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If not you, who? If not now, when?

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

If not you, who? If not now, when?

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

QUESTION: Sometimes when I criticize government, I am told that if I don’t like it here, I should go somewhere else. Essentially, the old “love it or leave it” line. What’s a good response?

QuestionMY SHORT ANSWER: One response I use goes like this:

“I love my country and its heritage of liberty. When I see it going astray, I want to help it get back on track.

“Our government once endorsed slavery. Where would we be today if the abolitionists had left, instead of helping our nation extend its heritage of liberty to slaves?

“When our government makes a mistake, it’s up to us to correct it. If not us, who?”

Self-Government Goes To Those Who Show Up

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

Self-Government Goes To Those Who Show Up

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

As libertarians, we understand that personal responsibility is the price we are to pay for individual liberty.

Show UpWe discuss it at length when persuading others about how liberty works. We talk about how we (yes, you and I) will be responsible for one another in the absence of government programs that currently attempt to act as a safety net. We offer examples of our charity and entrepreneurship to prove that our fellow man will not go hungry, sleep in the streets, or be unable to read and write.

We know that our ideas and principles are the right ones to lead to a prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious society, so why aren’t we there yet?

Because, like those we’re trying to persuade, we’ve outsourced responsibility. Except that we have not outsourced responsibility to government. We’ve outsourced our responsibility to other libertarians.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian candidates for office, their staff and volunteers, thinking that it’s their “turn” to spread the message, not ours.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian think tanks, who work to deliver quality research, and statistics, and facts necessary to equip us with the right information.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian activists, as they wave signs, work outreach booths, and persuade their friends, family, and neighbors about the beauty of a free society.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian entrepreneurs, toiling to create the next Uber, AirBnB, or PayPal.

The price of personal responsibility is set, it’s non-negotiable, and it’s due every day. That price is showing up. Whether it is supporting candidates for office, sharing the mountains of data offered by our friends in think tanks and organizations in the libertarian sphere, attending an event, or using the goods and services that meet our needs, we need to pay the price daily.

If we don’t pay it, we fall behind. When we fall behind, we have to pay even more to catch up. Authoritarians count on us missing a payment, because they have their solution ready to go. They have the latest cure for society’s ills, and that intervention is government.

We ALL have busy lives, families, and hobbies calling for our time, attention, and effort, but we have to take responsibility for what we want in our lives. Much like the authoritarian way of outsourcing responsibility to government, we’ve outsourced it to other libertarians with the hope that their efforts will make up for a lack of them on our part.

Accept the call and take responsibility for a free society. You can’t wait for someone else to give you the freedom you deserve. You have to stop outsourcing responsibility and show yourself and others that we can do it.

If you aren’t going to show up to stake a claim for your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, who will?

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

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

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

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

When it comes to elections, many voters focus on electing a “good king,” someone who would implement their worldview on others, even if that worldview is TERRIBLE for liberty. If you find yourself talking with one of those voters about libertarianism, your efforts to persuade may be more effective by asking them this question before you get into the politics or philosophy of libertarian thought, “Who can you absolutely NOT trust?”

The answer you receive does not matter, but you should definitely take note, as it will guide the rest of your interaction with them.

trustMost often, you will hear a prominent national name mentioned like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi. These are easy targets, and most people keep their minds on the national political news.

Regardless of who they name and the issues they champion, your response should remain the same.

Once you know their top issues, you can begin to ask questions about those issues being manipulated by the person they trust least. Questions like “How would you feel about giving authority over you to [insert their untrustworthy person's name here] on the Second Amendment?” or “If [insert their untrustworthy person's name here] were in charge of who receives welfare and who doesn’t, how would you feel about that program?”

They will be taken aback by this, because they’ve not considered this before.

Then, you can begin a discussion about how when you empower the “good guy” to enact a policy that you also empower the “bad guy” to use that authority. We’re seeing this unfold right now as Congress decides on gender equality when it comes to the draft. As it stands today, the federal government requires young men aged 18-25 to register with the Selective Service. Last week, the Senate voted for equal treatment to force young women to also register for the draft precursor. There were two outcomes that would lead to equal treatment under the law here:

  1. What happened in the US Senate.
  2. That we realize that you don’t actually own yourself if the law compels you to potentially serve in the military against your wishes. This realization would have ended the Selective Service registration for men, providing the same equality, yet with a better self-ownership outcome.


Keep in mind that you don’t need to focus on their issue so much as the idea that once you give power to one, you give that same power to all that come after, and the best solution is to govern one’s self, rather than give away that power.

What House of Cards Gets (Very) Wrong

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

What House of Cards Gets (Very) Wrong

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

Sandy Ikeda, a professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism, wrote about why everyone’s favorite TV show is wrong on its portrayal of an economic crisis. In his article for the Foundation for Economic Education, Ikeda argues that, while House of Cards is a major hit among political animals, whether they are progressive, conservative, or libertarian, its portrayal of welfare policies and shortages is extremely unrealistically.

Gas CrisisIn the third season of House of Cards, ficticious president Frank Underwood proposed a major policy program known as “America Works,” a policy that intended to “create” millions of jobs. Despite the superhuman goals tied to the policy, the real-world consequences of such endeavor were never even questioned, leaving a lot to the imagination.

