Do What You Say You’ll Do

Do What You Say You’ll Do

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There are many approaches to summarizing libertarian philosophy, whether it’s “The Golden Rule,”rugged individualism, or the complete works of Ayn Rand.

doPersonally, I embrace Richard Maybury’s approach most, when he introduces two laws in “Whatever Happened to Justice?“:

  1. Do all you have agreed to do, and
  2. Do not encroach on other persons or their property.

I find that most libertarians handle the second of those laws quite well, as most of us subscribe to the non-aggression principle. Where we can ALL, libertarian and non-libertarian alike, use a bit of help is with the first.

Carl Jung is quoted as saying, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

What you do, or don’t do, is the foundation of your reputation to others. We’ve all heard that someone’s reputation precedes them, and a reputation can often tell others more about you that any words you may communicate. Keeping in mind that you might be the first libertarian someone has met, shouldn’t you be a shining example for who and what we are?

When we can’t live up to doing what we say we will do, we lose our credibility. Losing credibility is a deal breaker for someone trying to persuade others to examine libertarianism. It’s like putting a question mark at the end of every promise we make and every position we take. Would you really want to take a chance on losing that trust? We have many other things to overcome without having to rebuild credibility.

So, how can we make sure we live up to part of living a libertarian lifestyle and embracing #1 above?

First, don’t take on too much. Often, we see a void and we step up to fill it. As a former manager in the service industry, I realize that we often over promise and under deliver, but if we flip that, we can make sure we meet our commitments by setting reasonable expectations and wowing with our results. Switch to an “under promise, over deliver” approach and see the results of keeping things under control.

Next, honestly evaluate the level of effort or time necessary to do a good job meeting the commitments you make. Something may seem to be quick or easy on the surface, but it can really bite you when it’s more complex than you first thought. Being honest about what it will take, along with not taking on too much will help you to do what you say you’ll do.

Finally, when you can’t make things happen on the timeline you’ve set, make sure you you offer explanations, not excuses. Excuses are flimsy, and the real reason is often the better route, especially if it’s humbling.

Are you ready to do what you way you’ll do?

Change We Can Believe In

Change We Can Believe In

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Obviously, we’re not talking about the campaign slogan from eight years ago.

We are at a point where the dynamics of media are changing. More media outlets, bloggers, instant LIVE broadcasts, and social media drive conversations outside the tightly controlled messaging we’ve seen in the past. Because of the “always on” nature of many of these developments, the way news is presented is changing… For the better.

ChangeWith the ability to break news at any time, how people interact is changing. Today, we know more about what’s happening throughout the world, rather than a narrative that can be controlled.

The Arab Spring probably would not have made the news stateside, had it not been for the images, thoughts, and reporting performed by those on the ground, with the American audience demanding to know more. The dynamics of media are changing, and while the established corporate media tries to hang onto everything they can control, alternative media continues to grow in influence.

These changes also mean that ideas are spreading faster and with a farther reach. Even in some of the most remote areas of the world, a couple touches of a smartphone screen or clicks of a mouse can bring you up to speed on the latest happenings in minutes.

Because of how easy it is to get information, we now see a shift in how ideas spread, with virality, openness, and trust overcoming traditional advertising avenues and the power of vast sums of money. The dynamic is shifting, and greater exposure causes that shift to occur faster.

What does this change mean for libertarians? In this new decentralized dynamic, our voice can be just as prominent. The walls that stopped us before are crumbling, as we now have nearly equal footing.

So, let’s take advantage of this opportunity. The more we discuss our ideas, the moral case for freedom, and what a free society looks like, the greater influence we have on the direction our world moves. We can truly work to change hearts and minds without meeting the barriers of the past.

Knowing this, what will you do for liberty?

What Would It Take To Make You Leave Everything Behind?

What Would It Take To Make You Leave Everything Behind?

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The actions that could lead one to leave everything behind is the central theme discussed by Oliver Stone’s newest film, “Snowden.”

Framed by the June 2013 release of information to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewan MacAskill, along with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, the film takes us on a course of a young man enlisting in the Army Reserves, being discharged after an injury, and moving on to a series of information security positions both inside and contracted by the CIA and the NSA.

LeavePrior to the screening, a special message from Oliver Stone spoke to the danger to privacy that our smartphones create, a theme made quite prominent in the film. Stylistically, Stone really drives home the point by including the privacy invasion in his directorial vision to depict the dragnet being run on the entire world by the American government.

