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Volume 16, No. 7                                                                                                                     April 8, 2011

The Liberator Online

for everyone who loves Liberty
Published by The Advocates for Self-Government


"The Advocates leads the way in thinking, methods, and materials for communicating libertarianism. Every libertarian activist has benefited from, and owes a debt of gratitude to, the Advocates."
-- David Bergland, author of Libertarianism In One Lesson, 1984 Libertarian Party presidential candidate








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In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
* The Great Cause That Makes All Other Great Causes Possible
* Great Anti-Tax Song

INTELLECTUAL AMMUNITION
* Rep. Paul Ryan Is Worse than Bill Clinton
* Trade Deficits: Good or Bad?
* Government Vs. The Easter Bunny
 
THEY SAID IT: Thomas Sowell on his blood pressure.... Jay Leno on Obamanomics.... Jay Leno on Libya.... Rand Paul on busybodies and nanny-staters .... The Seattle Times on re-legalizing marijuana....

PERSUASION POWER POINT #306
* Are You Stingy With Thought-Provoking Libertarian Columns -- or Do You Share Them?

 ASK DR. RUWART
* Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

ONE-MINUTE LIBERTY TIP
* Honoring Our Past, Remembering Our Heroes
 
 WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
* Sharon Harris speaking in North Carolina and Tennessee
* FREE OPH KITS for libertarian student groups!
* Join the Advocates on Twitter.
* Join the Advocates Facebook Fan Club.


President's Corner

by Sharon Harris






The Great Cause That Makes All Other Great Causes Possible

Dear friend,
 
You can be proud to be a libertarian.
 
As I am fond of saying, liberty is the great Cause that makes all other great causes possible.
 
Liberty makes possible virtually all the good things in our lives. For only liberty creates the abundance that allows people to move beyond merely struggling to survive, and lets them express their compassionate, caring, and creative sides.
 
Liberty brings with it peace, abundance, charity, art, travel, creativity, tolerance, and the opportunity to pursue happiness.
 
Think of any great charitable cause – feeding and clothing the hungry, eradicating poverty, expanding education, funding the arts, medical research, caring for neglected animals, protecting the environment, following personal spiritual pursuits – and you will immediately realize that only personal and economic liberty makes it possible.
 
Where liberty is lacking, there is poverty, sickness, violence, tyranny, misery. Where there is liberty, there is abundance, harmony and the opportunity for happiness.
 
Liberty is literally a matter of life and death for the people of the world.
 
As libertarians we are not only helping to set the world free, we are creating the conditions for a truly humane, harmonious, and abundant world to grow and flourish.
 
The Advocates exists to help libertarians be successful at spreading the precious ideas of liberty.
 
Thank you for being a part of this great work.
 
* * *
 
"How Could I Live Without Filing Taxes?"
 
That’s the title of a song by Carla Howell, one of the country’s premiere tax fighters and president of the Center for Small Government.
 
It’s been played on hundreds of radio stations across America. It’s the perfect song for April 15.
 
You can hear it and download it for free here.
 
There's a great video for the song, too -- be sure to check it out at that same link. 
 
Like it? Pass it around on Facebook, to radio stations, sympathetic podcasters, your friends and anyone else you think might be interested.
 
Sample lyrics:
 
"I love doing my taxes
When each springtime comes, don't you?
Instead of garden walks and ball games,
I get to work my weekends, too.
 
"How could I live without filing taxes?
What would I do with my free time?
Where would I go on a beautiful Sunday?
Good thing I won't have to make up my mind."

                                    * * *
 
In Liberty,
 
Sharon

                                     * * *

The purpose of the Liberator Online is to build a stronger movement for liberty. We do this by providing information about the libertarian movement and how to best communicate the ideas of liberty. Thank you for being a part of this!

Learn more about the Advocates and our work for liberty.

Learn more about libertarianism -- the philosophy of liberty.
 
-- Sharon Harris, President | Email



Intellectual Ammunition

by James W. Harris

 


Libertarian Party: Rep. Paul Ryan Is Worse than Bill Clinton

The mainstream media is portraying House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's new budget-cutting proposal as a radical all-out attack on government spending.  
 
