Liberator Online: Cockroaches or Congress? You choose.
Volume 18, No. 1                                                                                                            January 11, 2013

The Liberator Online

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

"We must learn to defend all our personal resources with reason, clarity and the kind of effective persuasion that wins friends, rather than alienating them. For this, no group is more helpful than the Advocates, which teaches independent thinking coupled with empathy and tolerance for others."
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WELCOME to the Liberator Online!

In This Issue

* 2012 Lights of Liberty Award: Are You a Winner?

* Poll: Congress Less Popular Than Roaches, Root Canals, Lice, and Nickelback
* Important New Video: 5 Vital Facts About Guns, Schools, And Violence
* NFL Football Star Chris Kluwe: Liberty Activist and Libertarian
* Myth: "No American needs a magazine holding 30 rounds of ammunition"
The federal government doesn't have a spending problem, says President Obama... We could have had a budget surplus this year, points out Matt Welch of Reason... Rand Paul takes a courageous stand for the Bill of Rights... First disarmament, then mass murder... Jay Leno blasts Congress for spending, taxing, and the Fiscal Cliff...

* Government Waste is a Terrible Thing Not to Mind

* Are Marriage Contracts Enough?

* Guns: Reframing the Debate

* 2013 Freedom Cruises
* FREE OPH KITS for libertarian student groups!
* Join the Advocates on Twitter
* Join the Advocates on Facebook

President's Corner

by Sharon Harris

2012 Lights of Liberty Award: Are You a Winner?

Dear friend, 

You -- or someone you know -- may be qualified to receive very special recognition for work you did for the cause of liberty in 2012. 

Please read on to learn more. 


Since 1998, the Advocates for Self-Government’s Lights of Liberty Awards program has honored libertarians who engage in vital outreach activities -- the kind that build a strong grassroots movement. 

The Lights of Liberty awards program is designed to give much-deserved recognition to activists and to encourage more libertarians to participate in such outreach. 


This year you qualify for a Lights of Liberty Award if you do THREE of any combination of the following activities in 2011:

* Have a letter mentioning the word "libertarian" printed in a newspaper or magazine; 

* Participate for two hours or more in one day at an Operation Politically Homeless (OPH) booth; 

* Deliver a speech using the word "libertarian" to a non-libertarian audience. 

PLEASE NOTE: If you did ANY COMBINATION of three of these activities between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, congratulations -- you're a winner!

What do we mean by "any combination of three of these activities?" If you did three OPH days, you're a winner. If you did one OPH, had one letter published, and did one speech, you're a winner. If you did two OPHs and did one speech, you're a winner.

(What about other activities? We know that there are other vital volunteer activities that deserve praise and recognition. We have chosen to focus on these three because they are areas in which the Advocates specializes.)


As a Lights of Liberty winner you will get:

* A handsome Lights of Liberty congratulatory certificate, suitable for framing; 

* Your name added to the Lights of Liberty Honor Roll on our website; 

* A coupon worth 20% off your next order from our store of books, tapes, and other libertarian items; 

* Your name entered into a drawing for great libertarian prizes!


Of course, we know you didn't do these activities to win awards. However, your letter or speech or OPH outreach brought the message of liberty to hundreds -- perhaps thousands! -- of people. That kind of outreach work is crucial to building a movement for liberty. We want to see more of it.

Every Lights of Liberty winner is an inspiration to others. Your name on the list of winners will motivate others to follow your example and do more of these kinds of valuable outreach activities. And isn't that the most important prize of all?  


Yes. If you know of someone who has done these activities, and you can verify it, please enter them. For instance, if you have done three OPH booths and you know some people who helped with the OPH booth for that same period, you can enter their names at our Lights of Liberty entry page. 


Some libertarian organizations use the Lights of Liberty Awards as a way to recognize and thank activists who have helped the organization grow by engaging in these activities. It's a great public "thank you" to the people who too often go un-thanked for their work in building our movement for liberty. 

Help us reward vital grassroots activism for liberty! Send us the names of your members who have qualified. 


Go to our special Lights of Liberty entry page and tell us about your activism. It's fast and easy!


Email us or call toll-free 800-932-1776.

So get started. Nominate yourself (or someone else) today.

The deadline for entry for activities done in the last calendar year (2012) is Wednesday, February 20, 2013, so please enter today. 

