Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

October 15, 2014

Schools’ zero gun tolerance get more ridiculous

by Tom Knighton

A student’s mom in Mobile, AL is a little upset these days. You see, her daughter’s school got upset because the daughter drew a picture of a gun, then reportedly pointed a crayon at another student and said, “Pew pew!” (The school has not commented on whether or not the crayon was loaded, however)

In reaction, the school reportedly had the daughter evaluated by a psychologist and had the daughter sign a contract stating that she would reach out to someone should she want to hurt herself or another. Such contracts are fairly standard for people with mental health issues involving suicidal or homicidal intentions.

Why is the mother upset? Probably because her daughter is just five years old. (more…)

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Houston Loses Collective Mind – Subpoenas Pastors

by Matt Souders

Here is the news story in its original form for your shocked brains to attempt to process:

Houston Subpoenas the Churches Over ‘HERO’

The Alliance Defending Freedom is countering this abuse of freedom with legal action – a motion to stop these subpoenas from going ahead (and you can find their legal reasoning here.

Notably, ADF claims that the city’s subpoenas, which the city claims go toward answering a lawsuit filed by Houston citizens over this new rule (dubbed HERO – cute), is a fishing expedition, and that the pastors being subpoenaed were not even involved in the lawsuit. It looks as though the city may be hunting for some way of legally punishing the city’s religious leaders for taking a position counter to ‘HERO’, and their methods are questionable at best.

But let’s step back a minute and talk about that rule.

‘HERO’ states that transgendered persons who identify as a different gender than what shows up biologically cannot be denied access to opposite-gender bathrooms in any public building in Houston. The theory is that it is a hardship for a biologically male (or female) person who identifies as the opposite gender to be forced to use the bathroom of their biological gender.

A lawsuit filed to stop this rule from going live is what brought the debate to a boil, but I do want to briefly discuss the merits of the rule itself. I want to be sympathetic here – but how can any purveyor of a public restroom be certain of the state of mind of anyone wishing to use the opposite gender bathroom? It is well known, thanks to the internet and its cornucopia of platforms for discussion of sexual orientation and proclivities, that there exist a not-insignificant number of individuals who obtain sexual gratification from spying on the bathroom habits of the opposite sex. Houston is the place for these folks! Simply claim you are transgendered and spend all the time you want in there. I, for one, do not believe it is possible to uphold this law without creating a huge array of unintended consequences, not the least of which being a big increase in sexual assault and rape in ladies rooms in the city.

But – and this is hard to believe – there is a bigger issue. In order to enforce the rule and punitively punish anyone who would bring a legal challenge, city officials feel within their rights to spy on – oops, I mean subpoena – the sermons of pastors not directly involved in said legal challenge on the topic of this rule. It is a deeply alarming world in which we now live, if it is considered normal behavior for a city to decide that compliance with this rule shall include absolute verbal agreement at the threat of legal action; and that in order to obtain this agreement, they shall have the unfettered right to pry into the private worship of any congregation in their jurisdiction on a fishing expedition. What’s next – the Justice Department deciding that it has the right to subpoena all churches to make sure they comply with the Affordable Care Act or do not explicitly oppose democrat candidates? Oh wait – the IRS is beginning to consider spying on churches to make sure they do nothing “political”.

Here’s hoping that ADF is successful in its challenge – but, to be honest, I doubt it will matter in the long run if these abusive legal tactics become the norm (as they already seem to be doing).

I fear for us all.


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Albert Northrup: My Own Little World

by Albert Northrup

Albert White House

I have been wanting to blog for quite some time and I want to thank Kevin for the opportunity to post my humble opinions to The Liberty Papers.

With that being said, my name is Albert Northrup. I am 36 years old and I currently reside in Oviedo, FL, which is just north of Orlando, Florida or Flori-duh, as I like to call it. :) I hold a B.A. in Political Science and an MBA from the University of Central Florida (UCF), where I was a member of the College Republicans and Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. Side note: UCF is the second largest university in the country and we were also ranked the second best looking student body. We are a good-looking group of people. You can’t argue with facts. :) Go Knights! Charge On!  I also hold a JD from Barry University School of Law where I competed for their nationally-recognized trial advocacy team and moot court team. As a law student, I was chapter president of the Federalist Society and treasurer of the American Association for Justice.

Politically, I am a classical liberal/right libertarian. I believe that there are three functions of the government: (1) to protect against foreign invasion; (2) to promote justice and defend against injustice; and (3) to protect property rights. My love for politics began at the young age of six when my father took me to the voting booth in 1984 to vote for Ronald Reagan. I began to develop many of my own views on government during the 1994  midterm elections while I was a senior in high school. Since then, my political views have evolved from staunch conservative to libertarian (small “l”). I am still a registered Republican and I want to believe Ronald Reagan when he said that “at the very heart of conservatism is libertarianism.” However, I find it unfortunate that the GOP has been hijacked by big-government social conservatives who are just as statist as the big-government Democrats they criticize.

One of the beautiful things about this country is that we have the right to disagree. You won’t agree with everything that I say and I won’t agree with everything that you say. However, I ascribe to the old adage that “even though I disapprove of what you say, I will fight to the death your right to say it.”

I am the proud father of a 17 year old boy. He is my pride and joy and an outstanding soccer player. When I’m not debating with someone on law or politics, you can find me playing soccer, running, playing poker, in the gym, or at the gun range. I am a huge fan of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, the Buffalo Bills, the New York Yankees, and the UCF Knights. You can follow me on Facebook or on . I look forward to our Twitter dialogue.