But as Americans binge-watch season four, Ikeda points out to another faulty portrayal of public policy and its consequences. This time around, the show’s writers failed to grasp what a gas crisis actually looks like.

During the fourth season, the show introduces the audience to Underwood’s America, where an ongoing oil crisis threatens Underwood’s popularity among voters. The audience is told to believe that gas prices have soared, nearing the $7 a gallon mark. Yet any “astute first-year econ student” will tell you that this is very unlikely, at least in a country in which price controls haven’t been enacted—yet.

According to Ikeda, if buyers and sellers are free to adjust prices, gas stations all selling gas for $7 a gallon is a fabrication. “In the absence of price controls,” Ikeda writes, “the quantity demanded and supplied will tend to be equal.” That means that markets won’t have any unexpected inventory accumulation, since most of the oil will be sold, but it will also suffer no shortages, since consumers who are scared by the high prices will simply walk away, empty-handed.

To Ikeda, the scenes depicting long lines of angry drivers waiting at gas stations while these same stations are shown running out of gas are completely unlikely to occur in a real world scenario.

Ikeda adds that, the only thing that could actually cause America to experience something similar is the implementation of a price ceiling, making it illegal for gas stations to sell gas above a certain price.

In the 1970s, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) flexed their monopolistic muscle by pushing oil prices up dramatically. The long lines and rationing in America that followed OPEC’s actions weren’t caused by the artificial price increase. Instead, price control policies that affected gasoline and diesel fuel prices led to the consequences often tied to what we now call the “oil crisis.” Many ignore the fact that President Richard Nixon had imposed wage and price controls on the American economy prior to the incident, and what followed was chronic shortage everywhere, not only at the pump.

While Underwood’s line about the government having “all the men with guns” may be of great inspiration to liberty advocates everywhere, the show’s ignorant remarks on economics may disappoint some viewers.

Why didn’t Netflix use an economic consultant?

Make America Kind Again

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

Make America Kind Again

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

We’ve all seen the slogan by a certain Presidential candidate, telling us that voting for him will make America great again.

I’m not particularly interested in the America he’s described in debates, rallies, and in the media.

Make America Kind AgainI’m more interested in being kind to others. I’m more interested in others being kind in turn. I’m most interested in the proliferation of kindness.

What if we were more friendly, generous, and considerate? Would we find ourselves to be easily achieving the libertarian ideals of peace, prosperity, and harmony?

More importantly, would we be happier? Thomas Jefferson recognized that we have “certain unalienable Rights,” Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Wouldn’t we be the ones to set the example?

To continue interacting, whether in the marketplace or in personal relationships, all parties would have to benefit from that interaction. Peaceful, voluntary interactions enshrined in libertarian philosophy go hand in hand with being kind. After all, who wants to deal with someone who isn’t?

How likely would you be to continue to patron a business where everyone was unpleasant or unkind? Would you willingly submit to being treated in an unfriendly, stingy, or inconsiderate manner?

Think about who needs force and protection to stick around. It’s the business that can’t earn your patronage without regulations or protection of their monopoly. How do you think Comcast is still around?

Would those who sought to segregate people by ethnicity fifty years ago or more have been able to do so without the government enforcing Jim Crow laws?

Let’s take this moment in time to pair our libertarian activism, outreach, and persuasion with being kind and see where that takes us. We will certainly set ourselves apart from those wishing to use force to proliferate their ideas, and we’ll have more pleasant conversations and relationships as we do it.

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing, so sprinkle it everywhere.

Helping Others See Your Vision of Liberty

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, One Minute Liberty Tip, Philosophy by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Helping Others See Your Vision of Liberty

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

Most of us were brought up to accept the need for government control of almost everything. And that idea is reinforced every day by journalists, educators and politicians.

SunriseHow, then, do we persuade people to open their minds enough to explore our vision of liberty?

One way is to share something like the following. It starts with a bold idea, elaborates on that idea with familiar examples everyone agrees with, and then invites your listeners to consider expanding the principle to issues they haven’t yet considered.

The history of the progress of the human race is largely the history of removing government control of our personal and economic lives.

When we separated church and state, both institutions became far more humane, and life became happier, safer, more peaceful.

When we lessened government control over the economy and began to embrace the ideas of economic freedom, the result was an incredible and unprecedented rise in living standards and a cornucopia of innovative new products and services.

When we ended the terrible experiment of alcohol Prohibition we ended the crime, the loss of civil liberties, and the terrible health threats that were created by that misguided policy.

When we ended literary and artistic censorship in America we saw a new flourishing of the arts.

Freeing a big chunk of telecommunications from government control led us in a few short years from a world where almost no one owned portable phones to today, when even children carry phones that can take photos and post them online, shoot and edit movies, play (and even record and mix) music, send texts — and even, when necessary, make phone calls.

The same principle holds true for innumerable smaller, more mundane but important services as well. To take just one example, replacing government-monopoly garbage pick-up with competition has resulted in huge savings and better service for millions of Americans.

Over and over again, allowing more personal and economic liberty by ending government control in a particular area of human endeavor has brought us new, wonderful harmony and abundance.

History shows us that liberty works, and the more liberty we have, the better off we will be. On every issue, big or small. Every time.

