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Volume 18, No. 13                                        July 12, 2013
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The Liberator Online

for everyone who loves Liberty
Published by The Advocates for Self-Government
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-- Robert Ringer, bestselling author of Looking Out for #1 and
Restoring the American Dream
WELCOME to the Liberator Online!

In This Issue

PRESIDENT'S CORNER
* New Libertarian Science Fiction Film Features the Quiz!

INTELLECTUAL AMMUNITION
* New Study: Government Regulation Robbed You of Millions of Dollars
* New Book Reveals Danger of Militarized Police
* VIDEO: Who's That Messing with Your Grill?
* Ron Paul: U.S. Gov’t Has “Learned Nothing” from Disastrous Wars
 
THEY SAID IT: Edward Snowden says he had an obligation to act.... Daniel Ellsberg on Edward Snowden.... Libertarianism is on the rise in the American military (like it is everywhere else).... Even the guy who wrote the Patriot Act is shocked at how it's being used today.... U.S. government defines hacking as an act of war -- then hacks its allies.... Mr. Gorbachev, never mind tearing down that wall, just move it over here.... Jay Leno roasts Obama for abandoning free markets and liberty....

PERSUASION POWER POINT #351 by Michael Cloud
What's the Most Important Issue in Politics Today?

ASK DR. RUWART by Mary Ruwart
* What about Private Prisons?

ONE-MINUTE LIBERTY TIP by Sharon Harris
* Avoiding the “Curse of Knowledge”

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
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President's Corner

by Sharon Harris




New Libertarian Science Fiction Film Features the Quiz!
 
Dear friends, 
 
I’m excited to report a new milestone for the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.  
 
As you probably know, the Quiz has been reprinted in books, textbooks, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and many other places. 
 
Now it’s broken into a new medium: for the first time to my knowledge, the Quiz is appearing in a feature-length movie!
 
Appropriately enough, it’s a libertarian movie with a hard-hitting libertarian message: Alongside Night. 
 
Alongside Night began life as a novel by J. Neil Schulman. First published in 1979, it is one of the most acclaimed libertarian novels of all time. It’s been praised by the likes of Ron Paul, Milton Friedman, Anthony Burgess, Walter Block, Thomas Szasz, F. Paul Wilson, Poul Anderson, Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Woods, Publisher’s Weekly, the Los Angeles Times Book Review… and we could go on and on. 
 
Science Fiction Review described it as "Probably the best libertarian novel since Atlas Shrugged."
 
A special free anniversary edition of the novel was recently downloaded an incredible 350,000-plus times. 
 
Now Schulman – who has written many other highly-praised books, fiction and non-fiction, and is a leading libertarian activist – has turned his award-winning novel into a feature film, with himself as writer and director.
 
Starring in Alongside Night is Kevin Sorbo, one of the most popular actors in the world today. Sorbo gained fame playing Hercules in five TV movies in 1994, which led to the continuing series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999) -- the #1 rated show worldwide. Sorbo gained additional fame and fans from his starring role of Captain Dylan Hunt on the 2001-2005 series Andromeda. His many films include Meet the Spartans, Kull the Conqueror, and An American Carol.
 
Here’s a summary of the plot of Alongside Night, courtesy of Schulman: “The American economy is in freefall. Markets are crashing. Inflation is soaring. Bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment are up, and even defense contracts are going overseas. The United States military is threatening to go on strike. Foreigners are buying up everything in America at firesale prices while gloating over the fall of a once great nation. Homeless people and gangs own the streets. Smugglers use the latest technology to operate bold enterprises that the government is powerless to stop, even with totalitarian spying on private communications. Anyone declared a terrorist by the administration is being sent to a secret federal prison where constitutional rights don't exist.
 
“And caught in the middle of it all are the brilliant teenage son of a missing Nobel-Prize-winning economist, his best friend from prep school whose uncle was once an Israeli commando, and the beautiful but mysterious teenage girl he meets in a secret underground ... a girl who carries a pistol with a silencer.”
 
Exciting stuff! 
 
Sneak previews for Alongside Night have already been held at a few festivals and libertarian events, and as I write this column the film is playing at the huge FreedomFest liberty bash in Las Vegas. 
 
To learn more about Alongside Night, including future showings, visit the movie’s Facebook page and the official movie website
 
And now… let’s look at the Quiz in it’s first-ever film appearance! 
 
Here’s the trailer for Alongside Night. 
At about 40 seconds, look to your right.
 
Yes, there it is: the Quiz chart, on the wall. 
 
How did it get there? What’s happening in that room? What next?
 
See Alongside Night and find out!

In liberty,

Sharon
sharon@theadvocates.org

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Intellectual Ammunition

by James W. Harris






New Study: Government Regulation Robbed You of Millions of Dollars
 
Imagine living in an America where the average family was worth millions of dollars.  
 
