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Volume 20, Issue 13                              April 3, 2015
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"The World's Smallest Political Quiz is one of the freedom movement's most recognized and effective outreach tools."

 â€” Ron Paul, The Congressional Record
WELCOME to the Liberator Online!

In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
The Most Powerful Way We Have to Change Things

ACTIVIST AMMUNITION
Tax Freedom Day is Nearly Here — Or Is It?
Major New Bill to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use Now in U.S. Senate and House

THEY SAID IT: Shocker: U.S. covered up gassing of American troops, says Newsweek.... Barack Obama, peacenik-in-chief? That's what Speaker of the House John Boehner sez.... Journalist sums up U.S. foreign policy in one tweet.... You're entitled — to pay taxes for entitlements, says economist.... Gary Johnson says the minority is now tyrannizing the majority with its dumb marijuana laws.... Let them bake — or not bake — cake, says Nick Gillespie.... 

ASK DR. RUWART
What is the libertarian alternative to zoning?

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
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President's Corner

by Sharon Harris






The Most Powerful Way We Have to Change Things

Dear friend,

"I have a friend who can always be counted on to have a great book recommendation handy," writes marketing guru Seth Godin in a recent post at his always-insightful blog. 

"Another who can not only tell you the best available movie currently in theatres, but confidently stand behind his recommendations.

"And some people are eager to share a link to an article or idea that's worth reading."

Such people, Godin says, are surprisingly rare. Many people are hesitant to recommend something. What if the person thinks my recommendation is stupid? Or not cool enough? Or that I'm being too pushy? Or...

Yet this kind of sharing is crucial, Godin says. It can affect lives, even change our culture and our world. 

"Sharing an idea you care about is a generous way to change your world for the better," Godin writes. 

"The culture we will live in next month is a direct result of what people like us share today. The things we share and don't share determine what happens next."

Indeed, he says, "the recommendation from person to person is now the most powerful way we have to change things."

Which brings me to... libertarianism. 

You're reading this because you want to change the world. To spread the blessings of liberty. To awaken more people to the joys, the benefits, the goodness of libertarian ideas. 

You are, whether you realize it or not, a very influential person. You likely have Facebook friends who want to be in touch with you. Family members who are open to ideas. Co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, fitness partners, friends... a network, online and off. Probably bigger than you realize. 

It's never been easier and cheaper to share ideas online. A few clicks and you can share a great pro-liberty meme with your Facebook friends (we feature a lot of good ones at our Facebook page). A few clicks and you've linked to a great liberty video or article or website or candidate or free book

Offline, opportunities abound. No tool is better than the World's Smallest Political Quiz, a simple, intriguing, fun item you can keep in your pocket or purse and hand out to friends. 

Good libertarian books make great gifts. T-shirts and bumper stickers easily raise awareness. 

This may sound simple. So simple, in fact, that it's easy to ignore. 

Yet Godin — one of the world's most respected marketing experts — insists that this is a crucial way of changing our culture, changing our world. Godin's opinion is based on years of studying and writing about change. 

If everyone reading this makes a habit of regularly doing some simple, sincere, easy sharing and recommending like this, we can make millions of positive contacts for liberty in a very short time. Collectively, these kinds of contacts will open minds, shift attitudes, affect opinions, and change lives. 

It just takes a (very) little time and effort. And, Godin adds, courage: 

"It takes guts to say, 'I read this and you should too.' The guts to care enough about our culture (and your friends) to move it forward and to stand for something."

Will you have the courage to risk sharing — smartly, appropriately, and regularly? And thereby move your friends — and our culture — to a better place? To liberty?

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 





Tax Freedom Day is Nearly Here — Or Is It?

"Tax Freedom Day" is the day when, according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year. 

To calculate this date, Tax Freedom Day takes all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation's income. 

For 2015 the Tax Foundation calculates Americans will pay a whopping $3.28 trillion in federal taxes and $1.57 trillion in state and local taxes — for a total tax bill of $4.85 trillion, or a staggering 31 percent of total national income. 

So this year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 24 â€” 114 days into the year.  

And... if you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day doesn't arrive for another 14 days, until May 8.

