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Give Them Hope!

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Give Them Hope!

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

I took the opportunity to see the movie Sausage Party (REMINDER: THIS MOVIE IS NOT SAFE FOR KIDS) over the weekend. While filled with raunchy adult humor and innuendo, near the end of the film, there was a line of dialogue that struck me as important for our conversations with those who aren’t libertarians yet… Give them hope!


Conversations about politics right now center around how terrible both old parties’ candidates for president are, and we have a terrific opportunity to discuss libertarian ideas in the vacuum without any good ideas.

In the movie, there is a moment when the lead character can shatter an entire belief system (and does) to share the truth. He has two choices: he can disrespect their beliefs as he tears down their entire way of life, or he can offer them hope as he shows them the truth. At first, he adopts the former, yet moves toward the latter as he sees no fruit borne by his first efforts.

As libertarians, we should strive to adopt the second route.

We are LITERALLY the only people who can offer a world that is peaceful, prosperous, and free.

We need to offer the hope that outcome provides as we bring more people toward our way of thinking.

Think about it for a minute… We’re opening their eyes to something that goes against what the authoritarians have been touting their entire lives. We can either persuade them gently and bring them into the fold, or we can disrespect everything they’ve known their entire lives and lose them.

Those who want control and to use force over others build up the tool they use… The government.   They portray it as the only way to do anything, regardless of consequence. Our ideas and beliefs run counter to that, and that change is often hard to swallow after a life filled with being taught what we know to be false.

So, when we work to change hearts and minds, we can do so with a welcoming elegance and grace, shepherding our new brothers and sister in liberty to embrace what we already do, or we can do so clumsily and without lasting effect.

The “Most Important Election of Our Lifetime” Fallacy

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

The “Most Important Election of Our Lifetime” Fallacy

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

As libertarians, we’ve no doubt heard with every election that THIS one is the “most important election of our lifetime.” Even those who’ve decided to no longer participate in voting and elections are not immune.

Typically, it’s a hyper-partisan individual who is heavily invested in one side of the “horse race” for President, Governor, or Congress making the statement, and they have a litany of reasons why their candidate is “The One.”

To many of us, it’s a broken record. Whether it’s the appointment of Supreme Court justices, ending pointless wars, staving off economic collapse, or fighting back socialism, the refrain from both sides is essentially the same each time it’s shared. It’s been the same since I started paying attention to elections in 1992 and neither George H.W. Bush nor Bill Clinton really spoke to me as they campaigned for President.

The idea that THIS YEAR will be what changes everything is an extension of a societal desire for immediate gratification…like the J. G. Wentworth commercials: “I WANT IT NOW!”

While a sense of urgency is necessary, things do not change overnight, nor will they even over a politician’s term. Patience and hard work bring the change we seek.

The slogan and rhetoric from the 2008 Obama campaign, “Change We Can Believe In,” tapped into the desire for immediate overhaul. What we saw over the last eight years wasn’t much change. It was a continuation of the same. The wars didn’t end. The cronies still got their goodies. Even Guantanamo Bay remains open and operational today.

Actual, sustainable change takes time. It is the result of many in their efforts to win over hearts and minds. It is not achieved in a single election, a new law, or a Supreme Court decision.

slow and steadyAs in the story I recounted in the Tell More Stories article a couple of weeks ago, slow and steady wins the race. That goes for growth as well, whether for an entire philosophy or certain aspects.

I’ve been on the inside as an elected official, and bureaucracy does move with the speed of molasses. In the winter. Uphill. Unless there is a manufactured urgency to DO SOMETHING, when a the square peg will be shoved into a round hole.

We haven’t won over the hearts and minds yet though. We have a long way to go in that regard. When large numbers of people begin to value freedom the same way that you and I do, we can focus our conversations there and on our path to electoral successes, if they are even necessary.

There is no silver bullet. We are building a movement for Liberty, and that growth doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s happening faster with each passing day.

Remember, politicians and laws don’t change hearts and minds, and we don’t win anything without those.

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?

Oh, for the Love of Everything: CNN Poll Finds Bush with a Positive Favorability Rating

in Foreign Policy, Issues, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, War by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Oh, for the Love of Everything: CNN Poll Finds Bush with a Positive Favorability Rating

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

Remember President George W. Bush? He’s the guy who ran huge budget deficits because of his addiction to spending, led the country into an unnecessary war in Iraq that led to the deaths of nearly 4,500 American soldiers, greatly expanded the powers of the executive, and bailed out Wall Street.

