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

October 14, 2014

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

headshot 131210 2

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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    • • •

    July 1, 2014

    Hobby Lobby

    by Brad Warbiany

    Now, before you all lose your collective shit, I want to remind everyone of one critical fact:

    The Supreme Court doesn’t exist to make the morally right decision.

    I’m going to repeat that, blockquote it, and bold the damn thing because it’s that important.

    The Supreme Court doesn’t exist to make the morally right decision.

    Now, I know that this may come as a shock to most of America. But then, Americans have never exactly had a good grasp of civics. In fact, some of the worst law comes from the Supreme Court trying to work a moral decision into the law. When you already know the outcome you want, and you start looking for any legal justification you can muster for that outcome, you’re bound to stretch in the wrong places.

    No, the Supreme Court exists to make the legally right decision. And no matter your view on Obamacare, the mandate, religious liberty, and contraception, I think the Court in this case made an entirely justifiable decision that is consistent with the law.

    Let’s break it down.

    1. Congress has declared in the ACA a compelling government interest in ensuring that women have insurance coverage for contraception.
    2. They have created a national health insurance mandate forcing employers (of a certain size, etc etc) to cover the cost of said contraception.
    3. In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires that laws which violate someone’s religious beliefs must pass two conditions:
      • The law must be furthering a compelling government interest.
      • The law must be the least intrusive method of accomplishing its goal.
    4. Congress has created an exemption to the contraception mandate. If the mandate violates the religious beliefs of certain types of organizations, they have passed the burden of cost to the insurance provider or to the government itself.

    So what’s the takeaway? Nothing in Hobby Lobby decision will stop women from having access to birth control. In fact, the way the system is set up, they will still have insurance coverage for free birth control!

    Congress’ exemption ensures that insurance will cover these costs, even for women working for Hobby Lobby. This cost will not come out of the worker’s pocket. In fact, the very alternative accommodation that Congress created was pretty much the only reason that the Supreme Court didn’t force Hobby Lobby to pay for the insurance (from Lyle Denniston’s analysis @ SCOTUSblog):

    Is that enough of an accommodation of the owners’ religious objection? The two key opinions on Monday seemed, literally speaking, to say it was.

    Justice Alito wrote: ”An approach of this type . . . does not impinge on the [companies' or owners'] belief that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion, and it serves [the government's] stated interests equally well.” (The government’s interest here is to assure that women have access to the birth-control services.)

    Alito’s opinion for the Court went on, saying that the dissenters’ on Monday had identified “no reason why this accommodation would fail to protect the asserted needs of women as effectively as the contraceptive mandate, and there is none.”

    Justice Kennedy, in his separate concurring opinion, made the same point. And, in fact, he was more emphatic. Taking note of the “existing accommodation the government has designed, identified, and used for circumstances closely parallel to those presented here,” Kennedy said flatly that “RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] requires the government to use this less restrictive means.”

    It is rather difficult to read those comments by those two Justices as anything other than a declaration that religiously oriented owners of closely held companies must be satisfied with letting the “middle man” take on, in their place, the obligation to provide the birth-control coverage. That, the comments seem to say, is good enough.

    If there was no alternative accommodation in the law to cover the cost of insurance for contraceptives, the correct legal result would have been to force Hobby Lobby to pay for it. After all, I don’t think any justice disputed the idea that an insurance mandate for contraceptive coverage was NOT furthering a compelling government interest. The only question was whether the compelling government interest was satisfied in the least intrusive means consistent with the RFRA. The Court found that it was.

    Now, back to the lede. Many of you out there think that it’s absurd that a corporation would be exempted from providing basic health insurance because God says contraception is abortion. And many of the rest of you think that it’s unconscionable that someone be forced to pay for something that goes against their most closely held religious beliefs; in essence funding murder. And the libertarians out there worry that if the government can make you pay for something that violates one of your First Amendment rights, there’s nothing they can’t make you pay for. These are all moral questions. These are not legal questions. The Supreme Court didn’t even try to answer these questions.

    The Supreme Court found a legally consistent way to accommodate the compelling government interest declared in the ACA and the least restrictive means test demanded by the RFRA. And at the end of the day, lest I repeat it one more time, the net result is that Hobby Lobby employees will still have insurance coverage for all the free contraceptives they care to use.

    Seems pretty cut and dried to me. This is much ado about nothing.

    UPDATE: Now that I’ve actually read the ruling, I see an error in the above. The HHS accommodation for employers who have religious objection to these methods of contraception TODAY only applies to religious non-profits. It doesn’t apply today to for-profits. The argument of the court is that applying the accommodation to for-profit employers is a less-restrictive means to achieve the compelling government interest than the mandate, and for that reason the mandate violates RFRA. I would expect the HHS to quickly expand their accommodation in response to this ruling.

