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Volume 20, Issue 5                              February 5, 2015
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"The Advocates' World's Smallest Political Quiz is responsible for many Americans' first contact with libertarian ideas. While traveling around the country, I have often heard people say, 'I never knew I was a libertarian until I took the Quiz!'" 

— Ron Paul
WELCOME to the Liberator Online!

In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
A Libertarian Approach to Black History Month

ACTIVIST AMMUNITION
The Great Libertarian Idea in President Obama's 2015 Budget 
Gov't Regulation to Cost Americans $1.882 Trillion This Year

THEY SAID IT: Unknown man to head secret gov't agency.... Rand Paul slams Jeb Bush's pot hypocrisy.... U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch says some scary stuff.... Conservative scholar and Reagan alumnus Bruce Fein says we can slash the military budget by about half, and be safer for it.... Boy suspended for telling a classmate he could make him invisible with his "magic ring"....

ASK DR. RUWART
 Could huge exploitive corporations dominate the economy in a libertarian society?

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
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President's Corner

by Sharon Harris







A Libertarian Approach to Black History Month

Dear friends, 

I've often noted — especially in my One Minute Liberty Tip columns — that holidays and annual observances offer a great opportunity to present the ideas of liberty to family and friends. 

Libertarians should consider collecting facts and stories to share on such occasions, when appropriate. That's why we offer such information frequently in the Liberator Online.
 
February is Black History Month. This event, observed annually since 1976, potentially opens the door for discussions on issues key to libertarians. 

If anyone should be receptive to the message of libertarianism it should be black Americans, who as a group have suffered from government oppression more than any other ethnic group in America, and whose historical and ongoing struggle for freedom is arguably the most dramatic one in our history. 

And that story — the story of a people savagely oppressed by government power for centuries and bravely fighting to overcome that oppression — is one that Americans of all races would benefit from pondering. 

Black History Month is an excellent time to show how government coercion was and is the chief engine of the oppression of black Americans, as well as Americans in general. Libertarians have a unique angle to bring to that discussion. 

"The Law Perverted: A Libertarian Approach to Black History Month," an article by James Padilioni, Jr. of Students For Liberty, is a great place to start. It will stimulate your thinking on this issue and provides a seldom-heard historical and theoretical background. 

For specific issues relating to black Americans and liberty, here are some excellent resources.

More and more people are — at long last — questioning the War on Drugs, which has been horrible for all Americans and from which blacks suffer disproportionately. Liberty-minded U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has won a lot of positive attention by taking a leadership role on this issue in Congress.

* "How the War on Drugs Is Destroying Black America," by John McWhorter, a prescient 2011 Cato Institute essay, provides a short, powerful argument that the Drug War is the major source of racial hostility today. Excerpt: "If the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist." 

* "Race and Prison" from drugwarfacts.org provides some astonishing figures. Excerpt: "In the late 1990s, nearly one in three African-American men aged 20-29 were under criminal justice supervision, while more than two out of five had been incarcerated — orders of magnitudes higher than that for the general population. ... In some areas, a large majority of African-American men — 55 percent in Chicago, for example — are labeled felons for life, and, as a result, may be prevented from voting..."

Strongly related to the War on Drugs' disproportionate effect on black Americans is the militarization of police â€” another issue on which Rand Paul ("We Must Demilitarize the Police," TIME magazine, Aug. 14, 2014) and libertarians have been leading the national debate. 

* The best book on the subject is libertarian Randy Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces.

* You can read a lengthy excerpt from Rise of the Warrior Cop for free, courtesy of the American Bar Association's ABA Journal website.

A look at black champions of liberty is certainly appropriate for Black History Month. Here's a great collection of videos of black libertarians and classical liberals, past and present, speaking on liberty. They're suitable for any time of year, of course, but Black History Month is a perfect time to share them online. 

Next issue, I'll share more resources for Black History Month.

In liberty,
 
Sharon
 
* * *
NEXT ISSUE: Michael Cloud's Persuasion Power Point column, Sharon Harris' Liberty Minute, and much more!

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. 
 
 

Activist Ammunition

by James W. Harris 





The Great Libertarian Idea in President Obama's 2015 Budget 

Surprise! There's at least one great — and solidly libertarian — idea in President Barack Obama's 2015 budget: cutting back the plague of occupational licensing. 

