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Volume 20, Issue 4                              January 29, 2015
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"The Advocates has made invaluable contributions to the freedom cause. For over twenty years, the Advocates has worked tirelessly to help libertarians better communicate the ideas of liberty. I continue to be impressed by the Advocates' work." 

— Ron Paul
WELCOME to the Liberator Online!

In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
*
This Week: Millions Celebrate Education Choice

ACTIVIST AMMUNITION
Uber Revolution Shows How "Competition Breeds Competence"
* Government Recording Your Driving Habits, Tracking Your Phone Calls, and Looking Through the Walls of Your House

THEY SAID IT: Earth-shaking changes for liberty are on the way, says Reason's Nick Gillespie.... Obama's spending is making Bush look like a peacenik (okay, not really, but still...).... Conservative journalist Jonah Goldberg laughs at the idea that being a liberal on campus today is somehow "radical"....

PERSUASION POWER POINT #383 by Michael Cloud
The Great Libertarian Super Bowl TV Ad

LIBERTY MINUTE
There's No Such Thing as an "Unregulated Market"

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
* International Students For Liberty Conference
* SPECIAL THANK-YOU GIFTS reserved just for you!
* FREE OPH KITS for libertarian student groups

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President's Corner

by Sharon Harris







This Week: Millions Celebrate Education Choice

Dear friends, 

Happy National School Choice Week! 

This week (January 25 to 31) is National School Choice Week, a non-partisan public awareness effort designed to "shine a positive spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children."

I wasn't aware of the scope of this project until just recently, but it is huge. And this year is its biggest, highest-profile celebration yet. 

Millions of Americans in all 50 states will participate in more than 11,000 unique independently planned and independently funded events and activities celebrating school choice. These events will range from open houses and talent shows at schools to 5k runs and rallies on the steps of state capitols.

And there is growing political clout behind this diverse movement. This year the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to recognize January 25-31, 2015 as National School Choice Week. More than 100 U.S. governors, mayors and county leaders have issued proclamations recognizing National School Choice Week in their states and localities. I'm impressed!

National School Choice Week doesn't focus on a single tactic or solution for increasing education choice and quality. Instead, it focuses on bringing public awareness to this issue and, in doing so, creating a mass movement for the broad goals of education choice and diversity. 

As the group says: "Participants in National School Choice Week believe that parents should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children. Supporters plan events that highlight a variety of school choice options — from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling — while uniting with like-minded groups and individuals across the country."

One of the resources that National School Choice Week offers is a national map that provides facts about school choice in each state. Click on a state on the map and discover the types of school choice available — and not available — to families in that state. Great resource! Check it out. 

The growth of such a mass movement for liberty in education is heartening. And support is strong and growing fast, as this Beck Research national survey of likely 2016 voters proves: 

"When asked, 'Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child's education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs,' fully 69% support school choice, including 45% who strongly support it, while 27% oppose it. School choice support has strong support across partisan lines; 60% of Democrats, 67% of Independents and 81% of Republicans back it."

That's astounding progress. 

Of course, the ultimate goal for libertarians is what Advocates Founder and education reform pioneer Marshall Fritz called "separation of school and state." 

I'll finish by quoting from a recent column by Ron Paul inspired by National School Choice Week. As usual, Paul gets straight to the heart of the matter:

"If Congress was serious about improving education it would shut down the Department of Education. ... So as long as federal education programs exist, school children will be used as guinea pigs for federal bureaucrats who think they are capable of creating a curriculum suitable for every child in the country. ...

"It would also shut down all other unconstitutional bureaucracies, end our interventionist foreign policy, and reform monetary policy so parents would have the resources to provide their children with an education that fits their children's unique needs. 

"Federal and state lawmakers must also repeal any laws that limit the education alternatives parents can choose for their children. The greater the options parents have and the greater the amount of control they exercise over education, the stronger the education system.

"These reforms would allow more parents access to education options such as private or religious schools, and also homeschooling."

Let's hope this week moves us further in that direction. Happy National School Choice Week!