Those of us who know the story of the whistleblower/dissident/patriot/traitor will appreciate the way in which the film chronicles his journey through the CIA, as an NSA contractor, and finally, as the person who exposed the extent to which the American government collects data both domestically and abroad. More importantly, the story will offer those who aren’t as aware of what occurred a dramatic look at his story, especially the “why” behind his actions to expose the federal government’s actions.

A theme present throughout the film was about how the surveillance and data collection did not present as a means to safety or security, rather an opportunity to exert control, both economically and socially. Whether in his time in Geneva in the CIA, or as a contractor for any of the other alphabet agencies, the use (and misuse) of access and authority passed by legislation exemplifies the danger of giving authority over from one’s self to another.

Ultimately, the connections we make with others when we communicate our thoughts, actions, and even our deepest secrets are what can be held against us, should the time come that we are to be a pawn. The merging and sharing we do make us feeling, connected, empathetic human beings. We crave the attention, as well as to give it.

In real life, Snowden exposed that we, through our lives, thoughts, and actions, are simply sitting in a database somewhere in a rack inside a data center, waiting to be looked at, manipulated, and controlled. In the film, Stone helps explain that to an audience that may not understand the full extent that exposure affects us all, whether libertarian, conservative, liberal, centrist, or even authoritarian.

Learn By Doing

Learn By Doing

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“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

He’s right! The best way to learn is to get involved, and just do it.

learnWhile reading books, watching videos, and listening to speeches can deliver a positive learning experience, I learn best by doing.

On top of that, there is nothing more motivating than my being told that I can’t do something. In that, I’m sure that I’m not alone.

Ten years ago, I’d never stuffed envelopes for a candidate or a political organization, let alone run for office (or won re-election). The majority of what I learned didn’t come from books, videos, speeches, or seminars. It came from “getting my hands dirty” in the actual work necessary to achieve something in the political realm.

Whether we’re talking about planning outreach events, executing political rallies, strategizing for campaigns, or general knowledge about politics beyond where to vote, I found the most useful knowledge came when I followed Nike’s advice and just did it.

Were there stumbles along the way? Sure.

Real-world experience, however, trumped anything I’d read, seen or heard, because I was learning by doing. I didn’t have the biases and handicaps of others, because as I worked to forge my own way, I researched best practices from a variety of sources. Often, those best practices found themselves at odds, depending on the source, so examining them without the distortion of a lens helped me find the best path.

As libertarians, we are often hear that we can’t win an election, influence public policy, or that we’ll move society in a libertarian direction. When I hear things like that, I’m motivated to prove them wrong. Thus far, I’ve done all three.

What can you accomplish if you just do it?

We Are Changing Lives

We Are Changing Lives

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Not to exaggerate things, but life-changing moments happen every day. With every interaction, we act in a way that can change someone’s life. We have the potential to use this for a variety of outcomes, whether positive, negative, or neutral. The best part is WE influence the outcome.

When we consider that we might be the first libertarian those we encounter ever meet, we have an opportunity to make an awesome first impression.

ChangingAs libertarians, we should embrace the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. We can open others’ eyes to a world where peace, prosperity, and liberty thrive, rather than living in the shadow of a government that dictates to us our lives and actions. Do you remember how your life changed when you embraced libertarianism?

So, how can we share that experience with everyone?

We can change lives by making a positive impact on everyone we meet, and this doesn’t happen strictly at outreach booths. It isn’t even hard to accomplish. The key is being aware that every interaction is potentially life-changing and acting accordingly to make each of them positive for others.

When we adopt a mindset that we are ambassadors to libertarianism with everyone we meet, we are always “on.” That mindset shift to make a positive impact attracts people to you, and you can be a shining example to them of what it means to be a libertarian.

This approach not only augments our outreach beyond scheduled events, we create other ambassadors for our actions as they are attracted to us. By building relationships with those we attract, we can also add the fun of fellowship to the mix. A fun-loving, positive group of people engage others and bring more into their circle. That growth breeds further growth, and a cohesive, attractive group of people will continue to grow in their size and influence.

As our peer groups grow in this manner, we’ll continue to add more libertarians to the fold. In turn, that means a more libertarian mindset as we continue toward the critical mass necessary to impact society as whole, going beyond our pockets here and there. We’ve built quite a movement, and we need to continue it’s growth, winning over hearts and minds to bring about a freer society.

As we’ve discussed before, libertarianism won’t suddenly catch on, taking hold all at once, with one election or one law being passed, like you might flip on a light switch. While the light of liberty shines bright for you and me, there are many for whom it’s quite dim.

Let’s turn up the dimmer switch to brighten their lives too.