Remember that your participation in these awards will encourage many others to engage in vital outreach activity in 2013 and beyond!

Thank you for your work for the great cause of Liberty!

* * *
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.

Intellectual Ammunition

by James W. Harris

Poll: Congress Less Popular Than Roaches, Root Canals, Lice, and Nickelback 

Congress is less popular than lice, brussels sprouts, colonoscopies, NFL replacement refs, traffic jams, roaches, the country of France, and the band Nickelback.

That's according to a scientific poll by respected pollsters Public Policy Polling (PPP). 

After their latest poll found that Congress only has a 9% favorability rating, with fully 85% of voters viewing it in a negative light, PPP decided to see just exactly how unpopular Congress really is. 

So in early January they tested Congress' popularity against 26 different things that Americans also strongly detest. 

Here are some of the things a majority of Americans have a higher opinion of than Congress, and the percentages for and against: 

Lice 67%, Congress 19%;

Cockroaches 45%, Congress 43%.

Root canals 56%, Congress 32%;

Colonoscopies 58%, Congress 31%;

Being stuck in traffic jams 56%, Congress 34%;

Brussels sprouts 69%, Congress 23%;

NFL replacement refs 56%, Congressmen 29%;

Used car salesmen 57%, Congress 32%;

France 46%, Congress 37%;

The band Nickelback 39%, Congress 32%;

Genghis Khan 41%, Congress 37%;

Donald Trump 44%, Congress 42%;

Surprisingly, there are still some things Americans hate even more than Congress -- though apparently not many, and not by much. Congress did beat out playground bullies (43/38), telemarketers (45/35), the Kardashians (49/36), John Edwards (45/29), lobbyists (48/30), Fidel Castro (54/32), gonorrhea (53/28), Ebola (53/25), communism (57/23), North Korea (61/26), and meth labs (60/21). 

That, however, is clearly faint praise.

Concludes PPP: "When you're less popular than cockroaches, Genghis Khan, traffic jams, and yes even Nickelback, well, it might be time to reevaluate."

Important New Video: 5 Vital Facts about Guns, Schools, and Violence

Gun control is suddenly back as a hot-button issue. Vice President Joe Biden is heading a panel that will make gun-control recommendations to President Obama by the end of this month. And Obama has said that enacting new restrictions on gun rights will be one of his highest priorities.

"5 Facts About Guns, Schools, And Violence: What every legislator -- and citizen -- needs to know" is a short (two and a half minutes), timely and well-done new video from ReasonTV. It provides an excellent response to this rush to new infringements on gun ownership.  

The video makes some crucial arguments too often ignored by both sides of this contentious issue. And Reason's website provides links to all data cited and further resources for learning more. 

Among the video's key points:  

* Violent crime -- including violent crime using guns -- has dropped massively over the past 20 years.

* Mass shootings have not increased in recent years. 

* Schools are actually getting safer, not more dangerous. 

* Bans on so-called "assault weapons" are ineffective.

* Too many laws in recent years -- the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, the TARP bailouts -- have been passed motivated by emotion and ideology, not factual information. We have all suffered as a result. 

This is a great video to share with friends. It is reasonable, thought-provoking, and short enough to share effectively on social networks. 

NFL Football Star Chris Kluwe: Liberty Activist and Libertarian 

Chris Kluwe is a highly-regarded punter for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League. He was voted 2010 Vikings Special Teams MVP, named to the 2008 USA Today All-Joe Team (honoring players whose work goes largely unnoticed), and has set several Vikings records. All this has helped make him one of the 10 highest-paid punters in the NFL today. 

Off the field he pursues a variety of activities not often associated with gridiron heroes. He's bassist for the alternative/progressive rock band Tripping Icarus. He's an avid science fiction reader and video game fan, describing himself as "a huge nerd." Recently he's generated a lot of controversy for his very public and controversial defenses of same-sex marriage and gay rights.

A November 2012 profile in the OC Weekly explained his political views this way: "If Kluwe had to label himself, he'd say libertarian, but that doesn't quite sum it up either."

The OC Weekly went on to quote Kluwe: "My ideal world is one in which we don't need a government because people treat one another the way they want to be treated. But until we fix human nature, that's probably not going to happen."

Kluwe further discussed his libertarian views in a December 2012 interview with Reason magazine, saying among other things that he voted for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, and adding that he dislikes political labels.