That’s what America could be today -- if the federal government hadn’t increased its interference in the U.S. economy during the past 60 years. 
 
That’s the stunning conclusion of a new study by economists John Dawson of Appalachian State University and John Seater of North Carolina State, published in the Journal of Economic Growth.
 
They compare U.S. economic growth with the growth in federal regulation since 1949, and conclude that federal regulations cost the average American household more than a quarter-million dollars in lost income -- annually.
 
Today the average household brings in about $53,000 per year. Without federal regulations passed during the past sixty years, that same household would bring in a whopping $330,000 per year instead. 
 
Put another way, the U.S. GDP Is $16 trillion. Without the federal regulations of the past sixty years, Dawson and Seater argue it would be about $54 trillion. Federal regulations since 1949 have thus cost America an astounding 75% of our potential growth. 
 
With this loss of income, of course, comes a corresponding loss in health, education, environmental quality, safety, charity and much more.
 
Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason Magazine, has written an excellent analysis and summary of the Dawson and Seater study entitled "Federal Regulations Have Made You 75 Percent Poorer: U.S. GDP Is Just $16 Trillion Instead of $54 Trillion." Bailey’s article is highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn more about the study and the methodology it uses. 
 
Bailey tests their hypothesis against various assumptions and finds that their basic argument holds -- that federal regulations have cost Americans an incalculable amount of wealth. 
 
But what about the value of the federal regulations? Haven’t citizens benefited from these regulations? The two economists argue that their findings "indicate that whatever positive effects regulation may have on measured output are outweighed by negative effects." 
 
Or, as Bailey says: “Whatever the benefits of regulation, an average household income of $330,000 per year would buy a lot in the way of health care, schooling, art, housing, environmental protection, and other amenities.”
 
Of course, it is extremely naïve to assume that regulations are designed wisely and dispassionately to benefit and protect citizens. Many economists have long noted that much regulation is not -- despite the claims of regulators -- aimed at protecting consumers, but rather at benefiting and enriching special interests, including the regulated businesses (which routinely use regulations to enrich themselves and injure their competition), politicians, and regulators. And regulation also often triggers unexpected costs and consequences. 
 
If economists Dawson and Seater are right, government regulations have wiped out incalculable riches in the past sixty years, without remotely comparable benefits. This important new study deserves the attention of all who are interested in liberty. 

New Book Reveals Danger of Militarized Police
 
For several years award-winning libertarian investigative journalist Randy Balko has been covering an extremely important story that few other journalists have touched: the increasing militarization of U.S. police and the danger this poses to American liberties. 
 
Rise of the Warrior Cop is Balko's brand-new book on the topic, and it is a chilling eye-opener. Anyone who cares about liberty should give it serious attention.
 
Balko shows how bad laws (the War on Drugs being a prime example), anti-liberty politicians, and America's various "wars" against vague ill-defined enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have transformed America's police force. The distinction between a cop and a soldier has been blurred to the point where they are often indistinguishable. 
 
America's cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops: complete with military-style uniforms, tanks, other military weapons, military training and military-style tactics. Decades of police-state legislation have gutted fundamental constitutional protections like the Fourth Amendment. Rogue cops ignore or bypass our remaining legal protections. 
 
Today's police have arguably become an internal army -- something the Founders feared and warned about. Indeed, according to Balko, police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an "other" -- an enemy. In enforcing tyrannical laws like drug prohibition, they are actually engaging in a violent war against the people whose liberty and property they are supposed to protect. 
 
America wasn't supposed to be like this. And this isn't an anti-cop book; good police will welcome it. It is a warning about how bad laws and bad politicians have transformed the police into something they were never supposed to be. Balko offers sensible suggestions to defuse and reform this situation. 
 
Balko's carefully researched book covers history, politics, and constitutional law. It is breathtaking and terrifying, and it is one of the most original libertarian books in years. Balko has exposed a grave danger to American freedom, and his argument deserves major national attention. 
 
You can read a lengthy excerpt from Rise of the Warrior Cop for free, courtesy of the American Bar Association's ABA Journal website. 

VIDEO: Who's That Messing with Your Grill?

The Fourth of July has come and gone, but it's still summertime, the perfect time for grillin' and chillin' and celebrating our liberty and independence and… but, hey, who's that lurking around the grill?

"Ain't no party like a nanny state party…"

Reason TV presents "Up in My Grill: 4th of July Rap" -- the perfect summer music video, written and performed by the great comedian Remy. 

Just one minute and twenty seconds long, hilarious, with a strong libertarian message. Highly recommended. Share with friends! 

