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

Go Around

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

Frequently, I hear from libertarians about some of the issues they face when performing outreach activities or communicating libertarian ideas. Often, they come to roadblocks that they can’t seem to get past.

In the marketplace, you and I both know what happens when you face an obstacle or a tough situation. We innovate. We bypass the roadblocks that we find.

Take a look at what Uber did to revolutionize the transportation industry. Or how Airbnb transformed how we travel and find accommodations. Bitcoin is doing something similar in the currency space, just as PayPal did with digital currency decades before. Amazon has completely changed retail shopping, as we order things online or from our phone instead of going to a brick and mortar store, having it delivered to our doorstep just a few days after placing the order.

We have the opportunity to exemplify our beliefs and show that we can back up our rhetoric, by innovating in the marketplace of ideas. Exemplifying those beliefs is going to give us credibility with others, as we can show that no only can we talk the talk, but we can also walk the walk.

When we’re innovative, it gives us an advantage, as we’re the “first to market” by utilizing the ideas that we put forth. We’re going about things in a different way and we’re revolutionizing the way we communicate libertarian ideas.

So, in short, just go around.

IRS Might Soon Go After US Bitcoiners

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

IRS Might Soon Go After US Bitcoiners

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

Recently, a digital asset exchange company based on San Francisco, California known as Coinbase was targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Looking for data on Coinbase’s customers, reports showed the IRS had been looking into police digital currency users. The investigation focused on individuals who used Bitcoin between 2013 and 2015. At the time, “John Doe” warrants were deployed, indicating the IRS may have been looking for individuals using digital currency to evade tax payment.

taxationOnce customers were made aware of the federal government’s response, a lawsuit was filed. But despite Coinbase’s resistance, future court orders could jeopardize their principled stance in favor of their customers’ privacy. Hoping to block the IRS from having access to the company’s database without forcing Coinbase to get deeper into this fight, one customer sued the agency. Nevertheless, the suit is expected to fail. So what could happen next?

In an article, libertarian feminist Wendy McElroy explained the brake on the IRS won’t last. Why? Because the agency may be looking into extending the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in order to have the enforcement basis to go after Bitcoin and its users. Since FATCA is the enforcement mechanism behind Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), McElroy believes that the IRS may be using FATCA to target institutions, framing individuals by “strong-arming institutions to provide open access to their accounts.”

If the IRS has its way, McElroy explained further, FATCA will be targeting Americans who own bitcoins and who used the digital currency in transactions over the years. But she also warns that “accidental Americans” such as foreigners with dual citizenship will be next.

Despite the risk, this is not the first time the IRS showed signs of trying to get a hold of Bitcoin enthusiasts.

In March of 2014, the agency issued a notice reporting that digital currency was property and should be taxed as such. Laying the groundwork for what the IRS is doing now, the agency established a basis to go after users who haven’t reported their bitcoins to the taxman. Due to the notice of policy change, individuals getting wages, paying, or receiving in digital currency in exchange for goods and services were now subject to being taxed for those transactions. So far, Bitcoin enthusiasts and users have not reported harassment, but that’s because the IRS lacks an enforcement mechanism. With FATCA, agents may now enforce the new rules.

For bitcoiners, the warning is clear: Be aware that the last few years worth of transactions might be under scrutiny. And if your records are under investigation, you may only learn about it when the IRS sends you a letter demanding payment on bitcoin-related income.

16 Liberty Action Items for ’16

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

16 Liberty Action Items for ’16

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

“What can I do to help?”

This is LITERALLY my favorite question to be asked, because I can always share SOMETHING that can be done. There’s certainly something for everyone.

Here, I’ve compiled a list of 16 action-oriented items for you to share with your liberty-minded friends:

  1. Liberty in 2016Seek out a group of like-minded people in your area. America’s Future Foundation, The Bastiat Society, and Liberty on the Rocks are all easy ways to network with liberty-minded people, though any civic organization will be helpful.
  2. Seek out a group with whom you frequently disagree. I’m not suggesting that you crash their events, rather I suggest you go to listen to a different perspective.
  3. Identify a candidate for office that you wholeheartedly support, and campaign for him/her.
  4. Run for an elected office where you could serve with passion. A passion for liberty and a passion for the duties of the office will make your service fulfilling.
  5. Affiliate with a local group of organized, engaged, civics-minded citizens.
  6. Pick one issue to speak, write, or advocate for effectively.
  7. Write a monthly letter to the editor about the libertarian perspective on the topic du jour.
  8. Embrace a “disruptive” technology or innovation. 3-D printing, Uber, Bitcoin, AirBNB all come to mind.
  9. Adopt a new “favorite” columnist. In the age of the Internet, it should be easy to find a new writer that you enjoy reading.
  10. When discussing libertarian thought and philosophy, focus on what Liberty offers, rather than focusing on your desire for it. “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
  11. Pick a charity to support with your time, talent, or treasure.
  12. Donate to candidates and organizations that you support.
  13. Choose an issue to wave signs, go to a rally, or volunteer to spread the word about.
  14. Find one thing that you can do that will make a positive, lasting difference in the life of one person. It’s easier than you think.
  15. Be nice to everyone, no matter how they treat you.
  16. Do all of the above, and be a shining example of libertarians everywhere.