With a record like that, which only touches the surface of how bad of a president Bush was, one would think Americans wouldn’t think too fondly of him. Well, apparently, one would be wrong.


A new CNN poll finds that Bush, who left office in January 2009, actually view Bush positively. “According to the poll, 52% of adults had a favorable impression of George W. Bush, 43% unfavorable,” CNN reported on Wednesday. “When Bush left office in 2009, only about a third of Americans said they had a positive opinion of him.”

Amazingly, it’s not just Republicans and conservatives driving Bush’s numbers upwards. CNN notes that his favorability has grown even among those who opposed most of his policies.

“Bush remains broadly unpopular among groups that made up his main opponents during his time in office: Democrats (70% unfavorable), liberals (68% unfavorable) non-whites (54% unfavorable), and those under age 35 (53% unfavorable),” CNN explained. “But even among these groups, he’s gained some ground since leaving office. In February 2009, 85% of Democrats and 90% of liberals had a negative take on the president, as did 75% of non-whites and more than 6 in 10 young adults.”

Some would argue that President Barack Obama, who received an even split at 49%, is just that bad. Certainly, Obama hasn’t been an improvement over his predecessor and, in many ways, has been much worse. But the absence of Bush in the Oval Office doesn’t mean that voters should have a favorable view of him.

The tension in the Middle East over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) may be part of the reason why Bush is rising and Obama is falling. At the same time, voters should remember that Iraq and the rise of ISIL is a failure of the Bush administration.

Certainly, Obama’s foreign policy has been hawkish in some respects, such as Libya, and disastrous in others, like Ukraine, where tensions with Russia have boiled over. But that it doesn’t compare to the utter disgrace that was Bush’s foreign policy.

And again, it’s not just Bush’s foreign policy. He was bad on almost everything. It’s been said voters have a short-term memory; that they’re willing to forgive and move on. That may be true, but failing to remember the lessons of bad presidents means we’re doomed to repeat them again and again.

They Said It… Dr. Oz, John Stossel, And More!

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

IN OPPOSITION: “I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the Senator Rand Paulpresident has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat. I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a president is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court. …Are we comfortable killing American citizens, no matter how awful or heinous the crime they’re accused of, are we comfortable killing them based on accusations that no jury has reviewed?” — Sen. Rand Paul on the Senate floor May 21, 2014, explaining his objections to nominating David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.


Dr. Mehmet Oz

“I grew up like most of my generation believing that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans, a communist plot. But I think most of us have come around to the believe that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes.” — TV megastar Dr. Mehmet Oz on “Larry King Live,” May 14, 2014. Oz is hardly alone. Earlier this year a CBS News poll found a whopping 86 percent of Americans think doctors should be able to legally prescribe medical cannabis to patients suffering from serious illnesses. Numerous other polls indicate a majority of Americans favor re-legalization for recreational use as well.

LEGAL POT KILLS BLACK MARKETS: “It’s not worth it anymore. I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.” — Rodrigo Silla, 50, a lifelong cannabis farmer in Mexico, quoted in the Washington Post. Silla, like other Mexican pot farmers, has stopped growing marijuana because the U.S. has re-legalized marijuana or allows it for medical use in 20 states and the District of Columbia. This has gutted the market and lowered prices by 3/4s — exactly as libertarians predicted. Unfortunately, but also predictably, Mexican drug cartels are now pushing heroin harder than ever to make up for their pot losses. Hmmm… how could we stop that?

DO-IT-YOURSELF: “In 2003, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) spent $400,000 digitizing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which was among the most widely read and influential papers in 19th century America. A decade later, the library was still raising money to finish the remaining 52 years of the Daily Eagle’s run. In the meantime, [Tom] Tryniski digitized all 115 years of the paper in about five months working alone.” — journalist Jim Epstein, “A Retiree Digitizes 27 Million Old Newspaper Pages in His Living Room (and Libraries Fight to Catch Up),” Reason blog, May 18, 2014.