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    • • •

    Democracy != Consensus

    by Brad Warbiany

    As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, I work in the mainstream corporate world. One of the key aspects of any corporate environment is that in any decision, there are multiple stakeholders who are affected and may be responsible for implementing a decision, so there is a lot riding decision-making process.

    As a result, and as it’s a large multinational company, significant resources are spent on training for both individual contributors and managers on all sorts of workplace topics. Decision-making, dealing with change, conflict management, and very simple things like “making meetings work” are all things that individuals and managers strive to improve.

    And two concepts come up consistently when it comes to decision-making:

    1. Consensus.
    2. Buy-in.

    Now, perhaps these sound to those of you outside the corporate world like throwaway terms, but if you’ve seen what happens when you don’t have them, you’d agree that these are absolutely key to keeping a well-running organization alive. Trying to implement a decision if you don’t have buy-in is a recipe for failure. It requires top-down authoritarian leadership, leads to resentment and infighting, and will turn a workplace dysfunctional over time. In a competitive market, these things will kill a business.

    However, one of the key aspects to all of these training classes is that consensus is not borne of democracy. Voting on something might make a decision, but it by itself does not get you to consensus or to buy-in.

    I’ll use an example. Let’s say someone’s birthday is coming up, and everyone (we’ll assume 11 people) is going to go out to lunch together. The question is where:

    • 4 of the people really want Mexican food and hate Korean BBQ.
    • 4 of the people really want Korean BBQ and hate Mexican food.
    • The three remaining people are lukewarm to both and don’t really care.

    In a democratic choice, the decision will be whether to go to Mexican or Korean BBQ, and the decision will hinge specifically on the people who care the least. No matter what decision is reached, 4 people will be angry and will feel like they’re being ram-rodded into something they don’t want to do. It’s the tyranny of the majority, and it’s a completely dysfunctional way to make decisions.

    Can you imagine that those 4 will be a bit surly at lunch? And when the bill comes due, who do you think might be the most likely to just be a “dollar or two short” or will scour the bill for their share saying “well I just had water, so we should each pay our share rather than splitting it equally.” People who do that are annoying enough as it is; bringing people who are angry to be there in the first place will only exacerbate the problem.

    What’s a better way to do it? To discuss, to make sure everyone’s concerns are voiced, and to arrive at a decision that’s mutually agreeable. Often that might not be Mexican food OR Korean BBQ. It might be the hip new Peruvian joint that people have been dying to try. It might be Chili’s . But you work to find a solution that everyone can feel comfortable with, or you will have a crappy lunch despite the fact that some people “won”. That doesn’t mean consensus is easy. In fact, it’s far from it. But it’s absolutely key to keeping an organization–or a country–running smoothly.

    Now ask yourself — how is our political system set up to work? Via democracy or via consensus?


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    • • •

    June 20, 2014

    Recovered From the Memory Hole: Bush Admin. Agrees to Date for Withdrawal from Iraq

    by Stephen Littau

    As the carnage escalates in Iraq, American partisans are pointing fingers and making assertions as to “who lost Iraq.” The neo-cons say that Obama lost Iraq because he pulled the troops out prematurely. Those who opposed the war from the beginning say Iraq is Bush’s mess (something this author mostly agrees with). While these debates are important, what are the facts?

    It turns out that in 2014 we have a nifty tool called Google. One of the most helpful tools is the advanced search that allows someone to enter in a range of dates (it’s the closest thing we have to a time machine). I remembered that the Bush administration set a date for withdrawal from Iraq soon after Barack Obama was elected to be the next POTUS (despite what the neo-con revisionists are trying to say now) but I didn’t remember exactly when. I set the range between November 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008 and entered “Iraqi withdrawal of US troops” in the search box.

    As it turns out, I was right: it was President Bush, not President Obama who came to an agreement with the Iraqi government concerning the date U.S. troops would leave Iraq. In this article I found with this search from The Washington Post dated November 18, 2008, the author goes into a fair amount of detail explaining the circumstances surrounding Bush’s decision to withdrawal all U.S. troops by the end of 2011. The bottom line is that the Iraqi government wanted the troops to either leave or be subject to Iraqi criminal laws. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that was in place at the time stated that U.S. troops would take care to respect Iraqi laws but the U.S. military would take care of any violations. This aspect of the SOFA was something that did not sit well with the new Iraqi regime and the Bush administration wasn’t about to allow U.S. troops to be put in Iraqi prisons.

    While it is true that Obama could have come to a different agreement with the Iraqi government he didn’t. The troops were withdrawn on his watch and not a moment too soon.