Until then, the average American is, essentially, slaving away fulltime for the government. 

To put these taxes in perspective, Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2015 than they will on the basic necessities of life — food, clothing, and housing — combined. 

By contrast, in 1900, in pre-income tax America, Americans paid only 5.9 percent of their income in taxes, meaning Tax Freedom Day came on... January 22.

This year's Tax Freedom Day is one of the latest ever. It's a day later than last year, and is the latest since 2007, when it fell on April 25. The latest-ever Tax Freedom Day was May 1, 2000. 

Awful as all this is, some critics argue that the Tax Foundation greatly underestimates the cost of government. 

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a group that lobbies for lower taxes and smaller government, each year calculates its "Cost of Government Day." Cost of Government Day is the date on which the average American has earned enough to pay taxes — PLUS the cost of mandatory but unfunded federal, state and local regulations. 

Last year ATR's Cost of Government Day didn't arrive until July 6 â€” meaning that government consumed 51% of national income, and the average American labored more than half the year — 186 days — to pay what the state demanded.  

Further, writing in the conservative New American magazine, Bob Adelmann argues that the Tax Foundation doesn't take into account many government costs and hidden taxes, including estate taxes and fees (such as drivers' licenses, boat registration, building permits, hunting and fishing licenses, phone and cable bills, etc.); that it ignores the staggering cost of complying with the tax laws; and that it also ignores the devastating "hidden tax" of inflation.

Combining all the above — fees, compliance costs, regulations, hidden taxes, etc. — adds up to a government that is devouring far more than half of our incomes. 

Which brings to mind the old joke: "Taxes are revolting. Why aren't you?" 

Major New Bill to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use Now in U.S. Senate and House  

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States — CARERS — Act is the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress.

It was introduced last month by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and just last week in the House by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

The CARERS Act will do the following:

* Allow states to legalize marijuana for medical use without federal interference
* Permit interstate commerce in cannabidiol (CBD) oils
* Reschedule marijuana to schedule II (thus acknowledging marijuana has medicinal value and making marijuana research far easier)
* Allow banks to provide checking accounts and other financial services to marijuana dispensaries
* Allow Veterans Administration physicians to recommend medical marijuana to veterans
* Eliminate barriers to medical marijuana research

"Reforming our nation's failed drug policies is one of the few issues Democrats and Republicans can agree on," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The tide is quickly turning against marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs in general."

This seems to be a bill whose time has come. Polls show roughly three-quarters of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize and regulate marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twelve states have laws on the books or are about to be signed into law by their governors regulating cannabidiol (CBD) oils, a non-psychotropic component of medical marijuana which some parents are utilizing to treat their children's seizures. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for non-medical use.

"This legislation is a game-changer," said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. "It is worth noting that senators with a national profile are championing this issue. Ending the war on medical marijuana is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do."

The Drug Policy Alliance has created a web page where supporters of the bill can send an email to their senators urging them to cosponsor it. 

* * * 

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...

U.S. COVERED UP GASSING OF AMERICAN TROOPS: "During and immediately after the first Gulf War, more than 200,000 of 700,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq and Kuwait in January 1991 were exposed to nerve gas and other chemical agents. Though aware of this, the Department of Defense and CIA launched a campaign of lies and concocted a cover-up that continues today. A quarter of a century later, the troops nearest the explosions are dying of brain cancer at two to three times the rate of those who were farther away. Others have lung cancer or debilitating chronic diseases, and pain. More complications lie ahead. According to Dr. Linda Chao, a neurologist at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco, 'Because part of their brains, the hippocampus, has shrunk, they're at greater risk for Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases.'" — journalist Barbara Koeppel, "U.S. Nerve Gas Hit Our Own Troops in Iraq," Newsweek, March 27, 2015. 

BARACK OBAMA, PEACENIK-IN-CHIEF: "The world is starving for American leadership. But America has an anti-war president." — U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a Capitol Hill press conference, March 26. Apparently Obama's ongoing U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan — not to mention covert operations around the world — slipped Rep. Boehner's mind. 