In an item entitled "Reducing Unnecessary Occupational Licensing Requirements" Obama announces plans to "reduce occupational licensing barriers that keep people from doing the jobs they have the skills to do," noting that occupational licensing is "putting in place unnecessary training and high fees" in many fields. 

President Obama proposes a $15 million in grants to states for "identifying, exploring, and addressing areas where occupational licensing requirements create an unnecessary barrier to labor market entry or labor mobility..."

This is yet another example of a libertarian/free market idea bursting into the mainstream. 

Libertarians at the Institute for Justice, the Reason Foundation and elsewhere have long pointed out the harm of occupational licensing requirements. 

For example:

* Occupational licensing laws — found in all 50 states — restrict entry into over 1,100 different occupations.

* They have grown explosively. In the 1950s, less than five percent of American workers were required to obtain a government license to do their job. But today, that number has passed an incredible 30 percent — meaning one in three Americans must obtain permission from the government to pursue their chosen profession. 

* The cost of these laws to consumers is astonishing. One 2011 study estimated that occupational licensing laws increase costs to consumers by a whopping $203 billion per year. As a result, some people are not able to afford some services, including crucial ones like dental care. A 2009 study found that states allowing dental hygienists to provide routine dental care had fewer adults with missing teeth than those that did not.

* Occupational licensing laws destroy millions of American jobs — by one estimate, a whopping 2.85 million jobs. They make it prohibitively expensive or too difficult for newcomers to enter fields in which they have competency but can't afford costly and unnecessary training and licensing. 

* Occupational licensing laws slow or even halt innovation. One recent example is the use of licensing regulations for taxi drivers to halt new, highly competitive app-based services such as Uber.

* Among the occupations in which entry is restricted by licensing laws: interior decorators, hair braiders, foot massagers, animal breeders, bartenders, funeral attendants, upholsterers, shampooers, music therapists, auctioneers, talent agents, and ballroom dance teachers. 

Of course, supporters of occupational licensing argue it is needed to protect the public from unscrupulous or incompetent practitioners. 

However, reports the Institute for Justice: "Research to date — on occupations as diverse as school teachers, interior designers, mortgage brokers, dentists, physicians and others — provides little evidence that government licenses protect public health and safety or improve the quality of products or services."

Astute Liberator Online readers can probably guess the real reason these laws exist. 

"These laws are created under the guise of 'helping' consumers," wrote Adam B. Summers of the Reason Foundation in a 2007 study. "In reality, the laws are helping existing businesses keep out competition, restricting consumer choice, destroying entrepreneurship, and driving up prices."

Further, many of these occupations are in fields where, in the past, the poor, immigrants and other challenged workers — those with the least resources — have been able to get a toehold in the economy. 

To learn more, check out these resources: 

* License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. This 200-page book is free online. 

* "Obama has a modest plan to tackle one of the most underrated economic problems in America" by Timothy B. Lee is an excellent new article in the liberal-leaning online magazine Vox. The accompanying ten index card-style sidebars are full of useful information. 

Writing at National Review Online, economist Veronique de Rugy sums up the problem nicely: 

"People who want to work, start businesses and make a living shouldn't have to ask the government for permission to do so. Consumers can take care of themselves, especially with our sharing economy and the easy feedback mechanisms it offers. ...

"Many of the licensed occupations have traditionally provided low-income Americans with a path to self-sufficiency and upward mobility. By erecting barriers to entry to these occupations, we erect barriers to entry to the American dream."

Gov't Regulation to Cost Americans $1.882 Trillion This Year

A new report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) estimates that government regulation will cost the American economy a staggering $1.882 trillion in 2015. 

This is larger than the entire GDP of all but 11 countries in the entire world — including major developed nations like Australia and South Korea. 

Further, the regulatory burden is constantly growing. In 2014 alone, 3,541 new regulations hit the books. Complying with regulations will take an estimated 9 billion hours of paperwork. CEI contends such regulation drives up the cost of goods and services, destroys jobs and damages the economy in other ways. They also point out this huge expense is largely out of control — unmonitored and unaccountable. Many regulations are inefficient, unnecessary, destructive, and would be far better handled by market mechanisms. 