    We can debate whether or not the timing was right for U.S. troops to leave Iraq when they did but do not allow the neo-cons and Bush apologists to get away with laying the latest horrors in Iraq at the feet of Obama without acknowledging the fact that he was doing so pursuant to Bush’s policy.

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    • • •

    May 28, 2014

    by Chris Byrne

    Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere.

    First thing… THIS is how you do a kickstarter.

    This is the kind of thing that kickstarter can be great at, and do great things with; being done by people who understand their medium and their audience, and who design their campaign properly around it.

    If this doesn’t become one of the most overfunded kickstarters in history, I would be amazed.

    I’ve been watching it for about 2 hours, and it’s gone from $100k to over $500k in that time.

    … And this is something I’m backing… even as little as I can afford right now. It’s a good idea, and it’s something I’d like to see done. I can’t do much, but I pledged… It’s the price of a cup of coffee or a little more than a gallon of gas. You should too if you can.

    Anything we can do to increase the net level of education, intelligence, and reading in this country… on this planet… we should be doing. If it’s a smart, well designed, well implemented way of doing so, even better.

    Long term, I’d like to see what their fee schedule and sustainability model is, are they organizing long term as for profit, not for profit etc… but let’s get this off the ground at the very least.

    Now… for my more skeptical, and more conservative friends and readers… yes, liberals, education blah blah blah.

    THIS IS A GOOD THING – IGNORE THE POLITICS

    This is an essentially libertarian thing, using the power of private enterprise and initiative, and the power of market preference, to fund education.

    WE WANT MORE OF THIS. LOTS MORE OF THIS.

    There is one specific issue that I personally have a problem with… but I can get over it, because I understand the issue, and why it’s presented as it is.

    So for my fellow skeptics, and numbers geeks…

    Ignore the claim that 25% of children don’t learn to read in this country…

    That is not an outright lie… it’s also not the absolute truth. It’s a matter of how we define literacy, and to what degree we count someone literate based on that definition.

    That’s a concept that takes more than 30 seconds, and more than one paragraph to explain… so it gets simplified here as “1 in 4 children don’t learn to read”.

    It a political number, not a real number. A classic example of using definitions to make things scarier, to emphasize the problem.

    Don’t let that stop you from the core message here, or from supporting what looks to be an excellent idea.

    Oh and, be sure to watch the video to the very end… priceless…

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    • • •

    May 20, 2014

    Reframing the Hierarchy of False Dichotomies

    by Chris Byrne

    This image is one way of reframing the common conception of the left/right false dichotomy… and it’s an important first step of reconceptualizing the false dichotomy to reveal the true dichotomy… but if you stop there, you have failed, and will continue to fail.

    Reframe the statement further…

    Neither work for the corporations.

    “Both” work in furtherance of their own power over the people. They do so through the same types of tactics and manipulations, largely paid for by the same corporations (or similar if theoretically oppositional positioned interests), presenting a hierarchy of false dichotomies.

    The true dichotomy is control over others, vs. liberty.

    It’s a rather important distinction, with difference… because the core issue and the motivation behind it are both different, the potential solution sets are different.

    Both potential solution sets include the “get corporate money out of politics” point within them…

    …but for one way of framing the issue, it’s the primary… even the only meaningful point in that potential solution set (thus dooming it to inevitable failure, as doing so is functionally impossible without a complete transformation in the nature and structure of our politics).

    For the other, it’s just one of the many possible points within the potentially viable solution set or sets, and importantly is recognized as neither necessary nor sufficient.

    One cannot proceed to successful resolution of complex issues, without understanding the second and third order issues which underly them. This increases complexity and multiplies the problems of imperfect information, imperfect reason, and unintended consequences… again, dooming such efforts to failure by their nature.

    Only by reducing the problems to first principles, and their associated core motivations, can true dichotomies be resolved… Or even perceived or realized.


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    • • •

    May 8, 2014

    Armed Customer Kills Armed Robber; Family of Robber May File Lawsuit

    by Stephen Littau

    In January of 2012, two armed thugs entered a Waffle House in Chesnee, SC. One thing these thugs didn’t account for: the possibility that one or more of the customers might be carrying a concealed handgun. One customer by the name of Justin Harrison saw his opening to act and fired several shots at one of the thugs Dante Williams, DRT.* The other thug, unfortunately, escaped with his life (he’s now the taxpayers’ problem for the next 30 years).  

    Tamika McSwain, cousin of Dante Williams, is upset that Harrison “took the law into his own hands”** and that charges were not filed against Harrison for doing so. Due to this perceived miscarriage of justice, McSwain says the family might file a lawsuit. McSwain also contends that more training should be required before someone earns their CWP. Harrison’s CWP instructor David Blanton, however; disagrees.

