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Volume 19, Issue 24                              December 19, 2014
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"I would highly recommend that you learn more about the Advocates for Self-Government's views on liberty if you would like to be reminded of what America is supposed to stand for."

— Robert Ringer, bestselling author of Looking Out for #1 and Restoring the American Dream
WELCOME to the Liberator Online!

In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
Cuba Part of Trend: Liberty Sweeping the World

ACTIVIST AMMUNITION
Ron Paul: You'd Love My Government Shutdown 
New Study: Minimum Wage Hurts Low-Skilled Workers

THEY SAID IT: Economist Mark Perry gives a hearty thank-you to underappreciated market forces bringing us lower gas prices.... This year's "Worst Idea at the Wrong Time"  award goes to.... Less laws = less police harassment.... Glenn Greenwald asks: Is the media silencing torture victims?.... Obama is making a list and checking it, well, all the time, jokes Jimmy Fallon....

PERSUASION POWER POINT #381 by Michael Cloud
Liberty in This Season of Giving

LIBERTY MINUTE
The Eyeball Lottery: A Powerful Argument for Self-Ownership

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
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President's Corner

by Sharon Harris







Cuba Part of Trend: Liberty Sweeping the World

Dear friend, 

What exciting news to hear that — after fifty years — the U.S. is restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and easing restrictions on trade! 

It's yet another example of how the ideas of liberty are sweeping the world. 

It reminds me of one of the greatest moments in the history of liberty: the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Cubans will now have the opportunity to enjoy far more liberty. Economist Douglas A. Irwin points out the crucial connection between trade and liberty in a Wall Street Journal piece entitled "Trade Will Lead to Freedom": 

"The trade ban has been in effect for more than 50 years. It has been a complete failure to promote any positive change in the country. Instead, it has strengthened the Castros' grip on the country by giving them a ready-made excuse for their disastrous economic policies.

"Restoring trade ties and expanding commerce would revolutionize the Cuban economy and transform Cuban society. It would spur the growth of a business class, creating competing pockets of power and new, wealthy groups that would challenge the ruling Communist Party. It would give Cuban citizens access to more information, and information about the outside world destabilizes any repressive regime. 

"What would happen if every Cuban citizen had access to a smartphone, could organize protests via Twitter, and spread the word about government outrages? ...

"Trade will unleash winds of change that will upset the status quo ... there is nothing more unsettling to repressive regimes than allowing the exchange of goods and people, ideas and information, to flow freely between countries. Commerce is a conduit for this exchange and can upend the balance of power in closed societies."

Ron Paul has long been an opponent of the embargo, and in a new op-ed he welcomes the change. 

Paul also makes a great point that many people have overlooked: 

"What is particularly encouraging about this move is that the 50 year freeze in U.S./Cuba relations was thawed by a simple telephone call between President Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro. I have opposed the isolationist policies of sanctions and embargoes and have encouraged U.S. presidents to simply use diplomacy — even a simple telephone call — to clear up differences. There is a lesson in this for similarly tense U.S. relations with Iran, Russia, Syria, and others."

Indeed. Once again, Ron Paul has been proven a prophet. And once again, he's helped us see that rapid and major change for liberty is possible, even through something so simple as a phone call. 

The move to normalize relations with Cuba is just the latest example of the growing acceptance of libertarian ideas. In recent issues of the Liberator Online we've covered many of them: the growing protests against militarized police, the majority support for re-legalizing marijuana, victories for marriage equality, the new majority support for gun rights, the remarkable growth in both numbers and influence of the libertarian movement, the media's growing awareness of libertarianism... and perhaps most encouraging of all, the growth of libertarianism among young people — our hope for tomorrow.

Yes, there are many challenges ahead. But our ideas are winning victory after victory. It's a great time for liberty! I hope you share my excitement. 

In Liberty,
 
Sharon
 
NEXT ISSUE: It's back, like a garish but loveable old Christmas sweater: our annual Libertarian Christmas Special Issue! Don't miss it. 
 
* * *
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 â€” the philosophy of liberty. 
Become a SUPER COMMUNICATOR for the ideas of liberty!

Learn how at an entertaining and enlightening Advocates communication workshop, led by acclaimed libertarian communication expert and Advocates President Sharon Harris. 

Find out how you can get Sharon to speak at your organization. Email Sharon now, or call her at 770-386-8372.

Activist Ammunition

by James W. Harris





Ron Paul: You'd Love My Government Shutdown 

"The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the U.S. Senate averted a government shutdown by passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill," notes Ron Paul in a column at CNBC. 

"This year's omnibus resembles omnibuses of Christmas past in that it was drafted in secret, was full of special interest deals and disguised spending increases, and was voted on before most members could read it."

That's pathetic, Paul says.

"Instead of panicking over a limited shutdown, a true pro-liberty Congress would be eagerly drawing up plans to permanently close most of the federal government." 

"What would I shut down if given the opportunity for it to have any meaning?" he mused at Voices of Liberty.com. 

