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Don’t Let Them Fool You: What Charlottesville Was Really About

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Don’t Let Them Fool You: What Charlottesville Was Really About

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

News reports on the tragic incident that killed one person in Charlottesville and the events that led to this death continue to dominate the news cycle. But while media outlets leaning both right and left spin the stories to better suit their narrative, libertarians sit and watch in awe. Have we not warned our friends, colleagues, and readers enough about the dangers of seemingly competing political groups escalating against each other in the name of power?

Charlottesville

On one side, we have members of a group of individuals who usually hide their faces and yes, use violence as a tactic to instill fear and make their message heard. They are known as “antifa” and their acts of violence are well known. On the other side, we have yet another group of often young, collectivist, seemingly frustrated, and obviously angry Americans who frequently see the answer to their problems in the national socialist philosophy. On Saturday, a member of this group violently murdered a demonstrator with his car, single-handedly putting the “alt-right” group on virtually every front page in the country.

Still, to libertarians, both groups often sound and act the same. And that’s no coincidence, for when politics is at stake, individuals tend to use the weapons provided by the state to seek influence.

These groups do not resort to the free market principles of open and peaceful competitiveness or the idea that you’re free to associate with a certain individual or group or not without being forced into action. They do not wish to persuade. Instead, they use the state’s tool: coercion. And that’s what makes groups focused on gaining political influence so dangerous.

As a monopoly over the use of force, the state is capable of obtaining revenue by extortion. Subjects who refuse to pay are penalized. So it’s no wonder that those who seek political power in search for a way to impose their preferred view upon the remaining population are often so violent.

And what’s worse, political groups such as antifa or the alt-right all claim to have the solution to problems at hand. If only they had access to political power, they proudly claim, the country would have all and any maladies soon addressed and the nation would then be “healed.”

But libertarians understand that states are inefficient precisely because they claim to have the power to work on behalf of all without taking into consideration differences among individuals.

It’s because the government acts without regard for human action, or in other words, what makes individuals act the way they do, that power structures are incapable of solving problems efficiently. So if a group is seeking access to this type of power, you know they don’t understand the basics not only of human nature but of politics itself. Or perhaps, they understand it so well and are so tyrannical that they are willing to impose their will no matter how many people are directly harmed (or yes, even killed) as a result.

When such clashes occur and they take over the news cycle, we must remember that these battles aren’t about virtue-signaling, which side is “less bad,” or how libertarians should act in the aftermath. Anyone who’s dedicated to a free market-oriented philosophy that takes into consideration the sanctity of voluntary interactions understands that the fight over political power is always fruitless at best, and extremely harmful at worst.

So instead of pointing fingers and calling names, now is the time, more than ever, to embody liberty and liberty only.

Americans Starting to Lose Faith in Centralized Power

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Americans Starting to Lose Faith in Centralized Power

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

If you are mostly accustomed to getting your news from established TV and news sources, you might not know that a new poll suggests that most Americans have lost faith in how the media covers politics in the country. But if you have been paying attention, you probably agree with them.

PeopleA poll carried out by Suffolk University and the USA Today asked individuals “who do you think the media, including major newspapers and TV stations, would like to see elected president: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?” While the question itself could have been presented differently, taking into consideration the fact that, traditionally, the job of the news reporter is to be unbiased and faithful to facts, the fact 75.9 percent of respondents said they believe the established media wants to see the Democratic candidate win proves they know that cronyism has taken over.

According to the poll, most of those who responded believe that the media is overwhelmingly in favor of one presidential candidate, discarding not only the choice of the second most established party, but also both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party candidates.

That brings us to the realization that, as individuals begin to notice the subjects playing a role in the U.S. presidential elections are also partly responsible for influencing our decisions, they also realize that our central government is filled with individuals who have made their way to the top under far from ideal circumstances.

Instead of living by principles and the idea that they represent those who have elected them, these politicians only hold promises to those who have bankrolled their campaigns.

The “pay to play” scheme, after all, is not only a reality among clusters of politicians who are being eviscerated by those paying attention. It’s also a reality wherever a centralized form of government is in place.

Centralization of power is, at the end of the day, the right environment for corruption to thrive.