U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN ONE TWEET: "US praises US ally for bombing US-equipped militia aligned with US foe who is partnering with US to fight another US-equipped militia." — tweet by journalist/photographer Gregg Carlstrom, sent as Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen, March 26, 2015. 

YOU'RE ENTITLED (TO PAY FOR ENTITLEMENTS): "Your 2014 tax dollars — which are due [this] month — went primarily to pay for government benefits. Major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and Social Security) devoured more than half of the 2014 budget at 51 percent of spending. Other federal benefits took another 19 percent, meaning that 70 percent of government spending went to pay some sort of benefit to someone. These additional 'income security' and other benefits include federal employee retirement and disability, unemployment benefits, and welfare programs such as food and housing assistance." — economist Romina Boccia, "The Breakdown of Where Your Tax Dollars Go," Heritage Foundation, March 17, 2015. 

THE MARIJUANA DISCONNECT: "Marijuana polls 60% in favor of legalization. Huge, insane, disconnect that the minority is maintaining criminal penalties for the majority!" — tweet by Gary Johnson, 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, March 5, 2015. 

LET THEM BAKE — OR NOT BAKE — CAKE: "Nobody should be forced to do something they don't want to do, whether it's bake cakes for gay weddings or decorate cakes with anti-gay slurs. To me, whether a person's or a business's decision is based in religion is immaterial." — Nick Gillespie, "Everybody's Lost Their Goddamn Mind Over Religious Freedom," The Daily Beast, April 1, 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.


What is the libertarian alternative to zoning?

QUESTION: I am a homeowner in a low-income neighborhood. I work hard to keep my property up, and my yard is beautiful. I am enraged by people who leave tires and garbage cans in front of their houses, don't cut the grass, and scatter their garbage all over the street. They do not have the right to denigrate my quality of life.

How do I reconcile my libertarianism with the fact that I call the city on these offenders and advocate stricter laws regarding how one keeps the outside appearance of his property?

MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, when builders created a subdivision, they might choose to put deed restrictions on the homes. Prospective owners would need to accept these as a condition of purchase. Alternatively, property owners' associations might be put in place with a starting set of restrictions, to be modified in time by the buyers into the subdivision. Such restrictions could include standards of upkeep. People who desired a well-kept neighborhood would likely buy in such communities.
 
People who would rather not be restricted would buy in communities or other areas where such standards were minimal or non-existent. In this way, everyone's preference would be honored. Everyone wins!
 
Today, however, standards — even zoning — can fluctuate overnight with changes in city councils, zoning boards, or inspectors. Sometimes these standards are selectively enforced (e.g., a neighbor has to complain before action is taken). Buyers don't always know what they are getting into and understandably become resentful when their neighbors use government to restrict them. Thus, unfortunately, today win-win solution to these problems are rare. 

*  *  * 

Learn More: Liberator Online editor James W. Harris suggests the following articles for further reading on this topic:

* "How Zoning Rules Would Work in a Free Society" by Ben O'Neill, Mises Institute, June 17, 2009. This short article shows what's wrong with zoning, and why market alternatives are better and fairer.

Excerpt: "Contrary to the alleged necessity of zoning laws, there is ample scope for non-coercive solutions to zoning issues in the context of a free society of private-property ownership and nonaggression. In particular, private ownership of property allows for restrictive covenants to be agreed between the property owner and another party so that the allowable uses of land are limited according to the wishes of the parties. It follows that property owners within a given neighborhood may contractually agree to impose restrictions on themselves with respect to the allowable developments on their land or the allowable uses of their property."

 * "Zoning Laws Destroy Communities" by Troy Camplin, Mises Institute, April 30, 2010. This short article discusses problems with zoning, including huge unintentional consequences that subvert zoning's alleged goals of fostering and preserving communities. 

Excerpt: "Zoning laws are a violation of property rights. They destroy the sense of community in neighborhoods, increase crime, increase traffic congestion, contribute to urban and suburban air pollution, contribute to poverty, contribute to reliance on government — and, thus, reduce self-reliance — and contribute to the ruin of our schools. Most of our urban and suburban problems arose with zoning and other anti-property laws, to which welfare programs and public housing projects have contributed…"

* * * 
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 latest book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her classic Healing Our World.

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