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Our New Project!

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

Our New Project!

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

In case you weren’t around for our Facebook Live announcement Monday, Chloe and I introduced to you, our friends and family, our new project,

The World’s Smallest Political Quiz has been around for almost 30 years, and it’s been a great outreach tool to begin a conversation about political philosophy, by discovering a person’s political tendency.

Today, that all changes.

We’ve launched our first attempt at persuasion BEYOND the Quiz, as we work to a more libertarian society. Nothing within the Quiz has changed, we’ve simply added the next step to follow up with the millions of people who take the Quiz online. Earlier this year, we broke 23 million.

Please take this opportunity to try things out.

Answer the questions like you normally would, and also answer them in different ways. That way, you’ll see how we’re working to persuade Centrists, Conservatives, Liberals, and Statists to adopt a more libertarian way of thinking.

This is your opportunity to try this out before we start re-directing the Quiz traffic to it.

Share it with your friends, family, and co-workers!

Think you can do a better job at persuasion? Send us an e-mail at and tell us how you’d like to partner with us to make a more libertarian society. We welcome new players to our game.

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?

It’s BOTH What You Say AND How You Say It

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

It’s BOTH What You Say AND How You Say It

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

Over the weekend, I happened to interact with a young lady who complained about a couple in front of her at the grocery store using EBT, AKA food stamps, saying something to the effect of “Tonight, I bought my dinner at the grocery store and the couple in front of me used their EBT card, and they are eating better than my family. Sigh.”


WordsAs a libertarian, I abhor the idea of a government-run “safety net” to help those who find themselves in need. I think that we can provide that safety net for our family, friends, and neighbors without the use of force by no longer outsourcing that responsibility to government and taking it on ourselves. After all, before The New Deal, that IS how we handled it. Why would we want to let a wasteful entity like government determine need, its distribution and method, and the administration and overhead necessary to make it happen?

The main issue I took with this approach to discussing a safety net program was that it attacked the individual recipients’ choices and lifestyle, which is not how you would win over those who may be on the fence about the program or the idea that government should administer “charity” through force. It gives an impression of envy, a lack of compassion, and an uninformed statement about the lives of those recipients.

Talking about this subject in terms of the individual program also hyper focuses the discussion on THAT program. Rather than discuss EBT specifically, you’ll likely be more persuasive by talking about the role government took in “charity.” Rather than get into the specifics and details of the program, talking about taking back the outsourced responsibility into our homes, neighborhoods, and communities has a far greater impact. We can discuss philosophy more broadly without getting caught up in a minute detail. It’s similar to how Governor Gary Johnson was pinned down to “baking the Nazi cake” by a fellow candidate seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, rather than focusing on the broader picture of freedom of association. 

We can also ask thought-provoking questions about why they find it more important to prolong, preserve, and protect a program founded on the use of government force. By focusing the conversation this way, we can discuss how to end government’s shoddy performance to actually address those in need, while taking from others to pay for it.

A more efficient government is not in our best interests. We know that individuals operating in a freed market and free society can better serve our community’s needs.


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.

Use the Ruler as a Ruler

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

Use the Ruler as a Ruler

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

I talk with a LOT of people, libertarians and non-libertarians alike. If you are not doing the same, you are really missing out on finding new friends and learning about others and their lives.

Often, my job as Executive Director of the Advocates comes up in conversation. With the vast popularity of World’s Smallest Political Quiz, it’s often a connection I make with my new conversation partner.

rulerAfter all, it’s been taken over 22 million times online, as well as millions more at festivals, rallies, and campuses throughout the country. As happens with everyone with a connection to something as popular as the Quiz, people often have suggestions about how to improve it. They mean well, but I don’t know that that fully realize how much work goes into making this terrific outreach tool as effective as it is.

In a conversation this week with someone familiar with the Quiz, it was suggested that we replace this question with another and to remove one question in particular. “It’ll make it easier for you to persuade people to be more libertarian,” they said. “If you just don’t talk about that, you will get more people to identify as libertarian.”

A highlight of my day is to discover a new libertarian, so I’m certainly interested in what is effective. In this instance, it seems my friend didn’t quite gather what the purpose of the Quiz is.

Thinking on it further after our conversation, I realized that he didn’t see that, like a ruler, the Quiz is a tool to measure political tendency. We use it to objectively measure a very subjective topic, political philosophy. The Quiz itself holds no preference, as it is a ruler by which we can measure a pretty accurate picture of one’s political philosophy. By seeing where someone falls on the Diamond Chart, we know where to start the journey of persuasion.

We carefully crafted the statements to identify the tendencies of each Quiz taker on a diverse set of issues, centered on issues of freedom. The beauty of the Quiz is that liberals find themselves in the “Liberal” area, conservatives end up in the “Conservative” area, and libertarians fall in the “Libertarian” area.

Do you use the Quiz as a ruler?

By knowing someone’s political tendencies, you know where to begin what I like to call “The Freedom Conversation.” You wouldn’t try to persuade a conservative on economic freedom issues where we agree, would you? Likewise, you wouldn’t try to convince a liberal to adopt a belief that they already hold on personal freedom issues, would you?