Hope Is Not Lost

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

Hope Is Not Lost

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

The most liberty-minded candidate for President from the old parties, Rand Paul, may have suspended his campaign, yet all hope is not lost.

The likely nominees on both sides of the authoritarian coin become clearer by the contest, but there are still some torchbearers keeping Liberty at the forefront.

Third parties who don’t participate in the primary process will be nominating their candidates for the office in the coming months, but the most exciting prospect comes from a recent Gallup poll. That poll suggests that libertarians currently make up the largest single faction in the American electorate, compared to conservatives, liberals, and populists.

Quiz resultsThe Gallup results aren’t that different from the data we see in the results of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

While candidates like Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Virgil Goode, and Rocky Anderson didn’t cause any major upsets in 2012, their efforts pushed the non-Democrat/non-Republican vote totals higher. They grew their respective parties’ vote totals and bases of support.

Outside of electoral politics, we are seeing free market solutions that disrupt stagnant industries like ride-sharing has with transportation, in-home hosting has with travel accommodations, and crypto-currency has with the monetary system.

On top of the free market innovations, we see great things happening with the Free State Project, who just “triggered the move” with the 20,000 signers of their Statement of Intent. Later this month, I’ll be speaking in the Live Free or Die state at The New Hampshire Liberty Forum. I’m excited about their recent milestone, and I look forward to what they accomplish with their new Free Staters.

Also this month is the International Students for Liberty Conference, who hosted 1600 students from around the globe last year. We’ll have a booth there for any readers who would like to stop by.

Even in the political sphere, we’ll still have Reps. Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Tom McClintock, as well as Sen. Rand Paul, who look to have a fairly easy path to re-election in Congress, so things in Washington DC aren’t likely to get worse than they currently stand.

Looking In the Mirror

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

Looking In the Mirror

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

Nearly every government official or candidate for office has a governmental solution for issues we face, regardless of the nature of that issue.

Poverty? Let’s adjust the minimum wage.

Education? Let’s tweak this or implement that new and shiny idea in government schools.

Jobs? We need the government efforts to lure businesses to a certain area with special favors.

What these “solutions” fail to address is the largest problem, the government itself. They seek to reform a reform of a reform that needed to change.

We’re told that these solutions are “outside the box” thinking, yet they simply make a small adjustment thought to “fix” the problem they’ve now uncovered.

looking in the mirrorLet’s think “outside the box” for just minute here…

What if we looked in the mirror for a moment and asked, “How can I solve this? Who would I ask for advice about [X]?” without the baggage of what currently exists and the bias toward the status quo? Obviously, our varied expertise and experience, as well as our areas of passion will drive our focus to the areas of greatest interest.

Would you want a brickmason determining healthcare policy? What does a realtor know about which math curriculum works best for students on the autism spectrum? How can a single person be enough of an expert in all that government involves themselves in to accurately determine the best outcomes in each and every case? What we see occur is that an agenda drives the decision-making to a “one size fits all” solution for over 300 million Americans.

What if we decided not to outsource all of this to a few people with a vested interest in keeping things as they are. After all, if they solved the problems we face, why would we need them? Further, if they had the solutions, wouldn’t they have already fixed everything?

What does this have to with liberty? If we took it upon ourselves to examine these issues and used our tendency to consider outcomes rather than intent and to seek out experts for their perspective, we can offer some pretty solid solutions that lean toward liberty and away from Big Government’s further growth.

Real solutions begin with us.

 

Run This Up the Flagpole…

in Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Run This Up the Flagpole…

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

I have always loved the Gadsden Flag – the bold yellow banner featuring a rattlesnake and the defiant words “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Gadsen Flag

One of the first flags of the United States, it was designed by American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden in 1775 and was a renowned war flag during the American Revolution.

Because of its history, it connotes a deep patriotism. And “Don’t Tread on Me” powerfully conveys the fundamental libertarian message of nonaggression.

The Gadsden Flag truly is a classic symbol. But lately, I’ve come to much prefer a new evolution of this famous flag.

While “Don’t Tread on Me” is a great notion, it has a defensiveness and war-like nature (appropriately, since after all, it was originally a war flag). And to many viewers, it only speaks for the person carrying it: “Don’t tread on ME.” Do what you want, but don’t bother ME. This unfortunately can reinforce the false negative stereotype often used against libertarians: that libertarians are selfish, don’t care about others, etc.

Also, in recent years, the Gadsden flag has come to stand for political movements that don’t represent the kind of peaceful non-aggression and tolerance that libertarians stand for.

The main thing that makes libertarianism different from any other political philosophy is the fact that everything we advocate applies to EVERYONE. We want individual liberty – not just for ourselves, but for everyone. The Nonaggression Principle applies to all human beings – not just libertarians, not just Americans. Everyone.

That’s why I’ve fallen in love with the newer expression: “Don’t tread on ANYONE.” It looks great on the Gadsden Flag!

Porcupine

And it is especially powerful when the Gadsden Flag’s snake is replaced by a porcupine, as some clever libertarians have done. The porcupine is certainly very well equipped to defend itself, yet it does not aggress against other animals. (And besides, it’s cute!)

Another bonus: Turning an icon on its head, as this new meme does, creates an element of surprise. It makes people stop and think. It gives them an “ah-ha!” experience. As Chip and Dan Heath point out in their landmark book “Made to Stick,” ideas that are “sticky” (ideas that last, go viral, etc.) have some things in common, and one of those things is that those ideas are “unexpected, counter-intuitive, with surprise implications.”

