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What Is Right Isn’t Always What Is Legal

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What Is Right Isn’t Always What Is Legal

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When discussing libertarianism with others, never forget that we have one of the best tools at our disposal at almost all times. We have the biggest recruiter to libertarian philosophy, and that is government.

One of the best ways that we can utilize that tool is that we can talk about the difference between what is right and what is legal.

Those two are NOT one in the same. On the one hand, we can talk about the things that are right. We can talk about the things that we know to be true. We can talk about the things that are the result of the decisions that you and I make about what is right for us.

On the other, we have what is legal. Those decisions aren’t necessarily something we were a party to. Many times these things were decided before we were even born, and often, they were decided hundreds or thousands of miles away from the situation at hand by people we’ve not met and we’ll never meet. They know nothing about our situation.

Do you honestly believe that we would see people that were arrested for feeding the homeless without a permit if we were focused on what is right vs. what is legal?

Do you think we would see people fined for growing their own food, instead of having a lawn? Or for having chickens in their backyard for fresh eggs? Or want to be more self-sustaining?

Would we see children suffering because they aren’t able to get the medicine that their doctor would otherwise prescribe if it were legal?

We can utilize these examples and many more as we talk about the difference between those two things, because we can then drive the discussion to be about how when we let others make our decisions, we’re at their mercy. We aren’t deciding for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. We outsource that morality to somebody else.

When you outsource that decision-making, when we outsource that morality to someone else, you’re at the mercy of what they believe to be right, good, and true, and not what is the best outcome for you and for me.

When we’re talking about libertarianism, we can really take an opportunity by focusing on the difference between right and legal. Again, they’re not the same, and we don’t need to let people think that they are.

 

Experience New Things Experience New People

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Experience New Things Experience New People

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So, you’ve likely noticed that this week’s From Me to You is going to be a little bit different.

I’m not in my office. There’s not a bookshelf full of books behind me. In fact, it’s a little chilly, definitely overcast, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to rain on me at any second.

But this different experience is what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about experiencing new things, experiencing new people, as we become more effective communicators of libertarian ideas and libertarian philosophy.

I believe that you experiences determine the decisions that you make. Those decisions drive the actions that you take. Those actions lead to outcomes, whether good or bad.

As a libertarian, I want you to make those decisions for yourself, rather than having them centrally-planned from hundreds or thousands of miles away. I believe that YOU are going to make the best decision for yourself.

How am I going to know that though? I really only have my own experiences to draw from.

If I’m not out there experiencing what others are, and not experiencing what others struggle with, or how they succeed, how am I really going to be a proper advocate for making decisions for ourselves?

Libertarianism is not only about freedom and liberty for me, but it’s about freedom and liberty for everyone.

If I’m not experiencing what other people do, and I’m not able to empathize with their situations, how can I really be a proper advocate for liberty?

So, what I’m suggesting to you is that you go out and experience new things. Experience new people.

Find a different perspective. Step outside of your comfort zone.

We have an opportunity to really make a difference, as we learn about others, and they learn about us.

As you’re experiencing what other people have, and you’re finding out more about their lives and their stories, you’re going to be able to build rapport. You’ll then be able to influence their lives in a more libertarian way.

They may adopt some of the ideas and philosophy that we hold.

So, what’s going to be your first new experience?

Great Idea! Now, Can You Make It Happen Without Force?

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Great Idea! Now, Can You Make It Happen Without Force?

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

In order to reach more people, persuade them to adopt a more libertarian outlook, and keep them looking to reject the force of government intervention in our lives, we need to continue to build rapport and challenge their authoritarian beliefs in a friendly and non-confrontational way.

We often recommend building rapport with those you’re looking to persuade to adopt a more libertarian philosophy/worldview/lifestyle. That can be a difficult thing to do when discussing real world political issues, rather than asking some philosophical questions about who is best equipped to make decisions.

With that in mind, here’s a terrific way to build rapport with the people you’re talking with in a way that doesn’t alienate them. When they talk about a particular program or idea, focus on the outcome they desire and point out that the outcome is a good one. Typically, we are in agreement about the outcomes, whether they are prosperity, peace, a well-educated populace, safety and security, or happy lives. 

Next, you can congratulate them on a great idea!

As they bask in the compliment, you can begin asking if they want to make that happen without using force. Force, after all, is a very powerful thing, and is something that libertarians believe should not be initiated, rather it should only be used in response or self-defense.

forceBy praising them for their idea, we reinforce that we ARE listening to them, rather than waiting for our “turn to speak.”