Baloney, says the Libertarian Party, in a new press release analyzing the Ryan plan.  Ryan’s budget proposal just perpetuates Big Government. And Ryan and his GOP supporters are worse on budget cutting than… Bill Clinton.
 
Yikes!
 
"Americans hoping to get real about our national debt just got sucker-punched by Republican Paul Ryan,” says Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle.
 
"Republicans want to spend $40 trillion over ten years. That averages a staggering $4 trillion per year. As recently as 2000, federal spending was only about $1.8 trillion.
 
"They also want to increase the federal debt from $15.0 trillion to $23.1 trillion. I hope our children and grandchildren enjoy paying interest on that extra $8.1 trillion.
 
"What this budget shows is, Republicans are hypocrites. They have no intention of cutting the federal government down to size. In 2021, Paul Ryan still wants the feds to be spending 19.9% of GDP. That's a higher percentage than during Democrat Bill Clinton's second term. In 1997, federal spending was 19.5% of GDP, and it dropped to 18.2% by 2000.
 
Hinkle’s blunt conclusion: “Paul Ryan is worse than Bill Clinton.”
 
The LP also condemns Ryan’s budget for failing to touch out-of-control military spending. And it starkly contrasts the Libertarian Party’s position with Ryan’s:
 
"We Libertarians propose eliminating federal functions that are not authorized in the Constitution. Furthermore, Libertarians propose ending foreign wars and foreign troop deployments, allowing huge cuts in military spending. Libertarians would cut the federal government down to less than 10% of GDP, and we'd keep cutting once we got there."
 
The LP makes a lot of great points, and the whole press release is well worth checking out.

Trade Deficits: Good or Bad?

Photo: procsilas
The U.S. trade deficit has risen recently, leading to a number of news stories indicating that this is bad news for America.
 
Indeed, a March Associated Press story bluntly declared: “A widening trade deficit hurts the U.S. economy. When imports outpace exports, more jobs go to foreign workers than to U.S. workers.”
 
But that’s nonsense, according to many respected free-market thinkers. Worse, it is nonsense that leads to anti-trade protectionist policies that harm the economy and impoverish America.
 
Here are some resources on this important and badly misunderstood issue. They explain what the trade deficit is, why it worries some people, and why so many people are so wrong about what it means.
 
* “Forget the Trade Deficit!” by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom Foundation, August 1998. This short, entertaining and informative article is a good place to start for info on the trade deficit controversy.
 
Excerpt: “Memo to newspaper editors: Stop publishing stories about the trade deficit. You are needlessly worrying people about something that means absolutely nothing. … Adam Smith, that Scotsman who knew a fair bit about political economy, which for him was a branch of moral philosophy, said: ‘Nothing is more absurd than this doctrine of the balance of trade.’ That was correct in 1776. It is correct today. Economists have demonstrated this point a million times.”
 
* “Time for a Reality Check on the Trade Deficit” by Daniel Griswold, Director, Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute. This brief March 10, 2011 blog post argues that the conventional wisdom on the trade deficit is wrong. It links to further useful information.
 
* “America's Maligned and Misunderstood Trade Deficit” by Daniel Griswold, Director, Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute. This lengthy 1998 Cato Trade Policy Analysis lays out, in clear language, the argument that trade deficits are not a threat and can be a positive sign of economic growth.
 
Excerpt: “Misunderstanding of the trade deficit threatens to undermine the freedom to trade by encouraging faulty and damaging ‘solutions’ to a problem that does not exist. … None of the common concerns about the trade deficit holds up to empirical scrutiny. Trade deficits cannot be blamed for unemployment or slower growth, nor are they a sign of unfair trade practices abroad or declining industrial competitiveness at home. Trade deficits may even signify growing consumer demand and expanding investment opportunities.”
 
* Video: “Don't Fear the Trade Deficit” by Don Boudreaux, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute. In this clear and entertaining talk recorded March 24, 2011, Boudreaux argues that the U.S. trade deficit is far less of a problem than many people believe. Trade deficits are prime indicators of foreign investment in a country, which will inevitably lead to wage and standard of living increases.


Government Vs. The Easter Bunny

Photo: Neal
It’s always good to have a libertarian-themed holiday story to share with friends and family. As Easter nears, Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute has provided us with one.
 