(And hey, what’s more “sticky” than a porcupine?)

You can find variations of this new icon on T-shirts, bumper stickers, flags, and more online.

I hope more and more libertarians will begin to use this new reworking of a classic American symbol of independence. What a great way to present our glorious philosophy of liberty, peace, harmony, and goodwill toward ALL!

Where Do Our Rights Come From?

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by The Libertarian Homeschooler Comments are off

Where Do Our Rights Come From?

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

Me: What would you say to someone who said rights come from the government?

Young Statesman (then 13): Well, it seems like we get our rights from government, and I think that’s a common misconception.

The Young Statesman Contemplates RightsMe: Why is that?

YS: Because the government is charged with protecting our rights. That’s their job. I think that’s why people get confused.

Me: So how would you explain to someone what rights are and where they come from?

YS: I would explain that there are positive rights and negative rights. Negative rights are a duty to refrain from encroaching on the life, liberty, or property of another.

Me: Is that why they’re called negative rights?

YS: Yes. They’re negative because they’re saying what you can’t do. Negative rights are natural to every person. We have these rights just because we are people. We don’t have to enter into contract for these rights.

Me: So what another person has the right to expect you won’t do?

YS: Yes. So I have the right to expect that I won’t be killed, enslaved, or robbed. Life, liberty, and property. Positive rights are different. Positive rights say you have a duty to provide someone with something.

Me: How do you come about having a positive right?

YS: If a negative right was infringed upon, you have a positive right to restitution. You can also contract for positive rights

Me: Can you take away a peaceful person’s negative rights?

YS: No. If your negative rights haven’t been infringed upon and if you have no voluntary contract, then you have no positive right to a good service or anything like that.

Me: So what if I were to say that what you say about rights makes sense, but I still think rights come from the government?

YS: A legitimate government is just a group of people who have voluntarily gotten together to protect their rights. The rights that existed before the government came into being.

Me: Is there any great difference between a legitimate government and a voluntary mutual aid society that agrees to help one another protect their property?

YS: No. A legitimate government upholds people’s property rights and is voluntary. It doesn’t have a band of enforcers to force you the be part of their system. That violates the rights it claims to protect. If the government violates the rights it claims to defend it’s not legitimate. I should be able to say that I do not want their services. If you aren’t able to opt out, what are you? Do you have your liberty? Slaves aren’t able to opt out, are they? We just have a slightly bigger pen.

You Can’t Force a Person to Learn Something

in Conversations With My Boys, Education, Liberator Online by The Libertarian Homeschooler Comments are off

You Can’t Force a Person to Learn Something

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

Me: Can I force you to learn something?
The Young Statesman (then 12): No. You can not.
Me: So, if I sat you down and did chemistry lessons with you and threatened to….
You can't force someone to learnYS: Take something away?
Me: Yes. Take something away. If I threaten to take something away if you don’t do well on a chemistry test I give you will that make you learn it?
YS: I’ll learn it, I’ll spit it out, and then I’ll forget it.
Me: Isn’t that learning?
YS: No. That isn’t learning. That’s wasting time.
Me: What if I gave you an incentive to do well on a chemistry test. Will that make you learn it?
YS: If I don’t want to learn it, I won’t learn it. I’ll just memorize it, spit it back out at you, and forget it.
Me: What about subjects that are important?
YS: Important to whom?
Me: To many adults.
YS: Does that mean it’s important to me? If I don’t want to learn it, I will not learn it.
Me: Some people say if you don’t learn a thing when you’re young then that field will be closed to you when you’re older.
YS: Like what?
Me: We could say science. If you aren’t exposed to science when you’re young….
YS: You won’t be exposed to it again? You weren’t exposed to libertarian thought and Austrian economics when you were young and look at you. You’re running a page with over 25 thousand likes.
Me: What you’re saying is that I’m teaching people about liberty and Austrian economics and I wasn’t exposed to it as a child.
YS: Right. You were never exposed to that when you were little. Just because you weren’t exposed to it then doesn’t mean you won’t be great at it later.
Me: You’ve watched me teach myself, haven’t you?
YS: I have. I’ve watched you teach yourself a lot. I’ve watched you teach other people, too.
Me: You’ve watched me tutor. You’ve been in the room with me when I’ve tutored. What have you learned by watching students struggle with subjects they’ve been told are “important” but aren’t aren’t important to them?
YS: They want to make their teachers happy but the subjects aren’t important to them so they aren’t going to excel. Daisy was an artist. They were trying to cram all sorts of other stuff into her.
Me: What did that do to her?
YS: You had to re-school her.
Me: What do you think was the most important thing for her?
YS: Art. She was a wonderful artist. You let her focus on that.
Me: Someone had told her it was more important that she be a mediocre, miserable student than a fantastic artist. One would have to be blind to miss that she was an artist.
YS: She was told doing what she was good at wasn’t as important as what the teachers thought was important.
Me: And what did the teachers think was important?
YS: Everyone being the same was important. Following the curriculum was important. Art wasn’t important.
Me: It’s like a factory isn’t it? It makes one product.
YS: No variations. All the same thing.
Me: Does that work with people? Who does it reward?
YS: The state gets a nice new batch of uniform people.
Me: What happens to people like Daisy who are brilliant in something the school doesn’t value?
YS: Their talent gets squashed. I’ve noticed that you tutor the brilliant people. It’s the creative people who don’t do well in the school system.
Me: I would say that every child I’ve tutored had a burning passion that was being neglected or misdirected or devalued. I don’t think there’s one child I’ve worked with who wasn’t obviously being sold short. Can you imagine being a fantastic artist and having to sit in classes that bored you, that you weren’t interested in, that you actively hated and that you were failing every day of your life?
YS: I can not imagine how bad that would be. That would basically be the first eighteen years of your life thrown away.
Me: It would be worse than wasting it. It would be eighteen years of being told that you weren’t good enough. It would be a daily attack. We were talking about whether or not you can force a person to learn something.
YS: You can’t force a person to learn something.
Me: I was required to teach Daisy certain subjects. Do you think they stuck?
YS: No. She probably forgot them. It was probably a big waste of her time and your time.
Me: What do you think she remembered?
YS: That you let her do what she loved to do. That you understood what her talent was.
Me: I wish we had spent more time on art with her.
YS: She was a lot happier here than in school.