I look forward to seeing the change you create in 2016!

See You at the World’s Largest Gathering of Libertarian Students!

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Mark your calendar!

ISFLC 2015The 8th Annual International Students For Liberty Conference will be held in Washington, DC, Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15.

And it’s going to be an event to remember.

Students For Liberty describes the conference as “the premiere event of the year for students dedicated to liberty and advancing freedom on campus.” Last year’s conference featured over 1,200 attendees from 26 countries — and SFL expects this year’s to be bigger and better than ever before.

The Advocates will have a booth there, and we’re looking forward to meeting friends new and old and sharing Advocates tools and programs like Operation Politically Homeless (now FREE for campus groups) with students and other attendees.

The conference is opening with a bang — a Friday night conversation between Ron Paul and Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, moderated by Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

And that’s just the start. The conference has lined up a stellar list of speakers. Among them: John Stossel, Congressman Justin Amash, Cato’s David Boaz and Tom G. Palmer, Jeffrey Tucker of Liberty.me, Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Libertarian Party executive director Wes Benedict, The Freeman editor Max Borders, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Rob Kampia… and that’s just a few of the outstanding speakers you’ll have a chance to hear. See the whole list of speakers here.

In addition to main-stage speakers, the weekend will feature over 80 breakout sessions on topics such as the militarization of police, the War on Drugs, free speech, and Bitcoin. The conference will also have an ongoing liberty fair with over 60 sponsor organizations. Plus there are networking opportunities with potential employers, and socials where you’ll have a great chance to meet with fellow lovers of liberty.

PS: You don’t have to be a student to attend. SFL says that, while the conference (as with other SFL programs) is focused on students, everyone is welcome to attend no matter what your age or status as a student might be.

Learn more and register at the conference website.

Hope to see you there!

Britain’s Young Are Libertarian; British rEVOLution Brewing?

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

British libertarians?

“Young Britons are classical liberals: as well as prizing social freedom, they believe in low taxes, limited welfare and personal responsibility. In America they would be called libertarians.”

Libertarianism is growing fast among Britain’s youth. Indeed, surveys indicate this is the most libertarian-leaning generation in British history. And libertarian ideas are rapidly gaining ground.

So reports The Economist magazine, June 1st 2013.

The Economist reports that the latest findings of the long-running British Social Attitudes survey (BSA) show young Britons have a “suspicion of state interventions of most varieties” and tend to feel that “people have a right to express themselves by what they consume and how they choose to live.”

“Predictably, that translates into a tolerance for social and cultural difference,” the Economist reports. “Polls show that the young are more relaxed than others about drugs, sex, alcohol, euthanasia and non-traditional family structures. They dislike immigration, but not as strongly as do their elders. And they are becoming ever more liberal. The BSA has tracked attitudes for three decades. It shows that the young are now far more tolerant of homosexuality, for example, than were previous generations at the same age.”

What about economic liberty? Young Britons are also far more skeptical of the welfare state: “More than two-thirds of people born before 1939 consider the welfare state ‘one of Britain’s proudest achievements.’ Less than one-third of those born after 1979 say the same.

The Economist quotes pollster Ben Page on the trend: “Every successive generation is less collectivist than the last.”

The Economist further notes: “All age groups are becoming more socially and economically liberal. But the young are ahead of the general trend. …

“Polling by YouGov shows that those aged 18 to 24 are also more likely than older people to consider social problems the responsibility of individuals rather than government. They are deficit hawks… They care about the environment, but are also keen on commerce: more supportive of the privatization of utilities, more likely to reject government attempts to ban branding on cigarette packets and more likely to agree that Tesco, Britain’s supermarket giant, ‘has only become so large by offering customers what they want.’”

Most of the young are disaffected politically. They are turned off by politics and there is very little libertarianism in the major parties.

Yet there may be a British rEVOLution brewing: “But among the politically engaged minority, libertarianism is growing. In April [the writer of this article] squeezed into a fuggy crowd of enthusiasts trading quotes by Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard in a room above a central London pub. Between discourses on the merits of Bitcoin (‘a currency without government-perfect!’) old-timers marvelled at the surge of interest. Freedom Forum, an annual convention for young libertarians, has tripled in size since its launch in 2011; a similar venture planned for July — a ‘Freedom Week’ of debate and lectures — has ten applicants for every place. Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think-tank, declares himself ‘gobsmacked’ at the new popularity of anti-statist ideas and confidently predicts the emergence of a mass libertarian movement.”