GOV’T KILLING AMERICAN DREAM: “Dallas Mavericks owner Fox Business' John StosselMark Cuban left school with no money and no job prospects. He managed to become a billionaire by creating several businesses from scratch. I asked him if he could do it again today, and he said, ‘No … now there’s so much paperwork and regulation, so many things that you have to sign up for, that you have a better chance of getting in trouble than you do of being successful.’ That’s tragic. … Government mostly hinders us, and then brags that it is waiting to take charge when we fail.” — award-winning libertarian journalist John Stossel, “Regulating Away the American Dream,” April 30, 2014.


Antony Davies

“At the state level, government regulation has become so lucrative for crony-capitalists that today almost 40 percent of U.S. jobs require a government license versus about 5 percent a generation ago. Louisiana requires $2,000 plus 80 hours of study to become a florist, while Utah requires hair braiders to get a beautician license that costs $18,000 and 2,000 hours of study.” — economist Antony Davies, “Consumers Are the Best Regulators,” US News & World Report online, May 12, 2014.


MILTON FRIEDMAN ON FOUR WAYS TO SPEND MONEY: “There are four ways in which you can Milton Friedmanspend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.” — Milton Friedman, Fox News interview (May 2004), requoted by Mark D. Friedman in comments field of article.

Remembering Tonie Nathan, 1923-2014: Libertarian Pioneer and Advocates Friend

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In 1972 I walked into a Georgia voting booth to proudly cast my vote for the presidential ticket of my John Hospers Tonie Nathanchoice.

My candidates weren’t on the ballot, though. I had to write their names in by hand:

John Hospers, Libertarian Party, President
Tonie Nathan, Libertarian Party, Vice President

Did I feel good about that vote? You bet! And I still do. It was the start of a revolution in American politics still going on today.

Alas, both of those two political pioneers are no longer with us.

John Hospers passed away on June 12, 2011.

And on March 20, 2014 Tonie Nathan died at the age of 91.

She was a charter member of the national Libertarian Party, which was founded in 1971. At their first presidential nominating convention in 1972, the LP nominated her as Hospers’ running mate.  

Tonie achieved a unique and permanent place in American history during that 1972 race: she became the first woman in U.S. history to receive an electoral vote in the Electoral College – many years before the far more highly publicized 1984 campaign of Democrat Geraldine Ferraro.How did that remarkable event come about?The brand-new Libertarian Party was only on the ballot in two states, Colorado and Washington State, though Hospers and Nathan actively campaigned in major cities and on college campuses, taking the libertarian message to large audiences.

Enter Roger MacBride, a Republican elector in Virginia who had libertarian views. MacBride was so fed up with the statist GOP Nixon and Agnew ticket that he decided to support Hospers and Nathan instead – thus giving Nathan that historic electoral vote.

MacBride later joined the Libertarian Party and became the party’s 1976 Libertarian presidential candidate.

Tonie remained active with the Libertarian Party, running as a Libertarian for federal and state offices from the 1970s right through the 1990s. She also served as a vice chair of the Libertarian Party.

She was active in other organizations as well. She was a founding member and former president of the Association of Libertarian Feminists. In 1977, Congresswoman Bella Abzug appointed her as a delegate-at-large to the National Conference of Women.

Tonie Nathan with Dagny SmithShe was a good friend of the Advocates from the early days of our founding, as the quote at the top of this issue of the Liberator Online indicates. She understood and appreciated the importance of the Advocates’ mission of helping libertarians become successful and effective communicators of the ideas of liberty.

She was a speaker at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, where a large crowd honored her for her many contributions to the Libertarian Party and the liberty movement. Many young people came up to her to thank her and to ask her advice. Friends of hers tell me that experience tickled her pink!

At that convention she was among the very first people inducted into the LP’s new “Hall of Liberty” program honoring “lifetime or significant achievement that has made a lasting effect on the Libertarian Party and/or libertarian movement.”

Also at that convention she presented Gary Johnson as the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee.

As I’ve written before, it’s vital for our movement to remember, respect and honor our libertarian heroes, our founding fathers, those who came before us. I think the LP’s Hall of Liberty is a fantastic idea, and I urge other organizations to consider similar programs.

Forty-two years later I am still proud of my 1972 vote. I had the great honor and pleasure of meeting and talking with Tonie numerous times over the years. Hers was a life well lived, and she leaves a rich legacy well worth celebrating.