Ron Paul: U.S. Gov’t Has “Learned Nothing” from Disastrous Wars
 
“We left Iraq after a decade of fighting and the country is in far worse shape than when we attacked in 2003. After trillions of dollars wasted and tens of thousands of lives lost, Iraq is a devastated, desperate, and violent place with a presence of al Qaeda. No one in his right mind speaks of a U.S. victory in Iraq these days. We learned nothing from it. 
 
“We are leaving Afghanistan after 12 years with nothing to show for it but trillions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives lost. Afghanistan is a devastated country with a weak, puppet government -- and now we negotiate with those very people we fought for those 12 years, who are preparing to return to power! Still we learn nothing.
 
“Instead of learning from these disasters brought about by the interventionists and their failed foreign policy, the president is now telling us that we have to go into Syria! …
 
“We have attacked at least five countries since 9/11. We have launched drones against many more. We have deposed several dictators and destroyed several foreign armies. But, looking around at what has been achieved, it is clear: it is all irrelevant.”
 
-- Ron Paul, excerpts from “What We Have Learned from Afghanistan,” Texas Straight Talk, June 24, 2013. 

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They Said It...

EDWARD SNOWDEN -- “AN OBLIGATION TO ACT”:
 â€œI don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity, or love, or friendship is recorded, and that's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under. …I think anyone who opposes that sort of world has an obligation to act in a way they can.” -- NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden interviewed by civil liberties journalist Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, June 6, 2013. (Transcript here.)
 
DANIEL ELLSBERG ON EDWARD SNOWDEN: â€œThere has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material -- and I include the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. … the Founders of America never fathomed the kinds of surveillance powers that have now been turned against Americans -- nor would they ever have granted to a spy agency the vast, sweeping powers we’ve learned of recently. …this may be our last chance to rein in the surveillance state.” -- Daniel Ellsberg, renowned leaker of the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago that exposed the U.S. government’s criminal Vietnam War secret strategy.
 
LIBERTARIANISM GROWING IN U.S. MILITARY: â€œThis may come as a surprise to some -- especially considering that each and every member of the military is of course a government employee -- but there is a very strong libertarian streak running within the United States military, particularly the lower and middle ranks. I wrote during the 2012 primary season about the appeal Ron Paul held for soldiers, and…I’m noticing military libertarianism increasing, not decreasing, among the more politically aware and engaged officers and enlisted.” -- David French, “Would a Libertarian Military Be More Lethal?” National Review Online, July 9, 2013.
 
EVEN PATRIOT ACT AUTHOR IS SHOCKED: â€œAs the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of [the Patriot Act]…  Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.” – Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, arguing in a press release that the federal government has gone far beyond what he and other Patriot Act supporters ever intended, June 6, 2013. 
 
DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO: â€œUS government declares hacking an act of war, then hacks allies.” -- headline of Washington Examiner article on recent NSA revelations, July 1, 2013. 
 
MR. GORBACHEV DON’T TEAR DOWN THAT WALL, JUST MOVE IT OVER HERE: â€œWe’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall…” -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) arguing for legislation to increase the number of border patrol agents by 20,000 and fund the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
 
JAY LENO ON OBAMA VS LIBERTY: "President Obama is currently on a week-long trip to Africa, where he will promote freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity. I guess he figured it hasn't worked here -- so try it somewhere else." -- Jay Leno, June 27, 2013.

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

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Persuasion Power Point #351

by Michael Cloud





What's the Most Important Issue in Politics Today?
 
Politics is priorities.
 
What's most important? What's least important?
 
Which problem is critical? And which is trivial?
 
The next time you discuss politics with a friend or co-worker, ask:
 
"If you could solve only one political problem -- which would you choose?
 
"Why?
 
"Why, in your opinion, is the problem you named more pressing, more urgent than, say, the federal deficit or high taxes or government spying on us?
 
"If you were given 5 minutes airtime on all TV and radio stations, what would you tell Americans to win them to your point of view?
 
"What would be the huge, immediate, direct benefits of solving this problem?"
 
Carefully listen to what he says. Thank him for sharing his opinions with you.
 
Then, later in the day, repeat the process with another friend or co-worker.
 
Try it with 5 or 6 people.
 
If your friends are like mine, each one will choose a different "most important political problem."
 
And you'll learn that you need to have 5 or 6 very different libertarian conversations -- if you want to win them to libertarianism.
 
You'll need to talk about their "most important political problem" -- their political priority -- and discuss how and why libertarianism can relieve, reduce, and possibly remove it.
 
When you talk in terms of their priorities, in terms of what matters most to them, they will listen and talk with you.
 
And many of them will be receptive and responsive to our libertarian solutions.
 
* * * * * * * *
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.
Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion

BRAND NEW!

Click cover to see more and order.

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 about private prisons?
 
QUESTION: How do you feel about privatizing prisons? There have been serious charges of inmate abuse at private prisons. Plus, private prisons have a financial incentive to lobby for increases in the inmate population through beefing up measures like the War on Drugs that increase the inmate population (and thus their profits). Some people say private prisons are partly responsible for the US having 25% of the worlds prison population.
 