What’s Your Number?

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

What’s Your Number?

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

3,500

That’s my number.

I’ve administered The World’s Smallest Political Quiz 3,500 times. This week, I crossed that threshold with a research project I’m in the midst of.

Quiz TIP CardThat figure doesn’t count the number of times I’ve left our “TIP Card” along with my business card to a server at lunch or dinner.My number above just counts the interactions I’ve had with people at county fairs, gun shows, on campus, for research, and as part of conversations with friends, new and old. That is a lot of conversations about liberty and libertarianism.Before I joined the Advocates, I was already passionate about liberty and the libertarian movement. Now, I get to turn up the gas on that flame for liberty.So, back to my original question, how many times have you given The World’s Smallest Political Quiz? What were the outcomes of the conversations that the Quiz broke the ice for? Did you find an existing libertarian? Did you discover a NEW libertarian?

I want to hear from you about your successes. I also want to hear from you about your challenges.

Have you found that your outreach was more successful the more outgoing and gregarious the Quiz-giver shows themselves to be? I know that I have.

Recently, I visited an outreach booth of a local libertarian organization that I knew would be administering the Quiz, and I gave them some tips that tripled the number of people who took the Quiz over the prior year. They also saw a tremendous amount of activity under the tent, as passersby took an interest in libertarian philosophy.

What did we do to make such a big difference?

We re-arranged the “standard” booth layout, by putting the table at the BACK of the booth. This put all of the volunteers IN FRONT of the table, removing the barrier between those volunteers and the festival goers. Moving the table to the back of the booth also made it almost impossible to sit down, so the volunteers were on their feet with a lot more energy, and that energy spilled over into their conversations.

What better way to start a conversation about liberty than filled with energy?

What about you?

What tips do you have for tabling or outreach that you’d like to share? I may feature them here in a future issue or on social media as a tip for our supporters who are passionate to dispel the Left-Right political myth.

Who’s ready to get an Operation Politically Homeless kit to begin a conversation about our burning passion for a more libertarian society and way of life?

If you already have one, try something new with how you present your tabling/outreach effort and share your successes.

I love it when liberty wins the day, so let’s share what we’re doing to talk about libertarianism in a positive and effective way.

Are You Using Facebook to Advocate for Liberty?

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

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!

Spotlight the EXCITEMENT of Liberty!

in Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Michael, most people aren’t very interested in liberty,” a 10-year libertarian told me.Spotlight

“Really?” I asked. “Would you like to find out why?”

“Yes,” he said.

“What are 3 fascinating things about freedom?” I asked.

“Well, there are lots of interesting things,” he said.

“Could you give me 3 exciting examples?” I asked.

He hemmed and hawed. But he couldn’t come up with even 3 “Wow!!!” things that liberty gives us.

Why? Because he’d never asked himself questions like these:

* “What are 3 or 4 or 5 huge, immediate, direct benefits that liberty would give us in this area?”

* “What are 2 or 4 exciting things that will happen when we abolish the federal income tax — and return every dollar every year to the men and women it was taken from?”

* “What are 3 or 5 terrific things that will happen when we end the War on Drugs and free every peaceful drug offender in prison?”

* “What are a few of the most thrilling things about giving people dramatically more freedom than we have today?”

Showcase, celebrate, sing the praises of, beat the drum for, and shout out the most exciting, engaging, jazzy things that freedom will bring the person you’re talking with — and his family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, too.

If you repeatedly and relentlessly do this in all your libertarian conversations you’ll find that people are indeed interested in liberty — and you’ll bring in dozens and dozens of new, excited libertarians.

Four Great FREE EBOOKS on Liberty

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Students For Liberty (SFL), in partnership with the Atlas Network, has published four outstanding libertarian books — great reading for student and non-student libertarians alike.

And you can download them for FREE as e-books or PDFs, or purchase paperback copies. (Note: if you’re not a student, ignore the “Expected year of college graduation” form box when downloading a PDF.)

