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Free State of Jones: Libertarianism in Pop Culture

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

Free State of Jones: Libertarianism in Pop Culture

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

Recently, I had the opportunity to see the film, “Free State of Jones.” It is the story inspired by the Civil War era actions in southeastern Mississippi led by a farmer, Newton Knight.

A nurse in the Confederate Army, Knight deserts after the Confederate Congress amends its conscription policy to exclude those who owned 20 or more slaves. This exemption allowed many wealthy men to not serve the three years the Confederacy held them responsible to serve.

As libertarians, we understand the principle that a man owns himself and is not “responsible” to give over part of his life to anyone else.

Just prior to desertion, he comes across a teenager from near Knight’s home drafted after the boy’s family’s assets were seized by the local government officials and the boy was sent to war. As if conscription weren’t enough, the taking of property and food from the people is a bridge too far.

As libertarians, we also value the principle of private property, and the stories from home, coupled with the boy’s death on the battlefield send Knight home to Jones County, Mississippi.

Upon his return, he learns of another family whose animals are seized by Confederate soldiers and stands armed with the woman and her daughters against a trio of cavalry officers, turning them away. The officers then target Knight and his family, forcing him to flee ahead of dogs to the swamp to live as a fugitive.

As libertarians, we hold dear the ability to defend one’s life, liberty, and property from an unjust taking.

Libertarianism in Pop CultureWhile hiding out in the swamp, Knight befriends runaway slaves also living there in exile and other individuals afflicted by the Confederacy’s actions. They build a self-sustaining militia community of army deserters and runaway slaves, living, working, and fighting together against the oppression of the local military officials.

As libertarians, we fight oppression and tyranny on a daily basis.

The militia eventually overpowers the soldiers in the nearby town, taking over and asking the Union forces for support. The support never arrives, forcing the militia to fight off the Confederate regiments, holding out until the end of the war. They not only survive, but thrive, in the absence of both Confederate and Union forces in the area.

As libertarians, we are often “in between” one side and the other. Both evil, we continue to stand for freedom.

The freed slaves are promised “40 acres and a mule,” but see that promise rescinded by the conquering forces that occupy the South after the war, even the “Free State of Jones.” Regardless, the community grows, as white and black work, live, and grow together in a voluntary society where their bonds are those they choose.

As libertarians, we see the prosperity and harmony that come from a voluntary society without, and often in spite of, the force of government

 

With New Nullification Effort, Mississippi Challenges Federal Gun Control Measures

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

With New Nullification Effort, Mississippi Challenges Federal Gun Control Measures

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

Last week, the Mississippi legislature took an important step against federal efforts targeting gun owners and their property.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the House Judiciary B committee passed House Bill 782. If this piece of legislation passes the full House, the Senate, and Governor Phil Bryant signs it into law, future executive orders or federal rules pertaining to gun control will be blocked by the state.

Mississippi

HB 782, which was introduced by Rep Mark Formby (R-Picayune), counts with 13 cosponsors. The bill prohibits state agencies, employees, and political subdivisions from participating in the enforcement of a new federal rule or executive order relating to personal firearms, accessories, or even ammunition if the federal rule in question goes against Section 12, Article 3 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. The state constitution reads, in part, that “The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.”

With HB 782, legislators hope to bar the use of state assets, funds, or personnel for the enforcement of any rule that would otherwise encroach on the rights of Mississippi residents to self-defense.

According to Elaine Vechorik, the Vice-President of Mississippi for Liberty, this bill is important because the “federal government is out of control, and the states have duty to reestablish the rule of law.”

In a study on the right to keep and bear arms in state constitutions carried out by Dave Kopel, the constitutional scholar stated that restrictions on concealed carry permits “underscored that ‘the right to keep and bear arms’ includes the right to carry non-concealed firearms for personal protection.”

According to Mississippi law, residents do not have to obtain a license to own firearms. Locals are allowed to carry rifles and shotguns without a permit. But handgun owners must have a permit to conceal carry. With the Castle Doctrine enshrined in state legislation, residents are free to carry a weapon confidentially in public.

With the gun ownership rights of Mississippi residents in mind, legislators want to make sure that any executive order or new federal rule that goes against the state’s constitution will be effectively blocked locally.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ M855 ammo ban is an example of a federal order that could be barred from being enacted in the state of Mississippi if HB 782 is signed into law.

For the law to be effective, the Tenth Amendment Center argues, further action may be required. For the legislature to determine whether a future federal action goes against the state constitution, a mechanism will have to be created and added to the state law or amended to the Mississippi constitution.

In Federalist #46, James Madison wrote that a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” is a practical step states may take in order to bring down federal measures that hope to restrict the liberties of the individual. Since federal officials rely on the sources and aid of states to have their rules enforced, refusal to cooperate makes these rules “nearly impossible” to enforce.

HB 782 should be considered by the full House before the Senate has a chance to look at the bill.

Mississippi residents are being asked to contact their legislators to urge them to stand in support of this bill.

