libertarian solution

Home » libertarian solution

Learn More

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

Learn More

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

As 2016 comes to a close, we’re looking at what our New Year’s Resolutions are going to be for 2017 and beyond.

I’d like to offer something to you that may make you a better communicator of libertarian ideas and someone who better understands the ideas of liberty, and that is to learn more. Make an effort to educate yourself as you work to persuade others. You can do that in three ways:

  1. Read more. Did you know that the average book length is 12-20 chapters, and if you read just ten minutes a day, you would end up reading about a book per month? That would mean reading twelve new books a year that you’ve never even cracked? Wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to learn more about the ideas of libertarianism and how to communicate them?
  2. Listen more. The average podcast length is 40 minutes. The average American commute time is about 25 minutes each way. That means you could listen to one podcast episode per day on your way to and from work.
  3. Watch more. Incorporate more documentaries, documentary series, and other non-fiction works into what you’re watching. Just replace a sitcom with something that offers you an opportunity to learn, rather than letting television rot your brain.

More important than the option(s) you choose is to seek out things that offer a different perspective. If you read, listen, and watch things that are different from what you already believe, you’re going to gain a better understanding of how other people think, and how they’ve reached the conclusions and opinions that they hold. Knowing their positions and how they came to them is going to make you a better communicator in how you talk with them about why the libertarian solution is the best.

These are a few things I hope that you consider as we move into 2017. Maybe adopt one for 2017, one for 2018, and one for 2019 to truly make yourself a more learned, well-listened, well-read, knowledgeable libertarian?

What Do Libertarians Stand For?

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

What Do Libertarians Stand For?

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

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

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

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

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

Three ways:

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

 

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

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

Tell More Stories

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

Tell More Stories

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

As we lead by example, we continue to demonstrate the principles we espouse.

By showing before we tell, we add credibility to our words.

When we listen, we understand the issues and outcomes important to those with whom we speak.

Now that we’ve demonstrated our principles, made ourselves credible, and understand the issues and outcomes, we can talk about our love of liberty.

It is very easy to jump to facts, figures, and studies to make the case for libertarianism. Reason, logic, and a philosophical principles are what likely grabbed our attention, but they are not particularly persuasive to those who are not yet libertarian in their thinking. So, how can we reach them?

telling storiesA very effective way to convey your message persuasively is to tell a story that offers a libertarian solution in action.

Telling stories helps connect the listener to details, important points, and outcomes that are not found in citing statistics and studies.

Think about the last time you went to an event where there was an in-depth Powerpoint presentation with lots of slides, filled with statistics, facts, and figures. You likely took copious notes to keep up with every last shred of data.

When you left the presentation, how much did you retain without those notes? And six months later? A year later? A decade later?

Very few adults are blessed with an eidetic memory, like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, so recalling these details does not come naturally.

What’s something we all remember?

The stories we learned at a young age. Fables from Aesop, movies by Disney, and silly rhyming books by Dr. Seuss. Why do we remember, sometimes in amazing detail, we heard, read, or watched last twenty, thirty, forty or more years ago?

When did you last read or hear the story, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” one of Aesop’s fables?

If asked for a synopsis, we could easily give an accurate retelling of how the hare was beyond confident in his abilities to defeat the tortoise in a foot race. He was so confident that he sped off to an early lead and took a nap. When he awoke and hopped to the finish line, he found that the tortoise had beaten him by staying the course.

The lesson that we can all recite in unison? “Slow and steady wins the race.”

It’s probably been twenty years or more since I’ve heard that fable, but I remember what occurred due to the structure of the plot, characters, climax, and resolution involved in storytelling.

Twenty years ago, I would likely have been sitting in Chemistry class, but I don’t know that I could tell you what Avogadro’s number is or why it’s important, despite its repeated use.

If you’re interested in the science behind why storytelling is effective, here is an article about how stories activate our brains.

So, how many stories are you going to have in your repertoire?

We’ve Got to DO SOMETHING!

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

We’ve Got to DO SOMETHING!

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

It’s almost formulaic at this point.

DO SOMETHINGSomething tragic or disastrous occurs, emotions run high, policymakers see an opportunity to raise their profile, and BOOM! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!

As libertarians, we are slow to embrace the populist messaging in the wake of a disaster or tragedy. Statistically, these events have a occurrence frequency near zero. With natural disasters like hurricanes, there is even be a significant warning ahead of the disaster. Yet the call for action, to DO SOMETHING, to do ANYTHING grows louder with occurrence.

Libertarians tend to examine potential outcomes rather than the intent of an action. With the initial “feel good” sentiment, an idea floated to address the recent tragedy or disaster gains traction among the masses, despite no real evidence of need or effectiveness.

So, how do we combat the desire to DO SOMETHING?

What I do:

  1. Keep calm. In my experience, the worst time to act is in an immediate response to something that does not pose an immediate threat. By calmly and rationally examining a situation, its effects, the likely consequences (intended and unintended) of proposals, and the actual outcomes of similar actions elsewhere and in other facets of humanity. Usually, cooler heads prevail, so it’s in our best interest to remain the coolest and calmest in a discussion.
  2. Focus on the facts. Despite the efforts of others to make an issue or proposed action emotional, keep your focus on the rarity of the situation, the likely consequences of a proposed solution, and that laws and ordinances only affect the rational and law-abiding. 
  3. Listen to the concerns of others. If you aren’t listening, how can you really address the concerns of those interested in the topic?
  4. Talk WITH others. This is a accompaniment to #3, as we are often quick to give our ideas without having an actual discussion to reach consensus.
  5. Have a solution. In last week’s column, I pointed to the importance of having a solution. In short, I discussed how having a solution or alternative will remind others that your continued inclusion in the conversation is vital to solving the issue at hand. You don’t need an immediate reaction to solve a problem. In fact, patience and focusing on root causes will earn your seat at the table. One key here is to keep your comments within the Overton Window for the issue at hand.