How Much Is Liberty Worth?

How Much Is Liberty Worth?

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Recently, I found an interesting piece on Seth Godin’s blog about the fear of giving.  As libertarians, we have a reputation of acting in our own self-interests (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  This is a reputation very much deserved, as it aligns with our beliefs with regard to individual liberty and personal responsibility, but it also accurately portrays our giving, political and otherwise.

As individuals we act in our own self-interest, but as a group, we fail to adequately fund groups and candidates in line with our principles or invest in entrepreneurial efforts that decentralize authority.  The analogy used in that piece about giving was one that showed that in an emergency situation, one rarely considers the cost of action:

‘If you are walking by a pond and you see a child drowning, do you save her? What if it means ruining a very fancy pair of Italian shoes?’ Okay, if we assume the answer is yes, then why not spend the cost of those shoes to save 20 kids who are starving to death across town or the world? There’s really no difference. Or by, extension, invest in research or development that solves a problem forever… The issues are proximity and attention.

As we face the ever-growing threats to our liberty, it would seem that those active in the liberty movement, whether as an “R”, “D”, “L”, “I”, or anyone else who has “seen the light,” would be clamoring to give money to local groups, statewide and national organizations, candidates running for office, and activists that work against the two-headed snake of Big Government. Are we in an emergency situation today?

Godin points out the success of the Mormon church (as well as many of the Christian religions) as they set a standard for how to become and remain a member in good standing with regard to financial matters:

The Mormon Church says, ‘tithe’. Loosely paraphrased, they say, ‘10% is a lot, and 10% is enough.’ This is actually very smart, because they’ve created a difficult but achievable standard, a way to be a member of good standing in their tribe.

When my dad ran the local United Way drive as a volunteer, he pushed for one percent. ‘One percent isn’t a lot, but it’s enough.’

My first question to you is “How much is enough?”  If I asked you to contribute a certain percentage or a dollar amount to support the cause of liberty, what would that number be? (I’m honestly soliciting your feedback here: brett@theadvocates.org)

Additionally, do you think that the these groups and candidates ask for donations often enough?  Do they ask too much?  Or just the right amount?

I would be remiss not to ask that you support The Advocates for Self-Government with this opportunity, so please do give as much as you can.

My final question for you to consider is this:  How much is Liberty worth?

How much is Liberty worth?

Give Them Hope!

Give Them Hope!

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I took the opportunity to see the movie Sausage Party (REMINDER: THIS MOVIE IS NOT SAFE FOR KIDS) over the weekend. While filled with raunchy adult humor and innuendo, near the end of the film, there was a line of dialogue that struck me as important for our conversations with those who aren’t libertarians yet… Give them hope!

hope

Conversations about politics right now center around how terrible both old parties’ candidates for president are, and we have a terrific opportunity to discuss libertarian ideas in the vacuum without any good ideas.

In the movie, there is a moment when the lead character can shatter an entire belief system (and does) to share the truth. He has two choices: he can disrespect their beliefs as he tears down their entire way of life, or he can offer them hope as he shows them the truth. At first, he adopts the former, yet moves toward the latter as he sees no fruit borne by his first efforts.

As libertarians, we should strive to adopt the second route.

We are LITERALLY the only people who can offer a world that is peaceful, prosperous, and free.

We need to offer the hope that outcome provides as we bring more people toward our way of thinking.

Think about it for a minute… We’re opening their eyes to something that goes against what the authoritarians have been touting their entire lives. We can either persuade them gently and bring them into the fold, or we can disrespect everything they’ve known their entire lives and lose them.

Those who want control and to use force over others build up the tool they use… The government.   They portray it as the only way to do anything, regardless of consequence. Our ideas and beliefs run counter to that, and that change is often hard to swallow after a life filled with being taught what we know to be false.

So, when we work to change hearts and minds, we can do so with a welcoming elegance and grace, shepherding our new brothers and sister in liberty to embrace what we already do, or we can do so clumsily and without lasting effect.

Great Idea! Now, Can You Make It Happen Without Force?

Great Idea! Now, Can You Make It Happen Without Force?

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In order to reach more people, persuade them to adopt a more libertarian outlook, and keep them looking to reject the force of government intervention in our lives, we need to continue to build rapport and challenge their authoritarian beliefs in a friendly and non-confrontational way.

We often recommend building rapport with those you’re looking to persuade to adopt a more libertarian philosophy/worldview/lifestyle. That can be a difficult thing to do when discussing real world political issues, rather than asking some philosophical questions about who is best equipped to make decisions.