Here are some excerpts from that interview:

(In response to the question "What makes you a libertarian?"): "For me personally it's the belief that I would like to be free to live my own life. There's the golden rule to treat other people the way you would want to be treated. That will solve a lot of the world's problems."

"I've never been a big fan of labels. It's hard to sum up a person with a single label. I say I lean toward the libertarian side. Some things I lean more liberal and some things I lean more conservative. But it's all about not taking the rights away from somebody else."

"In an ideal society you don't need a government because everybody knows how to treat somebody else. Unfortunately we aren't going to reach that place for some time. The world I imagine is from the Culture Series by Iain M. Banks [a sci-fi book series taking place in a semi-anarchist utopian culture]. The fact that once you reach a post-scarcity economy, you have people realize what people want to do with their life doesn't affect me. You don't need a government to tell you what to do."

Kluwe emphasized to Reason the need for libertarians (and others) to feel empathy and concern for others. 

"If you don't care for anybody else you're a sociopath. It's about finding what that level of safety net is without living off other people. If you truly want to live your life for yourself, then you wouldn't want to take somebody's labor, because you wouldn't want somebody to do that to you. Empathy isn't just about taking care of other people. It's also recognizing what your actions do to other people. I have to make sure I'm wary of what I'm doing."

Myth: "No American needs a magazine holding 30 rounds of ammunition"

As we go to press, the Washington Post is reporting that Vice President Joe Biden is strongly considering proposing a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

In recent weeks we've continuously heard gun control advocates and pundits claim that no American needs a magazine holding 30 rounds of ammunition for self defense. 

But that's simply not true, argues Erich Pratt, Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a national civil liberties organization with over 300,000 members. 

The following is excerpted from Pratt's excellent short article "Debunking Some Popular Media Myths on Guns" (which makes many other important points as well): 

"Banning high capacity magazines will not keep criminals from getting them, any more than DC's gun ban prevented criminals from getting guns. And keeping them from honest citizens will only make them less safe.

"Just consider the Korean merchants who armed themselves with so-called 'assault' weapons (and lots of ammunition) during the Los Angeles riots. Dozens of people were killed during the riots -- and hundreds more saw their homes and businesses looted. But the Koreans' stores remained standing, while others around them burned to the ground.

"The nation also witnessed law-abiding civilians who had to defend themselves from roving gangs after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

"When you are facing gang or mob violence -- and the police are nowhere to be found -- you need more than just a six-shooter.

"The press should stop pushing for restrictions upon the rights of decent Americans, because guns in good people's hands save lives."

* * * * * * * *
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...

OBAMA -- "NO SPENDING PROBLEM": "We don't have a spending problem." -- President Obama during closed-door budget negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, according to Boehner.

THE LOST BUDGET SURPLUS: "Overall federal spending has exploded, from $1.77 trillion in fiscal year 2000 to $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010. If Washington had pegged federal government growth since 2000 to the rates of inflation and population growth, we would be spending well under $3 trillion today, and talking about what to do with the surplus." - Matt Welch, Reason magazine blog, January 7, 2013 (post includes chart and figures).

RAND PAUL VS. INDEFINITE DETENTION: "The right to due process, a trial by jury, and protection from indefinite detention should not be shorn from our Bill of Rights or wrested from the hands of Americans. It is a dark day in our history that these rights have been stomped upon and discarded…  These core American legal privileges prescribed in our Bill of Rights have been observed since our nation's founding. When I assumed office, I took an oath to protect our Constitution -- and in voting against this unconstitutional NDAA, I kept that promise." -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) Dec 21, 2012 explaining his opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA), which was stripped of an amendment that would have guaranteed Americans the right to due process and a jury trial.

FIRST DISARMAMENT, THEN MASS MURDER: "Many nations that have given up their rights to gun ownership have suffered by the hand of their own government shortly thereafter. Over 170,000,000 (that's one hundred and seventy million) human beings have been slaughtered by their governments in the 20th century after they gave up their guns. Why on earth would Americans follow this path?" -- Tim Macy, Vice Chairman of Gun Owners of America, "Let's let facts guide the gun control debate for a change," December 20, 2012.

JAY LENO ON THE FISCAL CLIFF: "President Obama signed the new fiscal cliff tax increase into law while vacationing in Hawaii today. He used an autopen, an electronic way of signing your name when you're not even there. Politicians can now raise your taxes while they're on vacation in Hawaii. This is a Democrat's dream come true. 

