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Volume 20, Issue 3                              January 22, 2015
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"The Advocates for Self-Government is one of the freedom movement's leading organizations."

— Ron Paul
WELCOME to the Liberator Online!

In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
I Wanted to Change the World...

ACTIVIST AMMUNITION
Food Stamps Shocker
Libertarian Party Response to President Obama's State of the Union Address: Why Not Peace, Liberty and Abundance for All?

THEY SAID IT: Lew Rockwell says everyone should know the three branches of government.... Voice of America story shows how blowback leads to still more blowback.... Bin Laden couldn't have come up with a better plan to recruit terrorists than the U.S. response to 9/11, says journalist Patrick Cockburn.... You've seen Obamacare, now get ready for Obama-Security, laughs Jimmy Kimmel.... 

ASK DR. RUWART
Two Questions on Blackmail 

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







I Wanted to Change the World...

Dear friends, 

I love this wonderful little reflection, attributed to "an unknown monk" writing around 1100 A.D.:
 
I Wanted to Change the World...

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. 
 
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. 
 
When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
 
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.
 
My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation... and I could indeed have changed the world.

* * *

Changing the world: that's what we, as libertarian activists, want to do. 

As the wise monk points out, changing the world must begin with... changing ourselves. And that's a lifelong process. 

How do we do that? Here are a few suggestions and some resources for this lifelong journey: 

* Keep developing your understanding of libertarianism. What does liberty mean to you? Why are you a libertarian? Commit yourself to a joyful lifetime of learning. Read books, watch videos, talk with knowledgeable people. Periodically return to the basics. Be open to learning new arguments for liberty. Stay up to date: follow quality libertarian blogs, magazines, podcasts and new books. Be able to speak knowledgeably on libertarian solutions to current problems. David Bergland's Libertarianism in One Lesson, published by the Advocates, is widely hailed as the best short introduction to libertarianism available. The Ludwig von Mises Institute has created one of the great online libertarian treasures: they've made hundreds of classic, essential libertarian books available online, for free

* Learn how to communicate the ideas of liberty effectively and persuasively. Here's where the Advocates can be of great service to you! Successful libertarian communication has been a key part of our mission since our founding. Check out our online Liberty Store for books, CDs and DVDs on how to do this. Plus, every issue of the Liberator Online has new articles on the best ways to communicate libertarianism. If you want to learn to do public speaking for liberty, consider joining Toastmasters.  And call 800-932-1776 or email us to learn how you can have a fun, engaging and enlightening Advocates libertarian communication workshop in your area. 

* Develop your personal skills. How you present yourself is critically important — and you'd be shocked at how often this crucial point is neglected. Be friendly. Dress appropriately. Listen respectfully to others. Be a good friend, family member, neighbor — people are far more likely to listen to your political ideas if they already like and respect you as a person. 

* Be prepared to answer questions. Learn to answer in bite-sized soundbites. Be ready to persuasively answer the tough questions libertarians are commonly asked. 

* Meet other liberty activists. Go to libertarian meetings. Join a campus or local libertarian group. Network with libertarians online. From these meetings may come the "family" in the monk's story above that will help you change your community, your country... and the world. 

* Use proven tools. The world-famous World's Smallest Political Quiz was developed by the Advocates to make explaining liberty easy and fun. Millions of people have encountered libertarianism through this single tool. Our OPH (Operation Politically Homeless) kit gives you the ability to find dozens or even hundreds of libertarians and liberty-friendly people wherever people are gathered. 

When to begin your journey? I love this phrase, attributed to Ann Frank: 

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world."

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. 
 
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 





Food Stamps Shocker

Some startling numbers on the recent explosive growth of the food stamp program (aka SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), from journalist Ali Meyer of CNS.com:

* The number of Americans receiving food stamps has topped 46,000,000 for 38 straight months, according to the Department of Agriculture. 

* In 1969, the average participation in the SNAP program stood at 2,878,000. In 2014, the average participation grew to 46,536,000 — an increase of 1,516.96 percent. 

* About 14.6 percent of the U.S. population — about one in seven Americans — receives food stamps. 

* Just under 20 percent of the nation's households — one in five households — receive food stamps. 

* Food stamp recipients have exceeded 46 million every month since September 2011.

* Rapid increase: in October 46,674,364 Americans were on food stamps — an increase of nearly a quarter-million people (214,434) in just one month. According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, the number of food stamp recipients grew by about 26.39 million people from 2003 to 2013.

* The 46,674,364 people on food stamps in the United States in October 2014 exceeded the total populations of Columbia (46,245,297), Kenya (46,245,297), Ukraine (44,291,413) and Argentina (43,024,374), and is just less than the population of Spain (47,737,941).

* Households on food stamps got an average benefit of $261.44 in October. 