In Liberty,
 
Sharon
 
* * *
Learn more about the Advocates and our work for liberty.

Learn more about libertarianism â€” the philosophy of liberty. 

Activist Ammunition

by James W. Harris





Uber Revolution Shows How "Competition Breeds Competence" 

The reaction of taxi companies to the sudden new competition from Uber and Lyft is revolutionizing the stuck-in-its-ways taxi industry — and it offers an excellent demonstration of how strong competition enormously benefits consumers, says economist Mark Perry at his blog Carpe Diem.

Writes Perry:

"When government agencies or heavily regulated industries are insulated from market competition, the incentives to offer better service and lower prices, along with the incentives to innovate, upgrade and improve are either significantly weakened or non-existent. But when faced unexpectedly with some market competition, it's amazing how the normally sclerotic, anti-consumer and unresponsive government agencies or protected industries can suddenly become responsive and consumer-friendly."

Perry quotes an article from the Los Angeles Times:

"All taxicab drivers in Los Angeles will be required to use mobile apps similar to Uber and Lyft by this summer, according to a measure passed by the Los Angeles Taxicab Commission this week.

"The order, passed on a 5-0 vote, requires every driver and cab to sign onto a city-certified 'e-hail' app by Aug. 20 or face a $200-a-day fine. The move is seen as a way to make taxicab companies more competitive with rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft.

"Los Angeles cab companies reported a 21% drop in taxi trips in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period the previous year, the steepest drop on record. Cab companies largely attribute the drop to the popularity of app-based ride services.

"William Rouse, general manager of Yellow Cab of Los Angeles, says his company has utilized a mobile app for several years. The app, Curb, allows riders to hail and track a cab, provide payment and rate drivers. 'If our industry is ever going to get a chance to move passengers from Uber back to taxis, each one of these companies should have an app,' Rouse told The Times. 'It's a shame that the city had to mandate it in order for this to happen.'"

And this stunner, from ABC News last summer:

"Meet the new secret weapon to get a leg up in the cutthroat competition among cabbies — charm school. Taxi drivers in Washington state are getting lessons that they hope will give them an edge against startups such as Lyft and Uber. About 170 taxicab operators paid $60 out of their pockets for a four-hour training session to learn about topics including customer satisfaction and developing relationships with institutional clients."

Taxi drivers going to charm school to learn how to better please customers? Talk about an economic miracle!

It all demonstrates what Perry calls Perry's Law: "competition breeds competence." It's a perfect example, he says, of how "direct, ruthless, even cutthroat competition is often the most effective form of regulation, and provides the intense discipline that forces firms to maximize their responsiveness to consumers. ... Government regulation typically reduces competition, which then reduces the competence of producers, and reduces their willingness to serve consumers and the public interest, which make us worse off. I say the more market competition the better, for consumers and for the human race."

Government Recording Your Driving Habits, Tracking Your Phone Calls, and Looking Through the Walls of Your House

The federal government is gathering information about when, where and why you drive. 

That's the latest in a seemingly endless flood of revelations about secret, sinister, invasive government spy programs conducted against innocent American citizens, often without court approval, suspicion, or oversight. 

Reports the Wall Street Journal, in an article by Devlin Barrett entitled "Justice Department Spying on 'Millions of Drivers'":
 
"The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.

"The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database's use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter. ...

"What hasn't been previously disclosed is that the DEA has spent years working to expand the database 'throughout the United States,' according to one email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. ...

"The database raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance. ... It is unclear if any court oversees or approves the intelligence-gathering.

"The DEA program collects data about vehicle movements, including time, direction and location, from high-tech cameras placed strategically on major highways. Many devices also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities, according to DEA documents and people familiar with the program.

"The documents show that the DEA also uses license-plate readers operated by state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies to feed into its own network and create a far-reaching, constantly updating database of electronic eyes scanning traffic on the roads to steer police toward suspects. ...

