossible to discuss the tragic killings of dozens in an attack that left more than 500 injured simply because the details regarding the attacker are still being investigated, we must always remember that it’s in times of crisis that politicians will try to tell us they know how to make it all better.

Whether Republican or Democrat, elected officials, and hopeful candidates will go over their talking points in times of tragedy, telling us that their solution will work this time, all we have to do is to trust them.

New legislation, they say, will help remedy this situation by cracking down on gun owners, or individuals with health issues, or gun salesmen. But while these pieces of legislation target everyone under the sun, they fail to target bureaucrats with guns.

These politicians often ignore the countless instances of abuse involving law enforcement agents, government security agents, and members of other agencies tasked with border securitydrug law enforcement, and even surveillance.

Their guns are never at risk.

When it comes to allowing government to oversee all aspects of an individual’s life, the consequences are usually disproportionate.

Government will create rules that hurt good people while giving law enforcement little to no incentives to go after the real bad guys. That’s precisely what happens when gun control laws are enacted.

When rules are applied to gun purchases, delaying the gun purchasing process, the law-abiding citizen has to prove his innocence before being able to take that gun home. To criminals, all that it takes is the willingness to steal a gun or a weapon to commit a crime. No background checks necessary.

In the case of mass shootings involving distraught individuals, many were able to obtain their guns legally and yet, no background check was able to detect any issues that could have led authorities to believe that these individuals were going to eventually turn into mass murderers.

With the media feeding the fear surrounding these instances of mass shootings and using heavy anti-gun rhetoric, those who do not feel either represented or protected by government officials become anxious. So instead of feeding into this fear and paranoia, how about understanding that, ultimately, it’s up to the individual whether he decides to purchase a gun for personal safety or other ends, and realize that the government should have no say as to what property one has the right to have access to. Just like it doesn’t have a moral reason to tell an individual whether he can or cannot use a substance such as cannabis on his own body.

Are libertarians aware of safety concerns regarding legal marijuana?

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

Are libertarians aware of safety concerns regarding legal marijuana?

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

Question:

I think libertarians are wrong to support legal marijuana. Do you really think it wise to smoke pot and work with machinery, cars, trains, planes, or motorcycles, or weapons? Do you want to risk your child’s bus ride to school, or a field trip, after the driver has smoked pot? Or do you want the captain of your plane to smoke pot prior to your trip to Bermuda?

marijuana

Answer:

Libertarians agree with you that no one should drive or operate machinery or engage in similar behavior while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Further, libertarians believe that employers have the right to require their employees to take performance tests or drug tests, and fire them if they take anything — even prescription medication — that imperils their coworkers or customers.

However, why shouldn’t someone be free to smoke pot, drink alcohol, or use other substances, in the privacy of their own home? If there is no harm to others, there is no foul.

One could legitimately argue that the use of marijuana and other currently-illegal drugs may harm some users’ long term health. However, the same is true of many, many substances that are completely legal, ranging from alcohol and tobacco to fat, salt, sugar, and so on. Chronic overeating is especially damaging, yet having our calorie consumption regulated by the “Twinkie police” would be prohibitively expensive and invasive as well as outrageous.

We all make choices everyday that compromise our health. People die every year in sporting accidents, but the idea of prohibiting skiing, skydiving, and scuba seems ridiculous. Some people have higher thresholds for risks, and take chances that other people would not. That’s their right — as long as they don’t endanger others.

Living is dangerous and death is just a matter of time. We may want to spend life enjoying it as we see fit, rather than trying to prohibit others from doing so!

New Maine Law Shields Locals From Federal Gun Registries

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

New Maine Law Shields Locals From Federal Gun Registries

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

A new Maine law has just made the nullification of any future effort by the federal government to create countrywide gun databases more difficult to take full effect.

The Tenth Amendment Center has reported that a state law sponsored by Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican from Windham, Maine, prohibits state officials from establishing any firearms registry. Without the collection of local gun owners’ information for any purpose, the federal government is no longer capable of putting any large-scale registry of gun owners across the country together, shielding Americans from Washington, D.C.’s efforts to restrict their 2nd Amendment rights.

gun

House Bill 9 wasn’t just supported by the state legislature in Maine by Republican lawmakers. According to TAC, the effort was put forward by a bipartisan coalition, showing that, sometimes, when we act locally we are able to put traps in place that will render the federal government’s war on personal freedom and choices useless.

The bill was cleared by the House Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety by a 122-24 margin and the Senate later passed it unanimously.

As the bill was enacted, Gov. Paul LePage signed it into law on June 12. Now, in full effect, the bill prohibits state and local officials from working in any capacity to develop a registry of gun owners in the state of Maine.

As we all know, the federal government relies on information collected by local law enforcement to develop its own tracking databases. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), for instance, has a license plate tracking database that is only available because state and local law enforcement bodies collect this information. By using personal details gathered locally, the DEA is then able to have easy access to personal information from across the country without much of an effort.

By passing legislation statewide that forces officials to say no to the feds, state lawmakers are able to, one by one, nullify federal regulations that might not even be in the books yet but that could be enacted by a future administration. As a means to maximize individual freedom, this type of activism is, perhaps, one of the most effective ways of introducing libertarian principles into local politics — and one of the most effective ways of being active in politics without losing focus on what matters.

NFL Outrage: If You’re Bothered, Get The Gov’t Out Of The Sports Business

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

NFL Outrage: If You’re Bothered, Get The Gov’t Out Of The Sports Business


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

If you haven’t been completely disconnected from the world in the past few days, you may have noticed that everyone is either condemning or praising President Donald Trump for telling a crowd in Alabama that it would be nice to see an NFL owner fire any player who kneels in protest during the national anthem.

Regardless of where you stand on this subject, the reality is that the heart of this debate lies in sports and how they have become highly politicized. But this trait is anything but new. It might feel that way because the media has, for the most part, been much quicker to use anything Trump says to boost the ratings. Still, sports have been used by those making politics in America to boost the war spirit since World War I. Over time, the tradition of tying the anthem with sports in times of war expanded into a regular reminder that pride in government efforts and sports went hand in hand, at least in America.

NFL

So it’s no wonder those who feel betrayed by what the anthem represents, regardless of motives, will use such a high-profile event as a football game to show their discontent. And when a highly powerful elected official such as the president makes a strong statement against people who often embody the most American of sports, it’s also easy to see how his comments may cause divisiveness.

Still, the outrage is here because we have always allowed the U.S. government to latch its own agenda to what happens in the sports arena.

Now that the U.S. government openly invests in “paid patriotism,” spending millions of taxpayer dollars in pro-government campaigns during sports events run by the NFL — itself one of the most successful government-subsidized organizations in U.S. history — how can we claim ignorance and act as if football had, all of a sudden, become immune to government influence?

The president complains about players demonstrating against their government because football is as American as apple pie and as entangled with politics as it gets. So the solution to the outrage of the day isn’t to condemn players who refuse to stand for the anthem. The solution isn’t to complain about the president either. After all, he’s simply standing for that to which a man in his position is expected. No. The solution is to look at sports once again as a private business matter and forever untangle it from the political machine in Washington.

Unless we’re able to successfully do just that, the outrage will always be there — and the future will continue to look bleak for those of us who simply think that a game is a game and politicians should have the decency to at least handle that back to the people.

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