    “Not only was he defending his own life, which the law says he can do [***] but there were other people in the restaurant,” Blanton said.

    Harrison, in defending his own actions said “They got the gun, he [Williams] picked it up. He could have said no.”

    And that’s the bottom damn line, Tamika: your dirt bag cousin could have said no. Your cousin made a very bad choice and he paid with his life.

    Let me further say, I really don’t give a rat’s ass how “sharp” or “goofy” or how much he “loved to dance” or that you think he was “a respectable boy.” On that night at least, he was a thug. A thug who deserved to die. People like your thug cousin are the reason why we need to have the right to carry weapons in public places. I wish people like your cousin didn’t exist at all. In a world without people like your cousin, we could beat all the guns in the world into plow shears. But as long as we do have people in this world like your cousin, we will need guns and people willing to use them to defend the rest of us.

    *Dead Right There

    **This phrase drives me crazy. The law is always “in our own hands” particularly in a threatening situation like this one.

    ***Isn’t that so nice of the law to allow individuals to protect their own lives!

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    • • •

    May 2, 2014

    One Out of 25 Prisoners on Death Row is Innocent

    by Stephen Littau

    Benjamin Franklin once argued: “It is better 100 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer.” The purpose of courts as drafted in the Constitution was to minimize the occurrences innocent people from “suffering” via an adversarial system in which the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty to a jury of his or her peers.

    Regardless of these lofty goals, the question must be asked: how well has this system worked?

    If the standard is that of Franklin’s (i.e. less than 1%), then the idea that a rate of 1 in 25 death row convicts are likely innocent is clearly unacceptable. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, to the best the researchers were able to determine, this about what the rate is.

    Pete Yost for the Associated Press reports:

    From 1973 to 2004, 1.6 percent of those sentenced to death in the U.S. — 138 prisoners — were exonerated and released because of innocence.

    But the great majority of innocent people who are sentenced to death are never identified and freed, says professor Samuel Gross of the University of Michigan Law School, the study’s lead author.

    The difficulty in identifying innocent inmates stems from the fact that more than 60 percent of prisoners in death penalty cases ultimately are removed from death row and resentenced to life imprisonment. Once that happens, their cases no longer receive the exhaustive reviews that the legal system provides for those on death row.
    […]
    Because of various assumptions, it might be best to use the margin of error in the study and say the innocence rate is probably between 2.8 percent and 5.2 percent, said University of South Carolina statistics professor John Grego, who wasn’t part of the study.
    […]
    “The high rate of exoneration among death-sentenced defendants appears to be driven by the threat of execution,” says the study. “But most death-sentenced defendants are removed from death row and resentenced to life imprisonment, after which the likelihood of exoneration drops sharply.” The study estimates that if all defendants sentenced to death remained in that status, “at least 4.1 percent would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.”

    I have to say that, even as a fierce opponent of the death penalty, I would have never guessed the number of innocent individuals on death row to be this high. I was horrified by the notion that 1 in 100 or even 1 in 1,000 such individuals could be killed by the state, but 1 in 25?

    This brings me to my question for those who support state sanctioned killing: is this an acceptable error rate to you? How many innocent people are we willing to sacrifice in order to kill the most heinous of individuals? Based on this study, the current policy is that we are apparently at peace with the idea of killing 4 innocent people to kill 96 guilty.

    This is a price that a free and just country should be unwilling to pay.

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    • • •

    April 30, 2014

    Why I am not a libertarian…

    by Chris Byrne

    I am not a libertarian because I think I’m smarter than you

    I am not a libertarian because I think I’m better educated than you

    I am not a libertarian because I think I’m morally or ethically superior to you

    I am not a libertarian because I think I have better ideas about running things than you

    I am a libertarian, because I recognize that no matter how smart, educated, experienced, informed, and competent I THINK I am…

    …I KNOW that I am ALSO stupid, uneducated, inexperienced, ignorant, incompetent, and fallible…

    …just like everyone else.

    I am a libertarian, because I recognize that I do not have all of the information, knowledge, education, experience, judgement, and wisdom; to always make good decisions about MY OWN life, business, or circumstances.

    I am a libertarian, because I understand that in fact it is impossible for me to do so.

    I am a libertarian, because if that’s true of my OWN life… Then I absolutely and certainly do not, and can not; have the information, knowledge, education, experience, judgement, and wisdom; about YOUR, or ANYONE ELSES life, business, or circumstances, to make anyone elses decisions for them.

    And neither do you…

    And neither does the government…

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