"First, the Fed. No more welfare for the rich.

"Second, the IRS. Let the people keep all of their earnings and spend their money in their own interest.

"Third, abolish the NSA, the TSA, the CIA and all spying on American citizens.

"Spending would stop, no federal printing presses and no stolen money from the people would end entitlements, which mostly go to the rich.

"And all of our wars — we would come home from the 150 countries where we have troops stationed.

Concludes Paul: "Now that's a government shutdown that would not go unnoticed and something to be proud of!"

New Study: Minimum Wage Hurts Low-Skilled Workers

A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research brings new weight to the argument that significant minimum wage increases hurt the very people they are intended to help — low-skilled workers, especially teens and minority workers.

Economists Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither examine the effects of the minimum wage increases in 2007, 2008 and 2009. They find that minimum wage increases have three devastating effects upon low-skilled workers: "minimum wage increases reduced the employment, average income, and income growth of low-skilled workers over short and medium-run time horizons."  

The study indicates that the minimum wage can keep low-skilled workers from moving up to a middle class income; such workers experience "significant declines in economic mobility." Charles Hughes of the Cato Institute explains

"Many of the people affected by minimum wage increases are on one of the first rungs of the economic ladder, low on marketable skills and experience. Working in these entry level jobs will eventually allow them to move up the economic ladder. By making it harder for these low-skilled workers to get on the first rung of the ladder, minimum wage increases could actually lower their chances of reaching the middle class."

Adding weight to these findings is a report earlier this year by the non-partisan federal Congressional Budget Office estimating that a three-year phase in of a $10.10 federal minimum wage option would reduce total employment by a stunning 500,000 workers.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, nicely summed up at MarketWatch the massive problems created for low-skill workers by the minimum wage: 

"Minimum-wage laws criminalize low-skill work. Imagine being forbidden to work. That is the case for people with skills under $8.25 an hour. The federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25, and additional costs, such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation bring the cost of employment closer to $8.25. The minimum wage is one reason why the teen unemployment rate is 18%, the youth (20 to 24) unemployment rate is 11%, and the African-American teen unemployment rate is 28%. Those groups have markedly lower skills than average. ...

"When the minimum wage is set above someone's skill level, that person is left on the sidelines. If people cannot get their first job, how can they get their second or third? People who take minimum-wage jobs gain entry to the professional world. Once they are in, they can keep rising." 

A short, highly readable summary of the negative effects of the minimum wage is the 2004 booklet "Minimum Wage, Maximum Damage: How the Minimum Wage Law Destroys Jobs, Perpetuates Poverty, and Erodes Freedom" by Jim Cox, published by the Advocates and available at our online Liberty Store.

* * * 

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...

THANKS: "Gas Prices: From $3.68 to $2.53 per gallon in 6 months, Thank You Big Oil, Price Manipulators and Greedy Speculators!" — tweet from economist Mark J. Perry, Dec. 15, 2014. 

WE HAVE A WINNER: "The undisputed winner in this year's 'Worst Idea at the Wrong Time' category is the poor suburb of Ferguson, Missouri ... in order to close a municipal budget gap — and keep in mind the prevailing poverty in the region has been widely attributed as one of the reasons for the escalating violence on either side of the law — Ferguson plans to boost revenue from public-safety fines... This means that local cops will now have an even bigger, and more aggressive quota of miscellaneous, petty offenses to fill, in order to collect money from an already impoverished population, and in the process antagonize said population even further, more than likely leading to the same if not worse outcomes that caused the riots in the first place." — Tyler Durden, "And The Winner In The 'Worst Idea at the Wrong Time' Category Is..." Zero Hedge, Dec. 13, 2014. 

LESS LAWS = LESS POLICE HARASSMENT: "We have criminalized so many behaviors (in the Staten Island case, selling packs of cigarettes!) that we have given the police enormous pressure to perform — and gigantic latitude to act on prejudice, bigotry, and simple anger. The police, in their defense, have an impossible job. They have come to see almost everyone around them, every day, as a lawbreaker and a danger to society. ... The answer is not better police or more enlightened officials. The answer is fewer laws. Decriminalize normal nonviolent daily activity, and the police will have fewer excuses to harass people they don't like — people who often can't fight back." — "Michael Munger, "The System Protects the System," Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Dec. 10, 2014. 

SILENCING THE VICTIMS: "Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage. ... If you don't hear from the human beings who are tortured, it's easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That's how the War on Terror generally has been 'reported' for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes."— journalist Glenn Greenwald, " U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, But None to Their Victims," The Intercept, Dec. 16, 2014. 

THEY'RE WATCHING: "Over the weekend the co-chair of Sony Entertainment broke her silence about the recent hacking scandal to apologize for some offensive emails she sent about President Obama. In response, Obama said, 'Don't worry. I secretly read those emails months ago.'" — Jimmy Fallon, the Tonight Show, Dec. 15, 2015. 
 