The report, "Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 114th Congress," can be read for free and includes CEI's suggestions for reform.

* * * 

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...

UNKNOWN MAN TO HEAD SECRET AGENCY: "The Central Intelligence Agency has selected a new top spy... He remains undercover and is known within the agency as 'Spider'... His new role will be director of the National Clandestine Service, a position that effectively makes him responsible for all the CIA's spying activities. ... The CIA wouldn't reveal any information about the new NCS chief." — journalist Damian Paletta, "CIA Taps Undercover 'Spider' as Its Top Spy," Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 2015.

RAND PAUL SLAMS JEB BUSH'S POT HYPOCRISY: "This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do. I think that's the real hypocrisy... a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that. Had he been caught at Andover [Massachusetts, where Bush attended the elite Phillips Academy prep school], he'd have never been governor, he'd probably never have a chance to run for the presidency. ... You would think he'd have a little more understanding." — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by The Hill, "Rand Paul Slams Bush Hypocrisy on Pot," Jan. 30, 2015. 

LYNCHING LIBERTY: "Not only do I not support the legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization. Nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as Attorney General. ... Civil and criminal forfeiture are very important tools of the Department of Justice as well as our state and local counterparts. ... [Civil asset forfeiture is] done pursuant to supervision by a court, it is done pursuant to court order, and I believe the protections are there. ... [Current and past NSA spying programs on U.S. citizens are] constitutional and effective.'' — Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, remarks made during her confirmation hearings, Jan. 28, 2015, as reported by Reason.com.

CUT MILITARY WASTE: "Cut the defense budget by $300 billion. An alarming portion of the $600 billion to $700 billion defense budget is sheer waste caused by managerial inefficiencies and bloat. The inability of the Defense Department to audit of its own spending is scandalous. We can easily cut $300 billion from military spending while making ourselves safer by devoting the entire defense budget to defending ourselves in lieu of racing around the world in search of monsters to destroy." — Bruce Fein, constitutional scholar and Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, " A nonpartisan national security agenda," Washington Times, January 19, 2015.

ONE GOV'T SCHOOL SYSTEM TO RUIN THEM ALL: "I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend's existence. If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back." — Jason Steward, father of nine-year-old Aiden Steward, who was suspended from a Kermit, Texas elementary school for telling a classmate he could make him invisible with a magic ring. The family had watched "The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies" a few days earlier. (New York Daily News, January 31, 2015.)

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

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.


Could huge exploitive corporations dominate the economy in a libertarian society?

QUESTION: Won't big businesses abuse their power in a free market? What if the only choices you have are bad businesses? For example, what if such companies grew so big that they could control the entire market?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In today's society, you could indeed have a sector where all businesses are "bad," because government lets some companies have a monopoly (e.g., local utilities, AT&T before deregulation, etc.) or a cartel (e.g., banks). 

In a libertarian society, however, this would be much less likely. A sector with only "bad" businesses would soon be invaded by competitors who recognized that they could earn and retain customer loyalty (and profits) by being "good." 

In today's society, many businesses are bigger than they would be in a libertarian one, because the high cost of regulation drives small firms out of business. For some examples, check out the cases of the small businesses that the libertarian Institute for Justice has tried to protect from over-regulation.

We are told, usually by government entities, that the free market creates monopolies, but actually it is the government that does so. For more on this subject, check out Chapter 7 in my book, Healing Our World (the 1992 edition is a free read on my website, www.ruwart.com). 

LEARN MORE: Suggestions for further reading on this topic from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris: 

Antitrust: The Case for Repeal by Dominick Armentano. This outstanding 100-page book — available as a FREE ebook from the Mises Institute — shows that anti-trust and anti-monopoly regulation, far from serving and protecting the public, is merely a tool used by powerful businesses against their competitors. 

* "Federal Regulations Have Made You 75 Percent Poorer" by Ronald Bailey, Reason magazine. This short and very readable 2013 article summarizes research by economists John Dawson and John Seater. The two compared U.S. economic growth with the growth in federal regulation since 1949, and calculated that federal regulations cost the average American household more than a quarter-million dollars in lost income — annually. 

* * * 
Got 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.

What's Happening with the Advocates

 
8th Annual International Students For Liberty Conference, Friday February  13 â€” Sunday February 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! Learn more at the conference website.

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