"Congress has approved some version of this fiscal cliff bill thing… Now, they're looking to make cuts just about everywhere. In fact, oil companies today had to lay off 15 senators.

"[T]he fiscal tax bill… raises taxes on rich Americans. President Obama was determined to do this right away -- while there are still some rich Americans left.

"Americans from all sides of the political spectrum seem to be upset about this fiscal cliff deal. Imagine how the Chinese must feel. It's their money." -- Jay Leno, January 2-4, 2013.

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

Power Point

by Michael Cloud

Government Waste is a Terrible Thing Not to Mind
The Fiscal Cliff. The federal debt ceiling. Huge deficits. Unsustainable budgets. Financial collapse.
"All of these awful things and more will happen -- unless Congress shows the will and the courage to… raise taxes," say many mainstream news reporters, news analysts, pundits, and opinion leaders.
Why not cut federal spending to balance the budget? Ron Paul's presidential campaign budget proposal showed us how. So did Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson's proposal.
To make it even easier for tender, sensitive elected politicians, why not seek out and get rid of federal government waste... to balance the budget?
What if it were possible to balance the federal budget this year by simply identifying and eliminating wasteful federal spending?
Ask yourself: "Out of every dollar you pay in federal taxes, how many pennies do you estimate that they waste?" (When Americans are polled on this question, the average estimate is that 41 cents out of every tax dollar is wasted: 41% federal waste.)
From 1980 to 1982, the Grace Commission combed through federal government spending -- to look for waste and needless duplication. What did they find? Thirty-one percent (31%) of federal spending was waste -- and could be totally eliminated. What's 31% of today's $4 trillion federal budget? A $1.24 trillion spending reduction -- this year.
Instead of trying to increase our taxes, the federal politicians and the news media should go after federal government waste.
They should track down and uproot all 3 kinds of government waste:
1. Paying champagne prices for beer quality.
2. Buying champagne when all you need is beer.
3. Buying champagne or beer when you don't need either.
Waste: the government doesn't need it. Taxpayers can't afford it.
* * * * * * * *
Michael Cloud's brand-new book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

Ask Dr. Ruwart

Are Marriage Contracts Enough? 

QUESTION: In the September 5, 2012 Liberator Online you suggested marriage contracts as a way of solving custody disputes. I agree that marriage contracts have merit, but they have limited application in today's society. 

Without a law requiring them to do so, many people simply will not have a marriage contract. Further, the percentage of children born out of wedlock continues to rise. Marriage contracts won't help much with issues concerning children born outside of marriage.

So: What do you propose when parties intentionally or unintentionally do not have a marriage contract? 

I am a professional mediator and arbitrator. When disputing parties lack a contract that governs the issues in dispute, the law typically provides a solution. But as a libertarian, I am not inclined to support a law that requires marriage contracts. What's your response?
MY SHORT ANSWER: Government welfare is one of the reasons that so many babies are born out of wedlock. When I rented to low-income tenants in Michigan, young women often had a baby in their teens as a rite of passage. Having a child out of wedlock allowed the young mothers to collect welfare and establish their own households. If the father of the baby lived with or married them, the welfare stopped. Destroying families of the disadvantaged this way has greatly damaged their normal societal structure and the support it usually renders.

However, in any society, unplanned pregnancies outside of marriage (and a marriage contract) will happen. We can dictate the solution, but a one-size-fits-all law is likely to create as many problems as not having one. For example, if the woman lies when she tells the man that her tubes are tied and she can't have children, is the man responsible for child support if one comes along? If the man lies when he tells the woman that he's had a vasectomy, is he responsible for child support? 

Libertarians disagree on whether giving life (having a child) comes with the obligation of supporting that life. Without resolution of this pivotal point, defining parental obligations is difficult at best. I suspect that in a libertarian society, couples with children but without a contract or understanding will end up negotiating a resolution, possibly with a mediator like yourself. When parents both want to partake in the child's life, an agreement is more likely. When one parent wants nothing to do with the child, he or she is less willing to contribute to its support. 

Ultimately, the best solution to this dilemma is a personal, rather than a legal, one. We shouldn't have sex with someone who doesn't share our views of how to handle an unwanted pregnancy. To do otherwise is to court trouble if the unexpected happens.  