Your Electricity Rates May Necessarily Skyrocket

in Economic Liberty, Environment and Energy, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Your Electricity Rates May Necessarily Skyrocket

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

Back in 2007, during his initial run for the presidency, Barack Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, said that his energy proposals would “bankrupt” a company looking to build a new coal plant. For consumers, he said, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

As President, Obama has sought to implement those policies through legislation, though he has been largely unsuccessful. Since Obama can’t get his agenda through Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has, at the direction of the White House, promulgated regulations to clamp down on emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

The EPA rule, which was formally rolled out on Monday, directs these plants to reduce their carbon emissions by 32 percent of 2005 levels over the next 25 years. “We only get one home. We only get one planet. There is no plan B,” Obama said in a speech hailing the new rule. “I don’t want my grandkids to not be able to swim in Hawaii, or not to be able to climb a mountain and see a glacier, because we didn’t do something about it.”

The alarmist rhetoric may be a nice touch, but the rule is going to have negative consequences that will lead to job losses. In April, the American Action Forum noted that 93 power plants, representing some 80,000 jobs, would be in jeopardy because of the rule.

“As we predicted, EPA’s proposed federal implementation (FIP) entails two emissions trading schemes. Of course, Congress has expressly and repeatedly rejected such ‘cap and trade’ schemes, which raises an obvious question: Why is it appropriate for EPA to impose major policies that were refused by Congress? In practice, emissions are virtually synonymous with energy use, and, as a result, EPA’s FIP is not inaccurately labeled an energy rationing program,” said William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Talk about mission creep!”

Consumers, too, will feel the impact. Take, for example, the “clean coal” power plant in Kemper County, Mississippi. The $6.2 billion (originally $4.7 billion) plant, owned by the Southern Company, has been the hailed as example of what the administration hopes to see in the future. But the plant has been plagued by significant cost overruns, which were initially passed onto consumers in the form of a 15 percent rate hike. The Mississippi Supreme Court intervened in the matter and ordered refunds.

Consumers exposed to the EPA’s new climate rule may not be so lucky. It’s expected to cost as much as $479 billion between 2017 and 2031, and there’s no guarantee that it will have any measurable impact. Of course, this rule isn’t about climate change; it’s about controlling Americans who have no choice but to spend more of their money because of regulations that will boost favored businesses selling their products to plants hoping to comply with rules created by the fourth branch of the federal government.

Study: States with Economic Liberty Benefit; States Without Economic Liberty Suffer

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A just-released study shows that U.S. states with economic liberty benefit greatly from it, while residents of states with less economic freedom suffer badly from the lack of it.

Economic Freedom of North America 2014 is an annual report by Canada’s Fraser Institute that measures levels of economic freedom, and thus economic opportunity, in the 50 states (as well as Canada and Mexico).

Economic Freedom of North America 2014The report defines “economic freedom” as “the ability of individuals to act in the economic sphere free of undue restrictions.”

Elaborating on that: “The freest economies operate with minimal government interference, relying upon personal choice and markets to answer basic economic questions such as what is to be produced, how it is to be produced, how much is produced, and for whom production is intended. As government imposes restrictions on these choices, there is less economic freedom.”

The report shows that economic liberty has clear, measurable, dollars-and-cents benefits, writes study co-author Dean Stansel in the Washington Examiner:

“States that have low taxation, limited government and flexible labor markets enjoy greater economic growth, while states with lower levels of economic freedom suffer from reduced living standards for families and less economic opportunity.

“In the three most-free states (Texas, South Dakota, and North Dakota) average personal income is about 20 percent higher than in the three least-free states (Maine, Vermont, and Mississippi) — approximately $48,000 versus $40,000. And the unemployment rate is more than seven percent in Rhode Island (45th) versus about four percent in nearby New Hampshire (5th).

“Furthermore, cities in low-freedom states like California (43rd), Michigan (37th), and Rhode Island have made headlines in recent years for declaring bankruptcy, whereas cities in high-freedom states like Nebraska (5th), Texas, and the Dakotas, have seen incomes and their tax bases expand.

“In the top ten states, total employment grew by roughly 3.5 percent, while it has barely budged in the bottom 10. Over that same period, the economy grew more than eight percent in the top 10, but only by about two percent in the bottom 10.”

Concludes Stansel:

“The research is clear: Where economic freedom is high and rising, the number of jobs is expanding and the economy is vibrant and growing. Where it’s low and declining, the economy is stagnant, limiting opportunity and quality of life for residents of those states.

“Big, costly government at the expense of the people doesn’t work. It leads to economic decline. In contrast, expanding economic freedom increases economic opportunity and provides the path to economic prosperity.”

The report ranks economic freedom along a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (full economic liberty). This brings a warning: “Historically, economic freedom has been declining in all three countries. Since 2000, the average score for Canadian provinces on the all-governments index has fallen from 7.8 to 7.6; the number for U.S. states was 8.2 to 7.5.”

The Economic Freedom of North America study is an offshoot of the Fraser Institute’s acclaimed Economic Freedom of the World index, the result of a quarter century of work by more than 60 scholars including three Nobel laureates.