Browne’s “A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions”

Happy_New_Year-2011The below  was written by Harry Browne (RIP) in 1998. This year I will once again try to live up to this list.

A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions

by Harry Browne

  1. I resolve to sell liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than preaching to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.
  2. I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty — not to prove that they’re wrong.
  3. I resolve to listen when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.
  4. I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek — a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society — and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.
  5. I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don’t have to approve of their subsidies or policies — but if I don’t acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problems.
  6. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.
  7. I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.
  8. I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government — not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.
  9. I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.
  10. I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first Libertarian someone has encountered, and it’s important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.
  11. I resolve to remind myself that someone’s “stupid” opinion may be an opinion I once held. If I can grow, why can’t I help him grow?
  12. I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.
  13. I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free — and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.
  14. I resolve to be civil to my opponents, and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it’s important that I be a better person than my enemies.

A flowchart for new legislators: How a Bill is Passed

Since a new session of the legislature will be starting soon I thought it would be a good to help the freshman class out. Below I have provide a simple and easy to use flowchart for introducing and passing bills. The process is so simple that only two decisions need to be made. It may seem too simple to be true, however this a tried and true method of introducing bills (for exceptions see note below).

how a bill is passed 1

*** Special Note: This process only appears to work with the conditions listed below. However it is rare these situations are not met!

  1. Legislator introducing bill must be Republican or Democrat.
  2. Legislator introducing bill must have a vague understanding of “ethics”.
  3. Bill being introduced must under no circumstances ever reduce the size of government or reduce government spending.
  4. Bill being introduced should be given a name that gives voters one of two feelings:
    1. The voters should get a warm-fuzzy feeling so it would be stupid to not support it.
    2. The voters should get a paranoid feeling so they would feel unsafe if the bill was not supported.

For any legislators in the freshman class that do not understand this process please see your experienced colleagues  They have spent years perfecting this simple process!

2012 was a great year for independent voters

MM900173989[1]2012 has been an incredible year for independent voters. Years like this give one hope that the current two-party system will begin to change. Even if the two-party system itself doesn’t go away, I believe there will be more voters that don’t vote straight party lines. Here are some of my highlights from the 2012 election season:

IVN Hosted the first online Presidential Debate. My thoughts of this debate can be found here. This debate was held completely online between Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Even though there were some technical difficulties, overall it was a great debate. It was amazing to watch a debate with to very different viewpoints. Unlike the big two-party debates, both candidates took very different positions and treated each other with respect. Being the first to offer such a debate IVN had set the stage for the future of politics in the United States. As a side-note I have also found IVN to be one of the best places to read non-partisan political news on the Internet.

 Free & Equal hosted two online third-party Presidential Debates. As election day approach the Free & Equal group hosted two third-party candidate debates. The first debate was hosted by Larry King and broadcast on TV by CSPAN and RT. Many online media outlets also broadcast this debate digitally. Four candidates were included in this debate: Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Jill Stein (Green Party), Virgil Goode (Constitution Party), and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party). This debate was by far the best of all Presidential Debates this fall (including the Obama/Romney debates). My thoughts from this debate can be found here. I’ve heard it said having Presidential Debates with more than two candidates would be a nightmare. This debate proved that to be wrong! Even better Free & Equal let the viewers choose the winners of this debate and participate in a second debate. The second debate was held between Johnson and Stein just before the election. I still feel the networks should have covered this final debate (if not all of them). But no matter what Free & Equal has shown that debates can be done very well with more than two candidates.

Percentage of Americans self-identifying as “Independent” are on the rise. In early 2012 Gallup released poll results showing that 40 % of Americans self-identify as Independents. That is much greater than the 31% who identify as Democrat and the 27% who identify as Republican. An interesting addition to those statistics is that most of the independent voters are against big government. Independent voters take away that advantage the Democratic Party has over the Republican Party. It will be interesting to see how many people self identify as Independent the next major election cycle. If this trend continues politicians will need to work harder to find out what Americans want, instead of just doing what their extremities want them to do.

Now, just because more people are self-identifying as independent doesn’t mean third-party candidates will increase in popularity at the same rate. But between more coverage for third-party candidates and more individuals self-identifying as independent it gives me hope that future political debates will have more true content.. and actual DEBATE. It will be interesting to see how the next few years turn out!

Today marks 117 years of commercial movies

CinematographeCameraOn December 28, 1895, the world encountered the very first commercial movie screening. According to History.com the very first commercial movie was screened at The Grand Cafe in Paris. It was two French brothers named Louis and Auguste Lumiere had earlier that year invented a camera/projector called a Cinematographe (pictured in this post). Later that year the brothers charged admission to show everyday footage shot in the area. That was the beginning of commercial movies.

It’s almost amazing to see how far the movie industry has come in a little over a century. In the US alone the 2012 annualized movie ticket sales are expected to reach 1.35 billion tickets sold. That is a revenue of about $10.58 billion! The movie industry is bringing in over $10 billion dollars in ticket sales revenue in just one country, that doesn’t even include the rest of the world. It’s amazing that one little invention and the idea to commercialize it created such an industry.