By asking them questions, we SHOW genuine interest in their opinion or belief in an idea.

By asking how they might accomplish that outcome without using force, we LEAD them to come to the libertarian solution on their own.

Rather than start an argument or a fight about something where we agree on the desired outcome, we can engage in a useful dialogue that could very well end up changing the way they think about things… In a good way, without using force.

Once we’ve achieved some success, we can move on to other areas in a similar vein. It might take a few more conversations, as they may need time to reconsider how to get to our shared desired outcome, but without using force.

To accomplish making society freer and more libertarian, we have to change hearts and minds, because the people have the power. Acts of legislation are about 20-30 years behind the mainstream thinking of the people, so by winning over the people, we can already be living a libertarian life when the state finally catches up to us.

Let’s Just Have A Computer Program Decide Everything

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“Let’s Just Have A Computer Program Decide Everything”

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

On my way to Las Vegas last week for FreedomFest, I had a revelation about “efficient government” and why it does not appeal to me. At least, it does not appeal in the same way a free society does.

WALL-EAs we’ve seen many times, candidates for office will promise to make government more efficient, eliminate waste, and reduce its size. While I appreciate the sentiment and pragmatism of that message, as a libertarian, I can’t take it seriously.

When we encounter those in favor of efficient government over the freedom a libertarian society offers, I suggest we offer the following suggestion: “Let’s just have a computer program decide everything.”

When it comes to efficiency, a computer program can make the decisions currently made by bureaucrats administering the myriad government programs that exist today. If you think about it, we could eliminate the waste, fraud, and abuse by making programming the decision-making to execute the laws and regulations on the books. The savings made by this automation would certainly make government operate cheaper, and there would be fewer people employed by government.

As we saw in Back to the Future II’s vision for 2015, the legal system moved much more swiftly after they abolished all lawyers. While this was certainly more efficient, it likely wasn’t effective when it came to justice and the preservation of liberty.

Is that what libertarians are really seeking?

So, if you really think about it…if we make government more efficient, will we be freer?

 

 

23 Million!

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23 Million!

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Add Friday, March 11, 2016 to the history books!

23 Million!The World’s Smallest Political Quiz broke the 23 million mark for the number of times it’s been taken online since its placement on the Internet in 1995.

While the Quiz has seen many iterations, both analog and digital, it is still the best tool out there to quickly and accurately examine the political tendency of its takers. The results give you a great place to start discussing issues as you work to persuade them to embrace a more libertarian philosophy and outlook.

A bit of history about the Quiz:

  • 1969 – David Nolan created the “Nolan Chart,” at the time, a new look at the political spectrum beyond the “Left–Right” line, which measures political thought along a one-dimensional line, into a two-dimensional graph, measuring degrees of economic and personal freedom.
  • 1971 - Nolan introduced the chart in an article for the January issue of The Individualist entitled “Classifying and Analyzing Politico-Economic Systems.”
  • 1987 – Advocates founder, Marshall Fritz, designed the 10 question quiz to accompany the Nolan Chart, along with other refinements. The Quiz originally appeared in card form, and is still available in that form today.
  • 1993 - Brian Towey produced a full-color, instant-scoring computer Quiz on disk, for DOS and Windows. Shortly thereafter, programmer Jon Kalb created a similar version for Macs.
  • 1995 – Our first website Self-Gov.org, hits the Internet, with an interactive version of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. To our knowledge, this is the first political quiz online.
  • 2004 – Printed versions of the Quiz topped 7 million.
  • 2013 – The Quiz reached 20 million online administrations.

 

Do you have a favorite aspect of the Quiz? Have you done something neat with it (Did you know I once gave it to a panda?)? Share your outreach and Quiz stories with us.

 

Do You Think for Yourself?

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Do You Think for Yourself?