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

"Libertarianism, positive obligations and property abandonment: children's rights" by Walter Block. Block is one of the most brilliant and consistent libertarian theorists of our times. In this 2004 essay from the International Journal of Social Economics he explores the difficult issues of parental responsibility and children's rights. Agree or disagree, his work is an important and thought-provoking contribution to this important topic.

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.

* * * * * * * * * *
Got questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you'd like answers to YOUR "tough questions" on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart at:
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 brand new book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.

One-Minute Liberty Tip 

By Sharon Harris

Guns: Reframing the Debate

Words have enormous power.
Words shape how we and those we are talking with view the world and react to political events.
Using the right words can make the difference between persuasion and failure to persuade; between winning an audience to our side or losing them. And between making your point clear, or perpetuating falsehoods and misperceptions about your views. 
Best-selling author and gun law expert Alan Korwin has spent years exploring how language can win -- or lose -- for you on the gun issue.
I’m going to share some of my favorites of his in this column and the next. I highly recommend that you read his “Politically Corrected Glossary of Terms,” the article from which these examples were taken. 
Certain words, Korwin notes, frame the political debate. By using them, you reaffirm the anti-gun worldview. You’ve lost half the battle before you start.
For example, if you say you are “pro-gun,” some people immediately put you into a category of “gun nuts” or “gun lover.” Instead, try “pro-rights.”
Says Korwin: “Pro-rights [is] a more accurate, and far more compelling term than the common ‘pro-gun.’ The reverse term, which describes them, is ‘anti-rights.’ Misguided utopian disarmament advocates love the phrases ‘pro-gun’ and ‘anti-gun,’ because they automatically win when they're used. They believe the righteous path is to be anti-gun, because only devils would be pro-gun. You flat lose if you allow a debate to be framed that way.
“The debate is really between people who are 'pro-rights' and 'anti-rights' -- and then you automatically win, because the righteous choice between pro-rights and anti-rights is obvious. 
“You're pro-safety; pro-self defense; pro-freedom; pro-liberty; pro-Bill of Rights. [This by default correctly casts your opponents] as anti-safety; anti-self defense; anti-freedom; anti-liberty; anti-Bill of Rights. This is an accurate depiction of people who would restrict, repress and flat-out deny civil rights you and your ancestors have always had in America.”
Korwin also suggests saying “Bill of Rights” instead of “Second Amendment” when possible. For example: “I support the Bill of Rights. Isn’t that what America is all about?” Korwin notes that the Bill of Rights is a consistent whole; it “was a single amendment (with separate articles) to the Constitution.”
Korwin writes that this is “more broadly appealing and less polarizing than ‘Second Amendment.’ Sure, I talk about the Second Amendment all the time," he says. "But saying ‘Bill of Rights’ protects you from malicious stigma and stereotyping as a ‘gun nut.’ It’s much more difficult to oppose; it slows the gun bigots down. All the rights count, don't they, and they're all under attack.” 
A strong defense of the Bill of Rights may win you respect even from those who disagree, and you may find an ally on other important issues.  
I’ll share more of Korwin’s arguments next issue. Again, you can read more of his work on this issue here.
As always, when trying these and other techniques, remember the basic rules of communication, persuasion and empathy that we’ve discussed in previous columns. In general, unless debating, our goal is to persuade, win friends and allies, and when possible, convert others -- not just score points and win arguments. Indeed, on some issues, with some people, it may be better to simply accept differences, try to find other common ground, and move on. 

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

What's Happening with the Advocates

2013 FREEDOM CRUISES: Advocates Board Secretary and long time libertarian leader Dr. Ken Bisson invites you to join him for a Freedom Cruise in May 2013. Enjoy a wonderful trip on a luxury cruiser – at a bargain rate! Itinerary: The 7 day "Castles Along the Rhine,” cruising between Basel, Switzerland and Amsterdam, with a great opportunity to enjoy a few extra days in Europe on either end of your cruise. Non-libertarians welcome! Great food and fine company. (This isn't an Advocates event, but libertarians who have been on past cruises rave about them.) For photos and more details -- or to sign up for free, no-pressure, no-commitment email updates -- visit Freedom Cruises.

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.

Then go to the Advocates Twitter account and click the "follow" button below our picture.  

That's all it takes! You'll then get our tweets -- and we can get yours.
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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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