With that in mind, here’s a terrific way to build rapport with the people you’re talking with in a way that doesn’t alienate them. When they talk about a particular program or idea, focus on the outcome they desire and point out that the outcome is a good one. Typically, we are in agreement about the outcomes, whether they are prosperity, peace, a well-educated populace, safety and security, or happy lives. 

Next, you can congratulate them on a great idea!

As they bask in the compliment, you can begin asking if they want to make that happen without using force. Force, after all, is a very powerful thing, and is something that libertarians believe should not be initiated, rather it should only be used in response or self-defense.

forceBy praising them for their idea, we reinforce that we ARE listening to them, rather than waiting for our “turn to speak.”

By asking them questions, we SHOW genuine interest in their opinion or belief in an idea.

By asking how they might accomplish that outcome without using force, we LEAD them to come to the libertarian solution on their own.

Rather than start an argument or a fight about something where we agree on the desired outcome, we can engage in a useful dialogue that could very well end up changing the way they think about things… In a good way, without using force.

Once we’ve achieved some success, we can move on to other areas in a similar vein. It might take a few more conversations, as they may need time to reconsider how to get to our shared desired outcome, but without using force.

To accomplish making society freer and more libertarian, we have to change hearts and minds, because the people have the power. Acts of legislation are about 20-30 years behind the mainstream thinking of the people, so by winning over the people, we can already be living a libertarian life when the state finally catches up to us.

Pick the Middle Seat

Pick the Middle Seat

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If we’ve not met, you may be unaware that I am a big guy. I also travel a lot.

For my comfort, that means making sure I sit by the window or on the aisle on a plane.

middle seatComing back from Las Vegas last month, I didn’t check in early enough for my flight to get a low boarding number on the airline that uses “cattle call boarding.” That meant a middle seat for four hours.

While kicking myself for not checking in sooner, the realization of the opportunity this presented hadn’t hit me yet. This was an AMAZING opportunity for outreach.

Most of the time, sharing such close quarters with complete strangers makes them great friends by the time we get to our destination. I know about their job, family, pets, etc., and they know a lot of the same stuff about me. There is typically a seed for Liberty planted somewhere in our interaction.

By sitting in my preferred seat next to the window, I limit my opportunity to the person sitting in the middle, unlikely to hold any real conversation with the person sitting on the aisle.

On the flight home, the three of us discussed politics, freedom, and the upcoming election in a very honest and civil manner. Both now have a different view of libertarian thought and are actively considering how much more often freedom is the answer.

Since, I’ve had at least one conversation with them both, as they had further questions about libertarianism and asked about resources for learning more. Obviously, I offered the Liberator Online, this column, and our online store.

What might happen if we all picked the middle seat and seized the opportunity to double our outreach efforts?

Our New Project!

Our New Project!

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In case you weren’t around for our Facebook Live announcement Monday, Chloe and I introduced to you, our friends and family, our new project, Libertarianism.com.

The World’s Smallest Political Quiz has been around for almost 30 years, and it’s been a great outreach tool to begin a conversation about political philosophy, by discovering a person’s political tendency.

Today, that all changes.

We’ve launched our first attempt at persuasion BEYOND the Quiz, as we work to a more libertarian society. Nothing within the Quiz has changed, we’ve simply added the next step to follow up with the millions of people who take the Quiz online. Earlier this year, we broke 23 million.

Please take this opportunity to try things out.

Answer the questions like you normally would, and also answer them in different ways. That way, you’ll see how we’re working to persuade Centrists, Conservatives, Liberals, and Statists to adopt a more libertarian way of thinking.

This is your opportunity to try this out before we start re-directing the Quiz traffic to it.

Share it with your friends, family, and co-workers!

Think you can do a better job at persuasion? Send us an e-mail at info@theadvocates.org and tell us how you’d like to partner with us to make a more libertarian society. We welcome new players to our game.

Free State of Jones: Libertarianism in Pop Culture

Free State of Jones: Libertarianism in Pop Culture

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Recently, I had the opportunity to see the film, “Free State of Jones.” It is the story inspired by the Civil War era actions in southeastern Mississippi led by a farmer, Newton Knight.

A nurse in the Confederate Army, Knight deserts after the Confederate Congress amends its conscription policy to exclude those who owned 20 or more slaves. This exemption allowed many wealthy men to not serve the three years the Confederacy held them responsible to serve.

As libertarians, we understand the principle that a man owns himself and is not “responsible” to give over part of his life to anyone else.