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Cost is NOT Price, and Neither Cost, nor Price, are Value

by Chris Byrne

Prices Provide a Misleading Measure of Dollar Devaluation
Forbes Magazine Online – Keith Weiner

There’s not a human being alive who doesn’t know the dollar is falling. Everyone over 25 has stories of what prices were like, way back when (and younger people have heard them). I remember when gasoline was 60 cents a gallon, and my mom remembers when it was 20 cents.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen acknowledges the official objective to push the dollar down by 2 percent per year. This intention is behind the Fed’s ill-conceived loose money policy.

It’s important to measure each drop. This is not just to keep a scorecard on the Fed, but because a change in the dollar skews historical comparisons and distorts business decisions, like giving increases to workers and pensioners….

Read the whole piece, and then come back…

The thesis statement of the piece is correct, in that prices provide a misleading indicator of currency valuation (and that our weak dollar policy, as pursued by every administration since Bush 1 to some degree or another, is fundamentally wrong and destructive for that matter).

Unfortunately the author suggests that simply using a different price denomination and comparison (to gold) is a less misleading indicator… In this, he’s absolutely incorrect.

What you really want to compare is purchasing power parity (PPP) as measured by equivalent standard of living, expressed as a dollar cost in constant dollars normalized to average labor hour wage or compensation.

i.e. this item costs 5 minutes of average labor, this costs 8 hours, this costs 20 years; the cost to maintain this equivalent normalized standard of living across an aggregate population is 1940 hours of median labor wage etc… etc…

Note, this is NOT an expression of the fallacious labor theory of value, it is an explicit measure of purchasing power parity as actual cost, INCLUDING opportunity cost (in terms of time), not currency denomination.

The critical function isn’t price, and it isn’t wage… it’s cost, in this case expressed as a cost to value ratio as a normalized dollar (to make it easy to relate to wages and prices).

Cost is not price; it’s a totalized measure of inputs including resources, time, and opportunity.

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How ‘Affirmative Consent’ Laws Threaten Due Process

by Kevin Boyd

A few weeks ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the nation’s first “affirmative consent” law. When it was proposed back in June, I said the proponents were control freaks. The law essentially says that consent must be given, affirmatively and actively, for each act of a sexual encounter. In other words “yes means yes.” It sounds reasonable enough doesn’t it?

The law has already spread with lawmakers proposing similiar laws across the country. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo implimented the policy at the SUNY system of universities across New York with plans to incorporate it into state law. Lawmakers in Illinois, New Hampshire, and New Jersey have plans to introduce similiar legislation across the country.

While the lawmakers proposing the bills are all Democrats, the laws have found support in unlikely corners, social conservatives and even some libertarians. Townhall.com writer Conn Carroll supports the laws because he wants to discourage the “hookup culture.” Libertarian blogger Kelli Gulite argues that the laws clear up the “ambiguity of the existing consent standards.”

However, while the affirmative consent laws are a well-intentioned attempt to address a problem (rape), they ultimately do more harm than good, especially where civil liberties are concerned. These laws will result in (mostly) young men either being expelled from universities and/or charged with a crime they did not commit.

Here’s some reasons why affirmative consent laws are not the way to go:

1) Sets us on the road to “precrime”. One of the lawmakers proposing these laws for their state, N.H. State Rep. Renny Cushing state this “We need to change the dialogue and we need to start talking about prevention rather than have a legal concern about whether or not someone was capable of giving their consent.”

I’ve heard that before somewhere:

These laws will no more prevent rape than laws against hate speech will prevent murder.

2) It eliminates the presumption of innocence. The laws state that someone is guilty of rape if there was no yes. This will force the defendant to have to prove that there was a yes. That forces the burden of proof on the defendant, not the state and the university. The only logical way for a potential defendant to protect themselves from a rape allegation is to record the sexual encounter or some kind of proof that the encounter was explicitly consentual.

In other words, we’re right back to the problem these laws were trying to prevent “he said vs she said.” Under the reasonable doubt standard, that’s clearly not enough evidence on its own to force a conviction. However, in a campus proceding or a civil lawsuit, there is no reasonable doubt but only preponderance of evidence.

These laws codify the process of the campus-based procedings which have been criticized as essentially kangaroo courts that threaten the rights of the accused.

3) It will lead to the prosecution of boorish behavior and bad sex as rape. In her defense of these laws, Gulite wrote:

The best way to show why affirmative consent is a better standard than previous standards is through an example. Two students agree to have vaginal intercourse, but without warning or asking permission, the male student begins to have anal intercourse. Of course, the female could say no immediately after taking a few seconds to register what happened and the male could oblige. However, the sexual assault has already occurred.

Under the affirmative consent standard, the victim has recourse. Without it, she does not. (emphasis hers)

Perhaps I’m a caveman, but I fail to see a case for disciplining, suspending, or expelling the young man; let alone having him arrested and subjected to the legal process for essentially an act of boorish behavior. This particular example looks like something that should be best handled between the two of them without involving the university or the authorities.

If this woman has recourse under this example under affirmative consent, what about bad sex in general? Or if a woman regrets a sexual encounter the next day? We know false rape accusations happen, even if we don’t know what the exact percentage is. I fear this standard will just increase the number of them.

The road to hell, or the loss of liberties, is often paved with good intentions. The affirmative consent standards are an excellent example of this. We should resist the urge to “just do something” to address sexual assualt at colleges. We should also resist using the government to impose our own personal morality. All those will do is just lead to erosion of more liberties.

 

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“Bad” or “Wrong” or “I don’t like it” is not equivalent to “Unconstitutional”

by Chris Byrne

In a comment on someone elses post, another reader wrote “The DEA is an unconstitutional and illegal agency”.

This bugs me… We frequently see these sorts of statements made about the DEA, the ATF, the federal reserve (where ok, there’s at least a rational and reasonable though flawed argument to be made… most of the people shouting stuff like that above aren’t making those arguments, but still)… Basically any federal agency that they don’t like, or which enforces laws, or uses delegated powers which they personally don’t like.

