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Volume 19, Issue 24                              December 14, 2014
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"The Advocates for Self-Government is one of the freedom movement's leading organizations."
— Ron Paul, The Congressional Record, June 30, 2010
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In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
Government Vs Generosity

ACTIVIST AMMUNITION
Survey: "Stunning Turnaround" in Support for Gun Rights
Yale Professor: Every Law Has a Death Penalty
Libertarian Party: Shut Down CIA, Prosecute Torturers

THEY SAID IT: Pentagon spending has gone nuts, says retired Marine general.... Never mind what that Jesus guy said, you can't feed the poor, says gov't.... Journalist: Uber is safer than gov't-sanctioned taxis.... We live in a lawless society, says Walter Williams....

ASK DR. RUWART
Children, parents, and obligations

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
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President's Corner

by Sharon Harris







Government Vs Generosity

Dear friends,

What a great time of the year! In the spirit of the season, charity and helping those in need are uppermost in the minds of many people. 

This is wonderful. However, some people, in their commendable desire to help the unfortunate, are calling for government to play a larger and ever-greater role in this. 

But such government involvement actually harms the needy, those who want to help, and the very organizations that do the most good. 

1. Government aid greatly diminishes the role and influence of private charities and religious and spiritual organizations. Churches, temples, charities and similar organizations can do many vital things that government cannot. In addition to aid, they can offer community, spiritual growth, personal counseling and much more. However, when government becomes the primary provider of aid, these bedrock social institutions lose countless opportunities to encounter and influence others in life-changing ways. Indeed, they become increasingly seen as irrelevant and unimportant. 

2. Government programs rob the potential giver of the great benefits of giving. In many spiritual traditions, a charitable gift is just as important for the giver as it is for the receiver. Indeed, some might argue it is even more important. As the saying goes, "It is better to give than to receive." 

Giving teaches crucial spiritual lessons and brings other wonderful benefits to the giver. Yet if money is simply seized from people to fund government welfare programs, potential givers may believe they have done their part and feel no need to do any actual giving. And a gift is not really a gift if it has to be compelled by force. Opportunities for personal and spiritual growth are lost. 

3. Government is remarkably, famously inefficient. Those who give want to know that their gift provides the maximum benefit for those they want to help. Wasteful, poorly operated, faceless, coldly bureaucratic government organizations are a poor choice to do this. Indeed, who, given the choice, would give their money to, say, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services instead of a local soup kitchen or an effective national private charity? Charities are constantly being evaluated, and are constantly motivated to innovate, improve, become ever more efficient. Tax funding of poorly run government programs robs spiritual and charitable organizations of precious funds that would otherwise be spent far more efficiently to help those in need. 

It's the season for giving. Give with love, give with joy, give in the most effective way you can.

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

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Activist Ammunition

by James W. Harris 





Survey: "Stunning Turnaround" in Support for Gun Rights

Good news for the Second Amendment: support for gun rights is higher than it’s been in decades, according to a new survey from the respected Pew Research Center.

The Washington Times describes the findings as "a stunning turnaround in how Americans feel about the issue just two years after the [2012] Newtown school shooting."

The Pew survey found that fully 52% of Americans say protecting gun rights is more important than gun control — the highest support found by Pew in two decades, the first time they've found a majority championing gun rights over gun control, and a rise of seven points in just two years.

Further, nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) say gun ownership does more to protect people from crime that put them at risk.

The numbers are helped by a huge increase in support for gun rights among black Americans. Fifty-four percent of blacks now say firearms protect people from crimes, nearly double the percentage saying this just two years ago. Thirty-four percent of blacks support gun rights over gun control, a rise of 50% from 2012's 24%.

Some statist limitations on gun rights still have significant support, such as universal background checks (favored by 90%) and limits on various rifles and ammunition magazines (around 50%).

But overall this is a rousing show of growing support for one of the most basic and fundamental rights.