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Me: What time did you wake up this morning?
The Young Statesman (13): 5:30
Me: People are going to be interested in knowing what it is that causes a thirteen-year-old to wake at 5:30 in the morning. Can you tell me about that?
YS: If I get up that early I can go to the gym and I can practice the organ. Those are two things I want to do every day and we do that every day. It’s done and I don’t have to worry about it. When I wake up early I can get that done early.
Me: You didn’t just wake yourself up, did you?
BubbleYS: I woke The Baby Anarchist (8).
Me: How did you do that?
YS: I tuned on the light and woke him and gave him his clothes. While he brushed his teeth I made his bed. Then I went to my room, made my bed, tidied up, put away my laundry, brushed my teeth, and went downstairs. I let the dog out, I fed her, I filled up the water bottles for the gym, I got the breakfast cooler together, and we went to the gym.
Me: Did your brother need help with his shoes?
YS: Yeah. The shoe laces aren’t that good so I helped him.
Me: Why do you help your brother?
YS: One day I’m going to want his help. I’d might as well be nice to him.
Me: Did I tell you to do these things?
YS: No. You said you were going to the gym at 6 in the morning and if I got up early I could join you. Then you asked BA if he wanted to come so now all of us go.
Me: You’re a pretty independent kid, aren’t you?
YS: I don’t like to be told what to do.
Me: If I started pestering you to do things, what would be your reaction?
YS: I’d wonder if you’d been hit in the head.
Me: If I were insisting that you do these things would you be as willing as you are?
YS: Nope.
Me: Why not?
YS: Because when I’m being told to do things that puts me in a passive frame of mind. And it makes me not like you if you’re bossing me around.
Me: Tell me about being passive.
YS: If I try to take the initiative, I’m going to end up butting up against you. I’m living off of you and what you’re telling me to do. I stop thinking.
Me: At that point you’re just being directed.
YS: I stop thinking. I’m just in brainless mode. I’m like a dog.
Me: How long can you stand to be in that mode?
YS: Not very long. If you’re in that mode for very long, you rebel.
Me: So you act rebelliously?
YS: Yes. In response to not being allowed to think for yourself you make stupid decisions. You don’t even think before you act.
Me: So your actions aren’t so much your own decisions as they are reactions against authority. I don’t think that’s just what adolescents do. Anyone who is being dominated and doesn’t think it’s legitimate is going to do that.
YS: You’ve taught me to think. Not to obey. You don’t tell me what to do. You give advice. I can take it or not.
Me: Would there be a problem if you didn’t take my advice?
YS: No.
Me: You’d just have a different experience. I notice that you take my advice more often than not. Why?
YS: Because when I haven’t taken your advice I’ve gotten hurt. Remember when you told me not to run in flip flops and I didn’t listen and I scraped my face across the road?
Me: That was so awful.
YS: I was trying to take something back to a neighbor. It really hurt. I’ve never run in flip flops since. Do you remember when you told me not to shriek and cry about everything because you wouldn’t know when I was really hurt? And then when we were at the swamp and I broke my arm and I was screaming and crying and you didn’t come because I screamed and cried at everything. That was a learning experience. And when dad told me not to run the chisel towards my hand and I did it anyway and we ended up in the ER for five hours. Or when he told me not to shove sharp things and I was in the ER again. I’m learning. Slowly. And painfully. But if you had stopped me, I wouldn’t have learned to listen.
Me: We would have stopped you from getting hurt if we could have. Do you think the injuries were worth it?
YS: I do.

The Future of the Libertarian Movement is Bright

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The Future of the Libertarian Movement is Bright

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

Last weekend, The Advocates participated in the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington DC with nearly 2,000 attendees from around the world.

Interacting with students from campus groups throughout the country, as well as those from abroad, gave us a glimpse at the future of the libertarian movement. WOW! It is encouraging to see the knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm from these students as they glowingly share libertarian thought and embrace libertarian philosophy.

Whether they heard from a North Korean dissident about her experiences and vision for a freer world in Yeonmi Park, a former governor known for his use of veto and line-item veto powers in Gary Johnson, or witnessed a debate about the cultural and political change liberty brings between Jack Hunter and Jeffrey Tucker, these students and alumni who love liberty joined together to share their experiences and learn about all the libertarian movement has to offer.

Brett with Vermin SupremeWe even visited with Vermin Supreme, whose documentary “Vote for Jesus” screened on Sunday morning, throughout the conference. He even dropped his satirical bid for the Oval Office as a Democrat to seek the Libertarian Party nomination, as he saw the welcoming community that libertarians represent.

All kidding aside, the students I met this weekend ARE the future of libertarianism, and I’m impressed by them. I honestly wish I’d had a similar outlet when I was on campus at the University of Georgia to better prepare me for what the future held.

We are happy to be working with student groups across the country to assist them in spreading the ideals of freedom and liberty by offering FREE Operation Politically Homeless kits to campus groups, working with them to hone their message as they provide “on the ground” outreach to their fellow students and to the people at large, and support their efforts to be exemplify libertarianism.