Here’s what SFL offers:

The Economics of FreedomThe Economics of Freedom: Selected Works of Frédéric Bastiat features a truly delightful and enlightening collection of essays. Atlas scholar Tom Palmer notes that Bastiat is “the clearest, most sensible economist who ever wrote. Bastiat can be understood by a Nobel Prize winner, a taxi driver, a student, an entrepreneur… even a politician! Read this book and get set for a life-changing experience.”

The Morality of CapitalismThe Morality of Capitalism edited by Tom G. Palmer: Outstanding short pieces by a fantastic line-up of philosophers, economists, Nobel Prize winners, and entrepreneurs, all making the case that not only are markets highly effective, a true free market system is a prerequisite for a just, prosperous, and cooperative society.

Why LibertyWhy Liberty edited by Tom G. Palmer: A great collection of articles that focuses not just on political theory but also on liberty through the lens of culture, entrepreneurship, health, art, technology, philosophy, and the transformative power of freedom. The book features articles from experts in the fields of policy, academia, business, media, and student organizing. This collection makes it clear that liberty is a dynamic and liberating force with the power to change the world for the better.

Peace, Love, & LibertyPeace, Love, & Liberty edited by Tom G. Palmer: Shows that libertarianism is the philosophy of peace — and how libertarian ideas are making the world a safer place. Drawing on the disciplines of history, philosophy, poetry, literature, and psychology, Peace, Love, & Liberty shows that peace is possible — and shows how we can achieve it.

These books can also be purchased, either individual copies or in packs of 100 copies at very low cost, making them great for outreach. Thanks, SFL!

They Said It… With John Stossel, David Boaz, and More

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

THE FIRST AND ONLY: “BREAKING: Brian Williams becomes first person in human history to suffer professional consequences for lying about the Iraq War.” — tweet from Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress, February 10, 2015.

GOP VS. MEDICAL FREEDOM: “House Republicans have voted yet again to repeal Obamacare. … Of course, there is a greater chance that the sun will not rise tomorrow than that Obama would sign the bill to repeal the healthcare law that bears his name. But if the Republicans are so interested in a free market in health care, why don’t they vote to repeal Medicaid, Medicare, and Bushcare (the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003)? The answer is that Republicans and conservatives don’t believe in medical freedom at all.” — Laurence M. Vance, “The Stupid Party Strikes Again,” LewRockwell.com blog, February 4, 2015.

RAND PAUL SLAMS NSA: “It’s none of their damn business what you do on your phone.” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), criticizing the National Security Agency (NSA) during a rally in Ames, Iowa, February 6, 2015.

JOHN STOSSEL ON POLITICIANS, TAPEWORMS AND OTHER PARASITES:
John Stossel“Compare politicians and politicians’ cronies to tapeworms and ticks. Like parasites in nature, the ticks on the body politic don’t want to kill the host organism — meaning us. It’s in politicians’ and regulators’ interest to keep the host alive so they can keep eating our food and sucking our blood. After watching members of Congress applaud President Obama during his last State of the Union address, I came to think that politicians were worse than tapeworms and ticks. … At least tapeworms and ticks don’t expect us to clap.” — award-winning libertarian journalist John Stossel, “Parasites,” syndicated column, February 4, 2015.

LIBERTARIANISM, AMERICA’S CORE PHILOSOPHY: “Libertarianism, a belief in what Adam Smith David Boazcalled ‘the obvious and simple system of natural liberty,’ is the core philosophy of America. The first colonists fled aristocratic Europe to find religious liberty, individualism, and economic opportunity. They declared their belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. American history has been a struggle between liberty and power, between those who wanted to defend and extend the liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and those who wanted to make the United States more like the countries our ancestors left, with powerful and paternalistic government. Throughout our history, libertarian sentiments have been rekindled when the federal government has grown beyond what Americans will tolerate — such as the past few years. … Libertarianism is the framework for a future of freedom, growth, and progress, and it may be on the verge of a political breakout.” — Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz, “Libertarianism Is on the Verge of a Political Breakout,” TIME, Feb. 5, 2015. Check out Boaz’s great new book The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom.

To the Death

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Je ne suis pas d’accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire.”

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

This magnificent declaration of free speech, tolerance, and liberty, attributed to the great 17th century French champion of liberty Voltaire, is now whirling around the globe in French and English, in print and online, in tweets, memes, newsfeeds and editorials.

The outcry over the murder of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo — killed for exercising their right to speak freely, killed for creating satire, killed for drawing cartoons — has thrust those words and the principle behind them into the minds of millions.

It is heartening to see such an overwhelming response in favor of freedom of speech, one of the most important and sacred of rights.

Freedom of speech has not always been tolerated well even here in America. Right up through the 1960s many novels, including books now considered masterpieces by authors like Henry Miller and William Burroughs, were illegal to sell. For most of America’s history, some words were unprintable, and writing about some ideas — birth control, for example — was forbidden. In the 1960s, Lenny Bruce, one of America’s greatest and most incisive comedians, was constantly harassed and arrested merely for using four-letter words in nightclubs; in despair, he died of a heroin overdose. Theater owners were arrested for showing sexually explicit films, convenience store clerks arrested for selling adult magazines.

Those who stood for freedom of expression in the past, even here in tolerant America, often fought a lonely and difficult struggle. All of us have benefited tremendously from their courage and passion.