Yale Professor: Every Law Has a Death Penalty

Stephen Carter, a distinguished Yale law professor and author of 12 acclaimed books, says he startles his new law students with a vital but little-understood truth about law and government:

"On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce," he writes at Bloomberg View.

"Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.

"I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. Whatever your view on the refusal of a New York City grand jury to indict the police officer whose chokehold apparently led to the death of Eric Garner, it’s useful to remember the crime that Garner is alleged to have committed: He was selling individual cigarettes, or loosies, in violation of New York law. ...

"Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right."

Libertarian Party: Shut Down CIA, Prosecute Torturers

The Libertarian Party says there's only one way to deal with the new revelations of CIA torture and the agency's long history of other crimes: shut down the CIA and other rogue, out-of-control spy agencies.

Says Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas J. Sarwark:

"The CIA’s practice of torture confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Report released on December 9 shows the agency engaged in reprehensible and illegal behaviors that were, in effect, war crimes.

"The CIA and politicians redacted the bulk of the government’s report, which remains withheld from public view. One can only speculate as to the additional horrors that lie within the rest of the report, given the gravity of what was revealed.

"These acts of torture were immoral, disgusting, and un-American. And... they were ineffective.

"Yet the CIA and the Department of Justice, which sanctioned the torture, claim that it was legal and exhibit a shocking lack of remorse for the brutality inflicted on its victims.

"Whether it's choking a man to death for selling loose cigarettes in New York or torturing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the government refuses to prosecute government employees who brutalize the vulnerable. When the government investigates itself, it almost always clears itself of any wrongdoing.

"This is why we must shut down the CIA."

Sarwark points out that the 70-year history of the CIA is " littered with episodes of human rights violations, illegal activities, and deception," including:

* Targeted killings and assassinations

* Overthrowing democratically elected governments,

* Human experimentation, including giving the hallucinogenic drug LSD to U.S. and Canadian citizens without their knowledge

* Dealing heroin in Asia

* Spying on Americans, members of congress, and foreign leaders,

* Shipping war prisoners to foreign countries where torture is permissible ("extraordinary rendition").

* Lying to Congress

 "Government-sanctioned torture is bipartisan," Sarwark adds, noting that Republican President George W. Bush authorized the torture revealed in the Senate report, and President Barack Obama granted him full immunity. Torturers still hold high positions in government.

"Famed journalist Glenn Greenwald said ‘The Obama administration's aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the 'War on Terror' crimes committed by Bush officials is now complete.’

"Whereas Democrats and Republicans have continually funded and encouraged CIA war crimes, the Libertarian Party has consistently and strongly opposed the use of torture, mass surveillance, and human rights violations by the U.S. government throughout the party's 43-year history.

"The Libertarian Party calls for real accountability, including prosecuting all of those who authorized and performed these brutal acts."

* * * 

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...

HOW ABOUT NUCLEAR-POWERED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: â€œIf they could have a nuclear-powered tank that could fly itself to the battlefield, they’d want one. They’d have a 38-page requirement to buy a chocolate-chip cookie. . . . No one is held accountable.” — retired Marine Corps major general Arnold Punaro, now chair of a National Defense Industrial Association board struggling to get billions of dollars of wasteful Pentagon spending under some control. (Good luck with that one...)

NEVER MIND WHAT THAT JESUS GUY SAID: "In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, police charged two pastors and a 90-year-old volunteer with giving food to poor people in public. Florida law declares it illegal to give away food in an outdoor location without providing public toilets. The restrictions were instated in the name of 'public health and safety.' In New Jersey, churches were forced to stop offering Thanksgiving dinners to poor people because they didn't have 'properly licensed commercial kitchens.'" — John Stossel, "Control Freaks," syndicated column, Nov. 19, 2014.