No, the mere existence of the DEA is not unconstitutional or illegal. It is perfectly constitutional in that it is an executive agency chartered to enforce the laws promulgated by the legislative branch.

The fact that the federal government has no constitutional authority to outright ban or criminalize such substances as the DEA is chartered to regulate, or to ban or criminalize their manufacture, use, or possession (and only limited power to regulate their sale. No, sorry, regulating interstate commerce and making such laws as necessary for the general welfare does not grant them such broad and deterministic powers… and Wickard v. Filburn is bad law and needs to be overturned), does not mean that all laws relating to such substances are illegal or unconstitutional. There are legitimate regulatory powers that such an agency may lawfully and constitutionally exercise.

AS CURRENTLY EXTANT AND IN THEIR CURRENT ROLES AND ACTIONS… The DEA often engages in unconstitutional behaviors, and acts to enforce unconstitutional laws. That much is certainly true. But they are not inherently unconstitutional, or illegal.

Those are actually really important distinctions. Not just semantics or distinctions without difference.

This is so, because you go about addressing the issues, and solving the problems, differently. Things which are blatantly and directly illegal or unconstitutional are best addressed in one way. Things which are peripherally so, are best addressed in a very different way.

You have to shoot at the proper target, with the proper ammunition.

Also, it’s really important to remember, that “bad and stupid” or “harmful” or “undesirable”, or “pointless”; does not necessarily mean “unconstitutional”. Nor does “constitutional” mean “good”, or “useful” or “effective”.

That’s not even a matter of judges discretion or interpretation… The constitution actually provides far less protection of rights, and limitation of powers, than people believe it, expect it, and wish it to (at least explicitly… the 9th and 10th amendments… there’s much bigger and messier issue).

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October 14, 2014

Windowpanes, Pencils, and Paperclips

by Chris Byrne

A few days ago I wrote something on facebook that bears repeating here:

A comprehensive understanding of the pencil problem, combined with a thorough understanding of the broken window fallacy (and its inputs and corollaries… Hazlitt for example), makes a pretty good inoculant against socioeconomic lies and stupidities.

Although they are implied by the conditions above, perhaps one should also specifically reference the scale and complexity problems, the perfect information fallacy, the perfect man fallacy, and the law of unintended consequences…

Some of our readers may be unfamiliar with the pencil problem.

In comments, the novelist Ryk Spoor provided a decent explanation, which I’m going to paraphrase here, with my own edits and revisions (and the addition of the last bit, about planning and control):

No one man, can make a pencil, or at least a pencil which could be sold economically.
In general terms, the pencil problem, is that even simplest and most common objects in our civilization generally require an immense number of people and inputs; to not merely build, but manufacture and sell in sufficient numbers, to make it worthwhile to build them cheaply (or at least so that they can be sold economically).

The applies to everything from cars and computers, to pencils, to paperclips.

If you wanted ONE paperclip, it would be an epic undertaking, from locating the appropriate ores, refining them, turning them into steel, figuring out how to draw the steel into the appropriate size of wire, and then finally producing the paperclip from that wire. The amount of effort involved in it would be months of your labor, assuming you had the talent and resources to do it at all.

Instead, you go to a store and buy a 100ct box of them for a dollar; or even at minimum wage, a few minutes of your time for a hundred of the things.

Multiply that by all the different types of goods and services in a modern civilized society, and it starts to become clear just how many people, in how many different specialties, with how much infrastructure, are needed to keep everything running.

Given that scale and complexity, it should also be clear how impossible it would be to plan, control, and manage, anything approaching a national economy or infrastructure centrally; or in fact in any way other than as devolved and decentralized as possible.

The original statement of the problem in this way came from an essay by Milton Friedman (which was a restatement of an earlier essay, “I, Pencil” from Leonard Read, which was a restatement of Hazlitt, which was a restatement of Bastiat and back down the chain).

A video of Friedman explaining the problem:

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The problem with “Wouldn’t it be…” and “Wasn’t it…”

by Chris Byrne

Progressive ideas usually begin with:

“Wouldn’t it be great if…” (progressives are generally theorists)

Ok, right there with you so far…

Conservative ideas usually begin with:

“Wasn’t it great when…” (conservatives are generally empiricists)

Yup, that works for me too…

The complication is the next step, taken by both progressives and conservatives:

“Since that would be great, it is our moral obligation, to use the force of government to MAKE it that way”

… and that’s where we part ways.

The problem, is that I believe I have no moral right to force MY personal beliefs, preferences, or ideas on anyone else (no matter how “great” or “right” they may be).

I also believe that we have a moral obligation to use the force of government as little as possible (even if doing so may be “for the greater good”).

Of course, that’s where the kicker hits, from both left and right…

“Since you oppose something which is great, and which is a moral obligation, you must either be stupid, or evil”

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Why Libertarians Should Vote Libertarian This November (and Always)

by Sarah Baker

As usual at this stage in the election cycle, my social media newsfeeds are filled with indignant Republicans lecturing libertarians about “spoiling” elections in favor of Democrats. I will do as always, listen to the howls as they cast themselves impotently upon the shoals of my principles—and continue to fill in ovals only for those candidates with an established commitment to limited government, enumerated powers and fiscal restraint.

I urge my fellow libertarians to do the same.

Never mind Libertarian candidates pull votes from Democrats as well as Republicans. Never mind Libertarians sometimes spoil elections in favor of the Republican. What I find even more interesting this election cycle is how much more sympathetic the howlers are to third parties and spoilers now that it is the social conservatives feeling betrayed by the GOP.