Even today, even in America, those on the cutting edge of speech face threats. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, Joe Randazzo, former editor of the satirical publication The Onion, wrote at MSNBC: “I’ve personally spoken on the phone with at least two individuals who threatened to rape me and kill my family” because of his writing.

Randazzo continues: “Satire must always accompany any free society. It is an absolute necessity. Even in the most repressive medieval kingdoms, they understood the need for the court jester, the one soul allowed to tell the truth through laughter. It is, in many ways, the most powerful form of free speech because it is aimed at those in power, or those whose ideas would spread hate. It is the canary in the coalmine, a cultural thermometer, and it always has to push, push, push the boundaries of society to see how much it’s grown.”

Around the world, crowds numbering in the thousands have gathered in defense of this most fundamental of freedoms, some waving pencils and pens, some holding signs reading “Je Suis Charlie” — “I Am Charlie.” Cartoonists worldwide have rallied to honor their fallen brothers-in-ink with an outpouring of creative and defiant tributes.

How glorious, how thrilling to see such passionate defense of free speech in response to those who would use violence to shut out views they disagree with.

Free speech is a value millions hold dearly. But that wasn’t always true. We believe so strongly in free speech today because of the centuries of political activism that won that freedom, defined it, argued for its value, and made it a central part of our lives.

As we libertarians build a consensus on other fundamental freedoms — peace, the right to control our bodies, the right to own and keep the fruits of our labors — we will see these ideas, too, embraced by the people of the world, and vigorously defended when attacked.

I’ll end with another quote from Voltaire, with a message I hope will be taken up one day soon with the same passion as the one at the beginning of this column:

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

Kids and Dangerous Houses: Should the Government Step In?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 20, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: I favor liberty and minimal government intrusion. But I’m wrestling with the issue of dangerous housesprotection of children within the home. I’m struggling a little to find a happy medium between a total “hands off” approach that would balance my rights, as homeowner, to leave big nasty kitchen knives lying around, electrical sockets exposed with metal objects stuck in them, big holes in the ground, staircases with boards missing, etc. (I know some of those are silly/extreme examples but legislation typically makes no distinction between the sensible and the surreal), with the rights of children in the house.

Obviously an adult could see that such a place was a deathtrap and make an informed decision to visit or not. But what about children? What about my own children, who wouldn’t be able to make an informed decision whether to continue to live in the house because they wouldn’t know any different and wouldn’t have the freedom to leave anyway. And what about my children inviting their friends back to my house? Their friends wouldn’t necessarily understand the dangers or be able to make an informed decision whether to accept the risks.

MY SHORT ANSWER: You’re right: regulators can’t possibly know what a homeowner should do to child-proof a home. Nor would they have enough resources to inspect every place that houses children even if they did.

Keeping a child safe is part of parenting; some parents will do a better job of it than others. No parent can anticipate every safety hazard, but on average, they’ll do better than bureaucrats. Children of parents who are chronically drunk, high, or just plain neglectful will almost always have more accidents than children of attentive, sober ones. Neglectful parents will ignore regulations; attentive parents won’t need them, as they’ll be constantly trying to anticipate potential problems. As hard as it is to accept, we will never have a society where every child lives in an accident-free home; perfection just isn’t an option in human relations.

From a libertarian perspective, we might ask how we can have a society where fewer parents are neglectful, since regulations aren’t going to help much, if at all. In a society with less government interference in the marketplace, jobs would be more plentiful, the average paycheck would buy more, and people wouldn’t be kept from the work they prefer by regulations that shut them out.  People would be less frustrated and have more free time, so “drowning one’s sorrows” in booze or mind-altering drugs would be less attractive. (For details, see my book, Healing Our World; the 1992 edition can be read for free at ruwart.com).

Most of us can get a sense of this by asking our grandparents and great-grandparents how they were raised. Wealth creation was slower back then, times were harder, and children were expected to do dangerous jobs, like working on the farm with animals and machines. Spanking and even frank beating were thought to build character. On average, harsh conditions produce harsh childhoods, although there are exceptions. Long hours in the fields or factories left our elders too tired to be as attentive as they might have otherwise been.

Must we wait for government to subside before children can be protected in their homes? Not at all! If you feel moved to teach others how to child-proof a home, it’s easy to share such information on a personal blog, Facebook, etc.  First-time parents are especially eager to learn such things.

Although government is seldom, if ever, the answer, individual initiative almost always is.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further reading on this topic:

* “Wage War on Poverty with Libertarianism“ by Jacob Hornberger. Poverty is not the only reason for unsafe housing. But higher incomes generally mean safer homes, better education, higher standards of living, and so forth. In this article the president of the Future of Freedom Foundation tells how libertarian policies could achieve that.

EXCERPT: “There are five libertarian keys to ending or greatly alleviating poverty. These keys apply not only to the United States but to every other nation in the world. If any nation wants to end poverty or at least to drastically reduce it, what follows is what it should do. Any nation that adopts the following five principles will, in both the short term and long term, achieve rising standards of living, especially for the poor.”

* “The Nanny State“ by Adam Young, Mises Daily, August 6, 2001. This short article explores how markets can provide better, more innovative safety for families than regulation.