* In October alone the program cost taxpayers $5,978,320,593 — just under $6 billion. 

While food stamp (SNAP) enrollment and spending have both grown dramatically under President Obama, the Cato Institute notes that the explosion in food stamp use and SNAP eligibility actually began with conservative Republicans under the leadership of George Bush, via the 2002 and 2008 farm bills.

Libertarian Party Response to President Obama's State of the Union Address: Why Not Peace, Liberty and Abundance for All?

Immediately after President Obama's State of the Union address and the Republican response, America's third-largest political party, the Libertarian Party, weighed in with their take, offering a ringing pro-liberty alternative to the Big Government agendas of the two older parties. 

The mass media declined to carry it, but don't let that stop you from encountering a genuine libertarian State of the Union address. It was delivered by Arvin Vohra, vice chair of the National Libertarian Committee. You can see and read the entire response here

Some highlights: 

On education: 

"Mr. President, we can have world-class education. The first step is defunding and eliminating the federal Department of Education, abolishing Common Core, and allowing parents to take full control over their children's education. Free-market competition will raise educational standards, lower costs, and prepare students to compete in a global economy."

On ending the income tax: 

"Here's how we really grow the economy and create jobs: dramatically cut taxes and government spending. Libertarian candidates have pledged to sponsor legislation to cut federal spending to 1998 levels and eliminate the income tax. That means that you keep the money you earn, and spend it how you see fit: on charities and the arts, science research, education, and the health care of your choice.

"Eliminating the income tax also defunds government's ability to infringe on our privacy, to create enemies through needless wars, and to imprison our fellow citizens for victimless crimes."

On ending the War on Drugs: 

"Mr. President, so many of your supporters have begged you to defund and end the War on Drugs, but you have refused their pleas. Drug prohibition separates families, fosters violence, and destroys communities. You can end the War on Drugs today, by doing what so many Libertarian gubernatorial and presidential candidates have pledged to do: pardon all nonviolent drug offenders.

"Libertarian candidates have pledged to completely end the War on Drugs, and thereby eliminate the black market profits that fund violent cartels. Ending the Drug War will make our streets safer, and people will no longer have to fear incarceration if they seek help overcoming an addiction."

On online privacy: 

"Americans should be able to use their computers and phones without fear of anyone listening in or recording their communications through mass surveillance. ... To protect privacy, Libertarian candidates have pledged to defund the NSA's mass surveillance program, repeal the Patriot Act, and massively downsize and consolidate redundant spy agencies."

On war, military spending, and foreign intervention: 

"Mr. President, your party and the Republican Party are damaging lives here and abroad through misuse and overuse of the military. Libertarian candidates have pledged to sponsor legislation to end all foreign military operations, shut down needless foreign bases, cut military spending by at least 60 percent, and bring our troops home.

"Even after those spending cuts, we will still outspend both Russia and China combined. We will also be safer, because our military will be focused on defense. We will stop creating enemies through unwarranted military intrusions."

On ending Obamacare: 

"Republicans have talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare. With what? Romneycare? That will continue to damage businesses and make health care worse. When Republicans controlled the House, they had the chance to defund Obamacare. They refused.

"Libertarian candidates have pledged to completely repeal Obamacare along with the many laws that stand in the way of low-cost, high-quality health care. Providers will compete for customers by lowering costs and increasing quality.

"To help people in need, Libertarian candidates will make charitable hospitals legal. Doctors should not have to leave our borders to be able to offer free care."

On the need for the Libertarian Party:

"We need to massively downsize and defund the federal government. But Republican and Democratic politicians only want to make it bigger. Get involved with the Libertarian Party in your state by going to LP.org, and by voting Libertarian."

* * * 

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...
THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOV'T: "The Arizona government will now force all students in government schools to pass a government civics test. One proponent complained that students couldn't name the 3 branches of government, which is shocking because it's so obvious: CIA, Pentagon, NSA." — Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., "Civics: All Hail Government," LewRockwell.com blog, January 16, 2015. 

BLOWBACK FROM THE BLOWBACK: "Interior and justice ministers from Europe and the U.S. gathered in Paris on Sunday, calling for increased Internet surveillance and stricter border security to counter attacks like the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo weekly newspaper. ... French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that 'fundamental liberties' would be still respected under increased surveillance measures." — Voice of America News, January 11, 2015.
 
BIN LADEN'S VICTORY: "The most important victory of Osama bin Laden did not come on the day the 19 mainly Saudi hijackers took command of the planes, but in the months and years which followed as President Bush led the U.S. into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which American troops fought Muslims. As the U.S. resorted to rendition, the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, expanded security agencies and limited civil rights for its own people it delegitimised itself and acted as recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda and its clones. If bin Laden had been hiding in the attic of the White House giving instructions to those in the rest of the building he could not have devised a cocktail of measures more likely to aid his cause." — journalist Patrick Cockburn, "Paris attacks: Don't blame these atrocities on security failures," The Independent, January 11, 2015.