In Human Action, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises writes that “there is no such thing as a just and fair method of exercising the tremendous power that interventionism puts into the hands of the legislature and the executive,” explaining that, in “many fields of the administration of interventionist measures, favoritism simply cannot be avoided.”

As interventionism remains an innate part of governing, what we, libertarians, can take away from this recent poll is that the access to information provided by an open wide web of ideas, such as the Internet, has helped us understand these powerful alliances, seeing their result right before our eyes on a regular basis.

People are no longer going along quietly. And that’s why we should be celebrating.

Change We Can Believe In

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

Change We Can Believe In

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

Obviously, we’re not talking about the campaign slogan from eight years ago.

We are at a point where the dynamics of media are changing. More media outlets, bloggers, instant LIVE broadcasts, and social media drive conversations outside the tightly controlled messaging we’ve seen in the past. Because of the “always on” nature of many of these developments, the way news is presented is changing… For the better.

ChangeWith the ability to break news at any time, how people interact is changing. Today, we know more about what’s happening throughout the world, rather than a narrative that can be controlled.

The Arab Spring probably would not have made the news stateside, had it not been for the images, thoughts, and reporting performed by those on the ground, with the American audience demanding to know more. The dynamics of media are changing, and while the established corporate media tries to hang onto everything they can control, alternative media continues to grow in influence.

These changes also mean that ideas are spreading faster and with a farther reach. Even in some of the most remote areas of the world, a couple touches of a smartphone screen or clicks of a mouse can bring you up to speed on the latest happenings in minutes.

Because of how easy it is to get information, we now see a shift in how ideas spread, with virality, openness, and trust overcoming traditional advertising avenues and the power of vast sums of money. The dynamic is shifting, and greater exposure causes that shift to occur faster.

What does this change mean for libertarians? In this new decentralized dynamic, our voice can be just as prominent. The walls that stopped us before are crumbling, as we now have nearly equal footing.

So, let’s take advantage of this opportunity. The more we discuss our ideas, the moral case for freedom, and what a free society looks like, the greater influence we have on the direction our world moves. We can truly work to change hearts and minds without meeting the barriers of the past.

Knowing this, what will you do for liberty?

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

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

We often hear that persuasion is an obstacle to freedom. “Rhetoric,” they say, is why we’re in such trouble. After all, voters would make better decisions if they had been better educated about the issues facing the nation.

To Deirdre McCloskey, the celebrated Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, people who scapegoat persuasion are misguided.

PersuasionIn a video for the Learn Liberty series, McCloskey argues that while many people with different points of view on politics all agree that free speech is “sacred,” few agree that persuasion is just as important, if not a feature of a free society.

“Rhetoric,” she tells the viewer, “sounds like a bad word.” Media outlets are the first ones to accuse politicians and key figures of indulging in rhetoric, and never getting to the point. But McCloskey believes that this approach to persuasion is superficial, especially when considering the alternative.

She explains that, persuasion would be bad if the alternative to “sweet-talking” people into believing something or siding with someone wasn’t persuasion through force.

Because we are humans, McCloskey adds, we depend on language. But if we cannot use language, there is another way of persuading people into taking a particular stance: Violence. If I have a gun in hands while telling you to believe in economics and stop arguing with me if you want to stay alive, you will most certainly choose to agree with me, just so you may avoid getting shot in the head. But if there aren’t any guns involved, all we can do to make our point stick is to try to persuade folks by selling our idea the best way we can.

“In a society of free choice, free ideas, free consumption,” McCloskey adds, “you have persuasion as the only alternative to violence.”

Henry David Thoreau once said that “thaw, with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor, with his hammer.” The late, prolific author Gore Vidal once said that advertising is the only art form ever invented in the United States of America. To McCloskey, “a free society is an advertising society,” after all, a free society is where people debate and persuade, rather than threaten others into going along with their ideas. Americans should be proud of this very American tradition.

Instead of demonizing rhetoric by complaining that propaganda alone is the root of our problems, McCloskey seems to argue, we should celebrate the “speaking, rather than violent, society,” and take part in the activity, rather than decry it as the root of all evil.