Energy, enthusiasm, professionalism, and knowledge make the future of our movement bright, and I’m glad we’re doing everything we can to support that.

Can you help?

Effective Outreach Is Practiced Outreach

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Effective Outreach Is Practiced Outreach

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

Recently, I’ve been asked to appear on a weekly(ish) podcast called We Are Libertarians on a rather regular basis.

We’ve discussed a variety of topics, including Making A Murderer, homeschooling, gun control, and the Paris attacks.

Late last summer, we also sat down to discuss effective outreach, and they were gracious enough to cut down a lengthy discussion to under an hour.

practiceI wish I’d brought this up for those who are new to libertarianism and unsure about outreach. No one is good the first time. No one is a natural talent. Like everything else, outreach takes practice.

For me, the key was finding someone that I thought does a great job communicating the ideas of liberty and picking their brain about their thought process.

Once I had a foundation for effective communication, most of which I based on Michael Cloud’s Libertarian Persuasion books (both available in the Advocates Online Store) and audio, I needed practice.

Trying different techniques, like The Magic “If” or Conversation Judo, as well as the Ransberger Pivot,  where you find common ground with the person you are trying to persuade, I found what worked for me.

Next, I needed to practice. While I didn’t hit the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell references in Outliers: The Story of Success, I practiced A LOT. Getting out there to discuss political issues is the best way to become better at doing so. I started with family and friends (the people I knew would love me no matter what), and found what worked and what didn’t.

As I noted here, I’ve personally given The World’s Smallest Political Quiz more than 3,500 times. That is A LOT of conversations with strangers about libertarian ideas.

Conversation #1 was probably not as effective as #3,498 or even #212.

The best part about each of those conversations?

I learned something to bring to a future discussion about libertarian philosophy.

Bottom Line: Find an effective communicator, find what works for you, and PRACTICE!

 

So, You Won This Week’s Powerball…

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So, You Won This Week’s Powerball…

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We all went to Chino Hills, California to purchase a Powerball ticket this week, right?

Powerball cartoonNow, it’s time to discuss the realities of having won. Assuming you chose the cash option, you’ll “earn” $930 million dollars. The IRS gets 25% off the top, before the money hits your hands, with another 14.6% due at tax time. Surprisingly, California has a personal income tax exemption for lottery winnings, stemming from a law passed in 1984.

How are you going to spend the remaining $561.72 million dollars?

Obviously, you’ll want to ensure that your family is comfortable for the rest of their lives. Let’s assume you also want to make a positive impact on the world around you. This is a path taken by many entrepreneurial philanthropists like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

Let’s say that you have $200 million dollars for your philanthropy. How can you make the best use of those dollars?

Option 1: Write a check $568.28 million ($200 million beyond your “tax liability”) already taken by the bureaucrats in Washington DC to add to the Treasury to be doled out as they see fit.

Option 2: Research to find 200 charities and organizations that have similar goals that will make $1 million go a long way toward their mission.

Option 2, right?

When discussing the coercion of government to have you spend money on things you may not want to fund, this is a great exercise with those skeptical of libertarian ideas. Almost EVERYONE picks Option 2, regardless of political affiliation.

That’s because the waste and inefficiency associated with government is known far and wide.

That knowledge is another opening to build rapport to share libertarian philosophy with those who already have some libertarian leanings without even realizing it.

You Might Be the First…

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You Might Be the First…

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

Recently, I attended an event with numerous political groups using that event to reach out to the community about their political party or movement.

While there, I witnessed some astonishing behavior posing as outreach, some of which I couldn’t believe. I offered some advice, though I’ll offer more here today.

firstThese days, my outreach activities are mostly internal, within the libertarian movement, though I do have significant experience “in the trenches.” Through that experience I took steps to learn how to improve the results, whether I was to persuading someone to re-examine their political home, convincing them to vote for my candidate, or introducing them to a new organization.

One of the best lessons I learned to improve my outreach was to constantly think to myself that “You might be the first libertarian this person has ever met.”

When you ARE that first libertarian contact, you are an ambassador to libertarianism.

You represent every libertarian in the movement at that point in time to that person. He or she will be left with a permanent impression, good or bad, about libertarians going forward.

First impressions matter.

If you leave a bad first impression, you’ve just made it that much harder for your fellow libertarians. They now have to overcome that negative impression to persuade that person to consider libertarian ideas. If you left a REALLY bad first impression, he or she might have told others about how terrible libertarians are.