Tax-Hike Mike Huckabee is threatening to leave the party and take “a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people” with him if the party “abdicates” on gay marriage. Chairman of the (misnamed) Liberty Council Matthew Staver is now openly calling for the creation of a third party if Republican “cowards” cannot hold the line against gay marriage. The (misnamed) National Organization for Marriage is actively campaigning against Republican candidates Carl DeMaio and Richard Tisei for their breach of party orthodoxy:

We refuse to follow the leaders in Washington as if we were sheep expected to dutifully support candidates whose positions are an insult to conservatives and will severely damage the nation. We are going to do our best to defeat these candidates because they are wholly unworthy of holding high office.

Remember all the times libertarians have said the same thing, not in connection to gay marriage, but as to a plethora of other issues? I know my social media will soon light up with outrage  at these social conservatives actively spoiling elections against Republic candidates.

…Any time now…

It is ironic, really, because however faithless the GOP has been with the theocratic wing of its base, its breach of faith with the small government contingent has been near absolute. The GOP has given us the Patriot Act, warrantless wire-tapping, protectionist tariffs, expensive subsidies for agribusiness, a crony capitalist energy bill, and Sarbanes-Oxley.

It has bequeathed us a $1.9 trillion war waged on credit to topple a secular dictator whose position is now being filled by the group known as ISIS. Its War on Drugs is a spectacular failure, whose face looks like this, and which is now opposed by the majority of Americans—along with five Nobel prize economists.

The GOP “abdicated” long ago on local control of schools, federalizing education to an unprecedented extent with No Child Left Behind. In an irony observed by Edward H. Crane of the Cato Institute back in 2002:

Mr. Bush campaigned for the greatest federal role in education that any president, Republican or Democrat, had in US history. Never mind that 20 years before, Mr. Reagan had won a landslide victory on a platform that called for the abolition of the Department of Education.

The GOP oversaw an incredible expansion in the federal budget, even for non-defense discretionary spending, and a new entitlement program in the form Medicare Part D, with net expenditures of $727.3 billion through 2018. Its candidates now openly campaign against cuts to Medicare and Social Security and the party leadership takes the position that it cannot risk unpopular cuts when winning re-election is so crucial.

…So they can cut spending?

There will always be another election looming. This is not the logic of a party sincere in its intent to rein in the size and scope of government. It is the logic of a party whose purpose in winning elections is to hold onto power for its own sake.

Even if the GOP had given libertarians a reason for support this November, it is increasingly unclear it can deliver in national elections. Only 25% of Americans identify as Republican, the party having lost fully 12% of its base to Independents, who now make up 42% of the electorate (31% are Democrats).

Is there a target electorate for a party of politicians who are entitlement-state liberals on economic issues, hawks on foreign policy, surveillance state security-fetishists, and who believe in using the power of the government to promote conservative values on social issues? How big can that voting block be? According to Dave Nalle writing for American Broadside, Huckabee’s following consists of about 6-8% of Republican voters nationwide.

In contrast, as many as 59 % of voters self-identify as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” the exact opposite of the “socially conservative, fiscally liberal” brand of conservatism the GOP has served up in the last fifteen years. Against Huckabee’s 6-8% following, 61% of young Republicans and 64% of millennial evangelicals support treating same-sex marriages equally under the law.

Even the Catholic Church sees the writing on the wall.

Contrary to Huckabee’s handwringing, the GOP can maintain its position on abortion and remain a viable party. Forty-six percent of American adults, 45% of independents and 28% of Democrats are pro-life. Even outspoken Democrat women like Kirsten Powers would put a limits on abortion well before the end of the second trimester. There is common ground to be had there.

But the GOP cannot remain a viable party without the libertarian swing vote. Even under conservative estimates, 15% of voters can be treated as consistently “libertarian” in their positions, representing a voting block as big as the religious right—and one that is far more willing to stray from the GOP.

It is clear the GOP needs libertarians this November—hence the shrill refrain from the peanut gallery of social media. But it is not clear what the GOP has to offer. Its tent is big enough to cover both libertarians and social conservatives. But there is no such thing as a tent big enough to cover both libertarians and social conservatives who want to use the power of the government to promote their social preferences.

Those two are mutually exclusive. They are matter and anti-matter. They cannot exist in the same time in the same place.

Until the GOP chooses, it will remain a splintered force in politics. And unless it chooses the side of small government, it offers little incentive for libertarians to look for shelter in its tent.

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Greetings All – Sorry in Advance!

by Matt Souders

Good day to my fellow lovers of liberty! My name is Matthew Souders – I am a lifelong conservative, but don’t let that fool you into thinking I’ve always held the same beliefs – or that I always knew what I was talking about. Or that I know what I’m talking about now. Warning – headshot below may cause brain damage!

Me_Citi_Field

NYAAHH!!

Now that we got that out of the way, I’ll tell you a little about my history. Some basic facts that have contributed to my political development.

1) My father was a Navy submariner – he trained as a nuclear technician and gradually rose through the officer ranks. He saw all of the strengths and all of the weaknesses of the Navy, and is not shy about discussing either side of that ledger (anything he’s allowed to discuss, at any rate!). So I developed a general respect for our men and women in uniform.

2) I am legally blind, and therefore faced a number of challenges in life. My mobility is limited (can’t drive), my freedom is cherished.

3) I spent most of my young adult life agnostic, but, through a long and winding philosophical journey and scholarly study of Catholic history and teachings, I returned to the faith in which I was baptized, and did so with great enthusiasm. I believe that the long history of Catholic scholarship is ideal for a scientist seeking faith.

4) I began my political life a dedicated Republican (briefly, a denizen of FreeRepublic.com, to my lasting sorrow). I even still have a couple of counter-protest shirts!

5) Since then, I’ve developed a deep skepticism of all sources of concentrated power. Big corporations, big government, big labor, big lobbies, big press, big churches. I’m a Catholic, so how can that be? Because the Catholic Church no longer exercises centralized power over anything but the faith itself. I’d have been very skeptical of a church that ruled over kings had I lived back then, and, in fact, most of the worst parts of Catholic history were directly the result of that kind of power. But Catholics figured that out on their own and dialed back the Papacy, and the authority of the Pope is now limited to matters of faith. That’s the great thing about 2000 years of scholarly work – change might come slowly, but it comes, and it always moves in a direction that is progress….without being progressive.