UBER SAFER THAN TAXIS: "Uber remains one of the safest, if not the safest, ways to order a car. ... First of all, drivers are given criminal background checks in the same way that normal taxi drivers are. ... But the average Uber ride — with its GPS monitoring, cashless payments, real identity recording, and pre-booking — generates more information about who is in the car, and is therefore likely to be generally safer than a normal taxi." — journalist James Cook, "Despite the Scary Rape Headlines, Uber Is Probably Still the Safest Way to Order a Taxi," Business Insider, Dec. 8, 2014.

A LAWLESS COUNTRY: "Let's look at our country and ask whether we live under rule of law. Just about every law that Congress enacts violates the requirements for rule of law. How do we determine violations of rule of law? It's easy. See whether the law applies to particular Americans, as opposed to all Americans. See whether the law exempts public officials from its application. See whether the law is known in advance. See whether the law takes action against a person who has taken no aggressive action against another. If one conducts such a test, he will conclude that it is virtually impossible to find a single act of Congress that adheres to the principles of the rule of law." — Walter Williams, "What's Rule of Law?", syndicated column, Dec. 10, 2014.

* * * * * * * * * *
"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.


Children, parents, and obligations

Question: In his book The Ethics of Liberty, libertarian economist Murray Rothbard says: “A parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also … should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.” This sounds barbaric. How do you respond? 

My Short Answer: Children’s rights are perhaps the most contentious part of the libertarian philosophy; not everyone agrees how to apply the non-aggression principle to issues involving children. Feel free to join the debate! 

Some libertarians believe that bringing a helpless child into the world obligates the parents to support it. Libertarians who hold this position don’t always agree on what this means, although generally they expect that the child will be responsible for itself when it becomes an adult. Libertarians who believe that parents have an obligation don’t always agree on specifically where it starts and ends. 

Some libertarians, like Rothbard, do believe that giving the gift of life does not obligate the parents to maintain that life. However, in my opinion, in a libertarian society, that would not mean that the child would be allowed to starve; in fact, it would probably have a better chance at survival than it does today. Although the parents might not want to feed the child, other adults almost certainly would, especially since so many parents want to adopt, even if the infant is impaired in some way.

Since the child is not parental property, but a separate person, if there is someone who will feed and protect it, the parents have no right to prevent its champions from nurturing it. Since an infant is helpless, concerned care-givers could certainly claim to represent the child and gain custody. This is likely to be much easier than in today’s society, which often acts as if children are “property” of their parents.

Indeed, the non-aggression principle, in allowing us to defend our rights, does not allow us to harm others, even aggressors, beyond what is necessary. In other words, if you threaten me with a weapon and I disarm you, I have protected my rights. If I then go beyond that, to maim or kill you simply to satisfy my thirst for vengeance, I am now an aggressor too.

Similarly, if parents stop others from feeding a child that they don’t wish to care for, they would be considered aggressors, as there is no need to starve the child to protect the parents’ right not to provide support.

Just as today many women choose to give up their baby for adoption, so too would parents be able to give up their baby in a libertarian society if they didn’t want to nurture it. A baby with parents who don’t care enough to feed it is going to be much better off being adopted than staying with parents forced by law to support it.  

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

* "Defending the Non-Aggression Principle: A Reply to Matt Zwolinski Part 4" by George H. Smith. The distinguished libertarian philosopher looks at Murray Rothbard's controversial argument, while also explaining why he thinks Rothbard is wrong on some key points; most importantly, Smith argues that parents have an obligation not to harm children and, if they do not wish to care for them, to find someone who will.

Excerpt: "No guardian can legitimately claim, 'This infant is mine, and I will do with it as I please.' All persons have the enforceable duty not to aggress against an infant by harming it physically, etc., but a guardian voluntarily takes on the additional positive duty of sustaining the life of her ward — first, because it is only the helpless nature of an infant — its need for a guardian to survive — that generates guardianship rights in the first place; and, second, because a guardian cannot claim the right to exclude third parties unless she accepts the positive duty of sustaining the life of an infant."

* * * 
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.

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