OBAMA-SECURITY: "President Obama is focused now on cyber security. He's pushing for new laws to protect companies from hackers. And who better to do that than the people who brought us the Obamacare website? Not only couldn't hackers get in, no one could penetrate it." — Jimmy Kimmel, January 14, 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.


Two Questions on Blackmail 

QUESTION: I am concerned about the problem of blackmail. Some libertarians, as you recently discussed, consider blackmail simply an economic interaction involving the exchange of information that, however distasteful, does not involve direct use of force against others, and therefore should be legal. However, I am hard pressed to think of any instance of blackmail where no one is being harmed. As libertarians shouldn't we base our actions upon sober observation of what is actually happening in a given situation, not on some abstract concept of free speech?

Please comment on these two examples: 

EXAMPLE ONE: A gay man lives in a conservative neighborhood, but loves his community. His friends would not understand his orientation. I find out, and offer to not tell anyone — for a fee. Is it just a business interaction that I hold the threat of ruining his life over his head to coerce him into giving to me what belongs to him, when he has harmed no one?

MY SHORT ANSWER: I suspect that not all libertarians would have the same answer to this question. Here's mine:

If you simply told this man's friends that he was gay, you would only be saying what is true. It would be his so-called friends who harm him by shying away from him because of that truth. This very scenario undoubtedly happens a lot. The only reason that you would share this information is to disrupt this man's life by revealing something he has kept private. While that's certainly unkind, it isn't legally actionable. 

Sexual orientation is something that most of us would consider private, and not something that neighbors and friends should necessarily be privy to. But If the man wants to pay you not to reveal the truth to his friends, you aren't coercing him.

Of course, someone could make a living discovering things about people that they wouldn't want broadcast and suggesting that they pay him not to tell unsavory truths. That could backfire if one of his "clients" decided to share just how this person made his money, leaving few people excited about interacting with him.

EXAMPLE TWO: A young woman is assaulted and I know who did it. I offer to keep silent for a fee. Is it merely a business interaction if I allow a rapist to continue to prey on the community so I can get paid?

MY SHORT ANSWER: No. In this case, you know the identity of an aggressor. In today's society, and most likely in a libertarian one, you would be considered an accomplice if you let the aggressor pay you to keep silent. 

The principle here is not, in my opinion, free speech, but whether you are using first-strike force, fraud, or theft against your neighbor. In the case of accepting money from the rapist, you are colluding with an aggressor so that he can continue to perpetrate harm on others. That would make you, in most people's eyes, an aggressor too. 

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

* "Defending the Blackmailer" by Walter Block. Walter Block has been writing about libertarianism and blackmail for decades. His collected writings on this topic are in his 2013 book Legalize Blackmail. This provocative selection is a chapter from his classic 1976 book Defending the Undefendable, which you can download as a free ebook from the Mises Institute. 

Excerpt: "What exactly is blackmail? Blackmail is the offer of trade. It is the offer to trade something, usually silence, for some other good, usually money. If the offer of the trade is accepted, the blackmailer then maintains his silence and the blackmailed pays the agreed-upon price.

"If the blackmail offer is rejected, the blackmailer may exercise his rights of free speech and publicize the secret. There is nothing amiss here. All that is happening is that an offer to maintain silence is being made. If the offer is rejected, the blackmailer does no more than exercise his right of free speech."

* Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick. Nozick was a libertarian and one of the premiere philosophers of the twentieth century, and Anarchy, State and Utopia is widely regarded as one of the most important philosophical books of the century. Nozick briefly discusses blackmail and the case for prohibiting it near the end of chapter four, but unfortunately I cannot find an excerpt online. You can read a summary of Nozick's argument in "Blackmail, Extortion and Free Speech: A Reply to Posner, Epstein, Nozick and Lindgren" by Walter Block and David Gordon, who disagree with it and offer opposing arguments.

* * * 
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.

SEE SPECIAL THANK-YOU GIFTS we've reserved for you for your tax-exempt donation.

JOIN THE ADVOCATES on Facebook and Twitter. Fun, informative, inspiring posts! 

FREE OPH KITS FOR LIBERTARIAN STUDENT GROUPS: We're giving our acclaimed OPH (Operation Political Homeless) outreach kits — a $50 value — to libertarian student groups FREE. Learn why OPH is praised as the best recruiting tool in the libertarian movement, and get your free OPH kit

HAVE A GREAT LIBERTARIAN COMMUNICATION WORKSHOP NEAR YOU: Email Sharon to find out how. 
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