Where do you start “The Freedom Conversation”?

After giving the Quiz over 3000 times in person (and 1 “in panda”), that conversation starts with the measurements that the ruler indicates.

Are you ready to use that ruler like a ruler?

Why Not Apologize?

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion PowerPoint section in Volume 19, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Have you ever put your foot in your mouth?Questioning

Have you ever said something and wish you had bitten your tongue?

Have you ever exploded on someone for no good reason?

I have.

Probably you have, too.

Maybe you were abrasive.

Maybe you were self-righteous.

Maybe you were argumentative.

Maybe you simply forgot to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

What do you do when you mess up?

What do you do when you rub someone the wrong way?

Why not apologize?

Admit that you’re human. That you needlessly hurt their feelings. That you needlessly embarrassed or shamed them.

Apologizing well is an art.

By “apologizing well” I mean apologizing in such a way that the other person knows that you ARE sorry. That you do regret what you’ve done. That you want to clear the air and make it right.

That you want their forgiveness and another chance.

If you are sorry, tell the person exactly what you did wrong. Tell the person that you are sorry for what you’ve done to them.

And ask them to forgive you.

Whether you’re working out conflict with co-workers, or debating small government vs. Big Government, it’s easy to get caught up in “being right.”

It’s easy to needlessly hurt the feelings of the other person, or step on their toes.

When you do, immediately admit your blunder. Immediately apologize.

Not some vague, abstract, “If I might have done anything that might have been misunderstood …” phony apology.

A real one.

One you mean.

People are enormously forgiving when you admit your sin, say you’re sorry, and try to make it right.

They give you another chance, a clean slate.

If you’re like me, you’ll mess up, hurt people’s feelings, and feel very bad about it.

If you want to start fresh, and mend fences, why not apologize?

Persuasion is about building bridges, not walls.

Read the next article from this issue here.

Go back to the full issue here.

* * * * * * * *
Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian PersuasionMichael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

The Missing Ingredient in Your Fact-Based Arguments for Liberty

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Facts are essential to making the case for liberty. But you can make dry facts come alive to your listeners — by using the mind-changing power of stories.

Stories — both true and fictional — have a special power. The greatest teachers have Memorable Storiesalways used stories: think of the parables of Jesus, the fables of Aesop, the witty tales of the Taoist Chuang-Tzu. Nearly every culture uses stories both to entertain and to convey vital lessons.

Now we have scientific evidence that stories are extraordinarily effective. Bestselling author Carmine Gallo, in his book Talk Like TED, cites Princeton University research which used MRIs to study how the brains of audience members reacted to stories. The studies showed that stories actually activate all areas of the brain.

Says Gallo: “Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view.”

Obviously, if we want to successfully persuade others, we should be telling lots of stories.

When you can combine a story with your facts and figures, your audience listens. They identify. They are moved. They feel, as well as calculate. Further, while it’s hard to remember facts and figures, people remember stories — and eagerly share them.

Let’s take as an example the issue of medical marijuana. There are many logical, fact-based arguments that can — and should — be used in persuading others on this issue. But consider this story, a version of which was published in the Pittsburgh Press in the early 1990s, before liberty activists begin to have success in getting states to re-legalize marijuana for medical purposes:

James Burton, a former Kentuckian, is living literally in exile in the Netherlands. Burton, a Vietnam War vet and master electrical technician, suffers from a rare form of hereditary glaucoma. All males on his mother’s side of his family had the disease. Several of them are blind.

Burton found that marijuana could hold back, and perhaps halt, the glaucoma. So he began growing marijuana for his own use and smoking it.

Kentucky State Police raided his 90-acre farm and found 138 marijuana plants and two pounds of raw marijuana. At his 1988 trial, North Carolina ophthalmologist Dr. John Merrit — at that time the only physician in America allowed by the government to test marijuana in the treatment of glaucoma — testified that marijuana was “the only medication” that could keep Burton from going blind.

Nevertheless, Burton was found guilty of simple possession for personal use and was sentenced to one year in a federal maximum security prison, with no parole. The government also seized his house and his farm, valued at around $70,000. Under forfeiture laws, there was no defense he could raise against the seizure of his farm. No witnesses on behalf of the defense, not even a statement from the Burtons, were allowed at the hearing.

After release, Burton and his wife moved to the Netherlands, where he could legally purchase marijuana to stave off his blindness. Instead of a sprawling farm, they now live in a tiny apartment.

They say they would love to return to America — but not at the cost of Burton going blind.

See how that puts a human face on the medical marijuana issue?

There are equally moving, equally appalling stories about taxation, utility monopolies, First Amendment issues, gun rights, licensing laws, war… virtually any issue. Anywhere the government has committed aggression against individuals, there is a story to be told.

A great place to find such stories is the website of the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian legal defense organization. IJ has done a wonderful job of collecting stories of heroic individuals fighting to defend their lives and property against oppressive government.

Whenever you come across heart-rending, powerful stories of victims of government, or people overcoming oppression, collect them for future use.