The prices of chocolate bunnies, Easter eggs and other Easter staples are going up, thanks in part to – you guessed it – the government.
 
Indeed, the Hershey Company is raising wholesale prices by nearly 10% on most of its candy. Among the chief reasons: high costs for raw ingredients. The costs of two key raw materials -- sugar and dairy products -- are artificially high thanks to wrongheaded federal economic policies.
 
Further, high corporate taxes are also hurting Hershey’s U.S. production of candy and driving prices up.
 
Learn more from Edwards’ short blog post, “Easter Bunny’s Burden.” And tell your friends.

* * * * * * * *
Intellectual 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...

HOW TO RAISE THOMAS SOWELL’S BLOOD PRESSURE: “Don't mention ‘municipal golf courses’ to me. It sends my blood pressure up through the roof. What earthly excuse is there for spending the taxpayers' money subsidizing a golf course? Politicians can't even invoke ‘the poor,’ as they do when trying to justify other government boondoggles.” – economist and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell, “Random Thoughts,” March 22.

JAY LENO ON OBAMANOMICS: "According to a poll, 55 percent of college students approve of the job President Obama is doing. That may change once they graduate and try to find a job." – Jay Leno, April 1, 2011.
 
LENO ON LIBYA: "President Obama addressed the nation on Libya. This changes his previous policy on Libya, which was, 'don't ask, don't tell.'… Instead of calling our mission in Libya a war, the White House is calling it a 'kinetic military action,' which sounds better than 'potentially endless quagmire.’ … We're down to the final four now. Only four Middle East countries we haven't attacked. …  It's now being reported that CIA agents have entered Libya. We're not sure how long they'll be staying, but some of them just left Vietnam." -- Jay Leno March 29 and March 31, 2011.
 
RAND PAUL VS. THE BUSYBODIES: "You busybodies always want to do something to tell us how to live our lives better. Keep it to yourselves.” -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), complaining about poorly-functioning "energy efficient" toilets and light bulbs to Kathleen Hogan of the U.S. Department of Energy, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee hearing.

SEATTLE NEWSPAPER & MANY WASHINGTON STATE POLITICIANS SAY RE-LEGALIZE MARIJUANA: "Marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed. The push to repeal federal prohibition should come from the states, and it should begin with the state of Washington. ... In 2003, Seattle was one of the first places in America to vote to make simple marijuana possession the lowest police priority. That, too, was a leap of faith, and the right decision. A year ago, City Attorney Pete Holmes stopped all prosecutions for simple possession: the right decision.

"It is time for the next step. ... This state's experience with medical marijuana and Seattle's tolerance policy suggest that with cannabis, legalization will work -- and surprisingly well. Not only will it work, but it is coming. You can feel it. ... Legalize cannabis, regulate it, tax it. It is radical, yet commonsensical." -- The Seattle Times, largest daily newspaper in the state of Washington, February 18, editorializing in favor of a marijuana legalization bill introduced in this year's state legislature and endorsed by every state legislator from Seattle, as well as the city’s mayor, city attorney and several city council members. The bill failed, but an initiative is planned. A January 2011 poll indicates 51% of voters favor relegalization.
* * * * * * * * * *
"They Said It..." is compiled by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris.



PERSUASION POWER POINT #306

by Michael Cloud



Are You Stingy With Thought-Provoking Libertarian Columns -- or Do You Share
Them?

 
Soon after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, after Haiti's earthquake, and after Japan's earthquake, Big Government pundits and promoters wrote columns claiming these disasters had a… silver lining.
 
The destruction stimulates economies and creates economic growth, they claimed.
 
Nonsense. "Economic lunacy," responded economist Walter Williams last month, in a column by that name that exposed the 'Broken Window Fallacy' in their reasoning -- and vaporized their "silver lining" claims. He did this with only 656 words!
 
A number of libertarians read the column, but most kept it to themselves. They were stingy.
 
I found only three libertarians who not only read it, but passed it on, promoted it, and asked their readers to share it: Liberator Online editor James W. Harris in his “Intellectual Ammunition” column, Libertarian Party National Chair Mark Hinkle, and me.
 
Why? Why weren't libertarians everywhere forwarding the column to families and friends? Why weren't they using Dr. Williams’ brief, persuasive column to vaccinate others against economic insanity?
 