Of course other revenues must also be considered. 2nd market sales such as VHS (if they still exist?), DVD, Blue-Ray, and digital streaming allow continuous revenues from each movie produced. In addition hundreds of side industries exist just to support the movie industry. These industries range from animation studios to popcorn makers! I’ll stop here, I don’t need to rewrite I, Pencil centered around the movie industry.

Since I promised my kids to spend some quality time watching old Sci-Fi movies this will be a short post. To keep that promise I believe an MST3K marathon is in order. Movies are best when experienced, instead of just watched!

Just remember when you watch a movie it all began with two French entrepreneurs and a century of capitalist growth!

The NRA acts against liberty and reason

johnny_automatic_ray_gunI have stayed pretty quiet about the Sandy Hook shootings. This is mostly because I feel it bad policy to talk about issues when emotions are high for those participating in such discussions. And thanks to a very nice holiday vacation I haven’t actually taken the time until today to study the press release from NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. I haven’t been a fan of NRA for years; they are too single focused on a single issue to be of help to liberty lovers.

This part of the press release is where they should have stopped:

Out of respect for those grieving families, and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment. While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent.

If only they had stayed quiet things would be much better. They did however make one more good statement shortly after that:

Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones.

OK, still doing good here. Like many I believe Gun-Free School Zones has been a step backwards in school security. At this point it would have been good to highlight the benefits of repealing the Gun-Free School Zones Act. So lets look further down the press release:

How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order? Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.

Uh-oh, this isn’t headed a good direction…

The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly evercomprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?

Really? Demons walking among us? This is supposed to be a reasonable discussion?

Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

Then there’s the blood-soaked slasher films like “American Psycho” and “Natural Born Killers” that are aired like propaganda loops on “Splatterdays” and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it “entertainment.”

Damn, did they really just trample on the 1st amendment in their defense of the 2nd amendment? Do they not realize the continued weakening of one part of the original 10 amendments makes it easier to weaken others? If they were going to travel this path it would have been better to point out how these games, movies, and music videos are a reflection of a violent society; but instead they made it look like these are the causes of violence.

And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.

 The above paragraph actually showed some promise. It was an attack upon the mainstream media, something I think is always worthy! They even go on to imply that “cries for more laws” is a bad thing! If you had stuck to this argument it would have great!

You know, five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?

Fuck, they went there! Instead of sticking down the path of liberty and choice they went the big-government route. Really, an armed security guard in every school? How much more is that going to add to the cost of public education with little or no safety in return?

I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.

And a call to Congress! Really? Call upon legislatures to waste even more taxpayer dollars? At this point I am getting so disgusted that I will only retrieve one more portion of the press release:

There’ll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action.

Wow, the NRA wrote this like a true politician. Instead of asking for reason and debate the NRA wants us to act first and ask questions later. What kind of defense is that? With a theory like that its no wonder the NRA has become anti-liberty.

There are so many reasonable ways the NRA could have added to the public debate about school-shootings and gun rights. Instead the NRA decided our society is full of demons caused by modern entertainment. And their solution is to make government bigger… The only good I can see coming out of this is a large bureaucratic gun lobby organization losing support. That will leave more room for organizations that actually care about reason and liberty.

 

An economic poem for Christmas

Going through the channels I see a left-leaning ‘journalist’ explaining that the fiscal cliff negotiations need to include another round of stimulus spending. It doesn’t matter that stimulus spending has been debunked, news correspondents are just a wee bit liberal biased. As  such Keynes economic theories are treated as fact by the media.

Austrian economists have long understood the fallacy of government stimulus spending. In fact saving and investment are much better uses of resources than haphazard spending. Saving money allows banks to lend more money for use in business growth. But I’ll leave that for future posts.

Since its Christmas I believe a good poem is in order. Mises has the following poem posted on their Circle Bastiat blog; which I am printing here as well. This poem was published in 1934 by Patrick Barrington taking aim at Keynes’ belief that under-consumption is the cause of recession. It’s amazing how relevant this poem still is. Sadly most politicians appear to believe the misguided Keynes concept of under-consumption.

I Want to be a Consumer

“And what do you mean to be?”
The kind old Bishop said
As he took the boy on his ample knee
And patted his curly head.
“We should all of us choose a calling
To help Society’s plan;
Then what to you mean to be, my boy,
When you grow to be a man?”

“I want to be a Consumer,”
The bright-haired lad replied
As he gazed into the Bishop’s face
In innocence open-eyed.
“I’ve never had aims of a selfish sort,
For that, as I know, is wrong.
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help the world along.”

“I want to be a Consumer
And work both night and day,
For that is the thing that’s needed most,
I’ve heard Economists say,
I won’t just be a Producer,
Like Bobby and James and John;
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help the nation on.”

“But what do you want to be?”
The Bishop said again,
“For we all of us have to work,” said he,
“As must, I think, be plain.
Are you thinking of studying medicine
Or taking a Bar exam?”
“Why, no!” the bright-haired lad replied
As he helped himself to jam.