6) I am also a scientist and jack of many trades. My current profession is meteorology (specifically at the intersection of longer-range forecasting and seasonal and climate forecasting), which means you’ll probably get a lot of commentary from me about the state of climate “science”, since, to get a Masters in Meteorology, I attended the University that is directly tied to the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize in climate alarmism. This means I got a big whiff of the stench of dry-rot coming from climatologists who think they know anything about the weather.

All of which has left me in an awkward position. I’m socially conservative, but not in the top-down way that the GOP is except on the matter of abortion. I’m pro-liberty, first and foremost, but highly skeptical of some planks in the straight Libertarian platform. I’m a man without a party. The closest description for me would be: conservative counter-cultural populist.

I’m happy to join the Liberty Papers as a commentator and lightning rod of contention, since it seems I’m not really on anyone’s side at the moment. I variously get accused of being too libertarian by Republicans and too Republican by libertarians…it’s a boatload of fun.

I’ll be around to annoy all of you soon!

Sorry about that in advance. :)

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An Open Letter to Jeffco Student Protesters Concerning History Standards

by Stephen Littau

Author’s Note: The following post was intended to be published on September 29th but due to technical difficulties here at The Liberty Papers, publication had to wait. I do believe, however; this is still an ongoing, present concern and the subject matter extends far beyond the Jefferson County School District in the Centennial State.

Dear Student Protesters of Jefferson County:

I must begin with a confession. When I first learned of your student walkouts concerning some proposed changes to the AP History curriculum, I was more than a little bit cynical. These walkouts, I thought, were little more than an excuse to skip class and be ‘part of something.’ I don’t doubt that some students joined the walkouts for that reason; there are always individuals who join a cause because it seems to be the popular thing to do (I should point out that there are many people my age and older who do the very same thing so this is not a criticism of young people per se). This open letter is not intended for these students but for those of you who honestly care about the proposed changes to the history curriculum.

As I started reading about these protests it didn’t take me long to realize that you have very good reason to protest: the aims of the Jeffco School Board for the history curriculum are at best contradictory and misguided. The following paragraph in the Board Committee for Curriculum Review must be the primary reason for your protests:

Review criteria shall include the following: instructional materials should present the most current factual information accurately and objectively. Theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.

The first three sentences and the last sentence, I am sure, you have no problem with. The materials should be presented “accurately and objectively.”  But if the first goal is objectivity, how can the materials also “promote” other ideas such as citizenship and patriotism at the same time? Promotion of ideas by definition means they intend to encourage students to accept certain ideas and reject others. Objectivity means presenting the material without promoting a certain world view (which is much easier said than done). (more…)

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Social Conservatives Spend Money To Defeat…..Republicans In This Year’s Midterms

by Kevin Boyd

Many conservative Republicans like to blame libertarians for why the GOP has lost the past three out of four national elections. However, just as yes some libertarians do support Libertarian Party candidates over Republicans sometimes in competitive districts, we have social conservatives choosing to spend money to defeat Republicans, a couple of whom are in competitive races.

According to OpenSecrets.org, the National Organization for Marriage has spent $6,870 in the past two weeks, its only campaign related expenditures in those two weeks, robocalling against three pro-gay marriage Republican nominees, Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby, California House candidate Carl Demaio, and Massachusetts House candidate Richard Tisei.

NOM

While Wehby is not considered a competitive candidate in her race, Demaio and Tisei (who are both openly gay) are both locked in competitive races against Democratic candidates, who presumably support gay marriage as well. Why are social conservatives, who presumably agree with Demaio and Tisei or more issues than their opponents, are working against both men and working to elect Democrats instead?

Maybe social conservatives shouldn’t talk before accusing libertarian Republicans of being disloyal to the Republican Party or blaming them for why GOP is losing election while actively spending money and working against Republican nominees. This is akin to the Republican Liberty Caucus spending money to hurt Republican candidates to help Libertarian Party candidates.

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Sarah Baker: Excited to Be Here

by Sarah Baker

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I am a mother, a libertarian, a lawyer and a writer.

I grew up in one of those families where everyone shouts at each about politics and then gets confused when other people think we’re “fighting.” This is just how we talk! I was in fifth grade the first time one of my teachers called me stubborn and opinionated. Even then, I took that as a compliment.

I am the person everyone else complains about for polluting the social media newsfeeds with political screeds. I put up with the inspirational greeting cards, the workout reports, and the photos of their latest paleo masterpiece. So I figure we’re even.

I have never been anything but a libertarian. I came out of the womb this way. Through my high school and college years, I did not know other libertarians outside my own family. When I was in college and finally read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, I thought to myself, “Whew, what a relief. There’re others out there and one of them even wrote a book!”

I know Rand did not call herself a libertarian, but I use the word to mean, very simply, an advocate of liberty.

I graduated from college with a degree so worthless I will not record it here. The best I can say is that, recognizing its limitations, I immediately set about getting into law school. I obtained my J.D. in 2000 and passed the California Bar Exam later that same year.

That was about when the Internet came into my life, putting a world of other libertarians at my fingertips for the first time. I was fully looking forward to my future as the next Alan Isaacman, arguing persuasively before the U.S. Supreme Court on matters of Great Import.

Alas, I instead spent many hours at a desk writing (concededly brilliant) briefs for insurance companies. In 2002, I ran for office as a Libertarian. In the race for California State Assembly, District 76, I received 3.51% of the vote.