Just prior to desertion, he comes across a teenager from near Knight’s home drafted after the boy’s family’s assets were seized by the local government officials and the boy was sent to war. As if conscription weren’t enough, the taking of property and food from the people is a bridge too far.

As libertarians, we also value the principle of private property, and the stories from home, coupled with the boy’s death on the battlefield send Knight home to Jones County, Mississippi.

Upon his return, he learns of another family whose animals are seized by Confederate soldiers and stands armed with the woman and her daughters against a trio of cavalry officers, turning them away. The officers then target Knight and his family, forcing him to flee ahead of dogs to the swamp to live as a fugitive.

As libertarians, we hold dear the ability to defend one’s life, liberty, and property from an unjust taking.

Libertarianism in Pop CultureWhile hiding out in the swamp, Knight befriends runaway slaves also living there in exile and other individuals afflicted by the Confederacy’s actions. They build a self-sustaining militia community of army deserters and runaway slaves, living, working, and fighting together against the oppression of the local military officials.

As libertarians, we fight oppression and tyranny on a daily basis.

The militia eventually overpowers the soldiers in the nearby town, taking over and asking the Union forces for support. The support never arrives, forcing the militia to fight off the Confederate regiments, holding out until the end of the war. They not only survive, but thrive, in the absence of both Confederate and Union forces in the area.

As libertarians, we are often “in between” one side and the other. Both evil, we continue to stand for freedom.

The freed slaves are promised “40 acres and a mule,” but see that promise rescinded by the conquering forces that occupy the South after the war, even the “Free State of Jones.” Regardless, the community grows, as white and black work, live, and grow together in a voluntary society where their bonds are those they choose.

As libertarians, we see the prosperity and harmony that come from a voluntary society without, and often in spite of, the force of government

 

Let’s Just Have A Computer Program Decide Everything

“Let’s Just Have A Computer Program Decide Everything”

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On my way to Las Vegas last week for FreedomFest, I had a revelation about “efficient government” and why it does not appeal to me. At least, it does not appeal in the same way a free society does.

WALL-EAs we’ve seen many times, candidates for office will promise to make government more efficient, eliminate waste, and reduce its size. While I appreciate the sentiment and pragmatism of that message, as a libertarian, I can’t take it seriously.

When we encounter those in favor of efficient government over the freedom a libertarian society offers, I suggest we offer the following suggestion: “Let’s just have a computer program decide everything.”

When it comes to efficiency, a computer program can make the decisions currently made by bureaucrats administering the myriad government programs that exist today. If you think about it, we could eliminate the waste, fraud, and abuse by making programming the decision-making to execute the laws and regulations on the books. The savings made by this automation would certainly make government operate cheaper, and there would be fewer people employed by government.

As we saw in Back to the Future II’s vision for 2015, the legal system moved much more swiftly after they abolished all lawyers. While this was certainly more efficient, it likely wasn’t effective when it came to justice and the preservation of liberty.

Is that what libertarians are really seeking?

So, if you really think about it…if we make government more efficient, will we be freer?

 

 

Self-Government Goes To Those Who Show Up

Self-Government Goes To Those Who Show Up

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As libertarians, we understand that personal responsibility is the price we are to pay for individual liberty.

Show UpWe discuss it at length when persuading others about how liberty works. We talk about how we (yes, you and I) will be responsible for one another in the absence of government programs that currently attempt to act as a safety net. We offer examples of our charity and entrepreneurship to prove that our fellow man will not go hungry, sleep in the streets, or be unable to read and write.

We know that our ideas and principles are the right ones to lead to a prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious society, so why aren’t we there yet?

Because, like those we’re trying to persuade, we’ve outsourced responsibility. Except that we have not outsourced responsibility to government. We’ve outsourced our responsibility to other libertarians.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian candidates for office, their staff and volunteers, thinking that it’s their “turn” to spread the message, not ours.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian think tanks, who work to deliver quality research, and statistics, and facts necessary to equip us with the right information.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian activists, as they wave signs, work outreach booths, and persuade their friends, family, and neighbors about the beauty of a free society.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian entrepreneurs, toiling to create the next Uber, AirBnB, or PayPal.

The price of personal responsibility is set, it’s non-negotiable, and it’s due every day. That price is showing up. Whether it is supporting candidates for office, sharing the mountains of data offered by our friends in think tanks and organizations in the libertarian sphere, attending an event, or using the goods and services that meet our needs, we need to pay the price daily.