EXCERPT: “Many calamities are preventable — not by bureaucratic means, but by simple attentive parenting and common sense — but nothing can take away the inherent risk of calamity that exists every day of our lives. An irrefutable fact of reality is the unpredictability of the future and all the accidents that result. The problem here is to balance risk of harm with the prospects of success, and that is something only the private sector does well. …

“If government regulations did not crowd out private testing and rating services, then rating guides, reports, and private-sector safety consultants would be more available, comprehensive, and affordable than they are now. State regulation breeds irresponsibility and blame shifting. Tangles of regulations impose costs that price competitors out of the market and prevent the invention of new designs and superior and cheaper products which, under the existing regulations, would become technically illegal.

“The free market would encourage entrepreneurs to create rating and safety systems that would perform the dual role so claimed, but never actually delivered on, by the government — namely, providing consumer safety and respecting consumer choice. Only products tested by the market can find the right balance. Anyone who has looked through baby-product catalogs knows that safety is extremely important in this market.

“If safety, as arbitrarily and remotely defined by bureaucrats in Washington, is to be imposed regardless of the cost, then why not take the next step? Parents themselves should be trained and licensed by the government, all in pursuit of the ideal of ‘safety.’ Forget the Nanny State; we need a full-time Parental State. It may sound absurd and dangerous to liberty, but one wonders how many politicians and bureaucrats today could marshal arguments against the idea.”


Short Answers to the Tough QuestionsGot questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR tough questions on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart

Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can’t personally acknowledge all emails. But we’ll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.

Dr. Ruwart’s previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.

Dr. Ruwart’s latest book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.

A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, Uncategorized by Advocates HQ Comments are off

(From the Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions section in Volume 19, No. 27 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Editor’s Note: Several years ago, Harry Browne — 1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, world-renowned libertarian speaker and writer, and very good friend of the Advocates — made his New Year’s resolutions.

Harry BrowneThe result was a compact how-to of effective libertarian communication, by one of history’s most persuasive advocates of the ideas of liberty.

We are delighted to share this inspiring and uplifting classic with you. Consider adding them to your own resolutions this year — and share them with other libertarians.

***

  1. I resolve to sell liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than preaching to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.
  2. I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty — not to prove that they’re wrong.
  3. I resolve to listen when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.
  4. I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek — a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society — and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.
  5. I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don’t have to approve of their subsidies or policies — but if I don’t acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problems. 
  6. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.
  7. I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.
  8. I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government — not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.
  9. I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.
  10. I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first libertarian someone has encountered, and it’s important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.
  11. I resolve to remind myself that someone’s “stupid” opinion may be an opinion I once held. If I can grow, why can’t I help him grow?
  12. I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.
  13. I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free — and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.
  14. I resolve to be civil to my opponents and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it’s important that I be a better person than my enemies.

Harry passed away in March of 2006, and we greatly miss him. If enough of us follow Harry’s advice, we can make 2015 the best year yet for the libertarian movement. He is the author of Liberty A to Z, available from the Advocates’ Liberty Store. 

Ron Paul: My New Year’s Resolutions for Congress

in Liberator Online by Advocates HQ Comments are off

(From the Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions section in Volume 19, No. 27 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In late December 2012, as he approached retirement from Congress, Ron Paul presented some New Year’s resolutions for his fellow members of Congress to ponder. 

If anything, they’re more relevant today than ever, and we’re pleased to share them with you. 

* * *

Ron PaulAs I prepare to retire from Congress, I’d like to suggest a few New Year’s resolutions for my colleagues to consider. For the sake of liberty, peace, and prosperity I certainly hope more members of Congress consider the strict libertarian constitutional approach to government…

In just a few days, Congress will solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.  They should reread Article 1 Section 8 and the Bill of Rights before taking such a serious oath. Most legislation violates key provisions of the Constitution in very basic ways, and if members can’t bring themselves to say no in the face of pressure from special interests, they have broken trust with their constituents and violated their oaths. Congress does not exist to serve special interests, it exists to protect the rule of law.

I also urge my colleagues to end unconstitutional wars overseas. Stop the drone strikes; stop the covert activities and meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. Strive to observe “good faith and justice towards all Nations” as George Washington admonished. We are only making more enemies, wasting lives, and bankrupting ourselves with the neoconservative, interventionist mindset that endorses pre-emptive war that now dominates both parties.

All foreign aid should end because it is blatantly unconstitutional. While it may be a relatively small part of our federal budget, for many countries it is a large part of theirs — and it creates perverse incentives for both our friends and enemies. There is no way members of Congress can know or understand the political, economic, legal, and social realities in the many nations to which they send taxpayer dollars.

Congress needs to stop accumulating more debt. U.S. debt, monetized by the Federal Reserve, is the true threat to our national security. Revisiting the parameters of Article 1 Section 8 would be a good start.

Congress should resolve to respect personal liberty and free markets. Learn more about the free market and how it regulates commerce and produces greater prosperity better than any legislation or regulation. Understand that economic freedom IS freedom. Resolve not to get in the way of voluntary contracts between consenting adults. Stop bailing out failed yet politically connected companies and industries. Stop forcing people to engage in commerce when they don’t want to, and stop prohibiting them from buying and selling when they do want to. Stop trying to legislate your ideas of fairness. Protect property rights. Protect the individual. That is enough.

There are many more resolutions I would like to see my colleagues in Congress adopt, but respect for the Constitution and the oath of office should be at the core of everything members of Congress do in 2013.

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