In 2004, I left California and returned to my native Montana, where I spent even more years writing (equally brilliant) briefs for the people who sue insurance companies. I became involved in local government by serving on the County Planning Board and County Board of Adjustment, the latter of which I remain a member. While it is a struggle at times to remain true to my principles in these capacities, I think it is important for libertarians to make the effort. Otherwise, local governments will always be comprised of statists. I took an oath to uphold the law, which I do. Most days, I leave our meetings believing that I have done some small part to ensure that government—assuming we have to have it (this is not an assumption I actually make)—works the way it is supposed to work.

Recently, I quit my day job to Be A Writer. In the time since, I have been working on a libertarian-themed fantasy novel, which I hope to finish sometime before the end of times. I have also tried to start a website called Liberty Ground Zero. Between not really being qualified for such things and embroiled in other endeavors, the website has been “under construction” for some time now. It will likely be completed in about the same time frame as the novel, which is to say sometime before the Rapture. In this context, imagine my pleasure and overwhelming giddiness at being accepted as a contributor to the Liberty Papers. I look forward to working hard to deserve this opportunity.

I live in Montana with my six-year-old daughter and a house full of pets. I can be found on Twitter and Facebook. If you follow, rest assured I will pollute your newsfeed with stubborn, opinionated political screeds on a near daily basis until you yearn for the respite of another paleo recipe.

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October 13, 2014

Ebola: A Consequence Of Austerity?

by Brad Warbiany

Kevin Drum, today, on how “slashing” funding for the NIH has resulted in us not having an Ebola vaccine:

What’s more, even without a vaccine we’d probably be better prepared to react to the Ebola outbreak if we hadn’t spent the past decade steadily slashing funding for public health emergencies. The chart on the right, from Scientific American, tells the story.

There are consequences for budget cuts. Right now we’re living through one of them.

Hey, my fellow Libertarians… We won! We trimmed government to the point where it could be strangled in a bathtub. Taxes are low. Regulation is minimal. Government spending is back at pre-WWI levels. We did it, and now we’re going to have to live without the nanny that we slaughtered. [sadface]

Oh, wait. No, that didn’t happen.

Government has grown by 59% in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1999. It’s grown from 17.6% of GDP to over 21% in the same time.

Clearly, we’re not at a loss for a vaccine because government wasn’t spending money. And whether you’re on the Left, the Right, or even a Libertarian, one can make quite a strong argument that research into cures or treatments for epidemic-level diseases may be a “public good”. It is quite true that shareholders for pharmaceutical companies find a lot more value in helping middle-aged men get erections than staving off the next extinction-level-event*. This sort of pure healthcare research is exactly the sort of thing that the market doesn’t do well, and has such widespread benefit to society overall to be worth it.

So. If we can agree that government’s spending a lot more money in inflation-adjusted dollars, and we can agree that both sides of the aisle view this sort of research as a true public good, worthy of public investment, why is its budget getting slashed?

Simple: science spending doesn’t buy votes.

The truth is that the government has plenty of money. They spend plenty of money. Even beyond this, a lack of money has never been a barrier to them spending money, whether they have to borrow it, or print it, or have the fed print it so they can borrow it from themselves. If something is important to politicians, they’ll find a way to funnel money to it.

In fact, the problem is similar to that of many government programs. They’ll find money for sexy new things like rail line extensions, but suddenly are broke when it comes to maintaining the lines they already have. Oh, and the lack of maintenance mentioned in that story cost more lives than Ebola has in the US.

Apparently the war in Iraq was worth $1T. The stimulus was worth $787B. Obamacare (Apr ’14 CBO estimates) will cost $1.383T over the 2015-2024 period.

Compare that to the NIH, which costs ~$30B/year.

It’s not a question of spending. It’s a question of priorities. Incremental scientific advancements to third-world diseases are important, and worthy of funding. But very few politicians will get credit for voting for that funding, so they let the NIH wither on the vine while they spend money on “important” things. That is the libertarian critique: the NIH could have been fully funded if the government wasn’t distracted–as they always are–by anything shiny.

(more…)

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A little bit about Tom Knighton

by Tom Knighton

First, I’d like to take a moment to mention how great it is to be posting something to The Liberty Papers. In 2009, I joined with a friend in a project he had started where we blogged about area politics. I’d blogged a little bit here and there before about whatever random things, but my libertarian streak had never really gotten a chance to fly. (more…)

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Writers Wanted!

by Kevin Boyd

Are you a classical liberal, small government conservative, conservatarian, or libertarian (big “L” or small “l”) with something to say? Do you think you can say it in a clever and creative way?

If so, we want you to write for us!

What we’re looking for are new contributors who can and are:

  • Have basic knowledge of grammar
  • Somewhat familiar with the classical liberal tradition, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence
  • Express an idea with creativity, brevity, and cleverness
  • Commit to writing somewhat regularly, however if you just write occasionally, still apply
  • Previous blogging experience preferred, but not required
  • Has read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (just kidding….maybe)
  • If you think you’re what we’re looking for, just send an e-mail to kevin@thelibertypapers.org with the following:

  • Your name (obviously)
  • A brief description of your political philosophy
  • A link to your Twitter handle, Facebook page, and or Google+ page
  • A link to your blog (if any) or any previous writing you have done
  • Also, make sure you have New Liberty Papers Writer or something like that in the subject line or the e-mail may not get read.

    Although we cannot offer and are not offering any pay at this time, some of our present and past contributors have gone on to establish lucrative writing careers for outside publications and organizations. Another benefit is that you will work with and learn from an editor in chief with over 10 years blogging and writing experience and some of it is professional. Others on this team have similiar experience so this is an opportunity to grow as a writer. Finally, you will be backed by an aggressive social media strategy to help generate traffic and exposure for your posts.

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    • • •

    Why I Decided To Take Over The Liberty Papers

    by Kevin Boyd

    This site published its first post on November 22, 2005. I was part of the original team recruited for this group blog. Many things have changed in those nearly nine years.