The DEA database, named EPIC, "allows any police agency that participates to quickly search records of many states for information about a vehicle. One May 2010 redacted email says: 'Anyone can request information from our [license-plate reader] program, federal, state, or local, just need to be a vetted EPIC user.…'"

The Wall Street Journal notes that is just the latest in a stream of such revelations. 

In November 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Marshals Service planes carried devices that mimicked cellphone towers, enabling them to scan the identifying information of Americans' phones. 

Earlier this month the DEA revealed that for nearly 15 years it had created and operated a secret law enforcement database that collected virtually all data relating to Americans' outbound overseas telephone calls, without judicial oversight, which was sifted to search for possible drug law violators. Astoundingly, according to Reuters, federal agents were trained to conceal the role of the database when presenting cases to defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.

And on January 15, USA TODAY wrote: "At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance. Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used."

Renowned libertarian Judge Andrew P. Napolitano says of this crisis: 

"None of these flagrant violations of privacy, dignity and basic American constitutional values was enacted by a majority vote of any representative body of lawmakers — and yet none has been stopped by those lawmakers. That's because we have a deep state system in American government, whereby certain law enforcement, military, intelligence and diplomatic personnel can do as they wish, no matter which party controls the legislative and executive branches and in hair-splitting defiance of the courts. ... Who will keep us safe from the government? Who will keep our personal liberties safe? What representative government splits hairs in order to defy the Constitution, rather than complying with its oath to protect it?"

* * * 
Activist Ammunition is written by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for "Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty." 
THEY SAID IT...

BIG CHANGES AHEAD: "Whether you believe the 'libertarian moment has finally arrived' or not, there's no question that 2014 was a watershed for the decentralization of all sorts of cultural, economic, and political power. Thanks to technology that empowers individuals (think Twitter, Uber, cellphone cameras) and the continuing breakdown of all sorts of gatekeeper institutions (social, political, religious), more and more people in the United States and around the globe are ready, willing, and able to try and call their own shots." — Reason.com editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie, "5 Earth-Shaking Trends To Follow in 2015 — and Beyond!," TIME, Jan. 1, 2015.

OBAMA, MILITARY BIG SPENDER: "Defense budgets under [President] Bush... averaged $601 billion per year, while [President Obama] has presided over annual budgets averaging $687 billion between 2009 and 2014. Indeed, President Obama, who was elected during an economic crisis, will leave office having approved more military spending than any presidential administration in the nuclear era. Not too bad for a president who is often accused of trying to gut the military." — Christopher A. Preble, Cato Institute, "Budget Snapshot: Average Annual Defense Spending by Administration," Jan. 21, 2015. 

LIBERAL "REBELS": "My single biggest complaint about the majority of college campuses is the widespread myth that being liberal is rebellious somehow. I always like to ask students something like: 'So, let me get this straight. Your professors are liberal. The administration here is liberal. Your high school teachers were liberal. The mainstream media is liberal. The music industry is liberal. Hollywood is liberal. The art community is liberal. The fashion and publishing industries are liberal. And yet you people think you're sticking it to the Man by agreeing with them?' Being liberal is just about the least rebellious thing you can do on an elite college campus." — conservative journalist Jonah Goldberg, interviewed by Ryan Shinkel in The College Fix, Jan. 28, 2015.

Persuasion Power Point #382

by Michael Cloud





The Great Libertarian Super Bowl TV Ad

Over 110 million people will watch this Sunday's Super Bowl.

A 30-second Super Bowl TV ad costs $4 million.

A 60-second spot costs $8 million. 

Suppose a billionaire challenged you to write a 30-second or 60-second TV ad for libertarianism that gets 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 or more people to POSITIVELY RESPOND — to give us their names and contact information?

What would you say during that TV ad? 

You can speak roughly 50 to 60 words in 30 seconds and 100 to 120 words in a minute.

What would you say? 

What would you ask — to get 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 or more people to respond? To get them to text, email, telephone, or write to learn more about libertarianism?

How would you absolutely, positively guarantee that the billionaire would get his money's worth for your Super Bowl TV ad?

You may want to privately explore and experiment with this challenge. And try out different versions of it on family and friends. 