If we don’t pay it, we fall behind. When we fall behind, we have to pay even more to catch up. Authoritarians count on us missing a payment, because they have their solution ready to go. They have the latest cure for society’s ills, and that intervention is government.

We ALL have busy lives, families, and hobbies calling for our time, attention, and effort, but we have to take responsibility for what we want in our lives. Much like the authoritarian way of outsourcing responsibility to government, we’ve outsourced it to other libertarians with the hope that their efforts will make up for a lack of them on our part.

Accept the call and take responsibility for a free society. You can’t wait for someone else to give you the freedom you deserve. You have to stop outsourcing responsibility and show yourself and others that we can do it.

If you aren’t going to show up to stake a claim for your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, who will?

It’s BOTH What You Say AND How You Say It

It’s BOTH What You Say AND How You Say It

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Over the weekend, I happened to interact with a young lady who complained about a couple in front of her at the grocery store using EBT, AKA food stamps, saying something to the effect of “Tonight, I bought my dinner at the grocery store and the couple in front of me used their EBT card, and they are eating better than my family. Sigh.”

UGH!

WordsAs a libertarian, I abhor the idea of a government-run “safety net” to help those who find themselves in need. I think that we can provide that safety net for our family, friends, and neighbors without the use of force by no longer outsourcing that responsibility to government and taking it on ourselves. After all, before The New Deal, that IS how we handled it. Why would we want to let a wasteful entity like government determine need, its distribution and method, and the administration and overhead necessary to make it happen?

The main issue I took with this approach to discussing a safety net program was that it attacked the individual recipients’ choices and lifestyle, which is not how you would win over those who may be on the fence about the program or the idea that government should administer “charity” through force. It gives an impression of envy, a lack of compassion, and an uninformed statement about the lives of those recipients.

Talking about this subject in terms of the individual program also hyper focuses the discussion on THAT program. Rather than discuss EBT specifically, you’ll likely be more persuasive by talking about the role government took in “charity.” Rather than get into the specifics and details of the program, talking about taking back the outsourced responsibility into our homes, neighborhoods, and communities has a far greater impact. We can discuss philosophy more broadly without getting caught up in a minute detail. It’s similar to how Governor Gary Johnson was pinned down to “baking the Nazi cake” by a fellow candidate seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, rather than focusing on the broader picture of freedom of association. 

We can also ask thought-provoking questions about why they find it more important to prolong, preserve, and protect a program founded on the use of government force. By focusing the conversation this way, we can discuss how to end government’s shoddy performance to actually address those in need, while taking from others to pay for it.

A more efficient government is not in our best interests. We know that individuals operating in a freed market and free society can better serve our community’s needs.

 

The Silver Lining

The Silver Lining

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You may have seen a story about one of the presumptive nominees for President and her recent interactions with the FBI.

CuffedThe outcome is one that we can now point to, with regard to intent, when discussing the justice system.

Regardless of what happened and happens with this particular case, the FBI and the Department of Justice did not pursue charges due their view that the actions leading to the investigation did not include criminal intent.

THAT is our silver lining. Both FBI Director Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch pointed to a lack of intent to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.

In a common law jurisdictions like the United States, a general test of guilt is one that requires proof of fault, both in thought and action. The former requires mens rea, or “a guilty mind,” while the latter requires actus reus, or “a guilty act.” This principle is stated best by Edward Coke, who is considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras in England who said, “an act does not make a person guilty unless (their) mind is also guilty.”

Today, far too many Americans find themselves arrested, in court, or behind bars lacking the “guilty mind,” the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime, despite having acted in a way deemed unlawful.

We also see a vocal group perpetuating a popular notion that once arrested or encounters police, a person is already viewed as guilty, the antithesis of justice.

Further, this instance amplifies the difference between the political class and the rest of us. Did we really think that someone who has lived in the White House, served in the US Senate, and been appointed to serve in the Presidential cabinet would encounter justice in a similar manner as would happen if you or I were in the same situation?

Putting aside our personal feelings about the person in question, justice cannot be served without observing that some may “get off.” If we use this high-profile investigation to exemplify why many more should not be locked in a cage for an act in which they held no “guilty mind,” we can win many hearts and minds over to a sense of justice.

Libertarians hold justice in high regard. It’s the tiered system where some are “more equal than others” that we despise.

 

What Do Libertarians Stand For?

What Do Libertarians Stand For?

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As a fellow libertarian, that question is rhetorical. We stand for individuality – we believe that individuals can make the best decisions for themselves, governing their own lives.