    From a personal standpoint, I’ve certainly had my own ups and downs. I’ve been married and divorced, entered professional politics and then left it, failed at a business venture, struggled with depression, in the meantime launched a successful career as a professional blogger and commentator, and entered the think tank world as well. All this before I turned 30.

    Now to dispel any rumors before they begin, I have no plans to leave IJ Review or the R Street Institute, both of whom I write for for my day job. In fact, I’m sure you’ll see pieces I write for both (along with other publications I occasionally write at such as Rare) linked here and in on our Facebook and Twitter pages. By the way, you should like and follow us on both.

    This site has undergone many changes as well. In the initial e-mail our founder, Eric, sent to a select group of libertarian leaning bloggers back in 2005, this is what he invisioned:

    The goal is for it to be a group setting similar to Catallarchy (http://www.catallarchy.net/) author’s note: Catallarchy moved here and published its last post in January 2013, but for classic liberal thinking rather than anarcho-capitalist. You know, us folks who think radical libertarian anarchy can never happen in the real world, but who do think that the Founding Fathers got it right and would like to see a rejuvenation of the Constitution, individual liberty, classic liberal thinking, values and politics.

    Of course some of the contributors, both past and present, are philosophical anarchists to an extent, but there has always been a realistic approach towards liberty and classical liberalism that we have tried to promote. To take liberty from merely an intellectual discussion and help influence the culture and politics and ultimately policy. This is what I have tried to do in my professional career as a commentator and writer. Sometimes I get it right, other times I get it really wrong and I’m sure that will continue to be the case. I look forward to rededicating this blog’s mission to align with that original goal and bring this blog back to its glory days.

    Change is the one constant in this world and the world has changed from 2005, and to be honest it has been mixed for liberty. We elected Barack Obama president in 2008 and reelected him in 2012 and he has been a disaster for liberty. We have watched government grow harming both the prosperity and the liberties of the American people. America is now firmly on the road to nationalized healthcare. This government now claims the authority to kill Americans overseas without any kind of due process and to detain Americans indefinitely, without charge. Finally, this government openly claims the right intercept and read e-mails and listen to phone calls without warrant. We have seen free speech and the right of someone to earn a living come under threat as a result of mob action in the name of political correctness. And that’s not going into things that have been proposed but not enacted yet such as internet kill switches, hate speech laws, and new gun bans.

    However, there have been some positive trends towards liberty as well. The American people are generally more reluctant to use military force than they have been in decades. There is a clear libertarian current in American politics, especially among the right, than has been seen in decades. Part of it is due to, and credit where credit is due, to the Presidential campaigns of Ron Paul and the work his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), have done since 2008. Gay marriage is now legal in most of the states in the country and will likely be legal nationwide by the end of the decade. Marijuana is now legal in Colorado and Washington and the trend in drug policy is either towards decriminalization or legalization. The American people now generally believe we’re facing problems with our $17 trillion national debt and massive budget deficits and are for (at least in theory) spending cuts. School choice, either in the form of school vouchers or charter schools, is gaining more acceptance across the country. Finally, with the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there is now an increasingly viable alternative to government fiat currencies for global e-commerce.

    With humble gratitute, I humbly accept the responsibility of renewing this blog. We have already added new social media sharing options and the Disqus comments section. We’re going to be expanding our social media presence. Finally, I will be adding some new faces, to compliment some of us who have been here from the beginning.

    This blog was my first break into blogging from a free Blogspot page. I’ve watched Doug Mataconis go on to great success at Outside The Beltway, essentially making that site synonymous with him. Jason Pye took over United Liberty and made it one of the top blogs on the internet, before moving on to FreedomWorks recently. Stephen Gordon has become a nationally successful political consultant. This site has launched some careers and I hope it will launch more over the next few years.

    Now I will just say this, fasten your seat belts and lift up your tray tables. Sit back and enjoy the ride, because I think it’ll be worth it.

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    • • •

    Changing of the Guard

    by Brad Warbiany

    To me, it’s a bit crazy that I’m one month from my 10-year blogiversary. It’s been a just under 9 years since Eric started The Liberty Papers, and merely May 2006 that he handed the reins over to me.

    A lot has happened in the 8 years since. For some time, The Liberty Papers was riding high. The run-up to the 2008 election was big here, as was the initial fight between SoCon and Libertarian control of the Tea Party.

    Unfortunately, things since have slowly waned. There are a lot of reasons for that, and I can’t speak for any other authors here at the site, but my own life has intervened and made blogging much more difficult. My career has progressed and my family has grown, my political stance has grown ever-more apathetic, and between these forces, I’ve allowed The Liberty Papers to fall off the map.

    I want The Liberty Papers to be relevant again. And I know I don’t have the bandwidth to make it so. So I’m happy to report that I’m turning over the reins to someone who can devote his time, Kevin Boyd. Kevin has been an author here since the founding of the site, and is poised to return this site to its former glory — if not to exceed it. I’m excited to see it!

    As for me, I’m not exactly going anywhere. Like most bloggers, I still do have ideas percolating in my grey matter that I need to get out. I hope that with the revitalization of The Liberty Papers, I’ll have a renewed audience for whatever madness I manage to emit. Writers can’t not write, so I’m looking forward to stepping into the background while still doing my part to make The Liberty Papers successful.

    For our collection of active writers, and for those readers who have stuck with us in their RSS feeds while posting has fallen off, I thank you. I’ve been proud of what The Liberty Papers has been over the last ~9 years, and can only imagine where it can go from here.


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    • • •

    October 10, 2014

    Tax Hike Mike Threatens To Take His Toys And Go Home

    by Kevin Boyd

    Former Arkansas Governor “Tax Hike Mike” Huckabee was a guest on the American Family Association’s “Today’s Issues” program where he ripped into the Supreme Court’s decision this week to not hear gay marriage cases, which essentially increased the number of states in which gay marriage became legal to 30 plus the District of Columbia.