Without a Clear War Strategy, White House Wants to Increase Spending to Fight ISIS, Boost Surveillance State

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, National Defense, News You Can Use, War by Alice Salles Comments are off

Without a Clear War Strategy, White House Wants to Increase Spending to Fight ISIS, Boost Surveillance State

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

As the country focused on Iowa, the email server scandal, and Kanye West’s last Twitter feud, the Barack Obama administration geared up for a significant defense budget request.

The factor behind pushing the country further into debt? ISIS.

ISIS

According to Reuters, the current administration wants to add over $7 billion to its 2017 defense budget. The additional funding would provide support to this administration’s military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh). The additional request represents a 35 percent increase from past year’s defense budget.

While Reuters broke the story early Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter had already planned on discussing the current spending priorities publicly during an address to the Economic Club of Washington. The White House will only release the full budget proposal on February 9th.

If approved by Congress, the 2017 defense budget would cost taxpayers $583 billion.

Since 9/11, military spending has risen sharply. But in 2013, military spending declined, going from $671 in 2013 to $619 in 2014.

To critics, the current administration has done everything in its power to “gut” military spending. These critics often suggest that the lack of an inflated military budget will leave America vulnerable, increasing the risk of terrorist attacks on US soil. But in reality, this administration is everything but fiscally conservative when it comes to the defense budget. Despite its strategical shortcomings.

According to Reuters, the current request to increase defense spending by $7 billion is mostly due to the administration’s campaign against ISIS. Despite the lack of details concerning the administration’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State, experts like former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford have been vocal in their opposition to one of this administration’s most questionable strategies: to arm and train rebels in Syria.

To Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who was also against the strategy to arm Syrian rebels, the current administration’s efforts against ISIS are insufficient. Mostly because the so-called war against the militant group was never authorized by Congress. Putting the issue up for discussion first could have helped the administration find a different approach to its campaign in Syria and Iraq.

To Russian President Vladimir Putin, the focus in Syria should have always been to target ISIS. Instead of telling the Syrian people who their leader should be, Putin told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” world powers should come together to eliminate ISIS. But for most of the past year, the Obama administration reassured the media that the only way to make Syria safe was to make sure President Bassar al-Assad was out of the picture.

While the White House’s most pressing concern is ISIS, the militant organization is not the only issue listed as a priority in the 2017 defense budget proposal. According to Reuters, the administration also hopes to increase spending to “reassure European allies following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.” Former Republican congressman Ron Paul has been warning against further intervention in the region since the first signs of turmoil in Ukraine hit the news.

The 2017 defense budget proposal also includes a request to fund a new Air Force bomber, which has replaced the Ohio-class submarines used to carry nuclear weapons. If Congress approves the proposal, the Obama administration is also hoping to use the extra funding to increase cybersecurity, electronic warfare, and US satellite security.

Could that mean that the surveillance state will get a boost?

Gun Control Fear Mongering Rings Hollow

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

Gun Control Fear Mongering Rings Hollow

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

It didn’t take long for President Barack Obama to politicize the tragic shooting Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Thursday, October 1. Just hours after the news of the shooting broke, he appeared before reporters and demanded more gun control laws.

gun control

“[W]hat’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws,” Obama said. “Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country — they know that’s not true.”

“There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence,” he added.

No one denies that what happened at Umpqua Community College is a terrible tragedy. But it doesn’t appear that the gun control laws that President Obama and like-minded members of Congress have tried to advance could’ve prevented this incident. The shooter didn’t have a record of mental health problems or past legal problems, unlike the Charleston, South Carolina church shooter, who slipped between bureaucratic cracks.

Bad things can and do happen. Some of them are preventable and some of them aren’t. But no legislative proposal that has been discussed or actually introduced will stop tragedies like these from happening. In addition to the anti-gun bias of our President, part of the problem, of course, is a media that isn’t honest about the ineffectiveness of gun control proposals or how they wouldn’t stop shootings like the one at Umpqua Community College from happening.

Let’s be clear, we know that gun violence has declined significantly over the last 20 years. What we know is that the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013, recognized the private ownership of firearms as a deterrent to crime. And we know that states with concealed carry laws, known as “shall issue” states, have fewer murders than those that severely restrict these permits.

There is no cure-all to stop shootings, and President Obama and the media should be honest about that, rather than trying to push outrage and raise emotion to pass policies that promote their long-standing views against guns.

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!