“I want to be a Consumer
And live in a useful way;
For that is the thing that is needed most,
I’ve heard Economists say.
There are too many people working
And too many things are made.
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help to further trade.”

“I want to be a Consumer
And do my duty well;
For that is the thing that is needed most,
I’ve heard Economists tell.
I’ve made up my mind,” the lad was heard,
As he lit a cigar, to say;
“I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And I want to begin today.”

It’s also a good time to view this great video from EconStories:

Celebrating the end of the world with my favorite doomsday songs!

As I write this post December 21, 2012, is only hours away. Some are celebrating while others are panicking; and of course some believe the zombie apocalypse will begin on this day. To celebrate this non-event I will do what I love best in the world: listen to music! Below is a list of my 5 favorite doomsday songs (in no particular order):

1. Tom Lehrer – We Will All Go Together When We Go. You can always count on Tom Lehrer to put things in perspective! OK, I know I said this list was in no particular order, however this is by far my favorite Doomsday Song!

 

2. Barry McGuire – Eve of Destruction. Such a haunting song.

 

3. R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). The song is so obvious it has to be included!

 

4. Rush – Red Sector A. Geddy Lee has the perfect voice for a song of this type. Warning: the video is graphic with holocaust scenes from Band of Brothers.

 

5. Weird Al Yankovic – Christmas At Ground Zero. Kinda fitting for doomsday happening this time of year.

 

Freedom of the Press Foundation launched to protect First Amendment rights

1269850054 (1)Yesterday the Freedom of Press Foundation was officially launched. Their press release has a pretty good summary of what this organization is about:

The Foundation is designed to crowd-fund a variety of journalism institutions—both start-ups and established organizations—who are dedicated to aggressive, uncompromising journalism in the vein of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. The organization’s Board of Directors is comprised of journalists and free expression advocates, including John Perry Barlow, Daniel Ellsberg, Xeni Jardin, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Josh Stearns, and John Cusack.

Basically the FPF allows people to donate to them, and they in turn will pass money on to journalist organizations that promote transparency. Every two months FPF will promote 4 organizations that meet the following criteria:

  1. Record of engaging in transparency journalism or supporting it in a material way, including support for whistleblowers.
  2. Public interest agenda.
  3. Organizations or individuals under attack for engaging in transparency journalism.
  4. Need for support. The foundation’s goal is to prioritize support for organizations and individuals who are in need of funding or who face obstacles to gaining support on their own.

The 4 chosen organizations will be bundled. Anyone wishing to contribute can have their funds split between the 4 organizations in the bundle any way they wish.

This is great news for those that want to contribute to organizations such as Wikileaks; which basically had its funding cut off due to the actions of Senator Lieberman and others in Congress. Allowing government to control their own transparency and accountability is not in the public’s interest. The FPF will help ensure journalists and other free expression advocates are able to continue their important work.

The four organizations chosen by FPF to be in the first bundle are: WikiLeaks, MuckRock News, The National Security Archive, and The UpTake. All of these are worthy causes to donate money to. For more information go to the FPF website.

A Healthcare Coverage Constitutional Amendment like the 2nd? Do you know what your asking?

johnny_automatic_ray_gunSince the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings social media has been ablaze with renewed talk of gun regulations. That’s understandable, whenever there is a disaster of this type emotions are high and ‘something must be done’. Among these many comments on social media I am seeing quite a few saying things like “We live in a fucked-up country if people have the 2nd amendment giving the right to guns but not healthcare coverage.” This is nothing new, similar lines of reasoning come up all the time.

Until recently I dismissed such talk. Now I think it might be a good idea, but those proposing it might not like it! First lets look at the second amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As you can see the second amendment does not give anyone the right to keep and bear arms. Instead the second amendment prevents the government from infringing upon the rights of the people to keep and bear arms. As the preamble to the Bill of Rights states the ten amendments are to there to restrict the government, not to restrict the human-born rights of the people.

Lets also look at some things the second amendment does not guarantee:

  • The second amendment does not guarantee everyone has to have a gun.
  • The second amendment does not guarantee guns will be affordable.
  • The second amendment does not guarantee guns will be provided to citizens by the government for free.

OK, with that in mind let’s make an amendment for healthcare coverage. If the second amendment was used to create a healthcare coverage amendment it would look something like this:

A well regulated Citizenship, being necessary to the health of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Healthcare Coverage, shall not be infringed.

This would prevent the government from infringing upon the rights of the people to keep and bear Healthcare Coverage. Using the same reasoning that is used with the second amendment the following would also not be guaranteed for healthcare coverage:

  • The healthcare amendment would not guarantee everyone has to have healthcare coverage.
  • The healthcare amendment would not guarantee healthcare coverage will be affordable.
  • The healthcare amendment would not guarantee healthcare coverage will be provided to citizens by the government for free.

I would actually be for such an amendment. Then we can get back to finding real solutions to helping poor people in the United States. Passing bad healthcare coverage laws like Obamacare do nothing but destroy the greatest healthcare system in the world. The citizens of the United States are starting to understand this; over half of the country now believes government should not be in the healthcare business.