    Here’s a video of Tax Hike Mike threatening to leave the GOP over gay marriage:

    For those of you who prefer to not watch the Huckster, Rare has transcribed what he said:

    “If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue,” Huckabee said.

    “And go ahead and say abortion doesn’t matter, either, because at that point, you lose me, I’m gone, I’ll become an independent, I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand. I’m tired of this,” he said.

    Poor Tax Hike Mike is not getting his way so he’s going to take his toys and go home. Well, the problem for Tax Hike Mike is that the Republican Party and the country are changing and it’s not to his liking.

    Young Republicans are overwhelmingly in support of gay marriage for example. Pew Research Center found that 61% of young Republicans support gay marriage.

    Gay marriage isn’t the only issue where young Republicans are bucking social conservatives. Young Republicans are also bucking social conservatives on marijuana as the AP reported back in May.

    Beyond being a generational issue, young Republicans say their positions stem from the party’s belief that government shouldn’t intrude on people’s lives. Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign got most of its following from younger Republicans attracted by his libertarian message that allowed for gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana.

    It’s not just Tax Hike Mike’s increasingly out of date positions on social issues that should stop anyone who loves liberty from shedding tears over his departure from the GOP, it’s his terrible positions on just about everything. Here’s a brief summary:

  • There’s a reason why we call him Tax Hike Mike around here, because as Governor of Arkansas, he loved to raise taxes
  • Tax Hike Mike increased spending by 65% as Arkansas governor and Cato gave his overall reign a “D” on their grade for fiscal policy.
  • Tax Hike Mike continues to defend his fiscal progressivism.
  • Tax Hike Mike has supported cap and trade in the past and says “God wants us to fight global warming.
  • Who can forget Tax Hike Mike’s support of Common Core
  • Oh social conservatives, do you know that Tax Hike Mike signed a law in 2005 that mandated contraception coverage, even for religious organizations?
  • For more goodies about Tax Hike Mike, please visit this blog that has compiled a list of the numerous times Mike Huckabee has supported big government.

    After the disaster that was the presidency of George W. Bush and “big-government conservatism”, the last thing the Republican Party and the country needs is for that banner to be carried to victory in an election. It’s time to show Tax Hike Mike and those who support the big government nanny state the left does, except their own version of it, the door.

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    • • •

    August 2, 2014

    Jason Lewis Goes Galt; Quits Halfway Through Show on Air

    by Stephen Littau

    Over the past week, talk show host Jason Lewis has been letting on that something big was going to happen on his show. July 31, 2014 he dubbed “Judgement Day.”

    Being an avid listener of his, I thought it probably had something to do with his political activism site Galt.io* and probably something to do with his cause called “Starve the Beast.” Was he going to announce that he was going to move his show from the high tax progressive state of Minnesota to a more tax friendly/liberty friendly state?

    As it turns out, I wasn’t too far off but he took his “starve the beast” thing a step further. You could say he had “gone Galt” on the air halfway through his radio show.

    The following was his epic final monologue:

    All over the continent of Europe there are castles. Castles that children are taught to admire. But these monuments are not shrines to liberty but are a stark reminder of an oppressive past that we are quickly forgetting. These elaborate fortresses were built to honor the riches of royalty. Such wealth was not derived from the cooperation of capitalism but from the conquest of collectivism. It was stolen through taxes and fees collected from the serfs. It was not earned.

    We have apparently learned little from history for today we have our own royalty dressed up in the robes of compassion. A false altruism that merely enables the mob and crushes the individual. We have erected a shrine called the welfare state and as a result, we now resemble a nation with more takers than makers. Crony capitalists who preach the virtue of community service while acting like economic parasites who live off the system. Indeed the real entrepreneurs are no longer valued. Only the political ones who loathe them. Profit is a dirty word while one’s obligation to society regulates the most productive to second class status. We are it seems endlessly told to live for others. Endlessly told. Taxes are patriotic. We are told to apologise for our own existence. The pursuit of happiness has been replaced by the mandate of self sacrifice. This is not freedom, it is tyranny.

    And so we, I, you are faced with a choice. The choice that all people in all times must make: to fund the beast or to starve the beast. To host the parasite or walk away. To participate in the system that punishes the value of your own existence or boycott that system.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I have now chosen the latter. They can now feed off one another.

    I quit.

     

    Just after Lewis uttered the words “I quit” there was silence followed by his confused producer getting on the air “Um…Jason?” and then announcing that Jason had left the mic. They then went to commercial and found another talk host to fill the remaining hour and a half remaining in the show.

    From there there was a flurry of calls and people going to this website and the Galt.io homepage. Was this some kind of stunt? Did Jason Lewis really quit halfway through his syndicated talk show?

    Personally, I wasn’t sure. It does now seem that Jason Lewis indeed did quit and decided he was no longer willing to keep feeding the beast.

    Okay, so a talk show host who would likely be retiring soon quit in dramatic fashion, what’s the big deal?

    For me, it is a bummer. Jason Lewis was one of the few talk show hosts that didn’t tow the party line or spend three hours a day attacking Barack Obama for everything under the sun. Its true that he did attack Obama’s policies with gusto but he didn’t spare the Republicans either. He brought insights that no other syndicated show offers.

    And maybe this going Galt is more symbolic than anything else. But what if his message resonates to other high achievers who could stop the motor of the world if they followed this example?

    I for one hope this inspires such a revolution even if its on a smaller scale than what took place in Atlas Shrugged.

    *I have a cause and a group that I started within Galt.io: The Non-Aggression Principle (educates people about the NAP) and my group called Restore Everyone’s Property And Individual Rights (REPAIR). Contact me via Twitter @s_littau if you would like to join Galt.io and these and other causes.

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