Most people decide what they believe not just on bare facts but also on feelings and emotions. Give them stories to hang your facts on, memorable stories that make your facts come alive, and you will be far more effective in your political persuasion.

Who would make health decisions about children in a libertarian society: parents or medical professionals?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Children's Rights, Healthcare, Liberator Online, Libertarian Stances on Issues, Marriage and Family by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: I just read about Boston Children’s Hospital taking children away from their parents if children's health decisions in a libertarian societythey don’t agree to treat their children the way the doctors recommend. Would this happen in a libertarian society?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, a child’s guardians, normally the parents, would decide whether the treatment was worth the risk. No treatment works for everyone and every treatment has side effects in some people. Parents might not always make the optimal decision for their child, but doctors won’t always either. If the doctor feels strongly about a certain treatment, he or she should take the time to convince the parents of its worth, rather than use aggression to enforce their recommendation.

The article you cited indicated that children are taken from their parents most frequently “when doctors diagnose the child with a psychiatric disease, but the parents think the condition is a physical one.” Mental problems can be caused by physical factors, such as diet, genetic abnormalities, and certain vitamin deficiencies, which blur the distinction between psychiatric and physical. These factors are often downplayed or totally ignored in physician training. Licensing boards determine the medical school curriculum and reinforce the status quo, rather than cutting-edge or “politically incorrect” knowledge. Emphasis is placed on drug treatment instead of prevention or nutritional therapy, primarily due to FDA regulations. Since children often respond more negatively to psychiatric drugs than adults, forcing children to take them can actually be detrimental.

In a libertarian society, medical practice would be more diverse, since doctors would be certified instead of licensed and prevention wouldn’t be hampered by FDA regulations. Consequently, our medical science would be more advanced. In a society accustomed to using persuasion, rather than coercion, parents are likely to become better informed by doctors and make the best decision for their children.

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Short Answers to Tough Questions - Dr. Mary RuwartGot 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 Modest Proposal for New Year’s Resolutions

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

We’re now well into the New Year. If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve either made New Year’s resolutions or you’re thinking you ought to make some.

“Let’s see. I ought to lose 10 pounds. And I probably ought to stop smoking. Oh yeah, I need to spend more time with my spouse,” you might say.

So you write down these items. New Year’s is a good time to improve yourself. And this time you’ll really keep your resolutions. Uh-huh.

Why did you pick these resolutions?

They’re hard. They’re important. They’re uplifting. And you’d feel really proud of yourself if you actually accomplished them.

So you start out with the best of intentions. The highest of hopes. And a grim determination.

Then you break one of them. You forget another. Before you know it, your resolutions have you on your back, all four feet in the air, another victim of resolution road kill.

You feel guilty. You get a funny-looking grin on your face when your friends ask you, “How are your resolutions coming?”

Your self-esteem plummets. Until time lets you forget all about the resolutions.

Frankly, this isn’t good for you.

It isn’t good for the people you spend time with.

But I have a solution.

It’s bold, breathtaking, and BIG.

It feeds your need to be uplifted. It gives you a steely look and the calm confidence of a poker player holding four Aces.

THE BIG TRUTH: Most of your problems are caused by other people.

Your life would be a whole lot smoother if other people were way more considerate of your wants and needs. Of your hopes and expectations.

Your life would be a whole lot better if other people would stop being so selfish.

Always putting themselves first. Always thinking about their problems. Always wanting things their way.

Most religions teach that it is better to give than to receive.

So what is the greatest gift you can give to others?

The opportunity for them to give.

THE MODEST PROPOSAL: Write New Year’s Resolutions for other people. Tell them exactly how they can make your life better, and nicer, and happier.

Why should you lose 10 pounds? After all, how many times do you look in the mirror each day? They should lose 10 pounds. You look at them more often than you look at yourself.

And they should learn to say, “You’re not fat. You’re snuggly.”

Why should you stop smoking? They should learn to appreciate the fragrant smell of burning tobacco. And enjoy the process of scooping up ashes that have fallen in the wrong place. And cleaning out ashtrays.

Why should you spend more time with your spouse?

She should appreciate the spare moments you ration out. After all, the rare is the precious. If diamonds were commonplace, who would value them? If your time were commonplace, would your wife really appreciate you?

Remember, most of your problems are caused by other people.

That means that most of your solutions can be provided by other people. Unless they insist on selfishness.

Maybe your friends don’t call you often enough. Or invite you to dinner regularly. Or listen in rapt attention when you repeat your story for the 11th time.

It is better to give than to receive. Help them give. Write their resolutions so that they can learn to give and give and give.

Write their resolutions so that they can grow and grow and grow.

So they can be more worthy of being your friend.

So make up a list of your friends. Write out their New Year’s Resolutions. The resolutions that put you first. The resolutions that make them better friends. Resolutions that let them live to give.

If they keep those resolutions, they’ll become stronger and better.

If they fail to keep the New Year’s Resolutions you wrote for them, they will feel frustrated. Guilty. They will suffer plummeting self-esteem.

Help your friends become better people. Write their New Year’s Resolutions today.

Some day they’ll thank you.