You will get better. More persuasive.

And closer and closer to Super Bowl-level communication.
 
*  *  *
In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

One-Minute Liberty Tip 

by Sharon Harris




There's No Such Thing as an "Unregulated Market" 

Many people fear that, without government regulation, there would be no way to insure the safety and reliability of the goods and services they rely upon every day. 

They fear that a free market would be an "unregulated market" where consumers would be blind and helpless before deceptive, dangerous marketers out to take advantage of them. 

This is a major deal-killer that keeps many people from fully embracing free markets and libertarianism. 

Happily, there's a great answer to this concern. The truth is, there's no such thing as an "unregulated market." Instead, there are two kinds of regulation: regulation by government command, and far more efficient regulation by markets and consumers.
 
A recent article in The Freeman by economist Howard Baetjer Jr. does a great job of explaining this — and of telling why this distinction is so crucial for libertarians to make. 

The article is entitled "There's No Such Thing as an Unregulated Market: It's a choice between regulation by legislators or by consumers." 

Says Baetjer: 

"A big economic problem the world faces is semantic. That is, 'regulation' has come to mean 'government regulation.' We don't seem to be aware of the alternative: regulation by market forces. That's a problem because it leads us to accept so much government meddling that we would be better off without.

"We want the aims of regulation — regularity and predictability in markets, decent quality and reasonable prices for the goods and services we buy — and thinking that government regulation is the only way to get those, we accept a vast array of unnecessary, wrongheaded, and usually counterproductive mandates and restrictions.

"But government regulation is not the only kind of regulation.

"To regulate is to make regular and orderly, to hold to a standard, to control according to rule, as a thermostat regulates the temperature in a building. Market forces do this continually as competing businesses offer what they hope will be a good value, then customers choose among the various offerings, then the competing businesses react to customers' choices. That process is the market's regulator."

Baetjer explains how markets and consumer feedback regulate the quality of the goods and services we buy and how market and consumer feedback forces regulate prices, thus protecting consumers from higher-than-necessary prices.

Baetjer also explains the flip side of this: how government regulations that consumers think protect them actually hamper this crucial market and consumer regulation. How market/consumer regulation is weakened as markets become less free. 

Finally, Baetjer sums up the problem — and opportunity — this realization offers free market advocates: 

"We never face a choice between regulation and no regulation. We face a choice between kinds of regulation: regulation by legislatures and bureaucracies, or regulation by market forces — regulation by restriction of choice, or regulation by the exercise of choice.

"Government regulation is not the only kind of regulation; market forces also regulate. Recognizing this, communicating it to others, and getting the awareness into public discourse are key steps toward greater economic liberty.

"The benefit of this semantic change — opening up the meaning of 'regulation' to include regulation by market forces — is to raise the question, which works better? Regulation by market forces works better, but that's another argument. The first step is to recognize that market forces regulate, too."

These are vital insights for those interested in spreading the ideas of liberty. Avoid the phrase "unregulated market" and others like it. Not only are such phrases scary to many people, it doesn't at all accurately convey what we mean. Libertarians favor market and consumer regulation over inefficient, misleading, coercive and costly government regulation. 

Learning to convince others that consumers and markets regulate — and do it marvelously well, and far better than government — will help you win people to libertarianism. 

I highly recommend Baetjer's article. Read it â€” and start sharing the good news about market and consumer regulation. 

PS: Sharing specific, familiar, common real-world examples of how market forces protect consumers can go a long way towards convincing others on this crucial topic.

Here are four One-Minute Liberty Tip columns I wrote on this: 

Part 1: Give Specific, Concrete Examples 
Part 2: It's Kosher! 
Part 3: Seals of Approval 
Part 4: Brand Names

What's Happening with the Advocates

8th Annual International Students For Liberty Conference, Feb. 13 — Feb. 15, Washington, DC: Billed as "the premiere event of the year for students dedicated to liberty and advancing freedom on campus," this conference features an incredible line-up of speakers and events. The Advocates will have a booth there, and we look forward to meeting you! See conference website.

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