It is, however, something I hear from many who are not yet libertarian in their thinking. They assume that politics and philosophy only revolve around what they hear and see taking place in Washington DC and state capitals across the country. When viewed through that lens, the perception is that libertarians are opposed to everything.

againstYou and I know that the opposition “to everything” is due to the actions of the body in question, likely increasing the size and scope of government and infringing on the life, liberty, or property of the individual. Unfortunately, the aforementioned lens prevents much more than the support/oppose lever on the issue discussed.

How can we best refocus the lens toward our views and away from being “against everything”?

Three ways:

  1. Rather than fall into the trap of the issue du jour and the lever imposed on us by others, we can divert the conversation away from the support/oppose lever and focus on why a freedom-focused solution is the actual answer. Your success will lie in listening to find the desired outcome of your conversation partner and offering how the libertarian solution is the best way to arrive there. 
  2. Use your voice to promote libertarian ideas without being influenced by the issue of the day. Rather than being driven by the news cycle, your focus should be all the great things that are and can be possible in a libertarian society. If you choose 3-5 issues, you can rotate your focus, so as not to burn yourself (and those you communicate with) out.
  3. Re-frame questions that lead others to see that when you make decisions for yourself, the outcomes are better than the “one size fits all,” centrally-planned government solutions. Rather than jump straight into a dialogue that pits one side against each other, you can attract people to the ideas you support by offering questions that cause them to think beyond the either/or lens. Recently, a friend asked me about whether or not I thought it was OK for a parent to misrepresent their address to allow their child access to a better education in a district other than the one in which they were drawn. I responded with, “is it OK allow your child to go to a sub-par school when your tax dollars are funding one that meets your child’s needs better than the one ‘the powers that be’ deem appropriate for him/her based on their address?”

 

As is often shared by libertarians, there is more to color than black and white, and there is more to politics than left or right.

Let’s focus on opening eyes to color and thoughts beyond the left and right.

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

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When it comes to elections, many voters focus on electing a “good king,” someone who would implement their worldview on others, even if that worldview is TERRIBLE for liberty. If you find yourself talking with one of those voters about libertarianism, your efforts to persuade may be more effective by asking them this question before you get into the politics or philosophy of libertarian thought, “Who can you absolutely NOT trust?”

The answer you receive does not matter, but you should definitely take note, as it will guide the rest of your interaction with them.

trustMost often, you will hear a prominent national name mentioned like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi. These are easy targets, and most people keep their minds on the national political news.

Regardless of who they name and the issues they champion, your response should remain the same.

Once you know their top issues, you can begin to ask questions about those issues being manipulated by the person they trust least. Questions like “How would you feel about giving authority over you to [insert their untrustworthy person’s name here] on the Second Amendment?” or “If [insert their untrustworthy person’s name here] were in charge of who receives welfare and who doesn’t, how would you feel about that program?”

They will be taken aback by this, because they’ve not considered this before.

Then, you can begin a discussion about how when you empower the “good guy” to enact a policy that you also empower the “bad guy” to use that authority. We’re seeing this unfold right now as Congress decides on gender equality when it comes to the draft. As it stands today, the federal government requires young men aged 18-25 to register with the Selective Service. Last week, the Senate voted for equal treatment to force young women to also register for the draft precursor. There were two outcomes that would lead to equal treatment under the law here:

  1. What happened in the US Senate.
  2. That we realize that you don’t actually own yourself if the law compels you to potentially serve in the military against your wishes. This realization would have ended the Selective Service registration for men, providing the same equality, yet with a better self-ownership outcome.


Keep in mind that you don’t need to focus on their issue so much as the idea that once you give power to one, you give that same power to all that come after, and the best solution is to govern one’s self, rather than give away that power.

Augment Your Outreach With A Follow Up Event

Augment Your Outreach With A Follow Up Event

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How long is your typical interaction while tabling or at an outreach event? I’m hopeful that I will have 30 seconds… Just long enough to get in an elevator pitch.

outreachOne of the biggest challenges we have as libertarians is condensing our message into easy to digest bits, while still explaining what we believe. Here’s how you get over that hurdle AND show your prospective new libertarians that your group is their best way to get involved: Schedule a follow up event after your outreach event.