I telephoned twenty libertarians and asked them. Twelve had read "Economic Lunacy." They agreed that it was excellent -- but only two of them forwarded the column to friends. And those two had sent it to a total of… six friends.
 
"Why didn't you forward it to friends?" I asked the ten who just read it.
 
Their answer? It didn't occur to them. They simply hadn't considered using great libertarian columns to spread the word.
 
Liberty cannot grow if you and I hoard the best libertarian ideas and insights.
 
Freedom cannot expand if we are stingy with thought-provoking libertarian books, essays, columns, and blogs.
 
We must share and forward and promote the most eye-opening and exciting pro-liberty stuff we come across.
 
And we must urge those we send them to -- to pass them on.
 
The more you share libertarian ideas, the more people you will win to libertarianism.
 
The more I share libertarian ideas, the more people I will win over.
 
I benefit from the new libertarians you bring in. And you benefit from the new libertarians I bring in.
 
Share just one or two great libertarian columns or essays every month. Email each to ten or twenty friends. Pass it on via Facebook and other online channels.
 
The libertarian movement grows by sharing the best and brightest freedom ideas. You -- with your family and friends. Me -- with mine.

* * * * * * * *
Michael Cloud is author of the acclaimed book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion, available exclusively from the Advocates.
 
In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.




Ask Dr. Ruwart



Dr. Mary Ruwart is a leading expert in libertarian communication. In this column she offers short answers to real questions about libertarianism. To submit questions to Dr. Ruwart, see end of column.
 
Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

Question: National landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are symbols of national unity, strength, and sources of inspiration. They are monuments of a national republic. How would these monuments be constructed for the entire nation in a libertarian society?

My Short Answer: They would be constructed through private donations rather than taxes. Donations are given freely; taxes are forced.

We honor Jefferson, Washington, and Lincoln because they each believed in the importance of individual freedom, even though they may not have practiced it perfectly (e.g., Jefferson had slaves). We dishonor their memory and the values they cherished by forcing our fellow Americans to pay for their memorials.

Photo: ryochiji
Without tax funding, the edifices of these great men might be less grandiose than they are today. (Of course, they might just as well be even grander, and better funded.) However, they would be a truer symbol of the freedom that made our nation great.

Even today, many renowned historical sites and monuments are privately funded. George Washington’s home Mount Vernon has been maintained and made available to the public since 1853 by the Mount Vernon’s Ladies’ Association, which proudly declares it “has neither requested nor accepted government funding.” Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello is maintained by a private, non-profit corporation, in cooperation with the University of Virginia. Colonial Williamsburg was restored with private funds and is run as a private national museum not dependent on government funding.

A libertarian society, based on free enterprise and free from today’s crippling tax burden, would be far wealthier than our society today and thus better able to fund such monuments and landmarks. And the drive to collect the funding for them could unite and inspire the country every bit as much as the actual monuments themselves.

LEARN MORE: Suggested additional reading on this topic from the Liberator Online editor:

* “The Firestorm Over Private Museums” by Lauren A.E. Schuker, Wall Street Journal. This April 2008 article tells how art collectors are increasingly creating private museums to insure their prized artwork gets shown the way they want. It notes that there are nearly 100 such museums in America, despite the huge competition from government-funded art museums.

* * * * * * * *

Got questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you'd like answers to YOUR "tough questions" on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart at: ruwart@theAdvocates.org
 
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 outstanding book Healing Our World is available from the Advocates.


One-Minute Liberty Tip 

By Sharon Harris


Honoring Our Past, Remembering Our Heroes
 
Lanny Friedlander passed away on March 19.
 
You may not know his name – I didn’t until recently – but he had a profound effect on the liberty movement.
 
Friedlander founded Reason magazine, today the world’s largest and most influential libertarian magazine, in 1968.
 
I’m writing about him here because of what Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason.tv and Reason.com, wrote about Friedlander at Reason’s blog last month when he learned of his death.
 
Friedlander had dropped out of sight many years ago. When Gillespie began working at Reason, no one at the magazine even knew how to get in touch with him.
 