*  *  *
"They Said It..." is compiled by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris.

Persuasion Power Point #381

by Michael Cloud





Liberty in This Season of Giving

Want to give your family and friends a gift they'll treasure?

Want to shower them with values beyond measure?

Freely email them three or four of the most thought-provoking libertarian essays that you've read in the last six months. From the Liberator Online, LewRockwell.com, FEE, Reason, the Libertarian Party, or other sources you like and trust. 

Freely email them links to the best SHORT (4-8 minutes) persuasive libertarian videos posted on YouTube.

Buy and give them copies of a personal, practical, and principled libertarian book. Choose one that's appropriate for where they are in their interest in liberty. Some suggestions: Libertarianism in One Lesson, David Bergland's acclaimed short introduction to libertarianism. Healing Our World, Mary Ruwart's warm-hearted and well-documented look at libertarianism, or Short Answers to the Tough Questions: Expanded Edition, her essential resource for libertarian activists.  Jim Cox's entertaining and enlightening book of economic haiku, The Haiku EconomistSecrets of Libertarian Persuasion and Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion, my two books on the best ways to persuade others to embrace libertarianism. These and many more are offered at the Advocates for Self-Government online store

Give the gift of liberty to those you love.

It's the gift they will cherish year after year.
 
*  *  *
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




The Eyeball Lottery: A Powerful Argument for Self-Ownership

For many libertarians, self-ownership is the philosophical root of their support for liberty. Even many libertarians whose belief in liberty is based on other arguments often strongly support the fundamental idea of self-ownership. 

The modern argument for self-ownership was formulated by John Locke, who famously wrote in his Second Treatise on Government (1689): "every man has a property in his own person: this nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his."

From there, the entire libertarian position can be deduced and defended: the right to do as you choose with your own life and property, so long as you don't harm the lives and property of others. 

From the standpoint of libertarian outreach, there's another strong advantage of the self-ownership argument. When someone accepts it, they are accepting a baseline argument from which most or all other libertarian positions must also be accepted, or at least taken very seriously. So convince someone of the validity of self-ownership, and they will be allies on most other major issues as well. 

Which brings me to... the Eyeball Lottery. 

I first encountered this somewhat gruesome but powerful argument in Ayn Rand's collection of essays The Virtue of Selfishness, Chapter 10, "Collectivized Ethics."

Here's what Rand wrote: 

"It is medically possible to take the corneas of a man's eyes immediately after his death and trans­plant them to the eyes of a living man who is blind, thus restoring his sight (in certain types of blindness). Now, according to collectivized ethics, this poses a social problem. Should we wait until a man's death to cut out his eyes, when other men need them? Should we regard everybody's eyes as public property and devise a 'fair method of distribution'? Would you advocate cutting out a living man's eye and giving it to a blind man, so as to 'equalize' them? No? Then don't struggle any further with questions about 'public projects' in a free society. You know the answer. The principle is the same."

Other writers have presented this idea in different ways. Here's how you might present it in a conversation: 

"As you know, there are millions of people in the world who, through no fault of their own, are blind. Meanwhile, most people, through sheer luck, are blessed with two functioning eyes. 

"Would it be fair, then, for the government to force all two-eyed persons to register for an 'eyeball lottery' to remedy this imbalance? Those whose numbers are picked would have one of their eyes removed painlessly. That eye would then be given to the blind. 

"The result: millions of blind people would now have the gift of sight. And those people who were forced to undergo the surgery would still have one good eye. 

"Would you be in favor of that? Do you believe it would be right for the government to force someone to participate in this lottery? Would you willingly take part in such a lottery?" 

The answer, of course is almost always... no. Indeed, most people shudder at the proposal. 

Then ask: "But why not?"

Virtually everyone knows the answer: It's just not right. The eyeballs belong to the person. They are his personal property. He owns them, in some definitive way that is universally realized — and, in the same way, he owns the rest of his body parts, and thus, his entire body. 

While it might be wonderful if someone voluntarily donated an eyeball in this way, it would be wrong, immoral, unthinkable, monstrous, totalitarian to force people to submit to such an operation — even in the great cause of helping the blind see.

This thought experiment dramatically opens minds to consider the concept of self-ownership. From there, other questions can be asked. Is it right to conscript someone — to force him to face death, in a cause he may not even believe in, for some collective good? 

And, if someone owns his body absolutely, doesn't he then own the right to the fruits of his labor — created by the operation of his own body and mind? And doesn't self-ownership demand the end of all so-called "victimless crime" laws?

Try it, perhaps with some philosophical or open-minded friends. Great discussions may follow!

An excellent discussion of The Eyeball Lottery is in "Taxation, Forced Labor, and Theft," an essay by Edward Feser that appeared in the Independent Review published by the Independent Institute. Feser examines this and related self-ownership arguments from Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard, and counters some arguments that have been raised against the Eyeball Lottery conclusion. Recommended.

*  *  *
Sharon Harris is president of the Advocates for Self-Government. 

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