Here are key elements to making sure the outreach and follow-up events work well together:

  • The follow-up event should be social in nature. No one wants to attend a boring meeting the first time they show up, so don’t make them. Newly interested people want to engage with the leaders and members of the group in one-on-one and group conversations. Think “Meet & Greet” or “Open House.” Attendees aren’t expecting champagne and caviar, yet you should have available some food and drink options. Asking the bakers and cooks among you to provide something they do well will make it cheaper than catering.
  • Schedule the event two or three weeks after your outreach event. By scheduling something this far in advance, you give potential attendees an opportunity to put it on their calendar. We are all busy, and by giving your prospective attendees an opportunity to “fit you in,” you’ll likely increase attendance. Added bonus: You will have more experience with planning and executing events that aren’t hastily thrown together at the last minute.
  • It is important that you give your prospective attendees a “take away” to remind them. There is a reason that door-to-door salespeople leave something for you when they’ve visited. They don’t want you to forget them and what they are selling. At an outreach booth, you are in a similar situation. While not going door-to-door, you will be interacting with many people (hopefully) in a short time, and you will want them to remember that you invited them to a Pizza Night/Candidate Meet & Greet/Open House with your libertarian group. In this case, something simple works, and you can print the who, what, when, and where on a small handout that fits six to a page rather inexpensively.
  • Actively promote your follow-up event in conversation. Believe it or not, you or some of your volunteers will not include the follow-up event in their “elevator pitch” with interested, soon to be libertarians. A simple “and we’d love to talk with you more about [insert the issue by which you built rapport here] at our upcoming [insert event name here] on [date] at [location] at [time]” added to the end of each interaction, accompanied by handing them your “take away” will drastically improve the attendance at your follow-up event.

 

We have an amazing opportunity before us, as we share the ideals and principles of libertarianism. Let’s not blow it by missing out on an opportunity to have a REAL discussion about libertarian ideas at a follow up event after we’ve identified some potential new libertarians.

 

More Love

More Love

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When we woke up yesterday, the breaking news was about a senseless tragedy that took place overnight in Orlando at Pulse nightclub.

That tragedy took 49 of our families and loved ones.

moreloveAs is often the case, without full information, those seeking to politicize the great suffering caused by the event jumped in with both feet. Whether the issue is terrorism, guns, Muslims, the LGBT community, or immigration, those seeking to promote their agenda took to social media, news interviews, and any avenue they could find to spread the word.

As we noted on Facebook, our first priority is to grieve for the loss of life. Full stop.

There are 49 families who just lost their son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin. There are 49 families who are laying someone they love to rest. There are 49 families who will never be the same.

For the rest of us, the stunned feeling still shakes us, as we learn more about the victims, the perpetrator, and the actions that took place there. We need time to process what happened. We need time to have a full picture of what occurred.

Rather than make assumptions, based on the little bit of information that’s publicly available, let us save our voices for love. Let US share it to our families. Let US share it to our neighbors. Let US share it with our friends. Let US reach out to those affected by the tragic events in Orlando. Let US give blood. Let US be the example of how we should respond.

One of my favorite things about libertarians is how much we have to offer in times of struggle, and how much we help those in need.

Let US do that.

When the grieving wanes, we can have a conversation about what should happen.

But first, let US love.

Sometimes, It Takes Time

Sometimes, It Takes Time

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“I NEED IT NOW!” – a line from one of JG Wentworth’s television commercials.

This is a terrific example of the instant gratification, limited attention, now, NOW, NOW! society we often find ourselves in. There is no time to plant a seed, nurture it,  and see it blossom if we completely succumb to that outlook.

While we may deliver the “Aha! moment” in an instant, there are often those who take a bit more time to realize that they are libertarians.

TimeToday, a friend from high school posted on my Facebook wall something that lifted me up before my day really got going. He shared that after being friends for more than twenty years, he finally realized that he is a libertarian.

While I hope that not everyone will take twenty years to realize it, there are many who are not quite ready to give up their authoritarian beliefs yet. And that’s OK!

While it feels good to get to yes almost immediately, there are times where your time and effort are better spent in tiny pieces, guiding someone to libertarian ideas. After all, isn’t reaching the destination more important than how long it took to get there? Think about leaving a trail of crumbs for those who aren’t quite ready for their first full bite.

Over the years Sharad and I have known one another, we’ve discussed how libertarian principles overlap with his already held beliefs with a bit of a challenge to look at things through a self-governing lens, rather than a “there ought to be a law” one.

While friends, it took years for us to build the rapport necessary, politically, for him to consider a libertarian perspective. My focus pointed to areas of agreement on the desired outcome. Once we established that common ground, I challenged some of his beliefs by asking questions about who will make the best decisions to reach those outcomes. We dove into discussing the best path to reach our shared desired outcomes, as well as a bit of how the political and electoral processes work.

The key, to me, is knowing when you can persuade to the point of “Aha!” quickly and when it will take time.