So, when those who are motivated for someone to DO SOMETHING, you have a few things to help you mitigate that emotional response to drive the conversation toward your libertarian solution.

What’s Your Solution?

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

What’s Your Solution?

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

As libertarians, it’s pretty easy to point out the flaws and holes in solutions pitched to address the issues we face. It’s also very easy to just say no to everything, because the answer doesn’t pass muster with a libertarian worldview.

The hard part, yet the one that helps you be taken seriously as a part of the conversation, is to have your solution, a libertarian solution, ready to share when you oppose the option(s) presented.

solutionIn my experience, we are quick to oppose a politician’s proposal because it increases spending and/or taxes. Or we see that it isn’t authorized by the Constitution. Or we have examined the likely outcomes, and find fault with those outcomes.

Even in cases of strict opposition, like a new tax, build a case to present about why the proposal is bad and offer a libertarian solution to reduce or eliminate the perceived need for increased spending.

When I worked against the continuation of a sales tax, our “Ax the Tax!” campaign focused on the wasteful spending that accompanied the tax.

We pointed out:

  • that additional spending on new capital projects increased the liability for future budgets for operations and maintenance of those projects, likely leading to future tax increases.
  • the projects were wasteful and unnecessary, designed to get the support of small constituencies to support the “whole pie” in order to get their “piece.”
  • several projects duplicated and directly competed with existing private sector businesses or replaced something that failed in the eyes of the market.
  • the regular budgeting process planned for the tax’s continuation to make the spending appear necessary. In this case, road “improvements” (paving and intersection changes) were 98% dependent on the continuation of the sales tax.

We were also involved early in the process, showing up to events and meetings to discuss why the ideas proposed were not acceptable. By being involved early, we won a small victory by reducing the size (and cost) of the proposed project list by a third before it was even presented to voters for the referendum. By showing these faults and offering that there were ways to address them all without the tax, we nearly defeated it, despite being outspent 100:1.

We built a coalition of like-minded and some unlikely allies, and our unified messaging that addressed our solutions received MULTIPLE positive news stories about our opposition to spending $600 million in taxpayer money.

Regardless of why you oppose a proposal, no ready solution negates your inclusion in the conversation, which limits your exposure outside your immediate allies. Those allies already have your support, so you end up “preaching to the choir” rather than getting more people on your side.

Libertarians cannot always be a force of opposition. Inclusion in the discussion gives us a way to share a libertarian solution and offer some common sense guidance to the outcome.

Most Effective Outreach? Lead By Example

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

Most Effective Outreach? Lead By Example

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

I’m often asked what I find to be the most effective ways to share libertarian ideas.

My answer? Lead by example.

Don’t worry about word choice, which book to recommend, or how you will answer a tough question. Start by being a shining example of what a libertarian is.

lead by exampleWhen you live your life in a way that exemplifies your beliefs, your actions display to others what you believe. This means getting involved in your community, volunteering for charity activities, and networking. What does it say to you when someone constantly talks about gardening should be, but you never see their tomatoes or roses? Is your mind questioning those supposed skills? The same goes for libertarian ideas. If you talk ALL DAY LONG about the wonders of free markets, voluntary cooperation, and how private charity outperforms government welfare programs in every way, but if no one sees you “gardening,” how much weight do your words carry?

Finding activities like maintaining a notoriously littered part of your community, starting a neighborhood tool library, or keeping the lawn trimmed of an infirm, elderly neighbor, are ways to show how individuals can make a difference in the community. As you perform these tasks, you inspire others to join you or to also do something that will also benefit those around you without looking to the government to pay someone to pick up litter or to send scary notices to your neighbor when their grass exceeds the mandated height for the city or county. Additionally, you will become known for your efforts to improve the quality of life in your community, which opens the door for others to seek you out.

Now that your neighbors seek you out, you have an amazing opportunity. You will get to hear about their concerns and the issues that are important to them. The key to this activity is NOT to talk, but to LISTEN. The most important to be done is to hear what they have to say, letting them lead the conversation. This will help you to build rapport by finding common ground with which you begin to converse.

Because libertarianism is such a broad philosophy, you will likely find that you have similar concerns and desire the same outcomes, but the person to whom you are speaking may not be considering how libertarian principles and ideals could solve a problem. THIS is your opportunity to speak.

You listened, identified a problem, heard their desired outcome. Now, you can effectively offer a libertarian solution. Whether it is helping the homeless via shelters, soup kitchens, and health and employment services in the community or offering answers to the area’s poor education results by NOT relying on a government “solution,” you have credibility because you took it upon yourself to address a tangible issue that others noticed.

As you converse about the issue you both identified as an issue in need of a solution, keep the conversation in a friendly tone, using everyday language. The use of unnecessarily scholarly verbiage or political jargon and buzzwords may turn off your new friend. This is just a conversation between two people about everyday issues, not a debate. As tempting as it is, there is no “win” in making him or her feel like your intellectual inferior.

We libertarians are a diverse lot, and not everyone can bring new people around to the ideas and principles of libertarian philosophy, and that is OK.

By being a great example of libertarianism, you can be active and bring more people into the movement, but if you are uncomfortable with the whole “walk the walk” concept, please find another way you can help the libertarian movement. There are candidates, campaigns, and organizations who need your assistance in other ways. It may be that your lifestyle allows you to finance activities, your skills can bring a professional website to them, or your “best fit” is to be someone who can distribute hundreds of flyers that affect an electoral outcome. The key is to find and do what you do well.