Wrote Gillespie:
 
“When I began working at Reason in late 1993, I remember asking around a bit about this Friedlander guy who'd gotten the ball rolling, whose name was all over the early issues, right there, at the top of the masthead even. … Virginia Postrel, editor in chief of Reason from 1989 until 2000, told me via email [that] not only had she never met him, but during her time at the mag, folks didn't even know what had happened to him. …
 
“When we opened our D.C. offices a few years ago, I hunted around for a picture of Lanny to put on the walls -- libertarians aren't much for shrines to fearless leaders, but come on! -- and nobody in the organization could find one.”
 
This last paragraph is what provoked me to write this column. I salute Gillespie for trying to honor Friedlander, to display a picture of him, and to include him in Reason’s 35th anniversary celebration.
 
Far too many libertarian organizations don’t recognize and honor their past heroes, their major contributors, their founders, their candidates, their past chairs…
 
This is tragic and short-sighted. Every organization has a history. There was a founding. There were people who made it possible. People who kept it going through difficult times. Leaders. Notable activists. People who made significant contributions, often at considerable personal cost or sacrifice.
 
And yet, too often, we libertarians act as if the organizations we are participating in were founded just last week.
 
That’s bad policy, morally and pragmatically.
 
When an organization recognizes the people who contribute to its success, good things happen.
 
Newer members are encouraged to give a little more, or a lot more – knowing their efforts will be appreciated.
 
The act of recognition and celebration warms hearts and creates unity and good feelings.
 
Newcomers in the organization know that the organization has roots and a history and substance.
 
The celebration of old achievements spurs us on to new ones.
 
And besides, it’s just the right thing to do.
 
Of course, the people I’m talking about didn’t do their important work for this kind of recognition. But they nonetheless have earned it.
 
The Advocates has an annual awards program, Lights of Liberty, which recognizes and rewards grassroots activism in three important areas of outreach: writing letters to the editor, public speaking, and OPH outreach.
 
Some libertarian organizations congratulate their members who win Lights of Liberty awards, at their conventions or in their newsletters, as a way of thanking them. I think that’s great.
 
There are many ways an organization can recognize people for important contributions. Awards and public acknowledgement at conventions. Mentions and articles in newsletters. Photos on walls and websites. The naming of buildings, rooms, scholarships and the like. The inclusion of their names and achievements in histories of the organization posted at websites.
 
Several years ago at an Advocates event, we gave an award to a nationally-known libertarian leader for his contributions to the Advocates.
 
He was deeply moved when I gave him the award. Later he thanked me. “I’ve never gotten an award before,” he said.
 
I was stunned. This person had made enormous contributions to liberty. He had run for office, played a major part in national organizations, written countless important articles for numerous publications, and done much more besides. And this was his first award?
 
Nick Gillespie’s story about Lanny Friedlander has at least something of a happy ending. He concludes:
 
“Thanks to longtime reader and supporter Bob Smiley, we managed to reconnect with Lanny not long ago, and started sending him the magazine… I wish that Lanny could have enjoyed it more while he was here, and I wish to hell that he would be with us as the future unfolds.”
 
Who do you know in your local, state or national organization that should be recognized?

* * * * * *
Sharon Harris is president of the Advocates for Self-Government. See more One Minute Liberty tips.   


What's Happening with the Advocates


ADVOCATES PRESIDENT TO SPEAK: Sharon Harris will speak at two events in April. Hope you can attend, and if you do, be sure to say hello to her. She loves to meet Liberator Online subscribers!

 * April 16-17, 2011 - Libertarian Party of North Carolina, Hickory, NC. Find out more.

 * April 29-30, 2011 - Libertarian Party of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. Find out more.


FREE OPH KITS FOR LIBERTARIAN STUDENT GROUPS: Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we're giving our acclaimed OPH (Operation Political Homeless) outreach kits to libertarian student groups FREE -- if they simply promise to use them a minimum of three times a year and send us photos documenting their OPH activity. OPH -- praised as the best recruiting tool in the libertarian movement -- normally sells for $50.00.


If you're in a student libertarian group, click here for more information on getting your free OPH kit.


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Joining the conversation is easy. If you don't already have a Twitter account, it only takes a few moments to sign up for one.

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About Us

THE LIBERATOR ONLINE, created by James W. Harris and Paul Schmidt, is the official newsletter of the Advocates for Self-Government.

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