Luckily, there are more libertarians today than ever. Since the Advocates’ founding in 1985, we’ve identified and recruited countless people to accept libertarian ideas, philosophy, and way of life. Even on college campuses, where freedom seems to be a dirty word, our partner organizations, Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty, have opened the door, as well as hearts and minds, to thousands that now yearn for a libertarian society.

Honestly, I hope that you are not the first libertarian contact. That is not because I think you will give a bad first impression. You’re clearly interested in being a better ambassador for libertarianism by keeping yourself informed about the libertarian movement and how you can be a better representative of the philosophy. I hope you are not the first libertarian contact because of the growth of the libertarian movement.

Whether or not you are the first, act like you are. I can guarantee the results are better when you do.

Are You Using Facebook to Advocate for Liberty?

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Are You Using Facebook to Advocate for Liberty?

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

This week, a friend of mine blocked and unfriended someone they’ve known for years after years of arguing over issues that do not directly affect either of them, but get them fired up. I understand wanting to rid one’s self of negativity and people who drive that stress level up, UP, UP!, but what is accomplished by walling yourself off from someone with whom you disagree?

FacebookWhen you post political, economic, and social commentary on Facebook, you invite your “circle,” and possibly strangers (if your posts are public), to comment, debate, and engage in that topic. For me, this is an OPPORTUNITY to share libertarian ideas and possibly persuade others to join us in the libertarian movement.

Have you ever changed your mind about an issue or stance you hold after a major Facebook argument that ends a friendship, even one solely on a social network?

Me neither.

My views have only been changed when presented with newly-available information or by better understanding a principle that I had not previously. None of those would be possible if we shut the door on someone who holds a different opinion.

As an administrator of Facebook pages in addition to a personal profile, I have had the opportunity to share content and engage with millions of people. In just the last seven days, our Facebook page reached 1.1 million users.

Would that be possible if we walled ourselves off from those who disagree on some tenets of libertarian philosophy?

We continue to grow and reach more people with the seeds of Liberty we plant with each post, comment, and share. We also provide fellow libertarians with quality content to share with their networks to begin conversations about libertarian philosophy.

Will you do the same?

Happy Facebooking for Liberty!

The Original Internet Political Quiz Gets a New Home

in News From the Advocates for Self-Government by Advocates HQ Comments are off

The Advocates for Self-Government is pleased to launch its revamped website as a new hub for all libertarian activists and for anyone who would like to learn more about libertarianism.

The libertarian non-profit that created the world-famous World’s Smallest Political Quiz is launching www.TheAdvocates.org as a center for numerous new resources, including “Libertarian Answers,” a searchable database of carefully-crafted responses to questions libertarians face day-to-day; tools, tips and techniques for successful outreach; links to liberty movement organizations; and more.

The new website has been designed to help both experienced and new activists share the libertarian philosophy with friends, family and peers.

The centerpiece of the site will be the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, which is taken several thousand times per day and has so far been taken almost 20 million times online. The renowned Quiz has been featured in numerous books and newspapers, and it is used by educators in high school and college classrooms. It is also currently being used by students in hundreds of college libertarian organizations to help their fellow students better understand the American political spectrum.

The World’s Smallest Political Quiz is often a person’s introduction to libertarianism and to how libertarians differ from liberals and conservatives. The Quiz is based on the Nolan Chart, which measures political preferences on two axes — economic issues and personal issues. This new political map more accurately reflects the diversity of U.S. political views than does the older but inadequate left-right line.

“The Quiz makes it possible for people to quickly and easily discover where they truly fit in the world of politics,” said Sharon Harris, President of the Advocates for Self-Government. “Our new website will also showcase the many Advocates programs that teach libertarians how to successfully communicate the ideas of liberty.”

Rupert Boneham, star of the popular TV show “Survivor” and 2012 Indiana gubernatorial candidate, said the Quiz first introduced him to the political philosophy which best fits his beliefs and values.

“I am a proud libertarian. It took most of my life to figure out that I had been living and teaching the libertarian philosophy for years,” Boneham said. “It was when I first took the World’s Smallest Political Quiz that I discovered there was a political party and philosophy that I truly aligned with.”

The Advocates for Self-Government is a nonprofit libertarian educational organization that has been working for the libertarian ideals of individual liberty, free markets, and peace since 1985.