MY SHORT ANSWER: The War on Drugs is responsible for about 50% of the prison population in the U.S.; this was true long before private prisons were commonplace. Today prison owners might very well lobby legislators to create outlaws out of peaceful people, but in a libertarian society, legislators would not have that power. There would be no War on Drugs, or other victimless crime laws, in a libertarian society. 
 
Private prisons are subject to lawsuits, so they have incentives to prevent human rights abuses. Government-run prisons can hide behind sovereign immunity, so prisoners don’t always have the option to sue in cases of abuse. Thus, it’s likely that prisoners suffer more abuse in public institutions, but we just don’t hear as much about it because the cases don’t always come to court. 
 
In a libertarian society, prisons would likely be privatized, but the system would bear little resemblance to today’s prisons; the only people in prison would be violent criminals likely to strike again and people who refused to compensate their victims. In a society where criminals were expected to compensate their victims, rather than serve time in prison, offenders would learn early that crime doesn’t pay. Thus, the number of criminals and the resulting prison population would likely be small. 
 
LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further reading and viewing on this topic: 
 
*“Private Prisons Have Public Benefits” by Alexander Tabarrok, Research Director for The Independent Institute. This short op-ed argues that private prisons are less expensive and more humane than government prisons.
 
EXCERPT: â€œCareful studies by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice and others indicate that if anything, private prisons are of higher quality than public prisons. In fact, although prison privatization in the United States has been driven by cost savings, in Britain the driving motivation was higher quality, more humane prisons. After studying the issue, the director general of Her Majesty’s Prison Services concluded that the private prisons ‘are the most progressive in the country at controlling bullying, health care, and suicide prevention.’”
 
*“Criminal Injustice: Inside America’s National Disgrace”: Reason, the leading libertarian magazine, devoted its July 2011 issue examining of America’s criminal justice system, including prisons. From plea bargains to prison rape, this special edition covers a wide variety of issues. The entire issue is online for free reading. 

* * * * * * * * * *
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 brand new book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.
Click cover to check out Dr. Ruwart's latest book!

One-Minute Liberty Tip 

by Sharon Harris



Avoiding the “Curse of Knowledge”

What do these conversations have in common?

Medical Doctor: "We will need to use amyl nitrate for iatrogenic methemoglobinemia."
Relative of hospitalized patient: "???"

Attorney: "I can't help you with this because it would be ruled Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio."
Prospective client: "???"

Aunt Sally: "It’s easy to make my famous apple pie. You just need to make sure the dough feels right."
Niece Michele: "???"

Piano player who plays by “ear”: â€œOh, it’s easy. Just listen to the bass line; it’s usually playing the root. Then you just have to figure out if the chord is major or minor.”
Person who hasn't studied music theory: "???"

The confusion of the listeners in all these situations comes from the "Curse of Knowledge."

The phrase "Curse of Knowledge" was coined by Robin Hogarth, and popularized by Chip and Dan Heath in their insightful book Made to Stick. 

The "Curse of Knowledge" arises as a potential threat to effective communication when we become very knowledgeable about a particular subject. At that point, we find it very difficult to remember what it was like when we didn't have that knowledge. 

And this, unfortunately, makes it hard for us to share the important information we have on this subject with others.

All the speakers in the scenarios above are assuming their listeners share the same language and have the same knowledge they possess.

The result? The famous quote from the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke sums it up: "What we've got here is (a) failure to communicate."

You can see that happening with libertarian communicators, too. 

It can happen when we casually use phrases like “zero aggression principle,” or “Austrian economics” to audiences completely unfamiliar with these terms or concepts. Some audiences may not even know the word "libertarian." They may not know what the Fed that you say should be ended even is. 

How do we avoid the trap of the Curse of Knowledge? 

Good news. You've already taken the first, and most important, step: becoming aware of it. 

Now, think about situations when you've been on the receiving end of someone dumping a truckload of jargon and presumptions on you on a subject about which you knew little or nothing. Remember how frustrating and unproductive that was for you. Determine not to do the same to your listeners. 

It's always important to try to find out what level of knowledge your audience already has. If you do find out, start your conversation, speech, or other communication at that level.  

If you don't know the knowledge level of your audience, assume limited or no knowledge. Without being condescending, start with the basics. Use language that doesn't include jargon and doesn't presume knowledge of your subject. Don't talk about too much at one time. Leave time and opportunities for questions. 

And above all, be patient. Remember, it took a lot of time and effort for you to learn about these ideas you're trying to share. 

Not everyone instantly grasps how to make a pie. Or end the Fed. But with the right recipe, you can bring your listeners along, step by step -- if you avoid the Curse of Knowledge trap. 

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

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